#4 Indiebound Nominations

NEIBA Question of the Week #4

The NEIBA Board members are starting a Question of the Week on the NEIBA Group at Yahoo! Groups (our Listserv). The goal is to share everyone’s common knowledge about bookselling or anything related to independent bookstores.  It is our hope that after the Board has run through with their questions other members will continue the asking.

This week’s question is

Do you send in nominations when you read an ARC that you love? How do you manage to keep track of the Indiebound deadlines? Do you mind when reps give you a gentle nudge to get your nominations in? Is there anything that publishers or reps could do to help you send in more recommendations? – Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books

Ellen Richmond, Children’s Book Cellar

Do you send in nominations when you read an ARC that you love? Often, but not always. Not frequently enough.

How do you manage to keep track of the Indiebound deadlines? Thank heavens for those e-mail reminders from Mark. When I get the reminder and I have recently read something I really like, I often just write the recommendation then and there. I can’t depend on myself to get back to it at a later point.

Do you mind when reps give you a gentle nudge to get your nominations in? Heavens, no! See above! I can’t be trusted to get around to it w/out being reminded. “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” In my case, I’m on a super highway!

Is there anything that publishers or reps could do to help you send in more recommendations? Probably not. The reminders that they send are the best way to encourage me. More might not be any more effective and would, I suspect, annoy people who are less “random/abstract” than I am.

Wendy Sheanin, Simon & Schuster

From a publisher point of view, I’d like to see the Indie Next List really move the needle. It’s hard to get booksellers excited about books that are on the list in many cases. But how can we make the list mean something?

Nancy Felton, Broadside Bookshop

I am, unfortunately, not good at nominating books for the indie list. I do write some reviews for the NECBA review project and occasionally one of those is pick up. Like Ellen, I find it really helpful when reps remind me that the deadline for a particular book is coming up.

Carol Chittenden, Eight Cousins

Though I try to write up books for the NECBA listserv and forward them to IndieNext, I don’t often USE those lists as buying guides for children’s books, where I feel fairly confident about my choices.

Because I feel the children’s books have to be my first priority, I have been trying to encourage our other staff to write up and submit titles they have read. They’re extremely reluctant dragons, despite all my encouragement.

But the biggest problems of all, especially for adult books, are reading time and lead time. The deadlines come before we’ve even blinked at the last mountain, never mind getting over it and looking to the next horizon. We’re trying desperately to stay more or less abreast of the new titles coming into the store every week, never mind reading ARC’s that may be coming in May or later. I’ve just about concluded that we need to skip a season (just this once), go straight to the June+ release dates, and try to keep in front of the tiger thenceforth. We try to enlist customers when we can, but they’re busy too, and their standards are different.

Maybe the calendar just moves faster close to the coast. Maybe we’re slower than most. I know average bears usually outpace me personally two to one. Amid the many pressures of keeping a bookstore in business, it’s funny how reading — which is a large part of why we got into this in the first place — so often appears to be a lower priority, a treat, an indulgence.

Mindbending though they are, the rep speed dating sessions, at Winter Institute and the trade show, are very helpful in choosing which ARC’s to put at the top of the teetering pile. Will we get any of them read before their deadlines pass? I can only wish.

Josh Christie, Shermans

Do you send in nominations when you read an ARC that you love?

Not as often as I should, but yes! I usually write or talk about the books I loved on my podcast/blog/Twitter/Facebook, and publishers are sometimes proactive enough to ask if I can use or sculpt what I said into a nomination. That helps me stay on top of the nominations, since it’s just re-using what I’m already doing.

How do you manage to keep track of the Indiebound deadlines?

I’m horrible at keeping track of the deadlines. Our reps are saints about reminding me when when a book’s nomination deadline is coming up. The bookmarks or stickers on ARCs that mention the specific deadline for that title are helpful, too.

Do you mind when reps give you a gentle nudge to get your nominations in?

I don’t mind at all. Our reps are very good about only pushing me to write nominations for books they knew I enjoyed, so I don’t feel like they’re trying to stuff the ballot box.

Is there anything that publishers or reps could do to help you send in more recommendations?

Nothing they aren’t doing right now. Even more helpful to me than the reminders and stickers are reps that know me well enough to point me towards books they know I’ll like, since it ensures that those titles at least get read.

Laura Lucy, White Birch

Do I send in nominations? Yes, when I love the book and I have read it in time. And I encourage my staff to do the same, but it doesn’t always work.

As for deadlines, if the book is not out yet, I send in a recommendation regardless. I can’t keep track of them and don’t pick my books with them in mind, unless nudged by a rep (see next question.) I usually try to copy in my rep as well so they know we’re reading their books and liking them.

I don’t mind a nudge – especially if I’ve got a book close to the top of the pile. A nudge might be what gets me to read it instead of something else.

I think some reps or publishers (Norton maybe) put labels on the books with the deadlines on them. That can be helpful. A personal plea can do the trick, too. Not a generic note, but an email or something from my rep saying this book is really awesome, I think you’ll love it and it should really be on the Indie Next list. Will you read it? That usually gets me.

As always, the trick of staying ahead and current at the same time is the hard part. I just read a fantastic book, but it’s due out in July. I sent in my nomination and I want to tell everyone about it now, but it’s not out for 4 more months. Will I still have the same excitement level when the book actually arrives in the store? I hope so.

Emily Crowe, The Odyssey Bookshop

There are two booksellers in our store who nominate to IndieNext on a monthly basis (or quarterly basis for the children’s list), and I wish I could get more of my staff to nominate. I also have one staff member who stopped nominating after doing it regularly for about one year because her blurbs were never chosen for inclusion.

I personally *love* getting reminders from my reps. I try to send in nominations as I read an ARC, but if that slides by, I at least try to send in an “I loved this book” comment for titles that have become foggy in my memory when the deadline looms. One great thing that Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness do in our area is put a sticker on the ARC that has the nomination deadline on it, which I also find helpful.

I also try to copy my reps and the publicist (when I have that info) on the blurbs that I send in–we’ve found that we’re sometimes more likely to get author events when the publicists know that someone on staff is already enthusiastic about the book. And occasionally when I don’t care for a book, I give that feedback to the reps, too, especially if it’s for a book that I requested, just so they know that it wasn’t sitting at the bottom of some nebulous TBR pile on the floor.

Kathryn Fabiani, RJ Julia Booksellers

I send in nominations as often as I can (although I could probably do more). we also talk to the booksellers regularly about submitting nominations – right now we have a contest going to get more nominations in (free lunch for the first person who gets quoted in the IndieNext list).

In order to keep track of deadlines I print out a copy of the list of deadlines from the IndieNext site and put it in the staff room and on a big bulletin board next to the store manager’s desk. Doesn’t work perfectly but it is definitely better than nothing.

I have absolutely no problem with reps reminding me about upcoming deadlines – even though I have the best of intentions, I often fail to keep track of time and I’ve missed a few deadlines in the past for books I loved. Michael and Ann from Random House put stickers on galleys with the
nomination date which is incredibly helpful.