How to make the most of the 2020 SIBA/NAIBA Trade Show

Books Forward is so excited for the SIBA/NAIBA Trade Show starting Sept. 21 — check out our exhibitor booth here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/books-forward/! This year’s trade show is going to look a little different from previous years: for the first time ever, SIBA and NAIBA have partnered up to host a virtual, five-day event. We can’t wait to join our favorite indie booksellers, publishers, and authors online for this one-of-a-kind experience — and we also know that new opportunities can create questions for our authors. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the trade show to help authors navigate this year’s especially unique event with ease!

What does the SIBA/NAIBA Trade Show look like?
Held Sept. 21-25, the trade show will consist of a series of Zoom events taking place across four different channels. It’s a joint event hosted between SIBA (the Southern Independent Booksellers Association) and NAIBA (the New Atlantic Booksellers Association), united under the name New Voices New Rooms. Booksellers will be eyeing new and upcoming book releases!

What does this year’s schedule look like?
You can find the trade show schedule here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/schedule/. It’s divided into four tracks: Education (panels, roundtables, and more for booksellers), Author Events, Publisher Events, and Networking. It’s interactive and searchable; you can add all events, or just individual events, to your personal calendar; you can subscribe to it; and you can easily share it on social media. You’ll also find all of the participating publishers tagged — just click on the publisher’s name to see all of the events that publisher is participating in.

This schedule is pretty extensive! How will I know what’s happening each day?
Not only is the schedule broken up by day, but the New Voices New Rooms blog will also have a rundown of each day’s events, and is a great hub for finding out info about the show: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/nvnr-news/. Their newsletter will also recap daily sessions and events, as will the SIBA and NAIBA newsletters, respectively.

How many people can attend the online trade show?
There is no attendance cap; there are more than 500 booksellers and other industry attendees registered right now.

Can I still arrange to be featured in an author event?
The Author Events schedule is full, but there are still some advertising options available to reach attendees via the email newsletter or trade show website, which is sure to have high traffic during that week! Find more info here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/sponsors/.

Do I have to register?
Anyone who is participating in the trade show (including exhibitors) or who wants to attend must register; you can do so here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/registration/. Registering gets you onto the list of people allowed into the Zoom rooms/events.

If my publisher/editor/representative got me scheduled to participate in a trade show author event, do I still have to register?
Anyone who is attending or participating in the trade show must be registered for the event; this is how you get on to the list of Zoom room attendees. However, it’s possible that SIBA/NAIBA registered you on behalf of your publisher/editor/representative; it’s best to check with your participating organization to make sure.

I am, or my publisher/representative is, participating in the trade show. How will ARCs/galleys/review copies of my book be available?
If an author is featured at an event, New Voices New Rooms will send a Google form to all session participants at the end of the event to incentivize people to sign up for copies; publishers will then receive a list with all the book requests. Exhibitors can also feature galley request forms on their pages in the Virtual Exhibitor Hall!

What is the Virtual Exhibitor Hall?
While we may miss the crowded and bustling exhibitor halls of previous years, New Voices New Rooms has created a really excellent Virtual Hall for Exhibitors, which you can peruse here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/virtual-exhibit-hall/. When you hover your cursor over each logo, the digital placard flips over to reveal a sentence or two about that exhibitor. Click on the logo to “enter” the exhibitor’s virtual booth, where you can learn more about their offerings and services, and even enter an online raffle! There’s also a searchable directory of exhibitors in the dropdown menu between the sponsor logos and exhibitor logos.

How do I know which booksellers are in attendance?
New Voices New Rooms has created a pretty awesome searchable list of all registered booksellers who will be in attendance — check it out here! https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/booksellers/

Will I be tagged on social media?
New Voices New Rooms is creating graphics and videos that can be shared on social media by publishers and exhibitors; each piece of content will include a list of participating authors’ social media handles so they can be easily tagged online. This is perfect for promoting and sharing specific authors and events!

Books Forward Welcomes SIBA / NAIBA Attendees to New Orleans

Bienvenue to all SIBA / NAIBA indie booksellers and other lovers of literature! At Books Forward, we are passionate about elevating important messages and stories from diverse voices, as well as championing independent bookstores. And we are so excited to extend our Southern hospitality to the attendees of 2020’s joint SIBA / NAIBA tradeshow! Welcome, y’all!

If you want to discover some incredible new authors, enjoy some fun NOLA swag, or receive a free consultation about boosting your social media presence, check out what we have in store for you this year. Connect with us during the conference by participating in a few of our offerings below: 

Visit our virtual booth in the exhibitor’s hall: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/books-forward/ 

Check out our booth and come meet the amazing Southern authors and books we’re representing this year! You may request galleys for any of our titles.

