When the pandemic made its way to our corner of the world last March, D.C.-based literary reading series and network The Inner Loop was on the precipice of launching its new Author’s Corner, a special section inside Adams Morgan-based nonprofit café and bookstore The Potter’s House. What cofounders Rachel Coonce and Courtney Sexton had hoped would only be a two-week halt to their new program would delay it for much longer.
More than a year later, Coonce and Sexton will finally see the Author’s Corner up and running with the June 1 launch of Lit for Localvores, a new campaign celebrating D.C. area writers while also supporting local bookstores and restaurants that have been impacted by the pandemic. It’s no surprise that many of the establishments where The Inner Loop has held events over the years are hurting because of Covid, so this seemed like a perfect way for Coonce and Sexton to expand their campaign while also giving back to their valued partners.
“We always held our readings at local businesses, and that was a huge part of getting the community and writers connected,” Coonce says. “Courtney came up with this idea because it was a way to bring back our partnership with the restaurants we lost when we went virtual.”
D.C. eateries Pie Shop on H Street, Reveler’s Hour in Adams Morgan and Shaw’s Tavern are three of the establishments promoting the Lit for Localvores program. Patrons who order takeout from these businesses will receive a to-go package and menu insert with an excerpt from one of the selected works and a note about the project. The orders will also contain a QR code that take guests to a landing page with book reviews, interviews and author bios. The Potter’s House will carry all of the Author’s Corner books and present them in the store. Each month, the series will spotlight one of nine local authors.
The project, which received an Amazon Literary Partnership grant, was launched last year as a multiplatform promotional campaign that would spotlight a local author and their published work each month.
“Writers today are expected to be writers, promoters, agents, marketers, booksellers, sometimes illustrators [and] designers — a sort of all-in-one [professional],” Sexton says. “And if you’re not independently wealthy, that’s really hard to do.”
The Author’s Corner was designed to help ease these burdens on DMV writers.
“Treat a local author like a New York Times bestseller,” Coonce says, a motto she and Sexton developed together.
Each selected book and author will be promoted for one month through The Inner Loop’s live readings series and The Inner Loop Radio podcast, as well as on social media. Coonce says she and Sexton hope the Author’s Corner will become a component of their regular programming. Lit for Localvores is scheduled to run through February 2022 with its current slate of authors and may then return with a second installment.
In the meantime, Coonce and Sexton are excited to see some of The Inner Loop’s activity pick back up, including the return of their summer residency program, which will offer a stipend to an underrepresented writer for the first time ever.
“We’re just excited to get back on track,” Coonce says. “We’re hoping to bring things back to some semblance of normalcy.”
For more about the Lit for Localvores reading series, visit The Inner Loop’s website at www.theinnerlooplit.org/eatdrinkread. Follow The Inner Loop on Facebook @theinnerloopdc and on Instagram and Twitter @theinnerlooplit.
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