Author Marketing 101 Part 2

Author Marketing 101, Part 2: Three Well-Known Authors Who Do Their Own Author Marketing

Both first time writers and established authors like to dream of a world where we don’t have to do our own marketing. We’d all love to do nothing but write, mail the occasional manuscript to our editor, and watch the accolades (and the royalty checks) roll in. In our dream world, publishers market writers; we just write.

Here in reality, many publishers do promote their own writers. The Big Five do it with big budgets; independent publishers like AutPress do it more strategically. But every author, large or small, promotes their own book – at least if they want it to sell.

Here are three writers you’ve probably heard of who are engaged in their own marketing:

1. J.K. Rowling

Rowling’s publishers have plenty of money to support her marketing efforts, which is how Rowling produces lush interactive websites like Pottermore instead of your average author blog. But Rowling is also active on Twitter, where she’s as well known for her political wit as she is for talking books.

2. Stephen King

Stephen King has produced approximately one book a year since the 1970s; Google’s answer to “How many Stephen King books are there?” is “At least 107.” There’s no doubt that King works with a publisher that promotes its own writers.

But King promotes his own work as well. He’s active on Twitter and still does public appearances. He also promotes his books by writing more books: On Writing, published in 2000 (and released again in 2010) encourages new readers to pick up King’s books by offering a bit of insight into how they were written.

3. N.K. Jemisin

Yet another writer who loves Twitter, N.K. Jemisin uses the platform to connect with other writers, share publishing news, and tweet images of her adorable cat, in between writing bestselling books. Jemisin has also leveraged Patreon’s creative platform, where the support of her patrons has put her well over her original monthly income goals.

To give your own book its best chance to be read and loved, it’s important to choose a publisher that promotes its own authors. But it’s even more important to choose your own promotion approach. No matter how famous your book becomes, you’ll need to market your own work.

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Author Marketing 101, Part 1: Why Every Author Needs to Do Their Own Marketing

Very few writers daydream about becoming their own marketing point person. On the list of exciting things that might happen after you complete your manuscript, “author marketing” might rank near the bottom.

In order to succeed, though, you need to do what every successful author does: take the lead on your own marketing.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to show you how to do just that. First, though, we’re going to answer a burning question: Why do you need to promote your own book?

1. No one knows your book like you do.

You’ve lived with the world of your book for months or even years. You understand what’s going on, why it exists, and how it operates. While a professional promoter or your publisher can help you place promotional materials in front of the right audiences, the most compelling promotions are going to come from you.

2. People like to put their money where their friendships are.

“Author marketing” isn’t just about an author promoting their own book (although that’s a lot of it). It’s also about promoting yourself: as an author, as a source of fun and creative ideas, and as a person.

About 350,000 books get published each year in the U.S. alone. Most of us only hear about a fraction of them, but we definitely hear about the ones our friends and acquaintances write. By building a strong following, you expand your “friends and acquaintances” circle – thus expanding the circle of people who will line up to buy your book.

3. Promoting your book will make you a better writer.

Try this writing exercise: Imagine someone else wrote your book. Generate 3-5 one-sentence descriptions of it that would make you pick it up and read it.

Not easy, right? But a lot of fun. Marketing your book gives you a different perspective on the work. It demands that you write in different ways. And in doing so, it sharpens your own writing skills.

If author marketing feels like a total mystery, don’t fret. As a publisher who markets our writers and teaches them to market themselves, we’re going to break down the details for you over the next several weeks. Stay tuned!

Great Gift Ideas for Writers

They say that if you want to succeed as a professional writer, you need to read. It sounds like simple advice, but it’s true. Specifically, you need to read what is fresh and new, as well as what will give you an idea about the history of the style you are developing and working in. For writers who don’t always embody the traditionally cultivated image of a writer in American publishing, it can be hard to find role model writers.

Historically, disabled writers, mentally ill writers, and even writers of color have found themselves erased from mainstream publishing. Luckily, there are a number of independent venues that have always served to help elevate diverse books. Traditionally, these include important presses like Grove, as well as daring university presses like the one out of Duke.

