For the past decade, Kansas City author Theresa Hupp has made a second career out of her love for books. She has been blogging about her personal hardships and experiences and recently fulfilled one of her dreams.
She published her novel “Lead Me Home: Hardship and Hope on the Oregon Trail” in September 2015 and hopes to publish the sequel by the end of the year. Once she was published, getting the word out about her book was the next obstacle.
“You finally have written the book, perfected the book and finally get it published,” Hupp said. “And then getting it sold is the biggest challenge.”
One day a writer friend showed her Hometown Reads, a website that showcases local authors in different cities. Authors sign up to be featured, and readers can find authors from their city. The site links readers to Amazon to buy a book.
When Hupp and other authors learned they could get Hometown Reads to feature Kansas City, they jumped on board.
According to Hometown Reads founder Becky Robinson, for a city to go live on the site it needs at least 10 local authors to sign up. Kansas City met that criteria right away and has grown to be one of the biggest of the 10 cities on the website, she said.
“Even if you’re a big author and have the finances, marketing a book is difficult,” Robinson said. “You have to create a lot of noise to gain attention. And that’s what we want to do with Hometown Reads.”
Like Hupp, author Darlene Deluca of Prairie Village learned about Hometown Reads through a writer friend. Deluca has published six books; she writes about romance and relationships.
“Groups like this are important for other writers to get to know each other,” Deluca said. “We help each other, push each other and challenge each other. It makes it more fun.”
Deluca and Hupp are part of different writing clubs in Kansas City, including a Facebook group called Read Local Kansas City, another organization aimed at promoting local authors.
“Our main goal besides selling books is to connect with readers,” Deluca said. “We do book signings, visit book club groups and develop a presence in the community.”
As Hometown Reads grows, Robinson hopes to do similar things. She wants to use the site to create different events for authors to connect with their readers. She also wants to keep Hometown Reads free or low cost. Right now it is free for authors and readers.
“I can’t imagine an author that wouldn’t want to be a part of this,” Hupp said. “Kansas City has such a strong community of authors: essayists, poets, novelists, nonfiction writers and more. This really helps out everyone.”