Event Series With Indies Introduce, Established Authors Entertains Bookstore Audiences

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Authors, booksellers, and customers enjoyed a series of events in October that joined together Indies Introduce authors and established authors for readings, signings, and conversations presented by independent bookstores near the authors’ home cities.

This partnership between the American Booksellers Association and the Authors Guild was launched to help promote the Indies Introduce program, which twice a year highlights a new crop of debut authors, as selected by panels of independent booksellers.

Angie Thomas and Nic Stone
Angie Thomas and Nic Stone

The first of three events was presented by Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Georgia, in partnership with the Georgia Center for the Book: Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give, Balzer + Bray) appeared at the Decatur Library with Indies Introduce author Nic Stone (Dear Martin, Crown Books for Young Readers) on Tuesday, October 24.

“Angie and I had a blast,” Stone told Bookselling This Week. “I think there’s something exceedingly wonderful and powerful about readers getting to see authors they love supporting authors they may not be familiar with. It’s an awesome program, and I’m thrilled I got to participate.”

Madison Hatfield, a bookseller at Little Shop of Stories, said the event, which was attended by 120 people, was one of the most impactful, exciting, and fun author events of her bookselling career. “Not only do these two books complement one another so well, but the authors are actually friends,” said Hatfield.

“Their conversation was easy and full of laughter but also deep and nuanced. It was clear that these two women were fans of one another, and whether or not the audience had heard of them before that night, we all left as fans of both.”

Esmé Weijun Wang and Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
Esmé Weijun Wang and Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

Subsequent events on October 29 featured Esmé Weijun Wang (The Border of Paradise, Unnamed Press) and Indies Introduce author Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (A Kind of Freedom, Counterpoint) appearing at Book Passage in Corte Madera, California. Bookseller Garrett Omi said about 30 to 40 people attended the event, even though it was a typically sleepy Sunday afternoon.

“It was a really fun event. Esmé brought some really great questions for Margaret, who had her family there with her,” Omi told Bookselling This Week. “A lot of audience members had interesting questions; I think some of them had lived in New Orleans [where the book takes place] at one point.”

The second event that Sunday featured Rachel Vail (Well That Was Awkward, Viking Books for Young Readers; Justin Case, Macmillan) and Indies Introduce author Karina Yan Glaser (The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, HMH Books for Young Readers), who appeared at Bank Street Bookstore in New York City.

Glaser said she was honored and amazed by the support from ABA and the Authors Guild.

Karina Yan Glaser and Rachel Vail
Karina Yan Glaser and Rachel Vail

“Being a part of their event was incredibly exciting as a debut author,” Glaser said. “I have been a huge fan of Rachel Vail’s books for many years, so it was a privilege to be in conversation with her about writing, publishing, and children’s books.”

Authors Guild Executive Director Mary Rasenberger said the Guild was delighted to work with ABA on an initiative such as this, which helps debut authors launch their careers while bringing new writers to readers.

“Events pairing debut and established authors are especially important today, as the world of traditional publishing continues to contract and creative work is devalued online,” said Rasenberger. “Writers need each other more than ever. And it begins with those just starting out in their careers.”

ABA Senior Program Officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger also praised the initiative’s ability to bring greater attention to debut writers.

Through the Indies Introduce program, now in its fifth year, independent booksellers have identified many unique, new talents," she said. "We look forward to watching the program grow in scope and awareness through the events planned with help from the Authors Guild.