Flint, MI–Totem Books has started a new series of events, called “What Have You Written?” to highlight the works of local authors. These events are held on the second Friday of every month, where local authors run their own tables from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Stephanie Mondeau, Totem’s general manager, says she is aiming to give the time and attention local authors deserve.
“It’s hard normally to get exposure, but it’s even harder during these times,” Mondeau says. “How does someone break out? What talents are waiting to be discovered? I created these events because I wanted to give them an avenue to be able to get that exposure.”
Authors are allowed to use their allotted tables for whatever purpose they choose–promoting and signing books, meeting fans, building connections, and more.
This month’s authors are N.H. Paxton and James Knirs. Paxton is a fantasy author known for the Viridian Gate Online series, Rogue Dungeon, War God’s Mantle, and more. Knirs is the author of the Descendants of Freyr series, a fantasy series that deals with LGBT+ themes.
Mondeau says she has a love for the local writing scene and has known many of its authors for a long time. “There are so many local authors people aren’t aware of, especially during quarantine,” she says.
She says she understands and empathizes with local authors trying to find exposure for their works. “There’s a lot of new authors that don’t have experience promoting themselves yet,” she says. Mondeau hopes these events can be a beneficial experience for learning how to promote themselves.
Mondeau says Totem is open to hosting authors of all genres and ages for their “What Have You Written?” events. “The only thing we would ever say no to is something that defied our ideals,” she says. “Inclusivity is a big part of our culture here.”
Planning events can be difficult during a pandemic, but Mondeau has hopes that Totem can safely and creatively make them happen. “I think we can turn lemons into lemonade here,” she says. “I think we can get creative about it and challenge ourselves in a way we’ve never been challenged before.”
Tables are spaced out, masks are required, and there is a maximum number of customers allowed in the store at a time. “I really do think people want to get out, but we want to do it within the guidelines,” Mondeau says.
“It’s a very experiential store,” says Mondeau. “We do books, we do vinyl, we do metaphysics. I want to see people looking for books and singing to the music on the stereo while they’re in the aisles, smelling the incense. All that good stuff. But we promise to do it within the guidelines.”
Mondeau says Totem is open to featuring more authors during an event, but is sticking with two at a time for now. She says Totem has already been contacted by many local authors looking to participate, and hopes to continue the “What Have You Written?” events for the foreseeable future.
The next event will be held November 13th.
Local authors looking to participate in future “What Have You Written?” events at Totem should reach out to the bookstore via email at email@example.com.