As most of you know, I attended SIBA for the third year in a row this year. I absolutely love the environment at this event...it is small and intimate. Unlike some of the bigger trade shows, there are virtually no lines for anything, and it is likely that you will see your favorite author at a cocktail party or walking the floor talking to publishers. For the last two years, we (the bloggers) have even had the privilege of taking a few out to dinner!
The person in charge of all of this awesomeness is Wanda Jewell. She is a firm supporter of bloggers, and has an established relationship with Kathy (Bermudaonion), who may have been the first blogger to attend SIBA and pave the way for the rest of us. In the past, Wanda has invited all interested bloggers and waived our entrance fees, and has only asked that we support indie booksellers by linking to the SIBA Indie Bookstore Directory on our blogs. She has been thrilled with the interaction between bloggers, authors and publishers. But she still sees potential in what we have to offer, especially in expanding relationships between bloggers and bookstores. She has a vision of the future when it comes to indies and bloggers that not only applies to SIBA bookstores, but indies everywhere, and I wanted to share it with you.
Why? BECAUSE I WANT YOU ALL TO COME! And so does Wanda. Do you live in California, Michigan or New York? No problem. Wanda does not care about state boundaries. She just wants indies to win.
So if you are interested in attending in the future (next year is in New Orleans, the following year in Daytona Beach), here is Wanda's vision:
* Keep the SIBA indie link widget on our blogs, above the fold. There should be no affiliation with big box stores anywhere on or near your blog.
* Any time we are reviewing books that are SIBA OKRA picks, or is an "Author 'Round the South" and is having a promotional event, provide that information and a link.
* If you have an indie bookstore in your local area, reach out and develop a relationship with them. Encourage your local readers to support the store and their events, and if they have e-commerce, offer the option of purchasing books through them.
If you are like the Orlando bloggers, we have two used SIBA bookstores, and the indie stores offering new books are quite a distance away. Wanda feels that we can still support stores that are not necessarily within driving distance. The Internet makes everyone a neighbor.
There are endless possibilities of how we can support our indies, and this is just a beginning.
I know many of you already have a local bookstore you have partnered with. I'd love some ideas on how else we can support each other. But equally as important is the question...do you want to come to SIBA next year, and how can we get you there?