Indie Author Day and Your Public Library

Indie Author Day LogoMelissa Bowersock recently told us about October 8th, the inaugural Indie Author Day across the US and Canada. She suggested you look here to see if your library is participating. If your library isn’t listed, you can click on the “Let us know” button to nominate your library, then give your local library a friendly call to explain the event, and ask if they’d be interested in participating.

One of the first questions you’re likely to hear from your library contact is, “But what do we do?” My local library had its Indie Author Day a couple of months ago, before news hit the airwaves about Bibliolabs and a nationwide movement. I thought it might be helpful to share some of what they did.

Indie author day reader 2016First off, let me say that the folks at the official Indie Author Day site make it very easy for authors and libraries to work together for this event. It is free and simple for libraries to get involved and receive posters, invitations, and other materials; guidance on how to host an event; assistance in finding local authors to participate; and more!

As far as my library goes, this recent event was not the first time they’d recognized indie authors, but it was structured quite differently from what they’ve previously done. In the past, they had an annual Author Book Signing Day. Authors could sign up and pay $20.00 for a table, bring their books, and spend the day (hopefully) signing and selling. It was structured as a fundraiser, raising money for library projects and equipment.

The last Author Book Signing Day I attended had over seventy authors participating, many driving from hours away to attend. This was back in 2012, if I remember correctly, and while it was certainly a success as far as fundraising goes, many of the authors voiced disappointment with low reader/buyer turnout and few, if any, sales. This was particularly disheartening for authors who’d driven hours (and even rented hotel rooms) in order to attend.

Author Book Signing Day went by the wayside for the next few years, until I received a phone call from the volunteer coordinator a few months ago telling me they wanted to set up another day for indie authors, this time without charging for tables. They also wanted to schedule back-to-back workshops on topics related to writing and publishing, and asked if I would be willing to teach a workshop on indie vs. traditional publishing. I immediately agreed.

The coordinator and her wonderful team worked hard to get the word out with virtually no budget to speak of. They printed up flyers, posted notices in the local papers, began a Facebook page, and maintained contact with all of the authors and presenters, encouraging us to spread the word on social media and in our communities.

When the big day arrived, I was amazed at the number of people attending both the book signing and the workshops. Based on previous experience at similar events, I’d taken twenty copies of each handout I used, assuming that would be plenty. Boy, was I wrong. I needed more than twice that many, and had to invite participants to email me afterward so I could send them an attachment of any materials they might have missed out on.

The conference room reserved for the workshops was already filling up as I arrived, and I decided to sit through the first presentation until it was time for mine. Workshops were half an hour long and ran from 9:30 a.m. until noon. I initially worried there wouldn’t be adequate time to cover topics in the allotted half hour, but as it turned out, this worked really well.

Most attendees (there were over fifty) chose to stay for the entire time, and presenters cycled through with information that was well-organized and on point. Topics included Keep the Creative Juices Flowing, Traditional or Self-publishing?, Marketing Your Book on Social Media, Getting Organized to Write, and Now What? Editing and Illustrating. The short presentations covering a wide variety of information made it easy for participants to stay engaged and interested without becoming tired or bored.

From 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m., when workshops were completed, forty or so authors occupied tables and mingled with members of the public, networked, and signed and sold books. All indications were that the day was a success for everyone involved.

Whether your library decides to do something similar or completely different, Indie Author Day is a wonderful opportunity to not only meet fellow authors and network, but also to encourage budding new writers amid a wonderful framework of support. And who knows, maybe it will also help someone discover the wonders of the local library and result in a few new library cards.

Author: Melinda Clayton

Melinda Clayton is the author of the Cedar Hollow series, as well as a self-publishing guide. Clayton has published numerous articles and short stories in various print and online magazines. She has an Ed.D. in Special Education Administration and is a licensed psychotherapist in the states of Florida and Colorado. Lear more about Melinda at her Amazon author page

14 thoughts on “Indie Author Day and Your Public Library”

  1. It sounds like your city is bigger than where I live, judging by numbers participating. I have been in touch with my library with an eye to doing something next year. Their condition for all their events is that they must be “interactive” so your workshops sound like great ideas to work on.

    1. The workshops were really a lot of fun. I think the fact that they were so short really helped, because they kept people active and involved and didn’t allow time for wandering attention spans.

    1. There were only a handful of us doing the presentations. We were in a conference room behind the main event (the authors signing books). They had tables set up for us for when the workshops were finished, but I hadn’t realized they were going to do that for us, and hadn’t taken any books.

      1. Reread your question and realized I answered it wrong. As far as I know, there weren’t other events taking place during the morning workshops, but I was in the conference room the entire morning, so I’m not sure. If there were, they weren’t affiliated with the author event. The signing was scheduled for after the workshops.

  2. I think this is an excellent blueprint for libraries to follow for IAD. Thanks so much; I’m going to steer my regional libraries here so they can check it out and see how they might apply it locally. It really sounds like a great authorfest!

  3. I’m going to send this whole post to several of my local libraries here in UK. We so desperately need something like this. The trouble is that they are all cutting back at the moment because the councils have run out of money, but it’s worth a try. 🙂 It’s a brilliant initiative.

  4. Thank you for the great article! Sounds like a wonderful experience. Out of curiosity, do indie authors have to have physical books for these library events, or do they take epub as well?
    I don’t suppose libraries are allowing people to get a ‘library account’ on their reading devices, so the library pays for all the eBooks and people can just ‘check them out’, like customers with Kindle Unlimited can do?

    1. Hi Lance, there are many libraries participating with eBook programs – it just depends on the library. The good folks at BiblioLabs (the people spearheading Indie Author Day) have created the SELF-e program, which you can read about here:

      You can participate in many different ways with Indie Author Day – not necessarily with books – it just depends on what your library is doing. The first step is to go to the site and see if your library is participating. If not, then fill out the form and someone from Indie Author Day will contact you. They are very helpful and will be glad to answer any other questions you might have, too.

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