After opening the Gulf Coast Bookstore in Ft. Myers, Fla., to showcase the work of local self-published authors in April, children’s author and illustrator Patti Brassard Jefferson is getting ready to take the next step to promote indie authors. In October she will open P.J. Boox Bookstore, also in Ft. Myers, a standalone brick-and-mortar bookstore that will feature nearly 10 times as many authors as Gulf Coast.
“It has been a truly fun journey,” says Jefferson of her decision to create a bookstore for area authors by launching Gulf Coast with history author Timothy Jacobs. Since the Gulf Coast store is located within another retail operation, it has been relatively self-reliant, with staffers from The Shops at Butterfly Estates handling book sales. Although Gulf Coast opened during the slow season, Brassard says that the store is getting repeat customers. She anticipates that from October, when the tourist season begins, through Christmas, sales are going to be “outrageous.”
But it’s not just Brassard who has been excited by Gulf Coast’s launch. Of the 54 authors who signed up to be featured at Gulf Coast with their own bookshelf, 48 opted to renew after the first three months. According to Brassard, the vacancies were filled from the waiting list in less than 15 minutes. She also heard from nearly 200 authors who aren’t local, who wanted to be represented in a similar bookstore, which is what prompted her to start P.J. Boox.
The new 1,660 sq. ft. bookstore will also rely on face-out shelf displays and will have space to accommodate books from more than 500 authors from North America. In addition to renting shelf-space to individual authors for four-month periods, Brassard is encouraging independent presses to rent shelves for a year and rotate their displays every few months. As at Gulf Coast, authors will be paid monthly and receive 100% of sales (minus credit card fees). The new store will also sell books online through its website pjboox.com. For those sales authors will receive 80%.
Brassard is planning an active events schedule at P.J. Boox with in-person appearances as well as virtual visits via Skype. A dedicated events space can comfortably seat 20 people for book clubs and other gatherings. The mall will be able to accommodate larger crowds.
To complement the books, Brassard plans to reach out to independent artists with Etsy stores for book marks, cards, and journals. It’s part of her goal of “keeping a more independent slant to [the store].” That slant includes a variety of book categories from romance to zombies and children’s.
In addition to planning for the new bookstore, Brassard is in the midst of illustrating Tara and Geoff Moser’s Bode the Beach Dog: Life is RUFF! and the third book in Kenny Rager’s CrocaGator series, as well as completing her own Love You to Pieces. When they’re complete, she plans to devote herself full-time to the new store. “If it works,” she says, “I’d be open to another one on the left side of Florida.”