Inviting Authors: Asking and Planning

The bookseller tip for this blog comes from Shelley Macbeth (left) of Blue Heron Books. Blog by Kate Hilton (right).

Welcome to Authors For Indies 2017. 

If you're a bookseller, we have some great things to share with you. For one thing, we've been working on some useful blog content. This year, we will feature blogs with tips on how to have a successful AFI event. We’ve asked booksellers across the country to tell us what worked for them (and what didn’t) so you'll get practical tips from successful events. 

OKAY. On to inviting authors. You've decided to host authors. Now what? We're in our third year and notice that bookstores are getting more proactive about contacting authors. It's a good idea to get your authors lined up nice and early, because it gives you (and AFI and publishers) more time to plan for PR and promotions.

Be proactive and reach out! Invite authors. Invite authors and illustrators in your area (or outside your area) to come to your store. Log in to the Authors for Indies website to see the list of authors who have registered for this year. Send a message to your chosen writer(s) through our website's private messaging (PM) system. Reach out to authors you've had at your store in the past for readings or launches. Don’t be shy. Most writers like hearing from booksellers. And if your chosen writer isn’t available? Ask another one. Or contact a publisher about their available authors. Want to encourage local talent? Put up a sign in your bookstore asking writers to speak to you about AFI.

Organize authors in shifts. You don’t have to entertain a writer for the entire day. You can ask authors to visit for a 1-2 hour block. 

Change your line up. If you've hosted the same authors for the past two years, consider reaching out to different ones this year. Change your line up. Give customers an opportunity to meet new authors and for authors to meet new fans.

Here's what Shelley Macbeth from Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, Ontario says about prepping authors on The Day:

"I think you need to discard any fears of 'Is this going to work out? Is anyone going to show up? What if I have to stand and talk all day to an author I don't know?" The day is very organic and over-planning is useless. Plus, who needs a make-work project? Just go on with your day and let it flow. If you're worried about what the authors will do at the store, have a few tasks planned for them when they arrive (such as walking around the store, perusing your stock, getting comfortable where things are). Then have lots of the shelf talkers available (we didn't have nearly enough!) for them to write their recommendations. These had lasting impact, long after AFI was a distant memory."

Invite authors early so you can start the buzz early! Put a notice on your website that tells writers and readers that you’ll be participating in AFI this year.

Check out our AFI Planning Guide for Bookstores and the list of Celebration Ideas. If your bookstore didn't host authors last year but you'd like to give it a try, just register on the website to be listed as a participating bookstore. 

Behind the sales desk at Blue Heron AFI 2016


Beware of spontaneous 'read to kids' activities


Thank you to:

Blue Heron Books
Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Awards
Bookseller of the Year 2012 and 2014
62 Brock Street West
Uxbridge, Ontario L9P 1N1
905-852-4282 P
905-852-6522 F