Three years ago, I received an email from author Armand Rosamilla. He had read an article about my newest book, “Food for a Hungry Ghost,” in the newspaper and was looking for likeminded authors to connect with. Being new to the area and feeling isolated as a freshly published author, I welcomed his invitation.
A few weeks later, I met him and fellow author Tim Baker at an Entrepreneur Night in European Village. The three of us hit it off and soon were “touring” Flagler County, hosting signings and spreading the word about our books.
At that time Tim, Armand and I were the predominant face of authors in Flagler County. However, in just three years we’ve seen a radical change in the local scene as the number of published writers has exploded.
Recently, “Saving Libbie the Lobster” author Marybeth Jeitner planned a small book signing at the Flagler Beach Library, with her, co-author Heather Chalmers, Tim Baker and myself. However, when word got out about her plans, authors from all around the county contacted her asking for table space to sell their books. By Feb. 25, the day of the event, we had 15 authors filling the library’s meeting room.
Flagler writers aren’t the only ones feeling this shift. When the owners of Flagler Beach’s Change Jar Books, Suzanne Stewart and Craig Harris, opened their store in 2009, their local author section boasted a mere five books. Today in their new facility on Moody Boulevard they carry 60-plus local authors.
With the advent of Amazon’s online service Createspace, it is easier than ever to become a published author. With just a Word file and a simple cover design, anyone who has ever dreamed of making a book can. This shift has significantly affected not just local bookstores but the overall state of the publishing industry. Online, the Big Five publishers now hold only 16% of the e-book bestseller list, while 40% of total e-book sales today come from indie authors.
Flagler County authors are working together more than ever, not only to support each other as they develop their skills, but also in teaming together to market and hosting events. Writer’s support groups, workshops, and classes are easy to find in the area as there’s never a shortage of people wanting to learn more about the field.
More books mean more choices for readers, but it also more voices being heard. Writers in the area are no longer alone in their endeavors. They’re finding a rich community that supports their passion and helps guide them in their professional growth.
Becky Pourchot’s books can be found on Amazon.com and at Change Jar Books.