Author visit do’s and don’ts

You want to arrange for a local author to speak with your book club, but you’re unsure how to go about it.

The proper etiquette for organizing and hosting an author visit isn’t etched in stone, but these rules should eliminate any awkwardness and ensure a satisfying experience.

Do:
Email the author a formal request for a visit through his/her website or Facebook page. If the author doesn’t have a webpage with a contact link, email an inquiry to the publisher.

Don’t:
Contact the author through a personal email address or phone number.

Do:
Offer to hold your book club meeting at a local bookstore or coffee shop, in case the author feels uncomfortable going into strangers’ homes. Although most authors are accustomed to visiting local book clubbers’ homes, it’s courteous to provide an alternative.

Do:
Offer the author an honorarium. Publishers can rarely afford compensation for promotional appearances or travel expenses.

Have each book club member pitch in ten dollars. For less than a night at the movies, you engage in intimate conversation with a favorite writer.

Author visits are a cheap, high-payoff form of entertainment and edification.

Don’t:
Presume that the author will want to share a meal or appetizers before the book club meeting.

Authors have busy schedules and may consider family dinner a priority. Some prefer to skip the food and personal talk and conduct a focused literary discussion.

Do:
Hold a meeting on the author’s book prior to the author’s visit. Share initial reactions, read author bios and interviews, and go through the reading guide, if provided.

After gaining insight into the book’s the more pragmatic issues, prepare a list of questions and issues your group would like to further discuss with the author.

As local author Kao Kalia Yang explains, this sort of preparation saves time spent on introductory questions such as where the title of the book came from, why the author chose to share a particular story, or which aspects of the story were drawn from the author’s own life.

With preliminary questions out of the way, the author visit can be spent tackling the meaty issues.

Don’t:
Let your meeting run over two hours. The author may have other commitments—like putting the kids to bed.

Do:
Put the author in contact with other book clubs interested in meeting with local authors.

Don’t:
Lose heart if an author is unable to visit in person due to distance, time constraints, or physical incapacity. Try to set up a live chat on Skype or by speakerphone.

Do:
Contact poets for author visits!

Local poet Heid Erdrich says that while book clubs never seem to invite poets to speak, the poets she knows would love to share their work with reading groups.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply