SCWBI SF/South Bookstore Night at Hicklebee’s

scbwi This past week I attending the SCBWI event at our awesome independent children’s bookstore, Hicklebee’s. A lovely, casual mixer where members got to meet each other surrounding by the latest and greatest in books. You can check-out some of the photos on the SCBWI SF/South Facebook Page.

During the second hour of the two-hour event, Valerie and Ann, owner and manager of the store gave loads of tips on how to get your books onto the shelves, doing author visits, and more. I have tried to capture some of the tips and tidbits below. Hope you find them helpful!


Valerie Lewis and Ann Seaton from Hicklebee’s


  • When requesting a bookstore to review your book to get it onto their shelves please provide the following: Your Name, Title, Publisher and a Copy of the Story (for self-published folks a final copy, for traditional published folks an Advanced Reader or F&G). Be prepared to wait 3-4 weeks.
  • For people who are self-published, Hicklebee’s has set up a program which you can read more about here.
  • On average publishers pay $200-$300 to the bookstore to host an author event. This is needed to cover the overhead of setting up the event and promotional activities the store has to do.
  • For debut authors some publishers are setting up meet-and-greet dinners between the debut author and key people in the book community (bookstore buyers, librarians) to get the buzz started.

Tips for a successful author event

  1.  Be FLEXIBLE. There is no way a bookstore can predict whether there will be 5 kids at your event or 25. (My Takeaway: Prepare your main presentation for your target audience, but then have back-up plan ideas – for more people, fewer people, younger aged crowd, older aged crowd)
  2. Having people at your book event is the “icing on the cake”. They stressed that all the promotional work (newspapers, name on website, social media) to make you and your book known has already taken place. So do not feel discouraged if there is a low turn-out for the event. They provided an example where they only sold four books the day of the event, but at the end of the month they sold twenty-four copies for that author.
  3. Stop at the peak! Try to gauge your presentation such that you are leaving your audience wanting more. This the point before adults start playing with their iPhones and when kids start getting restless and fussing about. They did advise that figuring out the “peak” is something that comes with practice in front of an audience.
  4. Be Engaging! Figure out ways to be interactive with the audience. They spoke about Tim McCanna’s engaging event for Teeny Tiny Trucks. Since he is a musician he performed songs, had coloring sheets, and other activities to keep the little tikes attention.
  5. Other things that helps Hicklebee’s to build great promotional material is getting the following items from the author: multiple author photos (different photos), book and author blurbs, links to professional reviews. They mentioned a pair of authors that made a flyer.
  6. Keep crafts simple! Already have the pieces cut out, since you don’t want kids standing around because there weren’t enough scissors. (My Takeaway: It’s hard to predict how many people will show up. Also kids aren’t patient, for that matter neither are adults. 🙂 )
  7. Check out storytime or other author events at the bookstore to garner ideas.
  8. Courtesy tip – when promoting your author event at said bookstore, link back to that bookstore and not some other place.

Thank you Kristi Wright (SCBWI Volunteer), Ann & Valerie (Hicklebee’s), Tim & Naomi (Regional Advisers) for putting on a wonderful event!

Do you have any author event tips to share? Leave a comment and let us know!


6 Comments to “SCWBI SF/South Bookstore Night at Hicklebee’s”

  1. Great tips from what sounds like a great night! Thanks for sharing the info!

  2. Great advice! Thanks so much, Darshana. I didn’t know publishers pay the bookstore to host these events.

  3. Very helpful tips from those who know. Yes, I didn’t know that publishers pay a bookstore to host an event. I’m not sure that is always true, because our bookstores are always looking for ways to snag authors. I know the PR person at the main bookstore here (not B&N) , and she does the events. Will have to ask her. But, I enjoyed reading this very much.

  4. Great post! This sounds very useful! 😀

  5. Awesome summary, Darshana! Thanks for the post!

  6. Thanks, Darshana! I am hardly available to attend the events even if it is in the neighborhood because of the drive and time. So your notes on the event is so helpful.

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