Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Writers Live! Libraries Bringing Authors and Readers Together

Wednesday May 6, 2009 4:00pm-5:15pm

A very informed and frank panel discussion of how to bring writers, known and unknown to your library and to make it work!  

Virgina Stanley Director of Library Marketing for HarperCollins started us off with these tips.

  • There are many ways to spread the word.  For your first author event, start small with local authors.  The bigger the author the bigger the expectations.  Chapple Langemack has written a great book on how to host author events.
  • One of the best ways to stay in contact with patrons is to collect email addresses. is a great way to create a database of patrons to email, especially if an event happens last minute.  In some cases this has tripled attendance at events.
  • Don't expect to get the big names if you've never done an event before.  Star small. Possibly with a local author.  Get to know your audience.

Judy Cooper, coordinator for Public Programs at Pratt County Library in Baltimore had this to say:  

  • Although it may be easier to get authors to larger cities, it might be worthwhile to make partnerships with people at the larger city libraries to funnel authors to smaller libraries. A followup comment from the audience was that often times in big cities, there is a lot of competition for people's attention.  Something that might fail in a large city might do really well in a small city where there is less going on. 
  • is a great resource for programming library events.
  • Why should libraries host library programs?  It is very important to connect readers to writers and would-be writers to writers.  
  • A successful author program must happen with other institutions in the community such as a college, the ACLU, whatever.  
  • Programs help sell books!  A writers series is very good PR for your library.
  • Bookstores are not competitors.  It's good to work with a local bookstore to sell books at an author event.
  • Before you call a publisher, have an idea for an event.  Describe your community and why the event will be sucessfull.  Know what will work in your community.

Talia Sherer, Library Marketing Director from Macmillan.  

  • Who is the target audience? How well do you know your patrons and what they are reading?  What kind of events do local bookstores host?  Are they successful? Do research.
  • Work with speakers bureaus.  It can't just be you alone.  Everyone on staff needs to be in on it and excited about the program.  
  • Sometimes panels of authors from different genres can attract a wider range of interested readers.  
  • Get in contact with a publisher to discuss possible collaborations.  
  • Go on websites and ask to recieve seasonal catalogs to see authors tours, addresses, etc.  Some authors can be contacted directly.  
  • In New Caanan, CT, author events are videotaped and circulated in the library collection.

Audience comments

Academic Librarian.  Felt it was difficult to get people to come to events in an academic setting, even with a wonderful lineup.  Virginia suggested programming events with more of a popular cultural appeal. Students won't go out at night to learn, they want to be entertained.  

Public Librarian.  Sometimes regular times and events can build up an audience.  At their library they hold book events every Monday morning and there is a regular crowd.

Q: How do libraries find out about book tours?  

A:No easy source.  Get in touch way ahead of time.  Book tours are usually booked a year in advance.  Develop relationships with library marketing people at publishing houses.  Don't be discouraged.  Don't give up.  Keep coming back and something will eventually work out.  

Links for "up to the minute" catalog info. Virginia's blog

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