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Reader Meet Writer Update

Posted By Wanda Jewell, Sunday, May 17, 2020
Reader Meet Writer's Original Endeavors

First Event at 7pm:
May 28th - Kristy Woodson Harvey interviews Lisa Wingate & Diane Plauche

Diane Plauche is a volunteer with the Historic New Orleans Collection museum. In 2015, she began assisting the museum in creating a database of historical Lost Friends advertisements, through which formerly enslaved people desperately tried to find their lost families in the decades following emancipation. After reading Lisa Wingate's 2017 novel, Before We Were Yours, Diane wrote to Lisa about the Lost Friends ads, saying, "There is a story in each one of the ads." To date, Diane has entered over 2500 unique ads, and tens of thousands of names in the museum's database, preserving the histories of thousands of families. Diane's work, and the stories of the real-life Lost Friends inspired Lisa's newest novel, The Book Of Lost Friends.

Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the author of numerous novels, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Before We Were Yours, which has sold more than 2.2 million copies. The co-author, with Judy Christie, of the nonfiction book, Before and After, Wingate is a two-time ACFW Carol Award winner, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, and a Southern Book Prize winner. She lives with her husband in North Texas.

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the bestselling author of Dear Carolina, Lies and Other Acts of Love, Slightly South of Simple, The Secret to Southern Charm and The Southern Side of Paradise. Kristy is the winner of the Lucy Bramlette Patterson Award for Excellence in Creative Writing, and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize

First Interactive Event:
June 4th @ 5pm: Which Fork Do I Use With My Bourbon? by Peggy Noe Stevens & Susan Reigler
Join Peggy and Susan for a tasting and demonstration.  Learn how to make an Old Fashioned and a Mint Julep.
Ingredients: Old Forester 86 Proof, dried cherries or cranraisins, roasted pecans, caramel candy, squares of dark chocolate
Watch the trailer!

Peggy Noe Stevens is founder of the Bourbon Women Association and a master bourbon taster. A lifestyle expert, she is also a professional speaker. As a Bourbon Hall of Fame inductee, she has planned hundreds of events globally over the last thirty years, often working with distilleries and master distillers.

Susan Reigler is a former restaurant critic for the Louisville Courier-Journal and a current correspondent for Bourbon+ and American Whiskey magazines. She has also authored or coauthored six books on bourbon, including Kentucky Bourbon Country: The Essential Travel Guide and The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book.

First Tour Event:
June 9th @ 3pm: How Not to Get Away with Murder in the 1940s
Join Beverly Bell, author of The Murder of Marion Miley, as she traces the path the killers took: how they got in, how they got out and made their escape. 

Beverly Bell is an award-winning magazine and crime writer whose work has appeared in Arizona Highways, Indianapolis Monthly, Keeneland Magazine, and Kentucky Monthly. Bell is also a featured consultant in Kentucky Education Television's recent documentary Forgotten Fame: The Marion Miley Story.

Tags:  #readermeetwriter  authors  Covid-19  online events  Zoom Meeting 

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Reader Meet Writer Update

Posted By Wanda Jewell, Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The Future of Reader Meet Writer

It is SIBA's goal to continue Reader Meet Writer after a two week break from June 15-July 1.  Half of the books that have been featured on Reader Meet Writer have made the Southern Indie Bestseller List the week following their appearance.  That bodes well for the program if that keeps up, and we need to hear from stores who are participating. These virtual events have been well received by booksellers, publishers, and authors alike.

Beginning in July, SIBA is going to offer two virtual events a week, one in the afternoon on Tuesdays and in the evenings on Thursdays.  We have confirmed Kristen Harmel on July 21st, and Odie Lindsey on August 6th.  We will fill in the remaining dates over the next few weeks and keep the calendar updated at the Reader Meet Writer site for booksellers.

All SIBA member bookstores are invited to participate, and join this list of participating bookstores. Just email to be added to the list.

