Friday, September 25, 2009

Learning to Run a Kids Event, Yet Another Work in Progress

Last Saturday we hosted Laura Numeroff. Big author, right? If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and many, many other titles. Our turnout wasn't embarrassing, but it was disapointing. Ms. Numeroff did three stores in the market area, and we placed in the middle.

What did we learn? Timing is very complicated. 2 PM is nap time for a lot of kids. 11 AM starts closing in on lunch. At least one parent thought that 7 PM events would be fine, but isn't that getting close to bedtime for a lot of kids?

And what makes it more complicated of course is that just kids of different ages have different needs. So this makes our upcoming events all the more...interesting.

On Wednesday, September 30th, we're hosting Lisa Yee, author of Bobby Vs. Girls (Accidentally), and several more books for kids. When the event was originally set up, Scholastic told us that they were more interested in us doing school visits. Well, Pam set up two almost immediately. But it was my thought that we'd like to do some promotion with Yee, and we couldn't do that unless there was at least one event that was open to the public.

We're trying a 4 PM, after-school event. Among Yee's other popular books are:
Millicent Min, Girl Genius
Absolutely Emily Ebers
Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time
and the American Girl title Good Luck Ivy.

Both schools hosting Yee are reading her new book and the feedback from kids is great. If I were a better bookseller, I'd have quotes for you from little Edmund and Hilary. That's a good idea for next time.


Different issues come up with our event for Catherine Gilbert Murdock, author of Dairy Queen, The Off Season, and Front and Center (oh, and just to make things complicated, the totally not connected Princess Ben).

This is a really great teen series, that has resonated well with critics, booksellers, and kids. The story is set in Wisconsin (though the author lives in Pennsylvania, albeit still on a farm), so we're hoping to get some press on the titles.

Murdock is doing several events in the area, including one at Next Chapter and another at Books and Company in Oconomowoc. She normally doesn't do city stores; let's see if our appearance breaks the urban curse.

But how to have a successful event? How many teenagers read this blog? How many kids have friended us on Facebook? And our email newsletter? I don't think so. We're hoping some word of mouth helps. A blog posting like this might get us some extra hits from kids searching for Murdock-related happenings.

Perhaps one day we'll have some sort of teen board (How very classic department store!) like some of our other bookstore friends. Knowing what's involved in starting things up and keeping them going, I'm going to tell you it's not happening in the near future.

I'm nervous before every event, but these are out of my comfort zone. I'm hoping that a year from now, that statement won't be true.


Anonymous said...

Honestly, the Numeroff attendance may have been off because the date was wrong on the header of the newletter. It was correct down in the body, but the listing of events had it on 9/17 at 2:00 p.m. I wrote it off as being a school day, and was disappointed when I learned, after the fact, that we'd missed it on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

An evening (7ish) event at Shorewood Schwartz for Mo Willems was absolutely overflowing. Parents will bring their kids out at night for an author of that caliber (which she certainly is!)

Daniel Goldin said...

1. My apologies for the typo in our email newsletter--glad it was correct in the second listing. No excuses, but I will assure you we do multiple proofreads on it. We also have in-store signage, an take-home event calendar, and placed a listing ad in the Journal Sentinel, where it was correct. Since you bring it up, we actually had substantially more people than one of her other events in town.

2. Getting a Mo Willems event has become a much more difficult proposition than when he once appeared at a Schwartz shop. He's now a superstar of the kids' world. We actually did a proposal for an event--which had to be offsite and seat at least hundreds of people. We know there is a very, very small chance of wining the Willems lottery; you can't even imagine what we promised to do, if we are successful.