Art & Culture

New one-stop shop for aspiring and published authors opens Saturday in San Juan

The Literary Center will offer book readings, consignment sales and publishing services to local writers.
The front door TLC.jpg
Carl Leaver checking out one of the customer computer stations.jpg
The book corner.jpg

Got an idea for a great book, but can’t seem to put down the first sentence? Or has the thought of another rejection jettisoned any hope of sending that completed manuscript to another publishing house? If you have answered yes to either of these two questions, a lifeline is heading your way.

On Oct. 6, The Literary Center (TLC) in San Juan Bautista will open its doors. Free to the public, TLC’s Saturday gala begins at 10 a.m. and runs through 4 p.m.

Attendees can take a tour of the center’s services, learn a little about the publishing process and listen to a panel discussion featuring published authors.

Located in the Windmill Market Shopping Center, The Literary Center aims to be a one-stop shop for aspiring and published authors, according to San Juan resident and co-owner Betty Lou Leaver.

“We want to give a place to local, published authors to sell their books on consignment, while holding book readings and signings,” Leaver told BenitoLink. “We also want to mentor future authors, as well as provide copy and internet services to the public.”

In addition to her decades of service as a federal government employee, Leaver is a published author and understands the book writing process and publishing business. Leaver and her husband Carl are co-owners of MSI Press, LLC. Established in 2003, MSI is a small publisher “dedicated to bringing the public unique books of recognized high quality, especially new authors with considerable talent,” according to its website.

The genesis of the Literary Center grew out of Leaver’s frustration over making repeated trips to Hollister or Gilroy to get work photocopied. She decided to open the center following her retirement as provost of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey.

Leaver said that in San Juan Bautista, “The range of services, like typesetting, binding, and cover design, are not offered. And now that I’m retired we have more time for this new endeavor.”

For the past several months, Leaver has relied heavily on the support of her husband and close friends, including fellow San Juan resident Anne LaForge.

Indeed, LaForge nudged Leaver to pursue the center, offering encouragement and advice in preparation for Saturday.

“Anne has been a great friend and ardent supporter, and she has helped with planning and organization,” Leaver said.

With just a few days before she opens the doors to her new business, Leaver expressed a wait-and-see approach to its future.

“We want to grow organically,” she said.

Among those eyeing The Literary Center’s debut is Jim Ostdick, a two-time self-published author and San Juan resident.

In an email to BenitoLink, Ostdick lamented his experiences with the editing and formatting processes, saying that he “would have benefited from using another pair of eyes.”

“If the center offered instruction about how to better format text…that would help me,” he said.

Ostdick believes the center will augment the county’s small literary scene by nurturing new writers and giving published authors like himself a place to meet and form “a sense of community.”  

The Literary Center is located at 301 The Alameda, B-7 in San Juan. It opens Saturday, Oct. 6. Hours are 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information call Betty Lou Leaver, (831) 886-2486.



Frank Pérez

I’m a lifelong resident of San Benito County. I reside in Hollister with my wife, Brenda. For over two decades, I've been a faculty member at San Benito High School, where I teach world history, Mexican-American history, and Ethnic Studies. I've been reporting for BenitoLink since 2015. My passion is delving deeper into the nuances of the local, historical record, while including lesser-known stories of our past. My hope is that county residents will have a greater appreciation for the diversity and complexity of San Benito County, realizing that its uniqueness depends upon our responsibility as its stewards.