Ask us for a free social media consultation 

Are you a bookseller looking to boost your social media presence? Our digital marketing team will review your social media accounts and offer constructive feedback and advice for increasing your online engagement, hosting virtual events and bringing more patrons to your online store! Email us at info@booksforward.com to schedule your consult.

You may also be interested in scheduling some of our authors and leading experts for free (live or pre-recorded) virtual learning opportunities.

Learn New Orleans lingo 

Think you know how to say “Tchefuncte,” “Vieux Carre,” “Ouachita” and “Burgundy?” Think again! Let our New Orleans team teach you how to pronounce the trickier words you’ll see while virtually visiting the Big Easy, and we’ll have you speaking like a local in no time. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Pick up some fun swag 

We have a present for you! Check your conference box to snag your grab bag of NOLA flavor, including a snazzy sticker and (of course) a fun Mardi Gras bead courtesy of Books Forward! 

Meet our authors face-to-face

Our authors want to say a big “thank you!” to indies and share some cool news with you via video! Check out Big Freedia’s (New Orleans’ one and only Queen Diva and Bounce music icon) shout-out to indie booksellers, bestselling author Rea Frey talking about the importance of indie bookstores, bestselling author Jenny Milchman (known for what Shelf Awareness called the “World’s Longest Bookstore Tour”) reading from her newest thriller, and Washington Post journalist and Jeff Goldblum biographer Travis Andrews sharing some fascinating facts about “Jurassic Jeff”.

Join us on social media 

Be the first to enter our giveaways (often for indie bookstore gift cards, but also for other literary themed gifts!), get tagged in our shout-outs, chat with us online, and see our posts, streams, and stories during the tradeshow and beyond! Follow us on social media by clicking the links below: 

A sincere THANK YOU for all you do for the literary community. We’re sending a big virtual hug your way!

“Help Me Help You!” Tips for your family and friends who want to help your writing career

So many authors are reluctant to ask their family, friends and assorted contacts for help when they are promoting their book, but I always tell them to think of it from the opposite perspective. Wouldn’t you want to support a friend or loved one who had a new book coming out?

The thing is, most people don’t know exactly how to show that support, and they just need a little nudge in the right direction. So we put together a handy guide you can pass along when someone asks, “How can I help?”

Dear friends and family, here’s how you can help the authors in your life:

  1. Preorder a copy of their book — and not just for yourselves, but for others. Everybody’s getting a copy for Christmas! This is the most tangible way to help. For those who don’t have the financial means to order several books, there are a lot of other things that can help.
  2. Talk about the book on social media. Include links to the author’s website so people can order copies for themselves. Follow the author on their social media pages, and share their posts as appropriate to help drum up excitement.
  3. Rate and review the book on all platforms possible. Amazon doesn’t allow reviews before a book’s publication date, but Goodreads and other sites do. These ratings can be a deciding factor for whether someone buys the book or not. Seeing even just a handful of positive reviews can be a big incentive to check it out, so leaving a 5-star rating and review is an easy way to have a critical impact.
  4. Add the book to Goodreads lists to boost its SEO (Search Engine Optimization) power. When someone searches for books about specific topics — for example, “books about teenage witches” — Goodreads lists are often among the first results to pop up. By adding the book to several topical/thematic Goodreads lists and asking others to vote on it, you are making it more visible to its targeted readers.
  5. Suggest it as a book club pick to any groups you’re involved with who may enjoy it. The author may even be able to do a virtual Q&A with book clubs if that’s something you’d be interested in.
  6. Request that your local library carry the book. Check to see if the book is available at your library. If it’s not, check online to see if they have a form on their website where you can request that they carry the book. Many libraries have request forms specifically for this purpose (and if yours does not have an online form, a conversation with the librarian is a good place to start!). If the library chooses to carry the book, they will purchase a copy (another sale for the author!), and the book will be able to reach a new audience of readers who may not hear about it otherwise.
  7. Talk to your local booksellers and see if they know about the book. If not, give them an elevator pitch! Their recommendations are invaluable, so even putting the book on their radar can be helpful.
  8. And of course, spread the word! Word of mouth is still so important. Talk about the book to your friends, your coworkers, in your personal and professional circles, anywhere you can. Being an advocate for the author in your life is truly a gift — and you may help your other friends and connections discover a great new read!

How Bookstores are Innovating Due to Covid-19

Independent bookstores had their fair share of hurdles before coronavirus, but thanks to the quote-unquote “new normal” of Covid-19 and social distancing, indie booksellers have had to dramatically reimagine their businesses.

