Happy Birthday Localist Book!

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localist book and confetti

Four years ago today, my first book came out. I can hardly believe it’s been that long, and I’m still completely humbled by the outpouring of love and support I got for the book, and for the idea of buying local. So today, since the book’s turning four, I thought I’d share four things you might not know about The Localist book:

The Localist was a blog before it was a book

A lot of people think I wrote The Localist because I was already an entrepreneur (I owned a bookstore/coffee shop), but it was actually the other way around. I was interested in the pros and cons of buying locally, so I decided to only buy from local shops for one year as an experiment, and I blogged about it at a Tumblr called Shop Small. It wasn’t until after I started the blog (and found way more pros and way fewer cons to buying locally than I’d thought) that I started a business. A few years after that, I decided to publish my blogs as a book, and that idea grew into The Localist book.

I wanted to self-publish a book, so I never tried to find a traditional publisher

A lot of people self-publish as a last resort because they can’t find a publisher for their work. But I actually wanted to experiment with self-publishing. It’s not because I think it’s better, because I don’t. It’s not because I hate traditional publishing — it’s still a dream of mine to publish through a major publishing house someday. But I still owned my bookstore at the time, and lots of our customers were interested in self-publishing. I had the idea to maybe teach a workshop about self-publishing, or even start a small press through the store. I knew I needed to go through the process myself first, so I decided to repurpose something I’d already written (the Tumblr)  instead of starting from scratch. Neither the workshop nor the press came to fruition before I sold the shop to my business partner, and the book took on a life of its own. And it’s way more than repurposed blogs — that concept didn’t work (the blogs didn’t read well in book format), but by the point I figured that out, I loved the idea of writing a buy-local book … so I wrote it anyway.

I rushed the publication of The Localist so it could come out on Small Business Saturday

Books normally come out on Tuesdays, so it’s strange to have a Saturday release date. And I could’ve used a few more months to comfortably finish writing and editing — but I’ve never been much for choosing comfort over a ridiculous deadline. I wanted to publish on Small Business Saturday because I thought I’d get more press on the book release if it coincided with an event local news stations already wanted to cover — and it worked.

I made a podcast about my publishing journey

Because so many people are interested in self publishing, I get a lot of questions about it. I don’t mind answering these questions, but there’s a lot of information to share. So I started a podcast called Everybody Hates Self-Publishing to tell the story of The Localist book. I interviewed everyone I could who helped me with the book, from my editor and graphic designer to booksellers and librarians I knew who gave me advice about getting into stores. You can listen to Everybody Hates Self-Publishing (the name is a little sarcastic) here on my website, or wherever you like to listen to your podcasts (Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, etc.).

I’m so grateful for The Localist book and for all the people, bookstores and readers who made it a success. The best way to say Happy Birthday to The Localist? Shop from your favorite independent shop! Today’s Small Business Saturday, so there’s a really good chance they have some fun things going on in the store, and maybe even some sales. You can also buy The Localist; it’s available through my website, but pretty much any bookstore can order a copy for you as well.

Carrie Rollwagen is author of The Localist, a book about buying from locally owned stores and cofounder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Currently, she works as Communications Director at Infomedia, a web development company in Birmingham, Alabama. Find her as @crollwagen on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and most other social media platforms.

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