What Booksellers Should Have Done By Now

This blog is by Mary-Ann Yazedjian of Book Warehouse Main Street, Vancouver


We're now one month away from Authors for Indies Day - April 29th, 2017. Is your store participating in this wonderful gift we've been given by Janie Chang? :) What should you have done by now? And what can you do if you haven't?


I know it's a lot of work to plan an all or part day in store event and organizing something like this can seem like too much work, but it doesn't have to be. Delegate to your team of booksellers and get everyone involved in some way. You can make this as big or small event as you like. And if you haven't done anything yet, it's not too late to start!


Do you have authors booked for the day? If you have, remember to get your store listing updated on the Authors for Indies website by submitting a Confirm Author form. Just go to www.authorsforindies.com and log in and then click on "Confirm Author." The form is pretty self-explanatory. (Can't remember your password? Click on “Request a New Password”. Can’t remember your Username to log in? Click “Contact” on the main menu bar just below the banner and send a quick message asking for help.)


If you haven't booked any authors yet, log in and click on "Participating Authors" to see who's still available. And there are lots of authors still available! Many of them have indicated that they'd be willing to travel a bit to get to a host bookstore, so why not get in touch with one of them? If they need some assistance getting to your store, you can ask their publisher’s rep whether they can help get the author to your store – taxi chit, a ride from a publicist, some reimbursement for travel?


I know some stores feel like there aren't any published authors in their areas and there’s no one to invite. Why not be open to hosting a self-published author or a local writer who hasn't been published yet? I've hosted self-published authors at my store for the past two years and found them to be wonderfully helpful promoting with social media. Remember, this is about your store, not about the author selling their books. And if a self-published author does have books to sell, remember to agree on the price and percentages in advance.


Or, ask a local writing group if a couple of their members would be willing to come. What would they do? Whatever you ask - maybe they could do a story-time for kids, or write haikus for customers, or host a colouring table that you've supplied with some sheets from one of your colouring books that's been sitting around too long.


Ask other businesses in your community for help! Last year one of my team went around to the local businesses and asked for donations of gift cards for prizes; we ended up with a bunch of $5 and $10 gift cards which we used to ask random customers trivia questions to win gift cards. Our local Japanese restaurant donated a huge platter of sushi for our customers to snack on. This year, in exchange for a bit of signage ("Pizza from ...") , two local restaurants are donating pizza and desserts for our customers throughout the day. Just ask - this event is also about promoting community. You’ll do something for them in return some day.


Get your in store displays up NOW! The AFI website resources page is full of ideas, downloads, and thing you can use. I also recommend you read the blog “March and April Bookstore Planning Guide”, which is also filled with ideas from booksellers.


Take a few minutes and type up a little handout that you can give to customers with each purchase. Make it exciting - if your AFI Day features treats, prizes, story-time, whatever, let your customers know!


One of my booksellers has handwritten little signs that say "Psssssst...April 29 is Authors for Indies Day!" and put them up throughout the store - the number of customers who come up to us and ask what that means is amazing!


Share Your Ideas and Ask for Help! See what other bookstores in your area are doing. Post in our Independent Booksellers Group Canada on Facebook with ideas or questions. It's a private Facebook group for invited members only; email me if you'd like to be part of the group. You could also ask your regular customers what they'd like to see on that day. Remember, there are no bad ideas: always be ready to try something new and fun!