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Woman puts local books in local shops

Jeane Slone, who distributes books by local authors to 15 outlets all over Sonoma County, places books on a display inside Bean Affair in Healdsburg.

CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / PD
Published: Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 8:55 a.m.

Two years ago, Jeane Slone of Healdsburg started looking for new venues to sell her own books, starting with her favorite local cafe, Bean Affair.

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STEMWARE AND A STORY

Here are some upcoming “Wine with Local Authors” events:

Five authors will be featured at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Redwood Cafe in Cotati: Frances Caballo, author of “Social Media Just for Writers”; Linda McCabe, author of “Quest of the Warrior Maiden”: Mary Lanier, author of “Earth is Your Sweet Spot”; Katy Byrne, author of “The Courage to Speak Up”; and Theresa Dintino, author of “Ode to Minoa.” To reserve a seat, call 889-3419 or e-mail monamech@gmail.com.

Five authors will be featured at 6 p.m. Feb. 11 at Gaia's Garden in Santa Rosa: Victor Daniels, author of “The Radical Wrong”; Mary Lynn Archibald, author of “Accidental Cowgirl”; Gabriel Fraire, author of “Daddy, I Need to Go Potty”; Robby Bryant, author of “Dream”; and Robert Digitale, author of “Horse Stalker.” To reserve a seat, call 544-2491 or e-mail info@jeaneslone.com.

Here is the current list of Sonoma County venues where Jeane Slone distributes local authors' books:

Amoruso Printing in Healdsburg
Apple Box Coffee Shop in Petaluma
The Bean Affair in Healdsburg
Bungalow Coffee and Tea in Larkfield
Food Bar in Petaluma
Gaia's Garden in Santa Rosa
Garden Court Cafe & Bakery in Glen Ellen
Hart's Desire Winery in Healdsburg
Lulu & Hill in Santa Rosa
Muffin Street Baking in Santa Rosa
Omelette Express in Windsor
Parkpoint Health Club in Healdsburg
Pedroncelli Winery in Geyserville
Redwood Cafe in Cotati
Vintage Home Collective in Geyserville
Viva Cocolat in Petaluma
Wicked Wines in Healdsburg

When her colleagues in the Redwood Writers club asked her to place their books as well, she took up the challenge. Now, Slone oversees a growing stable of local scribes, distributing nearly 90 different titles to cafes, health clubs and wineries all across Sonoma County.

“It's all local shops and local authors,” she said. “I will not put the books in any chains.”

Both the venues and the books rotate, but currently, you can find a selection of local books in 17 locations, from The Apple Box in Petaluma to Hart's Desire and Pedroncelli wineries in Healdsburg.

“I thought that authors and wineries would go well together,” she said. “All the books are signed, and I rotate the books every month.”

Before long, Slone also got a request from the owners of Gaia's Garden restaurant in Santa Rosa to hold a dinner showcasing the writers and their books.

“Dine with Local Authors,” held on the second Monday of each month, launched last year, drawing up to 35 people for an evening of noshing and chatter, book readings and Q&As.

“It starts at 6 p.m., and you can make reservations to sit with a particular author,” Slone said. “It's very fast-paced. The authors read from their book for 5 minutes, and then there's a 5-minute Q&A.”

Margo van Veen of Santa Rosa, who dabbles in poetry, said she enjoys getting to chat with the authors at the monthly dinners.

“It's neat to be able to sit at a table and pick the writer's brain,” she said. “When people are eating, it's a good atmosphere, and it breaks the ice.”

About a year ago, Slone also hired Mona Mechling of Rohnert Park to help her distribute books at the southern end of the county, including Petaluma, Cotati and parts of Santa Rosa.

When the Redwood Cafe in Cotati asked to host an author's dinner on the third Tuesday of the month, Slone tapped Mechling to organize the affair.

Dinners in Santa Rosa and Cotati feature five or six authors each night. Their books range from self-help workbooks and memoirs to short stories and novels. About a quarter of the books are published traditionally.

Although she has no desire to work in a bookstore, Slone said she enjoys getting to know the authors and supporting their craft.

“I get a percentage of the sale, but the authors get a bigger cut than at a bookstore,” she said. “I love giving authors money.”

Slone gets a barrage of e-mails each month from new authors. She meets with them, then decides whether to distribute their books or not. She turns away authors from Marin and Napa as well as certain genres.

“I have started saying no to memoirs, and I shy away from poetry, too,” she said. “Both are a hard sell.”

She tracks how well each book sells, then posts the top two best-sellers on her Facebook page, Local Authors' Distributor.

In November, “Lipstick and the Leash” by Camilla Gray-Nelson hit No. 1, followed in December by Ken Weaver's “The Northern California Craft Beer Guide.”

Before that, Arlene Miller's “The Best Little Grammar Book Ever,” a concise and funny primer, held the top spot for more than a year.

Like the other authors, Miller appreciates all the legwork Slone does to help market and sell her books.

“It gets the books in places that ordinarily they won't go, to a good audience of people that might not otherwise see it,” Miller said. “And it's less competitive than the bookstore.”

Slone, who ran a daycare center in Sebastopol, started to write her own historical fiction after retiring three years ago.

Her first book, “She Flew Bombers,” was based on interviews with a handful of Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) from World War II. Her second book, “She Built Ships,” was based on stories from the female welders and riveters of the same era.

“The world has changed, and in order to market your book, you have to do it yourself,” she said. “The talent in this county is astounding.”

You can reach Staff Writer Diane Peterson at 521-5287 or diane.peterson@ pressdemocrat.com.

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