One of the things that has stymied me a bit at Boswell is that I don't think we've reached our potential with our public events for kids authors. I knew we were doing a great job with our school visits, which are really the heart and soul of tours for children's books anyway. But I just would look at 20-30 kids for James Dashner or Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams (the great Tunnels series) and think, more kids should know about this. It wasn't a big deal because our school events were spectacular and many other indie bookstores struggle a bit with this, but I'm looking to do better.
We've experimented a bit with time. I've started doing more 4 pm events, especially for middle graders. It was my thought that even though a lot of parents work, most kids still aren't in school and there's probably someone who can get them to an event. I also thought it would be easier for publishers to get the authors on flights the same evening.
For a superstar like Mo Willems or Patricia Polacco, store events have worked great. But there are so many great kids authors out there that are doing well, and need a champion to get the word out.
Or make that, six or seven champions. After doing a few events at the Shorewood Public Library, including a particularly successful event with Blue Balliett for The Danger Box, I started chatting with Tiffany, teen librarian supreme. It turns out they have connections all over the place, at libraries throughout Milwaukee County, and these librarians are simply book evangelists, folks after my own heart. Now I'm partnering with Keri, Megan, Katie, Heather, Karli, Beth, Heide, and of course Tiffany, to spread the word.
We've put together a great schedule of fall kids events at libraries all over the county. I'm hoping that we have some great events, sell enough books to make publishers happy, and perhaps let some folks know that there is a pretty cool bookstore with a great kids section that, while not around the corner, is worth making a trip for every once in a while. (Being that I just had a customer who drive ten miles for our card selection, it's possible!)
Here's the lineup:
Thursday, September 8, 4 pm:
Peter Brown, author of You Will be My Friend! and many other books.
Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N. Murray Ave. (just South of Capitol)
Monday, September 19, 5:30 pm:
Margaret Peterson Haddix, author of Torn and many other books.
Franklin Public Library, 9151 W. Loomis Rd. (just off Drexel)
Thursday, September 22, 4 pm:
Lisa McMann, author of The Unwanteds and many other books.
West Allis Public Library, 7421 W. National Ave.
Tuesday, September 27, 4 pm:
Patrick Carman, author of Floors, 3:15 Season One, and many other books.
Greenfield Public Library, 5310 W. Layton Ave. (just south of 894)
Tuesday, October 11, 6:30 pm:
Lauren Oliver, author of Liesl & Po, Before I Fall, and Delirium
North Shore Library, 6800 N. Port Washington Rd. (between Bender & Green Tree Rd.)
Thursday, October 13, 4 pm:
James Howe, author of Addie on the Inside, Bunnicula, and many other books.
Cudahy Family Library, 3500 Library Dr. (just off Packard)
Monday, October 17, 6:30 pm:
Catherine Gilbert Murdock, author of Wisdom's Kiss, Dairy Queen, and other books.
Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N. Murray Ave.
Tuesday, October 25, 6:30 pm:
James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure.
Greenfield Public Library, 5310 W. Layton Ave.
It's the "many other books" that help make these things work. It's harder with a first-time author, but we're talking to one right now because we're really excited about her book.
Want to talk to me about future events? I can't promise anything--next year we might only get one author and we do like to do some of our kids' events at Boswell.
But I can tell you that for libraries, we need a community room of 100 people, the ability to sell books, a very enthusiastic group of librarians, and we can't really travel more than 15-20 miles, either from the bookstore or from my home in Bay View. We also are not poachers, so if you have a nice relationship with another bookstore, we don't want to get in the way.
For schools, we need to get at least 120 kids at the program (more is better, we have schools that can put together a crowd of 400), the ability to sell books "book club" style, and an enthusiastic group of teacher-library-administrator types that want this to be a success. We ask that the book trailer be shown in classrooms when possible--this works particularly well.
There are no honorarium or travel costs to be borne by the school or library, at least for now. Someday it might be different. You know how fast change can happen.
Want more info? Read our email newsletter, which just went out this morning. It's forwardable or you can copy and paste the link.
And if you really want to help us, please pick up a poster to put up at your school, library, community center, or anywhere a bunch of kids and parents are--it should be ready by Monday. Did I mention that all the library events are free? But of course you knew that.
(Note that all titles are available for purchase on our website, both in print and ebook editions. Visit and browse to your heart's content!)
Hello. This is my blog for the Boswell Book Company, located on the East Side of Milwaukee at 2559 N. Downer Avenue at Webster Place, Milwaukee WI 53211.
Our store phone: (414) 332-1181.
My email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
General email: email@example.com.
Our Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 AM-9 PM.
Sunday hours, 10 AM-6 PM