Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer Speak Out for Indies First

Posted on September 26, 2014

Photo of Neil Gaiman and his wife Amanda Palmer supporting the 2014 Indies First event

Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer have signed on to be spokespeople for the American Booksellers Association's Indies First event. So, what's it all about? On Small Business Saturday, November 29, 2014, the ABA is encouraging authors and writers to volunteer at their local independent bookstore.

Amanda and Neil wrote an open letter to their fellow authors asking them to participate in this important and fun event. So, why would you -- a writer -- want to go volunteer to sell books at your local independent bookstore the Saturday? They explain: "You, an author, will experience the joys and frustrations of being a bookseller. Mostly the joys -- it's one of the busiest days of the year for small businesses, especially in bookshops." You can sign copies of your books and handsell your books, your friends' books and books that you think customers will like.

"Dear Amanda and Neil," you might be thinking at this point, "I don't know my independent bookseller and I'm a shy author who is not going to pop round to the bookshop uninvited." Fair enough. Authors can go here to sign up for the Author Registry as someone who would be willing to volunteer the day of the event and the bookshop will contact you. How easy is that? There is no obligation and it's sure to be a lot of fun. As Amanda and Neil explain, "It will be, we promise you, a much more sociable day than the ones you spend staring at a blank screen or a white sheet of paper, communing with imaginary people and suchlike."

So how did this all come about? Sherman Alexie, winner of the National Book Award, came up with the idea last year and it was a huge success with 1,100 participating. At this point you might be wondering, "Well, I know Neil's work, of course, but wait. Isn't Amanda Palmer a rock star -- not an author?" Amanda is a rock star. But she is now an author, as well. Her first nonfiction book, called The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help, will be published by Grand Central Books on November 11, 2014.

The book is based on Amanda's amazing TED talk which you can see here. As the founder of the Dresden Dolls indie rock group, Amanda learned to ask for help from absolute strangers when she needed it: a place to stay, help in setting up for the band's gigs, or moral support. What she got in return was more than she ever dreamed of. It's a terrifying and fascinating way to live your life and will definitely shift your perspective.

Amanda is one of the authors who has gotten caught in the middle of the ongoing battle between Hachette (which owns Grand Central) and Amazon.com. Amanda's book is not available for pre-order at Amazon. It is, however, available for pre-order at all other bookstores, both large and small. So, although she and Neil have always supported independent bookstores, this time it's personal.

If you just can't face volunteering at a bookshop on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we hope you will at least stop by your local book store to buy a holiday present or two. You can learn more about Amanda's book and buy tickets for the book tour at amandapalmer.net.

Photo: Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman



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