Tags:  #readermeetwriter  authors  booksellers  Covid-19  online events  Zoom Meeting 

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RMW Hosts 13 Events in MAY

Posted By Wanda Jewell, Monday, April 27, 2020

Reader Meet Writer Virtual Author Events for May

If you haven't signed up to participate in Reader Meet Writer Virtual Author Events, you can do so by simply emailing

Join this list of bookstores and choose from this list of events to present to your customers.  Stores are handling the events as they would handle their own virtual events. Some are selling the book as the ticket to attend.  Some are selling tickets for a flat rate that can then be used as a credit towards the book or any purchase from the store. Each store determines how they want to use the events to assist in selling more books. It is our hope that we are offering stores an easy way to sell books without the headache of managing a new tool.

When asked "Are you pleased with the outcome?", a resounding YES from participating booksellers:

  • "Yes! It came together very quickly for us and we're delighted that people joined in and bought some books. Thank you for putting this together."
  • "Yes - this was an opportunity to have an author event at a time when we otherwise could not at all."
  • "Yes-- I was super late in getting the word out so this was more than I'd hoped. I'd ordered 2 in for the store and they might not have sold without this. I sold those 2 locally, did one Direct-to-Home shipment and 1 on Bookshop."
  • "Yes, it attracted some readers that haven't attended our events in the past."
  • "Very pleased. Excited to participate again soon."
  • "Yes. We had I believe 86 RSVPs, but it looks like only 2/3 or so actually attended the event. 17 books in less than 24 hours for an online event is nothing to turn up our noses at! Some of these customers also purchased other books in their orders."
  • "Yes. My customers loved the chance to hear from such a beloved author!"
  • "Yes! Normally I sell ZERO hardcover debuts."

Last, and most important, only 18 of the current 60 participating bookstore have completed the events survey.  This is a really important final step.  We need the data to carry this program forward.  Please complete this form for each event.  Thanks!

Tags:  #readermeetwriter  authors  booksellers  Covid-19  online events  Zoom Meeting 

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Introducing Reader Meet Writer Virtual Author Series

Posted By Wanda Jewell, Monday, April 20, 2020

reader meet writer


SIBA has created the Reader Meet Writer Author Series as an alternative for bookstores that—now that most of the country in under some version of a shelter-in-place order—are seeking to create ways to engage with their customers online. Participating stores will be able to invite their customers to exclusive video events with authors which are only available to SIBA stores. Events will be hosted by SIBA and can be attended by up to 1000 people. Bookstores handle all ticket and book sales from their customers.

Booksellers: Share your event feedback!

Publishers: Submit to the Call for Authors form!

Additional Resources:
Reader Meet Writer Code of Conduct
Reader Meet Writer Schedule
List of Participating Booksellers

Email Linda-Marie at if you'd like to add your store to the list of participating bookstores.

Tags:  #readermeetwriter  authors  booksellers  Covid-19  online events  Zoom Meeting 

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Reader Meet Writer Update

Posted By Wanda Jewell, Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Reader Meet Writer, Okra Pick  with Steven Wright Coming Up April 16th @ 5 pm – Are you in?

Steven Wright

It was so wonderful to hear Steven Wright at #SIBA19 and I’m excited for him to share his book with readers across the south.  If you haven’t signed up to participate in SIBA’s Virtual Author Series Reader Meet Writer, you can do so by emailing

And if you have, Steven’s The Coyotes of Carthage is “a blistering and thrilling debut—a biting exploration of American politics, set in a small South Carolina town, about a political operative running a dark money campaign for his corporate clients.” (Edelweiss)

The Reader Meet Writer bookseller site is now active.  Visit it today and often.

Steven Wright is a clinical associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, where he co-directs the Wisconsin Innocence Project. From 2007-2012 he served as a trial attorney in the Voting Section of the United States Department of Justice. He has written numerous essays about race, criminal justice, and election law for the New York Review of Books.

Tags:  #readermeetwriter  authors  booksellers  Covid-19  online events 

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Just In from Publishers

Posted By Wanda Jewell, Saturday, April 4, 2020

The American Booksellers Association is tracking information on publisher offers and support as part of their COVID-19 bookseller support information.

