Monday, August 15, 2011

What Makes a Successful Book Event?

In the past six months I’ve met lots of wonderful indie bookstore owners (yay, indies!) who have been generous with their time and support of me and my books. A number of these events were well attended by tweens and teens and I had such fun meeting them.

Daughters of the mother/daughter book club event at Booktowne in Manasquan,  NJ
But at some of these events the bookstore owner couldn’t get teens to commit their time to come in for a discussion, reading…even free food. In this post I’d like to offer a few ideas that bookstore owners and other writers have shared that have led to successful events, and then invite your comments and suggestions.

Teen readers – please add your thoughts. We’d all love to hear from you. What would you like to see at your local indie bookstore?

Here are some things I’ve heard or tried lately:

1.    1.  Try a value-added event. For example: add live music. I thought it might be fun to have a “Band (Banned) Book Week” night, with discussions about “banned” books, “band” books (books featuring music), and with a local live band for entertainment.
2.    2. Create a Q&A flyer for mother/daughter, or father/son, book clubs to get discussions started.
3.    3. Pair your book event with another shop in town. For example, for my historical novels I might contact a local vintage shop and see if they would like to feature period clothing and other items, and maybe offer cross-promotional discounts.
4.    4. Find a local charity and offer to support them with a $1.00 donation for each book sold. Pair your event with a fundraising event for the charity.
Multi-author event at Yellow Book Road, San Diego, CA
5.    5. Talk with the local children’s public librarian. Arrange to read at the library just before your event.
6.    6. Multi-author events are terrific, especially if the books cross genres and age groups. Often readers will “discover” your book when they came to visit one of the other authors.
7.    7. A “reader’s theatre” event combines the multi-author approach with entertainment. (In a reader’s theatre, books are condensed into short play form and read/acted by the authors.)

And authors – support both your local indie and your fellow authors by attending their book signings and events. I’ve had great support at mine – thank you, my friends.

Please share your ideas – what’s worked for you? Teens - what would you like to see?


storyqueen said...

Just wanted to say how much I love the Yellow Book Road in SD! One of my favorite bookstores in the world!


Janet Fox said...

Me, too, Shelley! They were wonderful. Love their new digs, too.

Sheila said...

Thanks for the good suggestions! When there are several authors at a store, having a panel discussion and question time helps to generate interest in all the authors' books.

I am thinking of showing teens how to fold a paper crane at my next book event because one of the characters in my new book is obsessed with making these origami birds. Once when I did a program at an independent bookstore about my horse books, the kids got to paint Breyer model horses. So any small craft that relates to your books and doesn't seem too young might work.

Janet Fox said...

Sheila - what a great idea. Hands-on stuff is a great icebreaker for shy teens. Thanks!