Melissa 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.
First 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.