When Seattle’s “Shelter in Place” order went into effect on March 24, Third Place Books had to close their physical stores, temporarily furlough some staff (with healthcare maintained), and essentially “learn how to run a bookstore remotely overnight,” said events manager Sam Kaas.

“It was like opening a whole new business,” he said. After six weeks of operating remotely, the store was able to offer curbside pickup. “That has been like opening another totally new business,” said Kaas. “We’ve fundamentally altered most of the basic framework of our jobs the past two months.”

Virtual events have been one of the most widespread transformations, with booksellers having to work creatively — and quickly — to transition to online programming.

Third Place Books experimented with multiple platforms (Facebook Live, Instagram, Zoom and Webinar) and are now trying Crowdcast. Initially their event attendance was higher than average (70-80 online, vs. 20 in-store) while sales were lower. Over time, Kaas says attendance has “settled into a more normal pattern” and sales have increased, with variation from event to event.

Shakespeare & Co has also transitioned to virtual programming. In addition to book launches and author events, they are hosting virtual creative writing workshops, online book clubs with author participation, and partnered events with other authors and organizations. Françoise Brodsky, Director of Community Outreach and Events, said that Zoom has been their preferred platform. Sales have varied, but “participation has increased, because it is not linked geographically anymore,” Brodsky said.

Doloris Vest at Book No Further said their store has also been working on virtual programming via Zoom. Although attendance fluctuates, their event pre-sales have been comparable to in-store events. Book No Further is trying other new strategies as well, such as offering small-group browsing and browsing-by-appointment, and improving store layout to ensure everything is clean, sales-friendly and easily accessible.

Some changes have been surprisingly positive. “We did more online sales in the first two months of the shut down than we had done in the previous/first eight months of our website,” Vest said.
Kaas said that the pandemic has presented new challenges, and also fresh innovations. “While booksellers have to be nimble every day to survive, our industry is also one where it’s easy to get into a rut, and to stick with what works until we’re forced to think of something new. This has forced us to think outside the box, which is crucial.”

All three bookstores confirmed that they intend to host virtual programming for the long-term. For many, pre-pandemic-style (dare we say “normal?”) business operations are not expected to resume before 2021. Even then, the book industry is writing a new chapter. It’s very likely that some changes — such as “hybrid” schedules of virtual and in-person events — are here to stay.

What to expect leading up to your book launch

The day a book launches is one of the most exciting of an author’s career, but the weeks leading up to it can be nerve-wracking. Knowing what to expect can help give you a sense of calm as you move into “launch month.”

I like to describe the publicity leading up to your publication date like a snowball: it starts out rather small and moves slowly, but as you get closer, momentum and size build up.

First, many readers prefer to wait until launch day or launch week to cross-post reviews (Amazon actually doesn’t allow reviews to post before then, although other sites do). This burst of reviews in a short period of time can be beneficial; it’s similar to advertising, and the sudden, frequent exposure to the book’s cover and title can lead to more orders!

Second, local media publications in your area are more likely to post a review or blurb about the book near the launch date, in order to create a more timely hook for their newscycle.

So how can you help build the momentum?

Check in with your network of family and friends around this time to ask them to help spread the word about your book. They can do this through Goodreads reviews, social media outreach, or good old-fashioned word of mouth. Many of your supporters will want to help you during this time, but they might need you to tell them how.

Post regularly on social media. Prior to launch, you may have been posting about your book on social media less frequently in order to not overwhelm your followers. However, the weeks leading up to your launch is the time to really use those platforms to display your excitement and share this part of your journey! You should also use social media to share any reviews, and to thank the people who wrote them.

Make sure your website is fully updated and running smoothly. As more people hear about your book, your website is likely to have more visits. Make sure buy links (including IndieBound) are displayed prominently to give you the best chance at getting those orders! If you have a reader newsletter, make sure that you have a system in place to capture email addresses of anyone who wants to subscribe.

Be savvy about making your book launch event a success. Encourage your contacts in the area to come, and to spread the word about the event to their networks as well. Stores appreciate when events gather a crowd, and it gives you an opportunity to spread your message beyond your circle. Ask the store what format usually works best for them, whether it’s a short reading, a Q&A, a conversation, etc.

Bring bookmarks and extra pens for signing, and a notepad to take down any email addresses for contacts you may make. Plus some water and mints–you’ll be doing a lot of talking!

In the wake of COVID-19, many stores are offering virtual events instead of in-person events, which is a great option to reach a wider audience beyond where you can travel! Even if an event is virtual, we still recommend being strategic about when, where, and with whom you set up events: you want to make sure you can draw an audience, so that it is a good investment for you and the bookstore.

If the bookstore doesn’t set up a Facebook event for your launch, you should set one up yourself! It’s a great way to let a wide audience know about your launch, and you can include a lot of information in one place.

