By Tiah Short
VaLinda Miller has been with the federal government for 30 years and has worked both domestically and overseas in financial and administrative capacities.
Originally from Washington D.C., VaLinda has resided in Charleston, SC for 15 years, since the financial area of her agency relocated to Charleston. In addition to her volunteering to work with libraries in DC, Virginia, Maryland and other states, she is currently on the Board of the Friends of the Charleston County Library and Friends of the state of South Carolina Library.
In May of 2014, she purchased The Booksmith in Seneca, SC. She plans to retire in the next two years from the Federal Government. She is a regular blogger that heavily promotes Library and related causes, she has one beautiful daughter Kendra and loves her mixed-breed dog Tommy.
Meet the Insider.
Tell us about your bookstore. Your name and position. Where you are located and what genres do you carry?
The Booksmith is located in Seneca, South Carolina and has been around for 25 years.
We sell all genres – Fiction, non-fiction, Christian, African American, South Carolina history, USC and Clemson books/items, cookbooks, teen, kids, etc. We also sell jewelry, holiday decorations, scarfs, puzzles, board games, coffee, tea and biscotti.
VaLinda Miller and I am the owner. I purchased the store in May 2014.
It is 3 and half hours from Charleston, SC, 2 hours from Atlanta, 8 miles from Clemson University, and 45 minutes from Greenville, South Carolina.
What inspired you to launch your bookstore?
I attended a class in Florida called “Owning a Bookstore Workshop Retreat” by Paz and Associates. I attended it on a whim not knowing if I could afford a store or run an online store. The company suggested I look into The Booksmith since it was close to where I live.
Can readers purchase books from you online?
Not yet. Our website should be up in one week. We are blessed that we have a USPS Post Office inside the store where we can mail books directly to the customers.
What authors have you worked with and which one did you enjoy the most?
We have worked with a few local authors:
Billy William “What the Girl At The Picnic Said”
African American Author – Joyce Galloway Mece – The Sad Apple Tree
John Stamp – Shattered Circle
We enjoyed John Stamp’s mystery books.
What type of books do your customers enjoy most?
Best seller listings, SC History, mysteries and fiction.
How do authors and publishers contact to you for book signings and to pitch their books for placement in your stores?
Facebook, twitter, Instagram, email or visit the store
What has been one of the challenges of running a bookstore?
One of the biggest challenges is not enough money. I had planned to retire when I purchase the store, a year later, I realized that I could not afford to. Over the past year I have made many changes from the previous owner and cut back many unnecessary expenses in order to keep the store running. It is also hard to work a full time and part time job while being updated by my manager (who is doing a fantastic job) on a daily basis and I trust her.
If you had any advice for authors and publishers, what would it be?
Don’t submit or publish a story without someone other than friends/co-workers reviewing your work. Another review always adds value to the story. Do not invest a lot of money using other services without doing your own research into them. Don’t write with the ideal that you are going to become rich. Write because you love to write. Write your own story from your heart. Writing is a skilled enhanced over time and not the first book will be knocked out of the park.
If you had any advice for future book sellers, what would it be?
Do not borrow money. Yes, it may seem unrealistic and crazy, just don’t borrow. I have been in this business for two years and in the first year I listen to publishers, the previous owners and others on how I need a credit line to order books.
It does not work. Here is an example. You place an order for $500.00 worth of books or sideline items on January 1. The bill is due January 30. Will you have the money on January 30 to pay it in full? What about rent, utilities, payroll (the biggest expense), water, advertisement, etc. Will you make enough money in 30 days to pay those expenses as well as the $500.00 worth of items purchased?
Buy with cash. If it does not sell by the allotted time you want, return the items back to the vendor (and watch that deadline too. Many vendors have a deadline on when an item can be returned and the discount may be lower and you have to pay for shipping).
Watch you MONEY very carefully – every single day and please avoid borrowing.
Please share with us how authors can contact you via email and social media.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Facebook – thebooksmithsc
Twitter – @TheBooksmithSC
Instagram – thebooksmithsc
Tiah Short is the Founder of Urban Literary Review and CEO of DC Bookdiva Publications, Find her online at dcbookdiva.com.