Edelweiss has created a hub page of special offers from publishers, including offers specifically for bookstores facing the challenge of closures and interrupted sales. There are dozens of offers listed, from Arcadia to Wiley Press.

Macmillan has posted their first-ever virtual event grids to Edelweiss, as well as an offer to share some digital marketing tips for successful virtual/live streaming events. Email for more info or start requesting authors now--they're sharing requests with publicists daily, as they come in. Here are the links to them:
Macmillan Virtual Event Grid - Adult / Macmillan Virtual Event Grid - Kids/YA

Sign up fo the Workman Chalkboard Digital Resources: Authorless event kits, educational/homeschool materials, author videos, and downloadable visuals for social media to help promote titles and bookseller contests and giveaways for stores and staff plus extra swag for customers! Here is the March chalkboard if you would like to take a look through and get an idea of what it's like. Booksellers that are subscribed are really enjoying it so far.

Simon & Schuster ❤indies. And so do our authors! Please feel free to download the assets and share the love.

Holiday House has added a new resource page to meet the needs of those booksellers who would like to connect authors/illustrators and their books with community members in a virtual environment. Please feel free to download and print all materials and link to this page on your website, enewsletters, or any other platform. This page compiles all their materials, which includes activities, lesson plans, event kits, read-aloud guidelines, and more. They are adding additional resources daily!

Tags:  authors  Covid-19  online events 

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Don't Brush Your Teeth on Camera: Lady Smith's First Zoom Event

Posted By Nicki Leone, Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Lady SmithJust two weeks ago, the idea of a “virtual author event” was still a novel concept, an out-of-the-box idea. How quickly things have changed. I was in a Zoom meeting with SIBA on March 10 when Wanda Jewell suggested that bookstores might consider using the platform to host an online event. My store, The Snail on the Wall, had just gotten word that our next event on the calendar was canceled: a ticketed Conversation with Christina Lauren, aka authors Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, who were scheduled to be on book tour for their newest romantic comedy, The Honey-Don’t List. On a whim, after hearing Wanda’s idea, I shot an e-mail to the publicist to ask if the authors would consider trying a virtual event. A day later, she replied with a resounding “yes!” And I panicked. My only experience with Zoom was attending a few ABA marketing meet-ups and SIBA meetings. In one recent meeting, I accidentally brushed my teeth in front of everyone after attempting to turn off my camera, but evidently hitting the wrong button. I was a Zoom novice about to become a host.

In a few days, I did a flurry of information gathering, trying to figure out the logistics of the meeting before promoting it. I upgraded to a $14.99/month Zoom Pro account so that I could have some added features (longer than 40 minutes for the meeting, multiple cohosts, etc.). I sat in on a club meeting hosted by Anne Bogel, who’s been hosting virtual gatherings on Zoom for years. I talked with a local friend who has moderated some of those meetings, who agreed to moderate the chat for our event. And I talked with Nicki Leone, who walked me through the finer points of Zoom and told me how to run a test meeting with the authors.

Still, I didn’t advertise the event. I couldn’t stop thinking about the unknowns and fears:  Should I charge for tickets? Would I sell books if I didn’t? Would I be able to work the technology? Would Zoom and the Internet continue to sustain the weight of so many new users? Would guests show up? Would it seem weird to talk about rom-coms in the midst of a pandemic?

event promo

Finally, on the Thursday before the Sunday event, I put it into the world: A Conversation with Christina Lauren: The Virtual Version. I decided on a free ticketed event, using Eventbrite. That way, I could send a blanket e-mail to guests with the Zoom meeting code, and then follow up after the event with a link to purchase books. Making it free felt like the right choice for an experimental meeting with an inexperienced host.

The day before, I ran a test meeting with the two authors, who live in Utah and California, respectively. It gave us a chance to meet for the first time, talk through a format, and check sound. They agreed to log on 10 minutes before the event so I could admit them first and have the three of us ready for our audience at the 5:30 pm start time. I could turn their audio on early, and then admit everyone else from the waiting room all at once.

