Today my daughter and I went shopping at Borders. Our local store, unfortunately, is going out of business. We wanted to take advantage of the sale prices.
We spent about an hour perusing the shelves. After I checked out the audio books (I spend about 3 hours in the car 3-4 times a week), I went to my two favorite sections: self-help and Judaism. There wasn’t much left in the latter section, but the shelves in the former were still packed with titles. (I also visited the writing section, which basically was empty.) I keep pretty close tabs on the books coming out in this area, yet I was amazed at all the books I had never seen before.
I left with three audio books, and two hard cover books. My daughter left with five books. If we hadn’t been on a budget, and if I had more time to read, I would have left with at least 5 more books.
I rarely go to bookstores shopping anymore. I do so most often when I’m researching one of my book projects; I do this to discover the books that might compete or complement the book I plan to write. However, this trip to Borders reminded me of the reasons why every aspiring author should occasionally take a field trip to a book store. Here they are:
- To inspire yourself to write. I picked up several books on topics similar to those I am writing about and felt encouraged by the fact that my idea is different, better or in some way stands out. I looked at other books and noticed the length or special features and made note that I could write something that short (or long) without a problem and include similar elements to attract readers. This made me feel more confident about my ability to complete my book project(s).
- To inspire yourself to publish–with or without a traditional publisher. As I looked at all the self-help books, for example, still on the shelf (which meant there were even more just a few weeks prior to the store beginning its closing sale), I realized how many authors have ideas that do, indeed, get published and make it into stores. If all these books on such diverse topics found homes with publishers, that left room for the possibility of my topics doing the same–or succeeding as self-published books.
- To keep you abreast of the books published in your genre. It’s important to know what books compete or complement the books you want to write. You can find more of them on Amazon.com than in a bookstore, but sometimes you’ll find one in a store that you didn’t find online. Plus, in a store you can look inside the covers more thoroughly.
- To read books in your genre as well as in others. Writers who write books in a particular genre should read books in that genre as well. Plus, it’s good to read other types of books and stay informed. If you love books, a bookstore will inspire you to read.
- To support other authors. It feels good to buy a book because you know someone just like you wrote it–a writer. If you wrote a book, you’d want someone to buy it…to support you. So, support other authors. Support fellow writers. As you buy someone else’s book, imagine that one day someone will be buying your book.