In today’s electronic landscape, both writers and readers are clamoring for diverse books, and a new generation of writers is growing up demanding stories about people like them, by people like them. That’s why Autonomous Press and Neuroqueer Books have expanded our search for diverse writers. If you’re looking for a gift for a reader who wants to see both diversity and depth of storytelling, you need to check out the package discount on our Spoon Knife series. Between the two volumes, over 60 writers with a diverse range of backgrounds tell stories of neurological divergence and queerness.

There are also deep discounts on The Puzzlebox Collective’s Shaping Clay series, following the exploits of an autistic transgender girl as she comes to terms with the need to keep her identity hidden from everyone around her.

Lovers of poetry will find Barking Sycamores a treat, and you can easily tip them off to the free reading on the blog before surprising readers with the collections, available now on the Autonomous Press site. Of course, Christmas isn’t the only time readers need new books, so it might be worthwhile to add yourself to our mailing list today. Mailing list subscribers get access to great discounts not available elsewhere, including 20 percent off new release coupons, bundle clearance deals, and more.

Order soon! You’ll want to get your order to our store by 12/14 to make sure we can get you books by the holidays.

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Mental Monsters and Snapshot Mindscapes

Short fiction has gotten the short end of the stick for much of its existence, despite the fact that it is perennially popular with critics and prize committees. While there are a number of short story artists who have forged a career in the form, many publishers shy away from volumes of short tales unless they come from an established writer. Fans of weird fiction, slipstream, speculative fiction, and horror realize the problem with this, though. So do fans. In an age where a number of writers are choosing to make their careers in short ebooks first, publishers need to sit up and take notice.

That’s why Autonomous Press has worked to invest in poetry and short fiction. We want to help a large number of fresh new voices find their audiences, and we want to connect the ways that readers and writers interact in this digital age to the distribution that makes it accessible to a wider reading community. That’s why we started the Spoon Knife series, and it’s why we started cultivating short works from individual artists.

We’re still just starting out as a company, but we have already managed to bring a couple of wonderful books by individual writers to the market, including Fable the Poet’s initially self-published chapbook. Fable is currently the poet laureate of his hometown, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and his insightful characterization and frank discussion of topics like trauma, race, and mental health provide readers and listeners with a unique point of view that flows like music.

For those in traditional genres looking to devour short tales that are a little less directly reflective of everyday life, we have Ada Hoffmann’s Monsters in My Mind, which brings together over 40 strange tales that span horror, fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction, and more. These are never before published works, and you can find more notes about each one on her blog.

Whether you are looking into our anthology series, the collection of work curated through Barking Sycamores, or these individually authored books, you are going to find that AutPress has taken steps to make NeuroQueer Books a place for unique points of view. We’re looking forward to bringing you more of that in the new year with additional volumes of Barking Sycamores and Spoon Knife. Until then, check out Ada’s book, as well as the new novel by Verity Reynolds.

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Mixing It Up: Strange Storytelling and Weird Works

Say the word “storytelling” and a few different images might come to your mind. You may think of relaxing on the couch with an absorbing book or picture a group of entranced listeners sitting around a fire and drinking in a chilling ghost story. With our rich creative history, we’ve developed multifarious tools to tell our tales. Whether it’s a single-author book or an anthology, mixing up genres can provide fresh perspectives on storytelling.

Moving Beyond Genres With Monsters

Ada Hoffman’s latest release Monsters in My Mind is a great example of how both short stories and poetry become useful narrative tools. As a mix of flash fiction, prose poems, microfiction, and other forms, it’s evident of the delicious weirdness of which the human imagination is capable. Just as our reality can be neat and structured while messy, strange, and frightening by turns, Hoffman’s book is a unique container into which she’s packed artifacts like parallel universes, fantasy quests, reimaged fairytales, almost-sentient AI, velociraptors, and even cephalopods. This anthology is eldritch in all the right places, spilling far past the borders of the expected and predictable.