By Sunday, 55 guests had registered. That sounded like a lot of people to manage in a virtual meeting, but I felt ok about the plan. But 15 minutes before the event, the plan fell apart when I logged on and a few guests were already there. I could see those first three participants, but no one else—including my authors. I couldn’t find among the gathering crowd. I immediately called Nicki, who had agreed to show up and make sure all was well. Together, across the miles, we clicked, searched support, and scrambled to figure out what to do, as more guests filled the waiting room. I ended up letting guests in a little early and just being honest; I asked them to sit tight while I found my lost authors (one of whom was having trouble getting connected).


Once the conversation started a few minutes later, it rolled smoothly. After the authors opened by talking about themselves and the new book, I had some questions ready, which I needed because guests didn’t engage right away. But the more we talked, the audience got interested and started typing questions. The most interesting topic of our discussion was the idea of working remotely, which has been the norm for these co-authors who have written 25 novels in 7 years while living in different states. And then we talked mostly about romantic comedy and fan fiction, which everyone embraced as a welcome escape from the realities of right now.

I came away with a lot of positive feedback from my audience (some of whom are new to my store), a respectable number of book sales, and some important lessons learned for the future, which continues to look very much virtual. I’m happy to share, and I’m grateful to SIBA for the inspiration and idea—not to mention the help in executing it.

  • It helped to have a moderator/co-host, not only to help monitor the tech but also to keep track of questions on the chat so I could focus on listening to the authors and engaging in a real conversation with them, without too much distraction.

  • My moderator was able to answer participants’ questions in the chat, too, about buying books and more. A couple of times throughout the event, she reminded readers of the books by posting hyper-links to my store’s website, where all the books were available for purchase on one event page.

  • I had some slides ready to share featuring available titles (though I forgot to show them in the heat of the moment).

  • I was grateful for two authors instead of one, because it filled the time and the silence more easily and naturally.

  • I don’t think you can have too many questions prepared ahead of time. Zoom feels a lot less spontaneous and organic than a live event, where everyone is together and feeding off of one another. Prepare and be ready to fill the awkward silences.


Tags:  online events 

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Zoom Best Practices: Event Security

Posted By Nicki Leone, Wednesday, March 25, 2020

As in person events become more and more unfeasible, bookstores are looking for effective online alternatives. One of the most popular of those is Zoom, the video conference platform SIBA uses for its own webinars and online office hours.

Of course some people just can’t have nice things. No sooner had Zoom become the go-to alternative for events, than “zoombombing” became a thing: Internet trolls, taking advantage of open and public meeting links to log on and hijack meetings by sharing highly inappropriate material from a series of sock-puppet accounts. Meeting hosts found they had lost control of their own meetings and were unable to control the behavior of trolling attendees. Some meetings even had to be canceled.

Luckily, Zoom has some built-in safeguards that are easy to enable and will prevent troublemakers from gate-crashing your online event.

For public (open) meetings:

  1. Never use your Personal Meeting ID to host public events. Once that information it out there, anyone can use it to log into your personal meeting space.  Always general a new meeting ID for every planned event.
  2. Enable your waiting room, so you can control when people come in to your meeting.
  3. Mute all attendees on entry. Even if your attendees are well behaved, random background noise from open microphones will disrupt your event.
  4. Disable video for attendees. A troll can’t do much if no one can see them.
  5. Only allow the host to share their screen. It’s your event, don’t let attendees hijack the stage.

For private or restricted meetings

Stores that are planning on using Zoom to replace cancelled author events should go a step further and control attendance by managing who is allowed to sign on. Here are some options:

  1. Use a guest list and have users sign in to join the meeting. If you sell tickets through an application like Eventbrite, you can create a guest list from your ticket purchases and prevent unknown users from accessing the meeting.
  2. Lock the meeting once it has begun, to avoid unwanted disruptions.
  3. Assign a meeting password. You can share your meeting ID publicly, but provide the password only to authorized attendees through Direct Messaging.
  4. Turn off extra features that might cause a distraction: file transfers, annotations, even private chat.
  5. Assign a cohost who is responsible for managing chat and attendees so you can concentrate on the presenter.

For detailed instructions on each of these steps, visit the zoom blog:

Tags:  online events 

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