The cult section of the literary world

Simple ways to get Bizarro books out there…

by Sarah Shaw

As a fan of the Bizarro literary genre, I want the authors and small presses that publish Bizarro to succeed. Part of this is letting readers know that the genre exists. Here are some things that I have done to help spread the word about Bizarro.

1. Reviews

After you read a book, review it. Post a review on,, your blog, your Facebook,, anywhere really. Or shout out your review on a street corner and hand out written pamphlets with your review printed on it. I actually haven’t done the street corner thing, but you get the basic idea. Be honest in your reviews, I implore you. I’m leery when I see a debut author of any genre with 72 5-star, vague reviews. Honesty is really the best policy here.

2. The Library

I’m pretty much always strapped for cash, so I can’t buy all of the books that I want. Who can, really? But a great way to get a book in your hands, at least temporarily, is to request that your public library order it. Here is a pic of some of the books that my local library has ordered at my request:



All in all, seven or eight of the Bizarro books that I requested are now on my library’s shelves. Granted, they rejected at least 15 other requests that I made, but it never hurts to ask. If I can get a library in the middle of Alaska to stock some Bizarro, I’m pretty sure that other folks can do it too.

3. Social Networking
I’m a Facebook junkie, so in addition to all of the silly memes that I share, I also share links to small press websites, books on Amazon or other stores, reviews I’ve posted, etc. Several of my friends have been introduced to the genre because of one of my posts. If you use Facebook, use it to its full advantage and share links to books that you like or reviews that you’ve posted.
I don’t use Twitter. Tweeting is for birds.
4. Bookstores
I have the privilege of working part-time in a chain bookstore that has a “Staff Recommends” shelf. This past week, my first Bizarro recommendation (“Fistful of Feet” by Jordan Krall) went up on the shelf and is now on display. My next recommendation is on order and will be up there soon, as well. If you work in a bookstore that doesn’t have a shelf for staff recommendations, ask your store manager about getting one. Remember, it never hurts to ask…especially if you ask nicely.
So these are just a few of the things I’ve done to get the beautiful face of Bizarro out in the open. Of course, these tactics could help any small press or indie author of ANY genre. So get off of your ass and try some of them, or else that indie publisher that you love so much might not make it.
That’s all for today. Here’s a pic of two guys and a truck in some cereal to tide you over:

9 responses

  1. Thanks, that was really helpful. May I just point out though that twitter is actually quite useful, I wouldn’t have heard of many of the publications I’ve been published in if I hadn’t followed certain people.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:19 am

  2. Great tips. I’ve been posting a lot of links to Bizarro books and posts via tumblr and making good use of the tags.

    September 26, 2012 at 10:03 am

  3. Sarah Shaw

    Thanks. I just can’t get into the Twitter groove, but many folks find it useful.

    September 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm

  4. Esther Brown

    I’m made an online request for the addition of Patrick Wensink’s Broken Piano for President to a library where I live (it’s part of the Monroe County Library System). I’m not sure how they’ll react (will I even get arrested for such a request?).

    September 27, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    • Sarah Shaw

      Arrested? Only if you make the request in person while naked, I think.

      September 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      • Perhaps especially if wearing nothing but socks and sandles

        September 28, 2012 at 3:23 am

  5. Pingback: Simple ways to get independent books out there « Madeleine Swann

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