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  • Kurt Dinan

ABA Winter Institute 11 Full Report

This past weekend, my wife and I traveled to Denver for the American Bookseller Association’s Winter Institute. If you’re not familiar with the ABA, they’re a massively awesome organization of independent bookstore owners. Their Winter Institute is their big event each year where they come together for three days of programming, including featured speakers, education sessions, rep picks presentations, etc. Close to 600 ABA members attended, as well as 100 authors. I–duh–was one of those authors, sent there by Sourcebooks with the directive to be charming and friendly. So, after looking up both of those words in the dictionary, and watching YouTube videos on the subjects, I traveled to Denver.

On Sunday night, I had dinner with (the amazing) Sourcebooks’ Valerie and Heidi, as well as 15 bookstore owners. Some had read DON’T GET CAUGHT, others had not…everyone was awesome. There’s just something incredibly invigorating and motivating about being around other book lovers. There’s something equally special about being around independent booksellers, who’s love of all things reading bonds them together when you might think they’d be highly competitive fighting for book buyers. It really is a unique and fantastic community.

My big event was the author reception on Monday night. I was in a ballroom with 75-100 other authors that I signed and handed out arcs of my novel to booksellers. I hate when people use the word “surreal” to describe something, but being in a room with writers like Richard Russo, Kwame Alexander, and Louise Erdrich was just that–surreal. I figured at any moment the book police were going to drag me out of that room and put me in the children’s room. For some reason though, that didn’t happen though.

The signing, put simply, was amazing. I signed books for and talked with over 80 booksellers, all of whom were enthusiastic and incredibly supportive. I was invited to do events at their stores and to come teach workshops to young writers in their communities. It really made me wish I had the ability to write full-time. It’s a good goal to work towards.

Beyond the actual signing, probably my favorite part of the trip was watching how happy my wife was walking around and being handed free books. I’m pretty sure that next to our children being born my wife’s greatest moment in life is now the free books she received…all three boxes full!

So what did I learn on this trip: Independent Booksellers are awesome, and from here on out, I’m supporting indie bookstores to the extreme. The trip also solidified my belief that Sourcebooks is the perfect publisher for me. Valerie and Heidi were incredibly supportive, enthusiastic, and helpful. Countless booksellers came up and told me just what a great job Valerie and Heidi had done promoting my book to them. I couldn’t ask for help from better people.

Quick shoutouts: 1. Longtime friend Sam W. Anderson not only drove us from the airport to our hotel, but also cut out of work to meet me for lunch. His new novel THE NINES, is a wild, action-packed ride that would be a fantastic TV show.

2. New friend Marie Benedict is a rockstar. She was the other Sourcebooks author at the Winter Institute, and her novel THE OTHER EINSTEIN, which is out in October, is going to be HUGE. Marie was awesome and incredibly helpful, and my wife will always be indebted to her for pointing out the the Galley Rooms (filled with free arcs!) were open when we thought they were definitely closed. 🙂

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