One of the most difficult challenges for any small press author is promoting and raising awareness of their work. The challenge is considerable, as many chains do not even allow local managers the discretion to stock or buy titles from a local author, much less allow for opportunities for readings or book signings.
Therefore, the most needs to be made of every opportunity to work with the chain stores and independent stores that do allow for such an opportunity. For small press authors who are not well-known in a given city, this can be a daunting situation.
Thanks to the vision and hard work of one small press author, David Blalock, an exciting new project called Imagicopter was catalyzed over the summer and is now about to kick off in Memphis, TN at Davis-Kidd Booksellers on Saturday, August 22nd.
David kickstarted a project that has gained momentum and garnered enthusiasm from all involved, authors, small press publishers, and bookstores (Disclosure note: my own publisher, Seventh Star Press, is a very enthusiastic participant). The background, concept, current and future plans, and the premiere event are discussed in the following interview with David, the author of the fantasy novel Ascendant (which will be featured and reviewed in the very near future on this blog).
-Stephen Zimmer, for Seventh Star Press Interview/Blog Series, August 13, 2009
SZ: The first question is probably the most obvious for a newer organization. What is Imagicopter?
DB: Imagicopter isn't so much a "what" as a "who". Imagicopter is a group of writers and artists who decided to get together not only to improve, encourage, and promote their own work, but to give other writers and artists a hand in doing so as well.
SZ: What inspired you personally to work to bring Imagicopter about?
DB: It was totally selfish, believe me. I wanted help from other writers in finding out new ways to get my work before the public. I discovered that many of them had the same idea. Voila, Imagicopter.
SZ: As a small press author, what have been some of the most difficult challenges in raising awareness of your own work, and how do you think Imagicopter will address those challenges?
DB: Visibility is difficult for any author, but especially for newer authors. Without the benefit of deep pockets to hire a publicist, or the prestige of a front-line agent pitching your work, you're pretty much restricted in where you can go and what you can do for promotion. The market has become even tougher recently, as the larger houses dump their midlist authors, putting them squarely into competition with us lesser known folk. Imagicopter has the benefit of giving us "strength in numbers", as it were. For the same price, or less, of a single midlist author, a venue can sponsor several local writers from many different genres, catering to a wider range of demographics.
SZ: What has the response been from participating writers so far?
DB: Almost to a person, all the writers we have approached are positive about Imagicopter. We have even had unsolicited requests from writers to join. Those who are unable to join at this time due to publisher commitments or personal issues have asked to be kept on the list.
SZ: Have you gotten any response from small press publishers on the concept yet?
DB: Absolutely. Kerlak Publishing and Meadowhawk Publications, both of Memphis, Sam's Dot Publications of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Seventh Star Press (of course) and Apex Book Company of Lexington, Kentucky are actively supporting Imagicopter. Participating writers' publishers have a standing invitation to join, obviously.
SZ: Very importantly, what is the early response/feedback on the Imagicopter concept from the bookstores themselves?
DB: We have had nothing but positive and enthusiastic support from bookstores in Memphis, Little Rock, Corinth, Jackson... well, you get the picture.
SZ: What can readers and fantasy fans expect at the premiere Imagicopter event in Memphis at Davis-Kidd Booksellers?
DB: We have eight writers scheduled to appear there on Saturday, August 22 starting at 1:00 PM.
Anne Barringer, David Nora, Herika Raymer, and Windsong Levitch are all new writers whose debuts appeared in Kerlak Publishing's "Dragons Composed" anthology.
Allan Gilbreath is a nationally recognized speaker, author of "HIPAA in Daily Practice" (the medical Bible for dealing with government regulation), and even has a couple of vampire novels out: "Galen" and "Dark Chances", with "Final Kiss" coming soon to finish that series.
Jackie Gamber is the author of "Redheart", first of a fantasy series that should delight any fan of dragons. Her company, Meadowhawk Press, recently published "Terminal Mind" by David Walton, which took this year's Philip K. Dick award.
Marvin "M.R." Williamson is author of two dragon novels himself: "Pragamore" and "Krypendorf".
Then, there is myself, with my title Ascendant. In addition, we will have two artists attending.
Ernest Lawson of Walls, MS, did the art for M.R. Williamson's books and has quite a talent for quick portrait art, especially in chalks.
Sam Flegal, from Nashville, can sketch you as a zombie as easily as he can do your portrait in pencil.
The writers will be reading a little from their work and answering questions from the audience while the artists wend their magic at their easels. It promises to be a lot of fun.
SZ: You’ve got a number of participating writers, so how do you go about selecting a group for a particular event? Primarily regional in nature?
DB: We try to get as many local writers and artists involved as we can, even if they aren't listed on the Imagicopter site. There is a core group of myself, Allan Gilbreath, and M. R. Williamson that you will probably see at all the events, but you can expect some locally well-known names to show.
SZ: What other Imagicopter events are coming up?
DB: All right, here goes:
On September 12, Imagicopter will be in Hernando, Mississippi, as a guest of the Desoto Arts Council.
From October 2-4, 2009, five Imagicopter authors will be guests at the GMX Convention in Nashville.
On October 17, we will be in Jackson, Mississippi at the famous Eudora Welty Library.
Halloween we will be in Hot Springs as part of the festivities sponsored by the Fine Arts Council there.
And we hope to have another event scheduled shortly in Corinth, Mississippi for November 14.
SZ: Can other writers and small press publishers become involved? And how would they go about finding out more information about Imagicopter or contacting you?
DB: We would love to have as many writers and small press publishers involved as we can get. The more the merrier. Right now all we can offer is a bio, a picture, and links to your works on the website, a promise to do our best to include you in appearances in your local area, and a slightly better chance of exposure to a larger audience. Right now Imagicopter is operating just in the Midsouth (Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama) but we are looking to expand soon.
For more information on Imagicopter, people who are interested can visit our website (http://sites.google.com/site/imagicopter), visit us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Imagicopter/107781032427), or just drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our snail mail address is:
622 W. Poplar Avenue
Collierville, TN 38017