Rich in significance, the Carol
Awards ceremony highlighted brilliance in Christian fiction while
honoring a pioneering heroine in the industry, Carol Johnson. Mrs.
Johnson attended the ACFW conference in Indianapolis to receive the
first Life Time Achievement Award ever presented by the American
Christian Fiction Writers. She also honored the authors whose novels or
novellas won the Carol Award. The full list of Carol Award and Genesis
winners can be found at: http://www.acfw.com/pressroom/acfw_awards_banquet_2010.shtml.
In addition to the author
awards, ACFW honors significant contributions by industry professionals
and members. Winners of these awards display selfless service, ethics,
and Christian living.
Mentor of the Year: Susan May
Member Service Award: Fay Lamb.
Agent of the Year: Sandra Bishop of MacGregor Literary.
New media and entertainment
opportunities provided a live blog event with over 200 participants
following the evening’s events, while 690 banquet attendees watched
live on huge video screens.
Still available, please visit http://acfw.com/conference/liveblog.shtml.
Christian Store Day,
American Christian Fiction
Writers are joining forces with Christian stores across the country
featuring special events, author chats, and reader interaction on
October 23, 2010, with product giveaways for customers, special
promotions to bring customers to the stores, and an inexpensive
exclusive enhanced CD to create lots of excitement. Included in the
special day is a ministry outreach for Haiti via the enhanced CD. It
will include e-books from Christian authors, special recordings by
Christian musicians to help raise awareness and relief for Haiti—all
for $5! All funds raised from the CD will go to the Haiti relief.
Published authors can be a part
of this by making in-store appearances: offering a talk, serving on a
panel, or discussing how your book and personal experience ministers to
people coping with important life issues like adoption, giving back,
forgiveness, crisis pregnancy, divorce, teen suicide, or any other
ACFW’s Website (http://www.acfw.com)
reaches into the heart of our hurting world by listing the books our
authors write that deal with social issues happening in the lives of
our readers today. Christian authors can offer a crucial ministry to
their readers. By reaching out in person, we can help our Christian
stores meet the needs of their local clientele. Touching lives and
giving hope builds relationships and allows both the stores and the
authors to be effective together in ministry.
Please contact Angela
Breidenbach, ACFW publicity officer, if you’d like to take part in this
national event by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, book
title, back copy, social or life issue you can speak on, contact
information, and the area you live or are willing to serve on October
23. Time is limited, so please do this right away to allow stores to
connect with the authors and also communicate to the community around
Prepublished authors can offer
their local stores support by assisting the published authors with the
event and creating relationship with store personnel. Connect with the
published authors in your ACFW zone to volunteer with them. Be aware of
what the store is doing in your area and tell your friends about the
Everyone is encouraged to blog,
tweet, and post on Facebook to help raise awareness for Christian
stores, Haiti relief, and the ministry available on October 23, 2010.
Start now! Let’s support the stores that support our authors, reach out
in love to those who need our care, and share Christ through a massive
national effort moving both inside and outside our borders.
For a store near you, see the
participating store list and then sign up through the ACFW publicity
officer by e-mailing email@example.com. See http://www.Christianstoreday.com
for more information and go to http://www.Christianstores.org
participating stores in your area.
He Said/She Said:
How to Have an Amazing Author Event
From a Bookstore Owner’s Perspective
We continue with Angela
Breidenbach’s interview with Suzanne and Shawn Kuhn of P & K
Books and SuzyQ4U. Together we hope to help authors have stronger, more
successful events in marketing their books to readers and reaching out
in ministry, especially fitting for the upcoming Christian Store Day on
does an author take that extra step and support the bookstores that are
selling their books?
Suzanne: An author must approach
the situation with an upbeat attitude. Bring energy. Communicate with
the bookstore about your style. Let them know how you usually like to
do a book signing. Bring your own giveaways.
Shawn: Sell your books to your
fans and customers; sell them as gifts and offer to personalize them.
Find out about your readers online and then sell to their interest or
life experience. Don’t be afraid ask them what they like to read. You
could have common interests in other authors, sparking great
conversation. The public is reading other authors, graciously
acknowledge them and bridge the gap. Weave your story into their lives
and they will immerse themselves in your books.
happens before an author shows up, behind-the-scenes, on a bookstore’s
Suzanne: We talk up the event to
all our customers, send out e-mail blasts, and advertise through local
radio. We sometimes put bag stuffers in shopping bags, promoting a
bounce-back coupon for that author’s merchandise good only the day of
Shawn: The burden here should be
on booksellers. We should have a healthy supply of your new title and
backlist titles. But we sometimes goof up, so bring a supply with you
to the store in case we fall down on the job. Regardless of who is at
fault, you will still look bad. This is your opportunity to shine;
don’t leave it to chance (or sloppy bookselling by the store).
happens after an author leaves?
Suzanne: Hopefully we’ve become
known as the local connection for all of that author’s products. We
like the author to remain in contact with our stores, giving us current
updates on their books, etc. We’ll add those updates on our Websites,
Facebook pages, and social media. Keeping in touch is a key tip for an
Shawn: Personalize and give
books to all the employees. They’ll become your daily sales force.
They’ll encourage the owners to keep you in stock. Anytime a customer
comes in the store and asks for Wanda Brunstetter, I never hesitate to
tell them she comes to our Lancaster store with her husband and signs
for us. The readers have a vicarious experience with Wanda because of
my personal interaction with her. Consequently, I sell many of her
books. Leave books at the store on consignment. They’re more likely to
sell on my shelf than in your trunk or garage. It’s the same principle
as to why we try to get all of your stock out of the back room. Show it
to sell it.
a good length for an event? Time? Day of the week?