And most of all, remember to enjoy yourself! This is a special time, and at the end of the day, nothing can diminish your hard work, creativity, and the amazing accomplishment of releasing your own book!

#BooksForwardHelpline: Helping you learn how to download ebooks and audiobooks, and connecting you to your next great read

With libraries and many bookstores closing physical locations for quarantine and Amazon suspending nonessential shipments, book lovers who prefer physical copies are faced with a dilemma: How will you get your hands on your next great read? We understand not everyone is familiar with how to access ebooks and audiobooks, and figuring this out can be daunting if you’re self-isolating due to COVID-19.

Books Forward has organized a free helpline to connect readers with the books they need. Call us at (615) 212-8549 between 9 a.m and 5 p.m. CT, or browse our resources below.

We can help you:

1. Learn how to download ebooks and audiobooks

Read our helpful guide, and call us if you have any questions. We can walk you step-by-step through the process of downloading digital and audiobooks so you can easily begin reading or listening to a new book at the touch of a button.

2. Troubleshoot downloads to your preferred e-reader, iPad, computer or phone

Providers offer online help desks to assist you through common issues you may run into:

And call us if you still need help figuring out the best way to download reading material, regardless of your reading device.

3. Offer reading recommendations to help you find a new book you’ll love

Need something new to read and not sure where to start? You can join our #BooksForward Reading Challenge, where we are reading, sharing and discussing new books (a great way to feel more connected right now!). And check out our curated reading list, where we’ve compiled some of our favorite books that are particularly helpful and relevant for readers who are stuck at home during this time. Or call us! We have tons of great recommendations for you based on your reading preferences!

4. Discover how to support indie bookstores and libraries from home

You may be able to pick up a physical book curbside at your local bookstore or library. But you can still engage with and support your favorite independent bookstore and local library, even when their doors are closed. We’ll teach you how to order ebooks from bookstores and use your library’s app to download books.

Ready to get reading? Call our Books Forward helpline at (615) 212-8549 if you have any additional questions, and let us help you get connected to your next great book without leaving home!

Also check out these resources and articles from our family of authors and experts in response to coronavirus: 

May you have happy and healthy reading.

New to digital and audiobook downloads? Here’s what you need to know. 

You’re homebound due to COVID-19, your local library and bookstore are closed, and you’ve just finished the last book on your shelf. What’s a reader to do? With popular online retailers like Amazon suspending nonessential shipments such as physical book deliveries (although we would argue that good literature is essential in times of stress or crisis), the fact is that digital and audiobooks are now your best, most easily accessible reading option.  

But what if you’re new and unfamiliar to the world of literary downloads? Not to worry: purchasing digital and audiobooks is easier than ever, and we’re here to walk you through it. 

There are multiple sites and apps where you can easily purchase ebooks and audiobooks. The most popular are Kobo, Amazon Kindle, My Must Reads, Libro.FM, Scribd and Audible

We urge you to support your local bookstores even while their doors are closed for coronavirus, by purchasing digital ebooks from them directly using Kobo and My Must Reads, and you can purchase audiobooks from them via Libro.FM. A few clicks, and boom! You’ve got a new book downloaded immediately to your phone, tablet, computer or reading device, and you’re benefiting your local bookseller. Indiebound also offers helpful info on each service.

Kobo enables you to purchase ebooks directly through indie bookstores, and BookRiot has super helpful step-by-step instructions on how to create an account and start downloading books from your preferred store. (Note that Kobo is not compatible with Kindle readers, because they have partnered with indie bookstores to sell their own ereader.) 

My Must Reads has a list of indie bookstores right on its homepage, giving easy access to purchase ebooks directly from the store.  

Libro.FM is a monthly subscription service for audiobooks, and right now they’re offering all new members two audiobook downloads for the price of one ($14.99) with 100% of your payment going to a local bookstore of your choice. Helpful tip: You have to purchase books on Libro’s website and then it goes to your app.

While each site has a slightly different approach, the basic steps are: 

  1. Register for an account or subscription with your preferred site. 
  2. If you don’t have an ereader, download your preferred site’s app to your computer, tablet or phone. You can find their app in the App Store of your device.
  3. Once you’ve created an account and are perusing the site, select the books and audiobooks you would like to purchase and download. You should be able to download them, or add them to your cart, with a single click.
  4. Pay for your selected downloads (if you purchased a subscription, you may skip this step, as you will have access to multiple or even unlimited downloads). 
  5. Start reading and/or listening to your next great book! 

Be sure to also check out our Books Forward Helpline (booksforward.com/helpline) for reading recommendations and other helpful resources related to social distancing and reading from home.

Now let’s take a closer look at what you may see when using these apps to download books: