Gulf Coast Bookstore: The First Bookstore For Indie Authors

Interior of Gulf Coast Bookstore

I meant to write this post last month, but my life has been petty insane these days, so this is the first opportunity for me to write something. Well, better late than never.

Gulf Coast Bookstore opened early last month as an independent bookstore dedicated entirely to self-published authors. Based out of Fort Myers, Florida, the store is owned by independent children’s author and illustrator Patti Brassard Jefferson and history author Timothy Jacobs. Their reasoning for opening this store is to give more indie authors a chance. Says Jacobs, “It’s just hard to compete with Stephen King or Dan Brown in a mega-bookstore that has tens of thousands of books for sale”. Hence they opened Gulf Coast when they had the chance.

Gulf Coast has a very interesting business model as well as being currently the only bookstore of its kind at the moment: authors pay a fee of $75 for set-up and three months worth of shelf-space (similar to what they’d have at a booth at a convention or a book-fair for a day) and they do the stocking and restocking. In return, authors get 100% returns on sales and can use the store for book signings, place bookmarks, business cards, or brochures with their titles (10 copies of one title or one copy of ten titles per author), and get featured on the store’s website. This allows Jefferson and Jacobs to run the store without having to hire too many staff or pay very big utilities.

The caveats, of course, are that there can only be a certain number of authors at any time, and that these authors must be from Fort Myers or the surrounding area. Still, it seems to work: there’s a growing list of authors whose books are featured in the store, spanning all genres and types, and it sounds like even as busy season has ended in Florida, people are still coming in to buy books.

Where will Gulf Coast Bookstore go from here? One can only guess, but hopefully it will continue to grow as a business and maybe start off a trend of locally-owned bookstores giving space for indie novelists of all types. I certainly wouldn’t mind that if that happened.

If you would like, you can check out Gulf Coast’s website here, as well as the Publisher’s Weekly article where Gulf Coast was featured.


At this time, I would like to make an announcement: as soon as possible, I will be setting up a new page on this blog where stores, conventions, and other resources like Gulf Coast will be listed for your convenience. Ruth has already sent me some possible additions to this page, so I’ll be adding hers with this. Can’t guarantee when this page will go up, I’m currently preparing to move for a new job, but as soon as it’s up, I’ll write a new post with a link to the page. Look forward to it!

Categories: Author Platform & Branding, Book Promotion, Business Plan, Marketing & Promoting, Self-Publishing, Writing as a Business | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Stages of Writing: Post 6 (Traditional Publishing)

Though we had anticipated this being our last video in this series, this wasn’t the last one.  We had so much to say about traditional publishing we never really dove into self-publishing.

In a nutshell, a traditional publisher is one who does the publishing for you.  If they accept your manuscript, they will do the editing, get the cover, put your book on multiple retailers, and do some (probably limited) promotion for you.

1.  Submitting to a Publisher

Janet Syas Ntisick has more experience with seeking a publisher than I do, so she explains the things she’s had to get together when approaching publishers at conferences.  One thing to keep in mind is that in today’s environment, you still need to think of what you can bring to the table.  A publisher wants to see you bring in sales, so your platform is still important.  Like any business, a publisher needs to make a profit in order to stay open.  So when you’re presenting your query letter, first three chapters, or even the entire manuscript, make sure to list out your qualifications.  Qualifications include memberships to writing organizations, awards you won, published books, earnings (especially if you made a substantial amount in the past), what you’re doing to market yourself and your books, etc.  List the things that make you an attractive applicant, just as you would on a resume if you were looking for a day job.  (Be honest, of course.  It won’t reflect well on you if you’re lying.  I think publishers are smart enough to figure out if you’re fudging your numbers.)

One thing I will add is that at the Nebraska Writers Guild conference last month, an agent said she would rather have an unpublished novel to take to a publisher than one that has already been self-published (unless that self-published title has sold like crazy).  So if you’re debating taking a self-published book to a publisher, think over that before you do.

2. Types of Publishers

There are big publishers and small ones.  Some specialize in certain genres and others take a wide variety of titles.  Some will only do ebooks and others will offer both ebooks and paperbacks.  There’s really a diversity out there when it comes to publishers, and it’s important to make sure the publisher you choose will fit your book and your personality.

