Most indie authors want to see their books on the shelves of their local independent bookstores. Janet Geddis, owner of Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia, recently talked about the best way to make that happen.

Janet Geddis: I mean this advice in the most open-hearted way: if you are a local creator and you want local shops to stock your creations, you should support those shops when you are able….If you’re a local author or publisher, we at Avid really want to support you by giving you a little shelf space, but it works best if you are also willing to give our bookshop a shot by becoming even an occasional customer….Again, this is just something I hear bookstore and record shop owners and other independent businesspeople discussing with a little frustration. It only recently occurred to me that people asking for the favor (the musicians or self-published novelists or indie publishing companies or what have you) don’t realize that reciprocity and mutual support help the community become stronger. It also makes us business owners say “yes” a lot faster (and more enthusiastically), or take a chance on your debut project, when you do make a request of us if we know who you are and know that you’ve taken a chance on us.

I also like to tell local authors who want us to stock their books that it helps us sell books better if we know them and can say, “James is a great guy—he’s in here a lot and I know you’ll like this book,” rather than, “this person dropped their book off six months ago and had never been in before...and hasn’t come by since.” (Not that we’d ever say option No. 2, though I know I do sometimes think it!)

Karen Schechner is the senior Indie editor.