Friday, July 8, 2016

Nicola's Books: An Indie Interview

Indie bookstores are known for cultivating community. Are you curious about what goes on behind the scenes? Read on to learn more about Lynn Riehl and her job organizing events for Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor, MI.

Tell us about your job and describe a typical day.
It is not all that exciting, checking and answering email, looking for items to use for social media. If an event is coming up, doing promotions for that. The excitement comes when you receive an email from a publisher who says they want you to host an event for them. 

Was there an author event at your store that remains particularly memorable? Something surprising that happened, a wonderful chain reaction, or a day that went terribly wrong? 
Fortunately I have been very lucky that we have not had anything go terribly wrong. We have had some great store events, but the few that stand out in mind was the Jeff Kinney Experience where we had the store packed with Wimpy Kid fans, a disco in the back of the store, a photo booth and other fun stuff. 

I think my favorite comment was from author Christopher Moore. When the signing portion of the event takes place we are always up by the author having the book open to the correct page and moving the crowd along so that the author does not get bogged down. Sometimes you have to be a bit strong with people, but not mean, and Christopher Moore told me that I was the nicest bad cop he had worked with.  

What advice can you give to authors who are preparing for bookstore appearances?  
Do as much promotion regarding your event as you can, the bookstores can only reach so many people and cannot guarantee a crowd for you. Also, you do not have to do a reading at your event. If you do, you want to keep it to just 2-3 minutes. You want to engage your audience, give them a taste of what the book is about and them leave them wanting more, which hopefully will translate into them buying your book. So you can talk for about 10-15 minutes about who you are, the process, how you got published anything like that, do another 10-15 minutes of Q&A (if the audience is really engaged with the Q&A it can run a little longer, but not too much) and then the signing.  

Tell us about some of your upcoming events. 
We are super excited because we had Chuck Palahniuk in for a ticketed, signing only event for Fight Club 2 on July 7th, and NYT bestselling mystery author Elizabeth George will be with us on July 19th. Elizabeth George is the author of the Inspector Lynley novels. Newbery winner Kate Dicamillo has a new novel, Raymie Nightingale, and she will be off-site at the Ann Arbor District Library Main Branch on July 10th. I highly recommend authors of all levels to come to author events to engage with them. You never know what you can learn from someone else, especially if you have not been published yet.  

Thanks to Lynn for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions! We'd love to learn more about all of our great indie bookstores in Michigan. Share your favorite store in the comments below, and if you'd like to interview the owner or a staff member for a future blog post, please send me an email.

Did you notice our new summer-themed blog banner created by Kara Marsee? Did you miss her interview? Learn more about Kara here.

Coming up on the Mitten Blog: The Sophomore Experience: Your Second Book and More, The Making of a Book Cover, Writing Non-Fiction, MFA Week: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know, and a new Writer Spotlight - it could be you!

Have a great weekend!
Kristin Lenz


  1. Great interview. I love Nicola's and how supportive they are in hosting so many of our Michigan authors.

  2. I love Nicola's. Only wished I lived closer *sigh*

  3. Great interview! I spend a lot of time at Schuler Books in Okemos and Lansing. I’m looking forward to visiting Nicola’s.