Ellen Stimson, author of the October Indie Next List pick Mud Season: How One Woman’s Dream of Moving to Vermont, Raising Children, Chickens and Sheep, and Running the Old Country Store Pretty Much Led to One Calamity After Another (Countryman Press, October 7), is offering her ear to bookstore customers in a unique promotion.
Beginning September 15, customers will have the opportunity to call Stimson on the Mud Season Hotline for a brief chat. “The bookseller can dial the phone number with a customer on hand, and I can give a few tips about moving to Vermont!” said Stimson. Book groups are also able to call in to arrange longer chats.
The title is being shipped to bookstores with a bookmark listing the number for the Mud Season Hotline, 855-MUD-BOOK. Readers can call through November 15.
Bill Rusin, vice president of sales and marketing for W.W. Norton, the book’s distributor, noted that, “Booksellers need every possible edge, and we think this novel approach that lets the author partner with the bookseller at the actual moment of the sale will be a boon to this great little book and bookselling as a whole.”
The book, based on the move by Stimson’s family from St. Louis to a rural Vermont farmhouse, was praised by independent booksellers, including Ellen Burns of Books on the Common in Ridgefield, Connecticut, whose Indie Next List nomination called it a “funny, self-deprecating memoir of making a new life in a beautiful place.”
Stimson is eager to connect with independent bookstores. Before moving to Vermont, she ran the retail division of The Book Source, a wholesaler in St. Louis. “I loved the book business,” she said. “Writing this book was a lot of fun, but, for me, sticking my toes back into the water of bookselling has been every bit as fun as writing was.”
As her two-month book tour came together, Stimson saw the number of bookstores that she would miss and the booksellers and customers she wouldn’t get to meet. In the book world, she said, “you’re dealing with all these, smart, opinionated, liberal thinking folks. It’s not just about the books, it’s about having these great conversations.”
Stimson is especially looking forward to meeting booksellers at the fall regional trade shows. “We’re not all John Grisham,” she said. “Most books have to be hand-sold, and I want to partner with the frontline bookseller. If this book makes it, it’s going to be because of the frontline booksellers.”
Stimson is also looking forward to — and expecting — some out-of-the box questions from customers on the Mud Season Hotline. “Book people are fascinating!” she said.