Give Those Authors Their Marching Orders

The bookseller tip for this blog comes from Bridget of Books on Beechwood in Ottawa, ON. Blog by Kate Hilton.

Authors like direction. Don’t be shy to tell them when to show up, how long to stay, and what to do when they get there. In fact, let them know you want them to be part of the marketing machinery for your AFI Day’s events, before as well as during.

You want your authors to go to bat for you, but unless you ask, authors may not realize this. And some authors need a nudge. We're kind of shy and not very good at taking the initiative for promoting events. Marketing doesn't come to most of us very easily, so when you talk to your authors, make sure you ask them to:

Plus, authors also need to know what to do once they are in your store. So it’s really helpful to give them some guidance when they first arrive. But don’t take our word for it - take it from Bridget of Books on Beechwood in Ottawa, Ontario:

“Schedule authors at one or two hour intervals, depending on how many you want to have during the day, but not all at once. If they all come at once they take up a lot of room and talk among themselves and not to customers.

Make sure they understand that there will be other authors coming behind them and to be courteous and move aside.

We didn't ask authors to read or speak as it is meant to be a very informal day.

When possible, invite authors who are also customers as they are already store boosters and will be very motivated and willing to help.

Make it very clear to the authors that they are there to support the store, not to sell their own books.”

Some other things Bridget and the team at Books on Beechwood found helpful to set the stage for the day:

  • Create an in-store display of all the authors' selections identifying who is recommending what at least a week ahead to generate buzz.
  • Do a major window display and signage, again in advance of the day.
  • We had door prizes too. Those are always a hit. Do whatever it takes to make it a happening kind of thing.

Check out our AFI Planning Guide for Bookstores and the list of Celebration Ideas. If your bookstore didn't host authors last year but you'd like to give it a try, just register on the website to be listed as a participating bookstore.

Charlotte Gray and Governor General David Johnston

Authors Sharon Jennings, Sharon Johnston, Charlotte Gray


Thank you to:

Books on Beechwood
35 Beechwood Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario
K1M 1M1