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Danablr: Anatomy of a Library Author Event



Tumblarians, help me out here. I reached out to the ALATT facebook group earlier about planning author events in libraries and got some interesting answers. It seems like the biggest concern among everyone is drawing a decent crowd, which is fair. How disappointing is it to spend so much time planning and marketing to have a low turnout?

Now I’m trying to figure out how it all works, step by step. It seems like you 

  • get contacts somehow - either through the Center for the Book or a state humanities council or going to an author website
  • ~insert mysterious event planning here~
  • market the hell out of it, which includes cool protips like 1. encouraging public school classes to visit if it is a teen/YA author 2. discussing the author’s most well known work in book groups before the event 3. lots and lots of press and word of mouth promotion 4. making sure it isn’t at a terrible middle of the day time
  • hope for the best
  • if all else fails, target local history groups because they will travel in packs

Any thoughts? Additional steps? Things that work? Things that don’t work? Anything to make it easier to plan this stuff?


I know our own darienlibrary is a bona fide expert at author events.

Oh! This is my bag, baby. I am going to speak specifically about adult authors because that is what I am most familiar with. There is typically a different process for childrens’ authors…they charge money.

1. Many publishers, especially the Big Six, have library marketing reps. Here is a list of the adult reps. Contact the rep to make a pitch and then the rep will forward your pitch on to the author’s publicist. A good pitch will include a description of the event space, who will sell books at the event, an estimation as to how many will attend (give a range), how many people your venue holds, and how you will promote the event.

2. You want to catch an author when he or she is on tour. This means you want to catch that author a month or two after the book has released. You will want to plan this event 3-6 months out. How do you find out about books that have not yet published, you ask? Well, I suggest you start stalking EarlyWord, join their #ewgc on Tuesday afternoons, and attend or get a colleague to attend book buzzes at national conferences. The Association of American Publishers also hosts several regional book buzzes, including a CT Book Buzz right here at Darien Library every Fall.

3. Yes, market the bejeesus out of it but do not neglect niche groups! For example we recently hosted Becky Aikman, author of the memoir Saturday Night Widows. I reached out to local widow support groups. We had the CEO of Weight Watchers talk about his weight loss book and I reached out to local Weight Watchers centers. Sometimes I go undercover on and join MeetUp groups and invite members. I have reached out to local magicians when we had a magician author visit. Get out into your community! Also invite a local blogger to be “in conversation” with an author. That way the blog’s readership finds out about the event and the blogger promotes the heck out of your program. Get your staff excited and interested so they promote it to patrons. How do you get them excited? Involve them in the planning of your event.

I have so much more to say about this but this is officially the longest thing I’ve posted on tumblr. Email me at eshea at I am here for you.