October 15, 2014
Whether or not you are an author published by Hachette (as I am), you may lately feel as if you are engulfed in a rather unpleasant flood--as if the fate of your books is whirling dreadfully out of your control, battered by the waters of some enormous South American river, the name of which I cannot remember at the moment. While all this fierce sword fighting rages on without you, you may find yourself feeling even more hapless and hopeless than authors usually do, while your local independent bookstore struggles with a similar feeling that it's some sort of jungle out there.
As a tonic, allow me to suggest a new program, cooked up by assorted interested parties and named, after some tipsy debate, Upstream. The idea is to connect authors with their local independent booksellers to offer signed books as an alternative to, say, larger and more unnerving corporate machinations. Upstream was test-piloted this summer and is now spreading steadily, like optimism or syphilis.
How does it work? Easily, hopefully. Here are some numbered steps.
1. Choose and contact a bookseller close to your home. If you cannot find one, the good folks at Indies First, coordinated by the American Booksellers Association, can be of service. They are quite excited about the launching of this new and hopefully enormous campaign.
2. The bookstore will order and sell your books; you will sign them. Perhaps you’ll stop by at regular intervals with your pen, or perhaps you can convince, with cake or gin, the bookseller to come to you.
3. Both you and the bookseller will promote this arrangement as best you can, spreading the word not only about an exciting source of signed books, but about a program anyone can join. Feel free to tell your publicist you’re participating. Upstream should be in full swing in time for the holidays, when signed books are good gifts for loved ones and distance acquaintances alike.
Will Upstream rescue us all from strife and worry? Of course not. But the hope is that it will remind both authors and booksellers of their local, less monolithic resources, and to improve general esprit de corps at a disheartening time.
With all due respect,
Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket