Friday, May 16, 2014

What You Missed: Tony DiTerlizzi, Bill Hillman, Roxane Gay.

1. It's our last school visit of the 2013-2014 educational year and how fitting that I would be the bookseller assigned to help. Tony DiTerlizzi went to Hillcrest Elementary in Waukesha, coordinated by our good friend Tim. The kids really seemed to enjoy the event for The Battle for WondLa a lot, but now that every kid has a tablet, I have to work those into the guidelines; every kid in school is now effectively carrying around a camera.

Mr. DiTerlizzi used to do a teched down presentation in bookstores but now that most of us can do AV, we got the full-on production,

One of the themes of late has been "I can't believe I've never done events for my books in Milwaukee." I wasn't sure of Mr. DiTerlizzi meant only Boswell or included Schwartz as well. The latter seemed unlikely, because he was a regular visitor to the city in the age of Gen Con, before it moved to Indianapolis.  The other author who mentioned this was Meg Wolitzer, who finally visited on the paperback tour of her ninth book. Y'all come back now, y'hear?, quoting the Beverly Hillbillies.

And as always, if you are a school in the counties of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, or the Eastern half of Waukesha (we cede the Western half to our friends at Books and Company, and we overlap a bit in Waukesha itself) and think you could help us put on a great author event in your school (that includes not just working out the logistics but there is an important sales component to make this work), please contact Jannis.

2. There is nothing like a champion for an event and we certainly had that in Mel for Bill Hillman. He visited last week for The Old Neighborhood and instead of the "speaking" or "signing" shot, we have  a "posin' with the booksellers" one. I don't usually do these unless someone suggests it, but being that we had an excellent prop in the tricked out low rider bicycle he brought along, it was an excellent idea. Mel told me that Hilllman recent had a standing O at a huge story slam in which he participated. Hope I got the details on that right!

We've decided that the Saturday evening event seems to work as well as anything, so we're going to continue to do them when it seems appropriate. Our next Saturday night visitor is Jeffery Renard Allen, the author of the legendary Rails Under My Back who has this amazing new historical novel out called Song of the Shank, based on a blind African American musician who traveled the country as a slave and wasn't told about emancipation after the Civil War. He's coming Saturday, June 7, 7 pm, tieing into his visit to Printers Row Lit Fest.

3. Allen came up last night during our event with Roxane Gay, mostly because it was one of several events I was talking up. We did all kinds of outreach (writing students, book clubs, talking the event up at other events, staff rec outreach with Sharon's great write up) for our talk/reading for An Untamed State, and each little piece got a few folks, bringing us up to a respectable 26 for a first novel with no family/friends component (that means she didn't know anyone except through social media contact). It's a mark of what a good job she did that our sales percentage was 46% (12 books, you do the math!) which is considered very high for a non-ticketed, non local launch kind of thing.

We'll be continuing to promote the book, particularly because there's a chance that Gay will come back for her buzzed about book of essays, Bad Feminist, that is releasing in August. I'm not promising anything--I've already had and lost Doris Kearns Goodwin for the fall so that I know that these things are never definite--but I'll have finished the book shortly and I have at least one other bookseller that is going to love it if she has time to read it.

I just hate it that I didn't finish An Untamed State before the event. I used to kid one of the event coordinators at Schwartz as he was always finishing up a novel 10 minutes before the introduction. I kept trying to tell him to triage and jump to something later so that he could actually use his read to get folks to come to the event, but I know from experience it's a hard habit to break, to quote Chicago.

Signed copies of all featured titles available at Boswell, or you can order from us. Just put "signed copy" in the notes field.

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