For Libraries and Friends Groups

Tips for Booking an Author Program for Your Library

1. Join the United for Libraries "Authors and Libraries" listserv that invites authors, librarians, and other interseted individuals to exchange ideas, information, opportunities for author programs, announcements of new books, and more. We hope you’ll sign on and join the "Authors and Libraries" conversation today!

2. Plan in Advance!  Give yourself at least six months lead time before getting in contact with the author or the author’s publisher or agent.

3. Determine the author or authors you’d like to host based on:

  • Your budget – best-selling authors will likely be commanding very high (5 digit) speaking fees unless you have a special connection such as being their home town or having a strong personal connection.
  • Proximity to your library – a small budget may mean you get the author for free but you’ll still be required to pay travel expenses.
  • Subject matter (for a literary series on writers of historical fiction, e.g.).

4. Determine the best way to contact your selected author(s):

  • Website contact, direct phone call or email, letter of request will work best with lesser known or local authors.
  • Get in touch with publisher to get author’s booking agent for best-selling and highly popular authors

5. Provide the author or his/her booking agent with the following information:

  • The group or library hosting the event.
  • The budget you have for author fees and travel expenses (if any).
  • The type of program you are hosting – i.e. panel discussion, single author, fundraising, meal event, etc.
  • Be clear about the day, time, and length of the program you desire but be flexible about day and time, if possible.  Be willing to piggy-back on the author’s tour schedule if possible.
  • The amount and type of publicity you will provide in conjunction with the event.
  • Whether or not the author can sell books at the event and, if a fundraiser, the amount your group or library would like to retain of the proceeds.
  • Whether you will be ordering the books or are you asking the author to provide them (most likely for local, lesser known, or self-help authors).
  • Whether there might be other publicity opportunities while the author is in town such as newspaper or radio interviews, bookstore tie-in, e.g.

6. Prepare for the program:

  • Order books for signing (at least six weeks in advance).
  • Ensure publicity begins at least two months in advance.  Consider:
    • Radio PSAs.
    • Posters in library and around town.
    • Bookmarks at the circulation desks.
    • Website publicity, twitter, and email blasts.
    • Newspaper articles or ads.

7. Stay in touch with the author or his/her agent as your plans progress.  Ensure that the author knows where to go, who will meet him/her, the phone number of a contact person at the library both for getting in touch with ahead of the event and in case of emergency on the day/night of the event.

8. Make sure all logistics are in perfect order at least 2 hours ahead of the event.  Check microphones, ensure there is plenty of seating, refreshments (if any) are going to be available as planned, a book signing table is set up with the author’s books are stacked or boxed nearby.  Be sure there is a staff member or volunteer ready to assist the author in signing.  Make sure the introduction of the author is ready.

9. Following the event, send the author a personal thank-you.  Note any particularly successful or unsuccessful elements of the event for future programs.

10. See also United for Libraries Fact Sheet #9: Planning a Book and Author Event for more tips and suggestions.