Have you ever wondered what it is like being writer, a local bookstore owner and event promoter/planner? Adam Ross gives us his hot tips on how it’s done.
IN: As a reader and a writer, I have always been curious about the business of books, and how they end up from an idea in a writer’s mind into the hands of a reader. Tell us about yourself Adam.
AR: My name is Adam and I own and operate RosscoLorenzo General Store & Newsstand. My love of local and indie authors is what got me started on this journey to open a shop of my own that is all about local artists, businesses and building community. The journey has been amazing and filled with people who are lovely to talk to and have been such strong supporters. They keep me going!
IN: I love the innovative concept and the traditional community-led enterprise of Rosscolorenzo and how you have reached out to all walks of local life providing your service. I feel very welcome and am proud as an author to be part of the team. As a writer have you found it challenging to also be a businessman and how have you addressed the creative vs entrepreneurial challenges?
AR: It is definitely a challenge! My writing time is less and less as I move closer to opening the store. Which means I need to be strict on my time and follow a schedule. On top of all this I also work a full-time job in a grocery store, thankfully early in the morning so my afternoons and evenings are free to write, create content, network, and get goods and services ordered for the business. Time management is extremely important for any writer or business person. I also have learned to just get things done instead of procrastinating. Some of those things are uncomfortable but by just getting it done doest two things – it gets it done and it helps me grow as a person in that I put myself in an awkward situation. For example, I don’t know anything about plumbing and electrical work and reaching out to those type of contractors has been fun and informative but also a great learning experience.
IN: I have always been interested in sales too as I have at some point or other run a pop-up kiosk or stand on a small level for my books and fan merch, and when I had a band we had band merch to sell with our CDs. I always have tried to diversify, albeit on a small scale. What made you first get interested in retail and how did you get into running a store/shop?
AR: People. I love chatting and schmoozing with people. Learning about them and hearing their story – I find them fascinating. And when it comes to watching someone light up over a suggestion I made or helping them find the perfect gift that’s what really makes me happy in this business. And a lot of people claim retail is dying but that is simply not true. Retail is evolving and people’s needs and wants are changing with it – with what is going on in the world buying behavior is changing with it. However, there will always be a need for shops. Granted it won’t be a one item shop (e.g. only books and nothing else), there will need to be multi-channel offerings under one roof.
As for running my own store – I have worked in retail for eighteen years in every position from stock associate to assistant manager and human resources to merchandising. From all of that I have developed a bit of a sour opinion toward corporations. The inflexibility and lack of desire to try new things and be open to hearing suggestions turns me off. I believe you, as a business owner and even an author), need to be open to every opportunity or at least entertaining the idea. Which drives me with the store – I want to be a place where artists, authors, poets, musicians, small brands can come and work with me to create an event or promote their work and find a way to enrich the world together.
IN: Describe the kind of writing you are interested in, and consequently also the books you enjoy, naming three authors who have inspired you.
AR: I primarily write general fiction that I like to think is a bit quirky. I’m revising my first book and quite tickled with the twist at the end. It’s just fun to escape into a different world and exploring the English language in its written form. I will read pretty much everything. As I’ve gotten older memoirs and biographies have started to attract me. I do a lot of entrepreneur reading and non-fiction. Gary Vahnercheuk has inspired me from a business perspective and that has helped with everything I do – from writing to owning a small business. R.D. Kardon has inspired me and become a great friend. Eric Larson writes non-fiction that reads like fiction and writes in astonishing detail.
IN: I understand that you also run and plan events and provide catering, venue and so on. Describe the setting and location of Parker, CO. What kind of service would you provide for authors/artists if they would like to plan a book launch/gallery opening in Colorado?
AR: The Town of Parker is 66,000 strong and growing. It’s a very engaged and energetic community. They also are a town composed of local business champions. The Town Council and Chamber of Commerce do a great job of supporting their local businesses. I offer a number of services in the shop – Coffee with an Author is one: where an author comes in, I buy coffee for all attendees and we get to know the author over a cup of coffee. Of course, this has been suspended and is being done virtually. I’ve been hosting daily chats with authors, poets and local business and civic leaders every day for going on a month now and they’ve been quite successful! R.D. Kardon and I have been hosting fellow authors for The Thursday Zoom where we shoot the sh*t and talk writing and books, that has been a wonderful weekly online chat that was born of this pandemic and will continue afterward.
My space will eagerly host author events and artist showings/galleries at a very low price. And you have coffee, cold brew, beer, pastries, snacks and locally produced lemonade beverages to offer guests. And I staff it and run sales for them and actively assist in promoting the event through RosscoLorenzo’s social media channels.
IN: What are three tips you have for authors or artists who are interested in providing a service and running a local business? eg. do you use social media or how do you promote yourself on the local angle?
AR: The first tip: DO NOT place all your faith and energy and time into Amazon. There are many bookstores and coffee shops, event spaces and beer halls that will gladly have you there. There are also a zillion social media sites and apps where you can share your work. Facebook has plenty of author groups as does Meetup. Amazon may have a great reach but you can not isolate yourself there.
The second tip: Marketing is crucial. You have to actively engage with folks on all of your social media channels. And by engage I mean comment, respond and ask questions. You also need to post engaging content. Share a picture of you drinking your favorite coffee while writing and tag the coffee roaster. Then post a buy link with a quote from a review. And then at the end of the day snap a pic of your evening walk. Share yourself as much as you are sharing your book. Folks are eager to get to know you.
The third tip: Just love. Love what you do and let that passion and energy shine through. That energy is contagious and folks will gravitate toward it.
IN: Finally, tell us about some exciting news that you are working on now and that we can look forward to.
AR: The brick and mortar is happening! No longer a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’. This has been a five year journey for me to build this. I’ve had two failed attempts, lots of business podcasts and advice and a fantastic entourage of supporters, friends and family. There is quite a long list of folks to thank and appreciate it. However, three have really been there for me in a time when I needed it and have been absolutely amazing and reminded of the power of unconditional love. A very huge and warm thank you to my Mom, my Brother, and my Mom’s Boyfriend.
That being said…the brick and mortar will be a creative community space, coffee & canned beer bar, event hall and community garden. Plenty of space to hang out, make a friend, meet an author, host an event and grow some lettuce for homemade salads. Lots of exciting stuff coming! Be sure to subscribe to my rarely sent out newsletter at www.rosscolorenzo.com for all the updates to join the family.
Thank you Ivy for taking the time to interview me and share my story and shop! Looking forward to having your books in the shop and reading them!
IN: Well, I am so thrilled to hear your news and it really makes me wish I was there. I am very proud that my new book OVERBOARD will be in your store. I love the community spirit of bringing people together through art and books. There is no greater sense of creativity and potential than that of a live audience or a market. I wish you and RosscoLorenzo all the best. Anybody reading this, do support indie, buy local, read books.
You can follow RosscoLorenzo here:
Ivy Ngeow is an award-winning Malaysian-born British author of 3 novels and many short stories. You can find her on writengeow.com.