Why Authors for Indies? Jennifer Robson speaks her mind

Hi everyone. Jennifer Robson here. I'm the 2017 Authors for Indies spokes author and thrilled to be the event's goodwill ambassador. This is my third year participating in Authors for Indies, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s one of my favourite days of the year. On AFI Day last year I visited five indie bookstores in Ontario, all of them delightfully unique, and met any number of engaging, friendly, and enthusiastic booklovers.

I never miss a chance to talk up AFI when I find myself in the company of fellow authors, and most react with enthusiasm. Some, however, are skeptical. What’s the point of AFI Day? What’s in it for them? And I never seem to have the perfect response to that line of questioning because ...

  • No, you don’t get paid (and no one on the AFI team gets paid).
  • No, the point isn’t to sell a ton of your own books (although that’s often a nice side effect of your participating).
  • No, your being a part of AFI isn’t a guarantee that independent booksellers will move mountains for you.

... because, really, this day is about bookstores, not authors.

In a world where big box stores and supermarkets carry a dozen or so bestsellers for a week or two, or perhaps a month if they’re feeling generous, local indie bookstores stock and hand-sell the books they love for far longer. While I am very grateful for the exposure my books receive at national retailers, I am profoundly indebted to independent bookstores for devoting shelf space and attention to my books, and to those of authors I love and revere, long after they have vanished from the bestseller lists. Indies support authors every day of the year – so let’s join together and support our independent bookstores on April 29, 2017.

Anyone who has so much as dipped a toe into the world of publishing knows that running an independent bookstore is hard. It’s exhausting work, even on a good day. The risk that independent booksellers must shoulder – to their finances, personal relationships, even their health – is significant. It is never, ever, easy. So why do they do it?

Love. That’s the only possible answer. Running an independent bookstore is an act of love that supports readers and authors alike, and in doing this, they enrich local communities immeasurably. Indie bookstores are a vital part of our lives, but they need our support – and taking part in AFI Day is a very visible way to show that support. Authors for Indies is the clearest possible way for authors to demonstrate that they value, support, and love independent Canadian bookstores. It’s a way to give to, rather than take from, the booksellers who do so much for us.

On the day itself, you don’t have to brace yourself for a reading, you don’t need to prepare a speech, and you won’t be standing in front of an audience. You’re there to talk about books with other people who love books, and I for one can’t imagine a more pleasant way to spend a few hours.

What's next? You need to tell AFI whether you're participating this year. The sooner we all sign on, the sooner we can all get started on plans to make AFI 2017 a huge success. So whether this is your first Authors for Indies event or your third, whether you're an author or a bookseller, just go to the SIGN UP page for instructions. 

I know the AFI team has looped in more publishers and partners this year to ramp up marketing support for bookstores and authors. They'll be sharing those initiatives with you over the coming weeks. April 29 can't come soon enough!