What is Authors for Indies (AFI Day)?
Canadian Authors for Indies Day (Saturday, April 29, 2017) is an annual event that takes place at independent bookstores all across Canada. It's a day when authors volunteer at independent bookstores to work as guest booksellers. Or do whatever you need us to do – readings, signings, bagging books, babysitting or singing karaoke.
What makes author participation on AFI Day different from other events is that we are there to promote indie bookstores, not ourselves. Customers who visit indie bookstores on AFI Day will get to meet local authors and chat with us about the books we love. We get to recommend books they would enjoy reading – anyone’s books, not just ours.
Independent bookstores carry our books. You put us on your Staff Picks and Proudly Canadian shelves. You organize readings and signings, you hand sell our books. It’s a day for us authors to show our appreciation for Canada’s independent bookstores.
Will it help my book sales?
In 2015, AFI Day generated an average bump in book sales of 18.5%. In 2016, overall sales for that day were 22% better than the average of the three Saturdays previous.
Some stores saw 3X their normal sales, some saw no difference. Some stores signed up early, some signed up last minute. Some planned activities and promoted, some didn't. Some only invited 1-2 authors, others hosted a dozen. We can't say for sure what will work for you
We want to provide supporting activities that help bookstores do better - whether it's tips from other booksellers, or getting more partnerships and publisher support. Or quirky initiatives that get media attention. Stay tuned for news of pilot projects.
Every year it should get easier as the AFI concept gains traction. We're in this for the long term, and everyone will get better at it as time goes by: our team, the authors, booksellers, publishers and partners. Even the public will look forward to AFI Day every year.
What are my obligations if I decide to host some authors?
We do suggest being proactive. Contact an author or three and ask them to volunteer at your store.
Plan ahead and promote! We have compiled a Bookseller Checklist, graphics, and some ideas for promoting Authors for Indies Day, but you know your customers and community better than we do. You know your local media better than we do. Do what you feel will work for you.
If you blog, write about it. If you're on social media, let your fans and followers know about it. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and share and retweet (#AFI2017).
Who is doing all the marketing and PR for this event?
This is a grassroots movement. While we organizers do our best to get more support from publishers, media, and sponsors, we are volunteers with zero budget. We have two volunteers dedicated to PR/media - but like all of us, they're doing this in-between day jobs, taking care of family, and their own writing projects.
While we believe that two years of success has earned AFI tons of credibility which will make PR and media easier this year, we still need as much help as we can get. The good news is that as we head into our third year, Publishers seem to believe that we are in this for the long haul, so they're more willing to help out.
When should I sign up and how?
If you want to host some authors, go to the SIGN UP page. The sooner you team up with an author or two, the sooner you can plan your logistics and marketing.
This year we're asking stores and authors to team up by March 15. We feel this is sufficient lead time to plan logistics and marketing -- and of course you don't need to have all your authors confirmed before partnering with other businesses in your neighbourhood or asking publishers to donate books for door prizes.
Once you've signed up, we will add your name to the list of registered stores. Please be patient. It could take up to 24 hours. After that, authors will be able to contact you and vice versa.
Will you be matching authors to bookstores?
No way. We’re control freaks but we’re not masochists and we don't have the manpower. This website facilitates the matchmaking process by listing stores and authors who want to take part. It's up to bookstores and authors to contact each other. Some publishers have indicated they'd be willing to pitch in to get their authors into stores, so you can also contact publishers to ask about authors you'd like to host.
Reality: some authors will end up at the bookstore of their choice, some bookstores will end up with the authors of their choice. Or not.
I don't see my store listed under 'FIND A STORE'. In fact there aren't many bookstores there
FIND A STORE is for public viewing and lists only the stores that have authors lined up. This list gets updated every day as stores send in their author names. If you have registered as a Bookstore, log in. This gives you access to the full list of this year's participating bookstores and authors. When you have one or more authors confirmed, send in a CONFIRM AUTHOR form and your bookstore will show up in FIND A STORE.
I've got authors! How do I get them on my store listing?
You need to fill out a CONFIRM AUTHOR form. You need to be logged in to do this. Once we receive your form with author name(s), we'll update your store listing. Then all website visitors will be able to see which authors your store will be hosting.
What are authors supposed to do while at the store?
The goal is to help bring in store traffic and make it a great retail day for the store. We are there to help sell you books. The point is not to sell our own books – although that tends to happen organically – but to recommend books by other writers that we love.
Every store is free to organize whatever activities you feel will best suit your customers and community. Watch out for some blogs from booksellers who came up with creative and practical ways to put authors to work!
How long should authors volunteer at a store?
That's between bookstores and authors. Last year, some authors traveled to several stores over the course of the day, while others spent an entire day in one store, while still others volunteered for a shift of a few hours one store.
Who are the event organizers?
We are a team of volunteers who appreciate what indie bookstores do for diversity, for emerging voices, for Canadian literature. We were inspired by the Indies First Campaign in the USA, started by author Sherman Alexie and organized by the American Booksellers Association. In Canada, Authors for Indies Day is a grassroots movement. This year the core team consists of:
- Janie Chang (Author): organizer, webmaster, content editor, newsletter editor, AFI founder
- Karry Eilers (Booklover): content editor, list updater
- Kate Hilton (Author): organizer, content editor, guest blogger wrangler
- Karen Lee (Communications consultant, Writer): PR, media outreach
- Shelley Macbeth (Bookseller): bookseller communications, subject matter expert
- Robin Rivers (Journalist, Digital Entrepreneur): PR, media outreach
- Jennifer Robson (Author): 2017 spokes author and goodwill ambassador
- Candie Tanaka (Writer, Artist, Entrepreneur): social media
- Kitty Widjaja (Designer, Artist): graphics
- Mary-Ann Yazedijian (Bookseller): bookseller communications, subject matter expert