Some publishers will allow the author input into the cover and editorial changes.  Some won’t.  The royalty you can expect will vary depending on which one you go with, too.  There might be a clause where you can’t use a character in a self-published book or in a book that you publish with another publisher.  There might be rights you’re giving them that may or may not work in your favor.  There might even be a clause that allows them to hold onto the book without actually publishing it until (or if) they feel like it.  Or they might require more books from you.  The key is to be careful when looking at the contract.  When in doubt, have a lawyer familiar with book contracts look it over before signing anything.

3.  Which Authors Benefit From Traditional Publishing?

I think publishers can be great for authors who want to be hybrid authors like me (doing both traditional and self-publishing) or authors who don’t want to do the jobs a self-published author has to do.  I know authors who don’t want to worry about covers, formatting, editing, uploading the book to a retailer, keeping track of sales, etc.  They want to write the book and send it to a publisher to do all that stuff for them.  There is nothing wrong with this.

Just be aware of the trade-offs.  You’ll get a lower royalty rate per book sale, less control over your book, and you might not get all the promotion you’re hoping for.  You might also be giving up some rights you’d rather have.  Like I said, when in doubt, go to a lawyer with the contract.

4.  Make Sure You Check The Publisher Out To See If It’s A Good One Or Not

Good publishers pay you the right amount of royalties and they pay you on time.  They are professional and courteous.  You should be comfortable with them.  (Always trust your gut instinct.  If anything in you says “this is not a good idea”, you’re better off avoiding it.)

As a final point, I would definitely check out this link (which is advice written by Victoria Strauss).  There is a wealth of information here that’s worth reading.

Categories: Traditional Publishing | 8 Comments

Writers Helping Writers by G. M. Barlean

I’m only going to quote some of this post.  You can read the whole thing here.

My intro: My two cents (for what it’s worth) is that one misconception there seems to be in the writing community is that we are competing with each other.  The truth is, we’re not.  Just as I can listen to a song by one artist and enjoy another song by another artist, readers enjoy books by a variety of authors.  Readers don’t confine themselves to only one author.  So this idea that if the reader buys another author’s book, that reader won’t buy mine is false.  The truth is, readers can buy my books and books by other authors.  That is why writers helping writers is such a great post.

ID 44829895 © Rawpixelimages |

ID 44829895 © Rawpixelimages |

Without further ado, here it is…

Writers Helping Writers by G. M. Barlean

Last Saturday, my good friend Victorine Lieske and I had the opportunity to speak to the Omaha chapter of the National League of Pen Women. They bought us lunch, we met some very nice women and saw a couple of friends from other writing connections we have. And, as always with writers, we had good conversation and plenty of laughs. You can read all about the history of the National League of American Pen Women at their website:

I love speaking at events with Victorine because she’s a writing, marketing, ebook guru known all over the country. She sells books in her sleep! So, it’s pretty cool she lets me come along and share the floor.

I know not to talk about writing or marketing because I’m just a beginner learning the ropes. But I can talk about the importance of critique to work a book and make yourself accountable to your readers. I can also talk about networking.

Here’s what Connie Spittler, the group’s current president, had to say about my portion of the program. “Gina Barlean’s main and best points. As friends, we can give each other free publicity.” It’s a simple premise. Just common sense—one thing this country girl has, at least on occasion. I like to break things down into language we can all embrace. I try to do that in my book, Build a Writing Team. In that book, I talk about networking. It’s a word that can simply translate into, be a friend to each other.

I’ll promote you and you promote me.
I’ll support you, you support me.
I’ll help you and you help me.

Sorry to take the mystery out of it. If you want people to help you out, help them out. If you want people to be nice to you, be nice to them. Let’s combine our talents and see where it takes us.

To read the rest of the post, click here.

G. M. Barlean is an awesome person.  She is just as friendly and kind as she sounds in this post.  She definitely practices what she preaches.  I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting her in real life and reading her work. She’s a compelling storyteller. :)

You can find G. M. Barlean at the following sites:

Facebook Page



Categories: Uncategorized | 10 Comments

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