Five YA authors, more than 200 attendees, 540 books sold. These are the impressive numbers tied to a panel presentation and signing held at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Ill. on August 30. The event was unusual in that it was organized by the authors’ agency, Manhattan-based New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc., and offered, as an incentive to boost sales, a booklet containing “exclusive” bonus content contributed by all five featured authors, who published their novels with four different houses. Joanna Volpe, New Leaf’s founder and president, orchestrated the event with the help of Candy Purdom, Anderson’s event and publicity coordinator.
Volpe, who opened the agency in June, explains that this was the first large-scale event organized under the firm’s Client Care program, launched to assist its authors in publicity, promotion, and outreach efforts. “Publishers work really hard for our authors, but they just don’t have the time or resources to give all of our clients equal attention,” she says. “We understand that, and we’re stepping up to help promote our authors and their books. Most writers are willing to put in the work, but don’t even know where to start. So we’re trying new ways of reaching fans, both online and in person.”
Selecting the authors to participate in the Anderson’s event was “a no-brainer,” Volpe says, since her agency had “some thrilling YA novels” published this summer. The panelists included three debut novelists: Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone, Holt), Dan Krokos (False Memory, Disney-Hyperion), and Susan Dennard (Something Strange & Deadly, HarperTeen). Rounding out the panel were Veronica Roth (Insurgent, HarperCollins/Tegen) and Erica O’Rourke (Bound, Kensington/K-Teen).
Offering readers bonus content written by the authors was a highlight of the event, Volpe says. Her agency created booklets and made them to the first 240 people who purchased from Anderson’s (either online or in-store) two or more books by the featured authors. The booklet’s offerings included Roth’s alternative beginning to Insurgent and the first five pages of Krokos’s second novel, False Sight, due from Disney-Hyperion in summer 2013.
“I’m sure that was one of the ingredients that made this event so successful,” says Purdom of the booklet sales incentive. “Also, the authors and Joanna did a good job promoting the event through social media. We applaud their efforts and very much appreciate all of the agency’s help with this event. They can come back and do something like this again – any time they want!”
The authors weigh in with similar enthusiasm. "The entire event was fantastic,” says O’Rourke. “There’s nothing better than walking into a room of people who are excited about reading YA lit. The audience was warm and friendly, which made the experience much less nerve-wracking, and the chance to talk writing with so many talented, funny authors is always a treat. I think the bonus content boosted interest, and knowing it was a limited edition made it that much more appealing to readers.”
For Krokos, joining forces with his author colleagues had a double advantage. “The obvious benefit was getting to meet readers you wouldn’t otherwise meet,” he says. “But really the best part was getting to hang out with friends. We were all nervous, but telling jokes and talking beforehand made it so much easier. When we walked out, it was unreal. I felt like we were in a press conference about to announce we’d made contact with aliens for the first time. I still have spots on my retinas from the camera flashes.”