During industry events like Winter Institute, Children’s Institute, BookExpo, and the fall regional trade shows, many publishers invite booksellers to attend intimate author dinners. Here are a few tips for navigating these invitations:
RSVP as soon as possible: It’s tempting to wait until you receive all of your invitations before committing to any of them, but publishers appreciate early and enthusiastic responses. Also, let them know ahead of time if you have any dietary restrictions.
Divide and conquer: It’s fun to go to dinners with your colleagues, but publishers often want to include as many individual bookstores as possible at their author dinners. Consider having your colleagues each attend a different dinner.
Be prepared: Make sure you read the author’s book so you have plenty to talk about with your neighbors at the dinner.
Tell the publisher if your plans have changed: If you’re no longer able to attend the show — or if you’re canceling to attend a different dinner — let the publisher know as soon as possible so they can fill the seat. If one of your colleagues would be an enthusiastic supporter of the author and their upcoming book, feel free to let the publisher know that you have a replacement idea. If you’re still attending the show, be sure to connect with the publisher in another way and stop by to meet their authors at the reception.
Free evening? Network with fellow booksellers and/or reach out to your publisher contacts. Publishers may be looking to fill empty seats.
Have fun! Remember, this is a fantastic opportunity to meet new authors and connect with publishers.