Strange Tales in Multi-Author Anthologies

The mix of voices in a multi-author collection results in a fabulous blend of shifting sceneries, intersecting timelines, and fascinating folk. For proof of that, just look at Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber. Woven together by editors Dani Alexis Ryskamp and Sam Harvey, the collection features individuals all attempting to navigate the test chambers in which they’ve been placed. For some, the goal is mere survival while others seek to escape and subvert. Examples from the cast of characters in this anthology include an early hominid targeted by the cruel leader of her hunting party, an agent in an interdimensional police force, autistic transgender women navigating landscapes of social connection and desire, and a guy who talks to his wheelchair.

Add Our Wonderful Weird Books to Your Shelves

Whether it’s oral histories born before the advent of the written word, captivating novels, or lengthy posts on one’s social media pages, we naturally engage in narrative acts. Sometimes, our singular or collective experiences extend into realms that are wild, unusual, or fundamentally bizarre. At AutPress, we’re a huge fan of strange worlds, weird storytelling, and genre-blurring books. Be sure to pick up a copy of Monsters in My Mind, Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber, Barking Sycamores: Year Two and other anthologies from the AutPress store.

 

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3 Poets to Read Who Aren’t Dead White Men

Introductory English lit classes are often packed with the “greats of literature” like Shakespeare or Edgar Allen Poe. Writer and editor Terrance Hayes once described his taste in poems as a “yard with a fence I cannot see.” We’re certainly not knocking Shakespeare and company, but we’d like to help broaden your yard. Check out our latest poetry suggestions—we file these under “new classics” that both break ground and that you won’t be able to put down.

Sherman Alexie: First Indian on the Moon

At their best, instructor-assigned poem writing exercises can be vehicles for learning forms, crafting, and structure. But knowing “the rules” should ideally enable you to successfully break them with practice. American Indigenous writer Sherman Alexie’s book, First Indian on the Moon, shows plenty of rule-breaking examples, shifting between free forms, prose poems, and structured verse, and even mimicking a government informational pamphlet in the poem “How to Obtain Eagle Feathers for Religious Use.” First published in 1992, this intense poetry collection contains exuberant, bitter, and heartbreaking narratives and still captures readers’ imaginations today, regularly eliciting four- and five-star reviews.

Oliver Bendorf: The Spectral Wilderness

As sentient beings, we are transient universes packed with thought, feeling, timelines, and experiences. Sometimes, inhabiting a body can present challenges, uncertainties, and deeper questions, especially for transgender individuals. Oliver Bendorf explores these and more in The Spectral Wilderness, a 2015 collection of LGBT poetry that Lambda Literary reviewer Douglas Ray called “full of beautiful little bodies, written into being.” Bendorf’s work is multilayered and multitextured, demanding to be drunk in through multiple reads. It’s poetry that’s a deeply satisfying experience, with lines ranging from the gorgeous like “Will you be a thing of glass for my body?/The breakable thing I will not break?” to the rough and guttural such as “I am just as full of shit as everyone, incl. you.”

Athena Lynn Michaels-Dillon: The US Book

A common trend in modern poetics is the tendency towards an economy of language. However, expanding or contracting one’s word-spaces must be a deliberate craft choice. Publishing as Michael Scott Monje, Jr., Lambda Literary-nominated writer Athena Lynn Michaels-Dillon solidly inhabits each page while balancing this with rhythm, structure, and rich imagery in her 2016 poetry collection, The US Book. Described by reviewers as “mic-dropping” and a “music of the spheres,” her book captivates with lines like these:

“I’m performing naked in public with a ski mask on,
skinning myself in slow motion.
I walk around, leaving meaty footprints
on the carpet, making messes of myself
in front of extended relatives
and re-enacting rituals with razor blades
in excruciating patterns with unsteady hands.”

Reading voraciously is always a plus, but great work is simultaneously classic and timely. It transcends temporal boundaries, continuing to speak to readers long after its creation. Our poetry suggestions are just a beginning, but they’re a great start for learning to enjoy the genre and finding reads that excite you.

A gold and black artwork featuring a headshot of a dark-skinned person, with a golden halo around their head.

Black Science Fiction Writers You Need to Read

(Featured image: “Constellation I” by Lina Iris Viktor)

by N.I. Nicholson

As my AutPress colleague Dani Alexis Ryskamp likes to say, it’s wise to read obsessively and read ALL THE THINGS. If your medium of choice is speculative fiction, you might have read Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Piers Anthony, Douglas Adams, or other oft-lauded sci-fi writers until you’re blue in the face. But if you haven’t read N.K. Jemisin, Octavia Butler, or other Black science fiction writers, you’re missing out on literature with a rich past and that’s crafting new visions of the future.

Roots in an Afrocentric Cultural Movement

Before we delve into Black sci-fi authors, you need a quick history lesson in Afrofuturism. Anthropologist Niama Safia Sandy summarizes its core ethos: “Time is this really fluid thing. Now is now, but the past is now and the future too.” Jazz musician Sun Ra is considered an early pioneer, and a quote from his 1974 film Space Is the Place aptly speaks to that ethos: “I come from a dream that the black man dreamed long ago. I’m actually a presence sent to you from your ancestors.” Yet one of the earliest Black science fiction writers, Pauline Hopkins, has Sun Ra beat by about 50 years. Her 1902 novel, Of One Blood, documents the discovery of a clandestine, technologically advanced civilization in Ethiopia. (Wakanda, anyone?)

This movement spans multiple art forms, blending elements of science fiction and magical realism with African history to craft visions of the future. Award-winning musician and actress Janelle Monáe tells the story of Cindi Mayweather, an android fighting to save humanity and for android equality, through three concept albums: Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), The ArchAndroid, and The Electric Lady. N.K. Jemisin, Octavia Butler, and Samuel Delany are just some examples of Black science fiction writers. Joined by visual artists like Lina Iris Viktor (the awesome artist who created “Constellation I”, which is our featured image) and filmmakers such as Wanuri Kahiu, they forge ahead to create new legacies in Afrofuturism.

Magic, Social Inequality, and a Broken Earth

Nora K. Jemisin is the latest of many Black sci-fi authors using the central theme of a planet or society in crisis in their works. As Lauren Wheeler over at Black Nerd Problems mentioned, Jemisin is the first Black author to win a Hugo for Best Novel. The first book of her The Broken Earth series, The Fifth Season, was selected by TNT for development into a television show. Its saga occurs in a world with heavy social stratification, ravaged by periods of catastrophic climate change. She’s one of the Black science fiction writers continuing the tradition of painting vivid waking dreams in words, imbued with a sense of urgency while spilling over into prophecy.

Bustle has called her “the sci-fi writer every woman needs to be reading.” I’ll take that a step further and suggest that any speculative fiction writer needs to read Jemisin to see how to effectively craft a fictional realm that richly immerses and rewards your readers. World-building is a tricky business, but N.K. Jemisin is a contemporary example who balances storytelling with the intricacies of sci-fi or fantasy settings.

Apocalypse and the Lasting Truth of Change

Octavia Butler, a Hugo and Nebula award-winning author, is also one of Afrofuturism’s literary superstars. The late writer’s works include genre classics such as Kindred and the Earthseed novels series. Kindred presents the tale of a modern Black woman inexplicably sent back to a pre-Civil War past, becoming entangled in the stories of her ancestors. Meanwhile, the Earthseed books, published in the 1990s, are more examples of work by Black science fiction writers that foretell our modern political and social circumstances with eerie accuracy. The series’ first novel, Parable of the Sower, shows us a world in 2024 marred by global warming, resource shortages, and privatized schools. The second book shows the same Earth in 2032, now also beleaguered by slavery, rampant misogyny, and a contingent of violent supporters of a political candidate promising to “make America great again.”

Sound familiar?

Butler’s work is a textbook case in extrapolating future outcomes from current circumstances. She was a master at discerning trends in local, national, and world events and paying attention to social conditions. Remember when Niama Safia Sandy said that “Now is now, but the past is now and the future too”? There you go. Not only that, she both read and wrote prolifically, which further illustrates my point about reading to shape your own writing. Octavia Butler should be your starting point for learning not only elements of fiction craft but how to weave into your work the relevancy that will keep readers hooked.

They Didn’t Leave Poetry Out, Either

I’ve mostly discussed speculative fiction, but let’s not forget that writers are whole universes. Much of modern Black poetry is innately focused on storytelling, as evidenced by writers like Roger Bonair-Agard, Terrance Hayes, and Patricia Smith. Tim Seibles uses this medium to give a first-person perspective to Blade, the half-vampire daywalking hunter from the Marvel Comics universe, in his collection Fast Animal. Nerds of Color displays its opening poem, “Blade, the Daywalker,” and it’s a model for revealing character traits, motivations, and voice in poetry.

Speculative fiction themes can also be used to interlace and order poems as I’ve done in my next book, slated for release in 2019. You might have seen a glimpse from it if you’ve read the first Spoon Knife anthology. Wielding poetry as a storytelling device, Time Travel in a Closet features a multiracial transgender man forced to relive episodes from his traumatic past, thanks to involuntary acts of time travel. While his future self cannot interact with these events, he’s forced to answer a pivotal question: how will he use them to reconstruct his sense of self?

Black-Authored Sci-Fi Is THE Future

As I wrap up this discussion of what you can learn from Black sci-fi authors, I’ll leave you with a few things to consider:

  • Jemisin’s The Fifth Season won a Hugo award and was positively reviewed by The New York Times and NPR. It’s also a 512-page book with not one but two glossaries in the back.
  • Butler’s Kindred was adapted into a graphic novel, then released in January 2017. That’s nearly 40 years after its initial publication in 1979.
  • Nova, a 1968 novel by Black sci-fi legend Samuel Delany, was called “fresh and exciting” by com writer Jo Watson…in 2015.

Whether you’ve been brains-deep in crafting new chapters this year or you’re furiously banging out prose this NaNoWriMo, reading Black-authored science fiction is the smartest move you can make to develop your own craft.

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First-Time Writers: AutPress Wants You!

If you’re an emerging author, you know how challenging it can be to break into print. In a market flooded with both conventional and indie publishers, how can first-time writers even get noticed? Probably the most frustrating part of your endeavors is building a track record that convinces publishers to even open and look at, much less touch your work. This prospect can be even tougher if you’re transgender, neurodivergent, queer, disabled, a person of color or part of any group that’s typically marginalized by the mainstream. These challenges, plus the rich untapped potential of new perspectives and untold stories, is why Autonomous Press exists. At AutPress, we’re here to help new writers realize their goal of getting their best work into the world.

Emerging Writers in Our Anthologies

Both the Spoon Knife and Barking Sycamores series include work from first-time writers and other new voices. For instance, we were honored to include poetry by Marcel Price, a Michigan spoken word artist performing and writing as Fable the Poet, in our first Spoon Knife anthology released in 2016. Later that year, we released his chapbook Adrift in a Sea of M&Ms. It’s a collection that “shine[s] a light on anyone who has ever felt like an outsider,” as poet and critic Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib eloquently states. Price’s work is not only imbued with incredible structure and rhythm, but it’s a vehicle to bring issues of race and mental health to light.

Indeed, Price is one of many first-time writers in each anthology who also come from a huge range of lived experiences and backgrounds, including neurodivergent, queer, transgender, mad, disabled, racialized, and currently or formerly homeless individuals. Every volume of Spoon Knife and Barking Sycamores is also available as a digital anthology, so enjoying each exciting collection is as easy as purchasing it from the AutPress store.

More Books in Store From New Writers

We’ve got more titles in the works for early 2018, but we wanted to quickly mention one of our fall releases before we sign off. On deck we’ve got Nantais, a science fiction novel by emerging author Verity Reynolds that features an engaging web of mysteries demanding to be solved before a child, a starship, and an entire alien species are lost forever. Want to know more? Stay tuned to this blog, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep posted.

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The Poetry Revolution Is at AutPress

Poetry is a broad genre with the capacity to spark new thought, communicate a wide range of human experiences, and even light the torch to ignite revolutionary social change. Take one look at books like Patricia Smith’s Blood Dazzler or Pedro Pietri’s famous poem “Puerto Rican Obituary,” and you’ll understand what we mean. With AutPress’ focus on social justice and transformative books, we uplift voices often ignored by mainstream online publishers and publish works that threaten the status quo. From nationally touring spoken word artists to writers firmly rooted in hip-hop and science fiction, our catalog contains some groundbreaking poetry you won’t want to miss.