Suzanne: Length of event depends
on the popularity of the author. An
author should be at an event long enough to see everyone who came
specifically to see them or long enough to create an excitement about
meeting them. I love Saturday, mid-morning.
Shawn: The right length for an
event is till the last interested
fan/customer is satisfied. If no one is there, until you and the
management know you’ve given it the old college try.
creative ideas should an author be thinking about for promotion?
Suzanne: Again, anything that
goes along with their theme. Camy Tang
recently sent us bookmarks made by her mother. I love them. We shared
them with our employees. They love them. All our stores are promoting
her more now.
Shawn: Sign bookmarks or other
promotional materials. Offer a giveaway
for signing up on your Facebook. (Angela here: A giveaway can
be a chapter as a download or an e-book to show your voice and style of
writing. It doesn’t have to be an expensive mailing.)
does the author partner with the bookstore for promotion and
Suzanne: An author can
communicate with the bookstore. Authors should
let the bookstore know how they envision the event. But also be willing
to work with the bookstores vision as well. Because the individual
bookstores know their clientele best, it is important to give them the
opportunity to troubleshoot your thoughts.
Shawn: Go with the flow of the
store and leave your mark. Be your
if an event has low numbers?
Suzanne: Work the crowd that you
have. Be very personable. Talk to
those who are there. Make your line move slower. Share your stories and
listen to their stories.
Shawn: Twitter the names,
stories, and comments of your attendees. Sign
every book in the store.
if an event has super high numbers?
Suzanne: Keep the line moving,
but don’t let people feel like they are
being herded through. That’s when those who travel with you are most
important. Have them “work the line,” engaging your fans. Then it is
especially important that you have fun, energetic folk with you. Have
them handing out sticky notes for the books so that fans can write the
name of the personalization on it prior to reaching the author. Also
use them to prescreen the author’s fans. They can come to the author
prior to any specific fans reaching him or her to relate any special
detail that should be brought to the author’s attention.
Shawn: In the Gospels it says
that Jesus healed every one who came to
him, and in another case He asked in a crowd, “Who touched me?” This is
why you write Christian fiction. Dying to self in a super busy event
sure beats dying in a store with you, the staff, and the crickets. Live
in the moment. Remember those days of struggle and make the most of
this fun moment.
the absolute worst thing an author can do at a signing or event?
Suzanne: Be unapproachable or
appear to be uninterested.
Shawn: Give up on an event
before it is over.
kind of media might help an event if an author lives too far away?
Skype party, or other ideas for book clubs?
Suzanne: Book clubs definitely,
Facebook interaction, and/or YouTube videos.
Shawn: Bookstores and authors
need to embrace social media; it is social and relational and not just
about selling more books.
it help if an author can come early and meet the store personnel before
the event (like days or weeks)?
Suzanne: Absolutely. Anything
an author can do in advance to create excitement within the bookstore
will always add to the success of the event.
Shawn: Authors can familiarize
themselves with where their books are in the store. The authors can
also let the store know about placement of series or any books that the
store should also be carrying.
Favorite author event story?
Suzanne: I think my personal
favorite was a Women of Faith event. Karen Kingsbury had been to three
cities, eight flights in thirty-six hours. With 9,000 in attendance,
her arrival had been much anticipated. Before she even entered the
building, the line was already 500 deep. She stayed and signed books,
swapped stories, hugged, laughed, and cried with her fan friends for
the next four hours. I was at a table directly next to Karen. I never
once saw anything but warmth and joy from her. The next day, lines were
just as long and the crowd just as eager to meet her. She stayed for
another five hours with her fans. She remained until she saw every last
fan/friend. She never sat down, and went through more than a dozen
Sharpies (smelling them for nine hours total). The warmth and love that
the last person received was the same as the very first.
Shawn: Years ago we had a local
author come and do a book signing for Ethic Poetry. He sold over twenty
copies of his book on a weekday. He was highly entertaining and
engaging and sold many copies to people who had no intention of buying
his book or genre. But they went home as happy, new fans. This was on
of the most successful and fun book signings we had ever had at that
store. Why so many, they were sold on the author by the author.
handselling and how does an author earn it?
Suzanne: Ah, this may be my
favorite question. Handselling is when I take a special interest in a
book or author. I individually recommend, offer, suggest it to all
customers who I think may even slightly be interested. Because my
personal selling style is to become my customer’s friend, I find great
success in handselling.
Shawn: I really can’t hold a
candle to Suzanne when it comes to handselling. But in my own way I try
to find a point of contact and then look to bridge the customer to
product and authors of interest. I truly sell more books than I have
read myself because I know the author or have been educated by a
customer or another coworker.
advice do you want to share?
Suzanne: Regardless of the
situation’s specifics, make it fun for the fans.
Shawn: I have been told that 95
percent of the authors struggle to make a living at writing. The other
5 percent are “lucky.” Surprisingly they make their own luck with hard
work, great attitudes, and a lot of perseverance. All authors are
forged in the same crucible and have many testings in bookstore events.
The “lucky” ones are those who live in their calling and see with eyes
of faith what God has placed in them.
Guest Bio: Shawn and Suzanne
Kuhn have been married for twenty-two years. They have done many author
events in and out of their bookstores. Shawn and his business partner,
Tom Pilsch, own seven stores in the mid-Atlantic states, including the
Bible Outlet in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Suzanne has recently founded
SuzyQ4U, an author event–focused business to handsell books and bridge
readers to the author during book tours and large events.