Author Programs

Hosting live author events may be a bit daunting in some ways, but can be the most rewarding of all library programs. The reactions of both the authors and your audience will make all the dozens of details you worried about fade into the background. This section offers examples and information from organizations, veteran programmers, and the Public Programs Office, as well as links and networks for finding and working with authors. It’s a true sampler drawn from a variety of sources, and the best way to use the information is to do an overview scan, then sift and select and adapt the pieces that best fit your locale. A distinction to keep in mind among author programs is free vs. ticketed events. The majority are free, just like other library programs, but the exceptions are fund-raising events, often cosponsored with the Friends or the library foundation. Friends groups and foundations are also often involved in free programs, as well. Finally, one of the best ways to learn about this is to see what other libraries are doing. Look at the major libraries in your state or region—even if you don’t have the resources to do the same things, you’ll get ideas. And look at national programs at book festivals, the Library of Congress, and other literary venues. Check the calendar and blog entries on this site for more suggestions.

Friends of the St. Paul Public Library (PDF)
Step-by-step guide prepared by Jane Graham George of the Dakota Public Library, based on her own experiences hosting poets and writers at dozens of live programs. Some of the resources are Minnestoa-specific, but most states have similar organizations and events to draw on. It offers valuable planning and budget guidelines and an appendix of templates for publicity, contracts, and more. This online version is hosted by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library as part of their Minnesota Book Awards program.

Calendar of Events
Sample author events hosted by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.

Poets & Writers
Poets & Writers is a national organization for and about creative writers. It publishes a magazine and offers a range of support for writers and events. Here are a few of the resources available:

Guide to Presenting Readings and Workshops (PDF)
A comprehensive guide to planning and hosting author events.

Directory of Writers
Directory of authors with contact information.

Funding for Readings/Workshops
Organizations that sponsor readings and workshops in New York State or California, or Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, New Orleans, Seattle, Tucson, or Washington, D.C. may apply for grants to be used for writers’ fees.

United for Libraries Fact Sheet #9: Planning a Book and Author Event (PDF)
If you’re looking for the CliffsNotes version, here it is—a quick two-pager with some ideas for hosting an author event. Your Friends group can be a huge help in author programming, not only through raising money, but by helping host the author.

Public Events at the Library of Congress
Sample events at the Library of Congress; choose Books & Beyond and scroll of author programming ideas.

National Book Foundation
Events and author ideas, including book award nominees.