ABA Features Best Practices for Hosting Creator Events

Featured at BookExpo, the American Bookseller Association hosted an education session on the best practices for hosting a creator event that benefits both creators and the book store. The panel featured three panelists: Pete Mulvihill, co-owner of Green Apple Books in San Francisco; Susan Hans O’Connor, owner of Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley, Pennsylvania; and Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston. Along with providing several tips for authors interested in working with bookstores, the panelists addressed several tips of book store owners to keep in mind when organizing an author event.

Mulvihill explained that author events are always worth doing "not just because of what will happen during the event, but because of what can happen after." These events build a relationship with employees in the store regardless of how many patrons come out to the event. Having employees who remember an author and their book leads to increased recommendations and hand-selling of that title which helps both the author and the bookstore.

O’Connor said that Penguin Bookshop has hosted several major authors, but is dedicated to working with local and/or self-published authors. According to O'Connor, "events with self-published authors who have a very strong local connection have been some of Penguin’s most successful." Hosting local authors is also important for bookstores because of their roles as a communal space within their neighborhood.

Another important aspect of hosting author events is making bringing in authors with different voices and from different genres. This opens up the abiality to cater to segmented groups and make sure a diverse set of interests are being catered to within the community. 

Finally, investing time into advertising the event on social media before, during, and after plays an important role in the success of an event. Not only must the bookstore make sure they are reaching out to their community at every step of the event, but the author should also be promoting their signing or reading on their social media as well. Having marketing efforts from both parties throughout the process is an integral part of both parties reaping the most benefits of the event.

In order to find a local comic creator to host at your bookstore, there are several tools and resources that can be utilized. Many creators advertise their hometown along with their contact information, and setting up an author event can be as easy as simply reaching out to them. In other cases, groups like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund have curated a list of creators that are willing to work with local stores and libraries. Furthermore, comic publishers such as Image Comics are continuously creating and updating their tools and resources for indpendent bookstores and libraries. The Image Comics Authorless Event Kit provides several event activities and tools needed for creating a successful event.

For a full pdf of Image Comics Authorless Event Kit, click here. For more information on the full education session from BookExpo, click here.

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