Fearless Narratives on Race and Mental Health

For people of color, particularly those of Black ancestry, discussions about mental health challenges can be difficult, nuanced, and complex. Kid Cudi’s admission about his battle with depression and media coverage of Kayne West’s struggles are perfect examples. Also, revelations about the long-term psychological effects of systematic racism make these issues more salient now than ever. At times like these, AutPress author Marcel Price’s chapbook Adrift in a Sea of M&Ms fits perfectly into the public discourse. Touring all over the country as Fable the Poet, Price courageously engages audiences with narratives on race and mental health issues in his. It’s a poetry collection that’s been called “brutally honest” by slam poetry luminary and cultural critic Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, and “insightful and accessible” by performance artist Dasan Ahanu.

Taste the Rhymes in The US Book

Thirsting for a book that blows science fiction, hip-hop, pop culture, neurodivergence, and communication wide open? Look no further than The US Book. Writing as Michael Scott Monje, Jr., Athena Lynn Michaels-Dillon thrills readers with verse artfully contained by her execution of poetic craft while overflowing its containers into many realms: Battlestar Galactica, lyrics from hip-hop artist Nas, Star Trek, Doctor Who, art history, and more. Author Felicia Miyakawa recommends that you “read this rich prosody loudly (use of mouth parts optional)” and “taste the rhymes.”

AutPress Feeds Your Need for Poetry

 Don’t forget that we have several multi-author collections like the Spoon Knife Anthologies and Barking Sycamores: Year Two in the AutPress store, along with Ada Hoffman’s upcoming fiction and poetry collection Monsters in My Mind. Through exploring neurodivergence, pop culture, or challenging social issues, AutPress books delivers unforgettable, deeply satisfying literary experiences for readers seeking something different from the mainstream.

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Need Some Real Experts on Autism? Turn to AutPress

When search for reliable, trustworthy resources, they often discover that it’s easy to be inundated with tons of bad advice and flat-out prejudice. Fortunately, Autonomous Press is one of the top publishers online transforming the landscape when it comes to autism. Three of our bestselling books are perfect guides to help you better understand your autistic kids and provide an environment in which they can grow up happy and healthy.

Guides to Autism, Written by Autistics

Parents of autistic children turn to The Real Experts for practical and sage advice. As a collection of essays written by autistic adults, this book contains insight from individuals who in every way, shape and form are like the autistic kids growing up in this modern era. This book features insider wisdom and accounts from respected activists like Amy Sequenzia and Neurodivergent K and autistic parents such as Morénike Giwa Onaiwu and Nick Walker. In The Real Experts, you’ll read firsthand what helped these individuals thrive.

The ABCs of Autism Acceptance

Do you wish you had a 101-style introduction to issues that matter to your autistic child? The ABCs of Autism Acceptance is the ideal primer for parents of autistic children. Author Max Sparrow (writing as Sparrow Rose Jones) challenges the ways in which autism is conventionally viewed with essays on topics ranging literally from A to Z. From an insightful look at autistic culture to revealing typical barriers neurodivergent folk face in their daily lives, Sparrow offers analysis, detailed research, witnessing from the testimonies of other autistics and even anecdotes from his own life.

A Groundbreaking Book on Typed Communication

At AutPress, part of our innovative approach centers on neurodivergent people’s lived experiences. That’s been true since our founding in 2015 and began with our first round of titles, which included the groundbreaking Typed Words, Loud Voices. Parents of autistic children who type to talk will appreciate this book, which is the first and only anthology of its kind features essays from people using this method to communicate. Dispelling the common misconception that their words are not their own, these individuals disclose stunning inner worlds of thought frequently discredited by detractors of facilitated communication and so-called “autism” experts, and ignored by mainstream media.

As you might have already discovered, many of the self-proclaimed experts on the subject are not autistic themselves, yet rely on faulty information and flawed research. If you’ve been bombarded by frightening and harmful misinformation, you might feel confused and worried for your child’s future. Thankfully, AutPress is here to help with books like The Real Experts, The ABCs of Autism and Typed Words, Loud Voices. Visit our AutPress store today to bring these valuable resources into your library.