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Meet Vickie Bley of The Southern Pen Bookshop in East of Atlanta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vickie Bley.

Vickie Bley is an independent author and writes under the name Tori Bailey. She understands the challenges indie authors face when it comes to selling their books. Primarily, indie or self-published authors are limited to selling their books online or at festivals. If a bookstore agrees to take a non-traditionally published book, the author enters into a consignment agreement a can give up at least 40% of their book sales. The author is also responsible for supplying the inventory and can face loss if the books are damaged or stolen.

The idea of having a bookstore that catered strictly to the independent/self-published author was one Vickie had wanted to explore for several years. She had been affiliated with a bookstore located in South Florida that turned this concept into a reality. The opportunity to act on her idea came when a local developer restored a large retail space in downtown Monroe, Georgia. The multi-level space is home to the Monroe Mercantile and rents space to vendors. A home had been found but the next hurdle was a name that represented the essences of being southern but also open to everyone that loves books. The name The Southern Pen Bookshop – An Indie Bookshop for Indie Authors was created.

At The Southern Pen Bookshop, readers can find a wide variety of genres waiting to greet them with their covers facing forward. Several of the authors and their books have received awards. The premise for the bookshop is that authors rent their space by selecting a six month or one-year plan. The authors are highlighted on the bookshop’s website, promoted through the shop’s social media outlets, in-store advertising, email marketing, and the bookshop’s blog. Authors are scheduled for book signings and are featured as author of the month. The bookshop is a small section located on the street-level floor of the mercantile but is operated as a stand-alone bookstore. There are three ways the books are sold: through the bookshop, online bookstore on the shop’s website, Any online orders are fulfilled through the bookshop. The best part for the authors is they retain 80% of their net sales.

A way the bookshop encourages visitors to come and explore the shop is through hosting events. Last November, a book drive was held to collect books for Operation Paperback. Operation Paperback is a non-profit that distributes used books to the military, military families, and veterans. The books collected in November were sent to different veteran homes and hospital. During the Christmas season, the bookshop hosted a craft night where attendees could choose between making a Christmas Tree or Angel using pages from old books. A writing contest for high school aged students was held/ Another event was an afternoon Christmas Tea. Each table was hosted by an author in the bookshop. This spring the bookshop will host a tent during the Children’s Literary Festival in April. Another spring event is a one-day writers conference on May 18th. The conference will conclude with the first annual Georgia Independent Authors Award Banquet. The award was opened to all Georgia independent and self-published authors.

The Southern Pen Bookshop has two slogans. The first is “let us introduce you to your favorite indie author.” Because indie authors are our rockstars. The second is “there are two things a book should never be judged by. One is its cover and second is how it was published.”

Has it been a smooth road?
The response to our “little” bookshop has been overwhelming. Both from authors and the public. We have a lot of return readers. Our authors are well received during our events and signings. One of the big things that have helped us is having the support of other vendors in the Mercantile. We cross-promote with each other. Monroe also has a pro-active downtown development team. They plan a lot of yearly events that bring people to downtown Monroe. In February the big event was A Chocolate Walk, we gave out at least 250 swag bags with information about the bookshop and candy within the first hour. Our area was crowded with people looking and buying books.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Southern Pen Bookshop – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
What makes us unique is we are an independent bookshop that supports the independent/self-published author. I am proud to make our authors feel valued for their work and to be a voice for them. Myself and my staff become familiar with our authors and their works. We can make recommendations, tell you something about the author, and explain their books. When an author becomes a part of The Southern Pen Bookshop, they have become a part of our family.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
It’s diversity. Not only in the people. But, in the different cultural activities, the arts, food, and festivals. Atlanta is full of life and energy.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Vickie Bley and Mary Treadwell

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Janet Chapman

    March 13, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    Vickie is fulfilling a strategic need for indie authors. She takes us under her wing and does indeed include us all as family. I appreciate her efforts on behalf of indie authors, especially The Southern Pen’s sponsorship of an Indie Author Book Award and conference. This is criticalsince the Georgia Writer’s Association is no longer accepting indie books for their annual book awards. I have loved work g with Vickie and her team- they have become friends. I am proud to have my books in stock at The Southern Pen!

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