Not quite the NYT Bestseller list, but When We Were Strangers made the list at Knoxville’s Union Avenue Books, our local and very fine independent. Here’s the list, FYI:
Celebrating Our Favorite Local Authors and Special Friends Who Ranked Among the Top 25 Bestsellers at Union Ave in 2011
Michael Knight, The Typist
Pamela Schoenewaldt, When We Were Strangers
Hugh Acheson, A New Turn in the South
Ros Taylor, Confidence at Work
Jack Neely, Market Square: A History
Bill Landry, Appalachian Tales
Norma Watkins, The Last Resort
Bobbie Ann Mason, Girl in the Blue Beret
Amy Greene, Bloodroot
Jake B. Morrill, Randy Bradley
Susan Gilmore, Improper Life of Bezellia Grove
Knoxville has a thriving writers community and a great support group, the Knoxville Writers Guild. We’re a small city, 179,000 souls as of 2011. And for debut writers, this is an advantage, according to my agent, Courtney Miller-Callihan. Why?
First because in a small city there is still enough home town pride and press if a local anybody gets noticed on the outside. There are also enough readers, book clubs, fellow writers and civic groups who want speakers to get a little traction in sales. Then these people may have reader friends elsewhere. Book sales can grow organically through book clubs and in a city our size, people in clubs tend to find each other out,
In a small town, however, a writer soon exhausts the universe of potential readers, even with the home town advantage. There just aren’t that many people to recommend your book elsewhere if there isn’t a marketing push from the publisher, which, statistically, there probably isn’t. In a big city, there are bound to be some literary heavyweights and it’s hard to get noticed without a pr machine at your service or really terrific reviews. Of course to be the buzz in the Big Apple is one very huge buzz, and if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere (as we know) but how often does this happen to the debut novelist?
Naturally, there are a zillion (well many, many) exceptions to this theory but still, worth considering if you are footloose with a laptop.