Welcome to the Fall 2018 Authors Unbound quarterly Host Newsletter! We'll use this space to keep you updated on what other outstanding hosts around the country are up to, provide valuable information on event management and organization, and feature authors who we highly recommend for your next author engagement.
Adams County Reads One Book
Adams County Library’s Development Officer Dawn Smith and Public Services Librarian Jessica Laganosky were kind enough to chat with us about the 2018 Adams County Reads One Book adoption, A Piece of the World, and the history of this fantastic Common Read program.
A|U: Can you share a bit about Adams County Reads One Book?
DS & JL: Since its inception in 2011, the Adams County Reads One Book has encouraged Adams County community members to connect through a shared reading experience and to explore local, regional, cultural and recreational activities as a method of life-long learning. Focusing on both fiction and nonfiction titles for consideration, the One Book Committee chooses titles both entertaining and informative, while offering a variety of book discussions and programs. Gettysburg is a hub of history but it also is a dynamic community. As a 501c3 non-profit organization, the ACLS must raise funds for library programs, materials and services, and we wanted to do it in a creative way that encouraged lifelong learning and inspired library supporters. This Signature Event was successfully launched last year and featured the amazingly talented NYT Bestselling author Laura Lippman. We are thrilled to host "An Evening with Christina Baker Kline" for our Second Signature Event!
A|U: What are some program highlights over the years?
DS & JL: The Adams County Reads One Book has hosted local historians to highlight topics found in the One Book titles. It truly enhances the reading experience for the community members. Experts on Indian Industrial Schools; World War II; tavern history; and whist have brought elements of the titles to life. My personal favorite are the book discussions, which give community members a chance to talk about the book. Informal by design, the community can express their like and dislike of characters, plot, setting, or even the book in general. To introduce more members of the community to Christina Baker Kline's work, we hosted "Wine, Cheese & Art" at the Schmucker Art Gallery at Gettysburg College. The museum director, Shannon Egan, led a discussion about their exciting exhibit and related styles of the displayed artwork with Andrew Wyeth’s most well-known painting, Christina’s World (1948), currently housed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
A|U: What drew the committee to A Piece of the World, your 2018 selection?
DS & JL: A Piece of the World has all of the elements for a successful One Book title - a well-written and flowing narrative that offered a variety of topics for programming ideas. The committee enjoyed the local connections to the book - the Wyeth farm roughly two hours away, and a local "hero" forever immortalized by N.C. Wyeth.
A|U: What kind of programming and activities do you have in mind for this year's selection?
DS & JL: In addition to book discussions, participants can learn about a Gettysburg hero through a local historian. Another local historian will discuss her great-grandmother's role in the American women's suffrage movement. There is a bus trip opportunity to the Brandywine River Art Museum to see paintings by the Wyeths and to visit Andrew Wyeth's studio. Local artists will be sharing how-to's of art techniques. And, a couple libraries will be showing an Andrew Wyeth documentary.
A|U: How will you get the word out about Christina's upcoming visit this fall?
DS & JL: Advertisements throughout the county, plus on social media and press releases. For the One Book specifically, a brochure was created, highlighting all programs and activities taking place. Check out the brochure here!
A|U: What words of wisdom can you offer other One Book coordinators around the country?
DS & JL: Do not be afraid to receive input from the community. We devised an evaluation piece this year to give to all who attend programs; it is also on the One Book brochure we created. The committee often thinks, "what would the community think of this? Would someone who does not normally read this type of book pick it up to read?" when considering titles.
A|U: Is there one thing you wish you had known when you first began working on the Adams County Reads One Book program?
DS & JL: It takes time to cultivate a successful yearly program. The committee tried hosting two One Book programs - one in the spring and one in the fall - for a couple of years, and the programs were not as successful as just a yearly One Book program. Some years, the title will not grab the community's interest; other years, the success is so great that future books by the author are hard to keep on the shelves.
A|U: Read any good books lately?
DS & JL: Re-reading the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith, in anticipation for the fourth book's release on September 18!
Let’s Talk About $$$
Budget concerns are by far the #1 reason we hear when discussing missed author event opportunities with hosts around the country. And it makes sense! For most of the libraries, schools, universities and charitable organizations we work with, coordinators have a fiduciary responsibility to pinch pennies wherever they can. And yet, for even small or rural hosts, we’ve helped time and again to find pathways toward rewarding authors events. What follows is a quick primer in WHY paying an author makes sense, WHAT you can do to work toward developing resources, and HOW we can help.
WHY PAY? Did you know that the average author makes around $.79 per book sold? That means that for most authors, the financial reward for literally years of hard work culminating in a published work barely covers the cost of living over the course of their drafting process.
So, understanding that the vast majority of authors AREN’T millionaires, it makes sense that compensating an author for their time and energy is more than fair. But beyond that, the old adage “you get what you pay for,” certainly applies. Although many writers are happy to do gratis events (especially during the first 90 days of publication), investing in an author ensures that the host will get a performance, rather than an appearance. Authors paid for events tend to spend more time preparing, are eager to engage the audience for the benefit of their host, and will collaborate to make sure their product is well received.
But that sage advice goes both ways! When you’ve raised funds for an author and manage to schedule someone great, hosts who have made the outlay go out of their way (or should!) to make certain they’re drawing attendees, generating excellent publicity, and developing quality programming to honor their shareholders and sponsors. On both sides of the podium, paid events almost always provide a more rewarding experience for everyone involved.
WHAT YOU CAN DO? Okay, so that’s all well and good, but where on earth do you start? When starting from zero or very little, most coordinators are too discouraged or overwhelmed to even try. And yet, there are lots of ways to get creative, build partnerships, and seek out opportunities.
First, do your research: As with so much in life, the key to success is often having the right information at the right time. The first step in any author event development is to know where you want to go, and how to get there.
Is there a nearby community who have a track record for successful author event engagement? Give them a call and pick their brains! We guarantee that most coordinators are happy to share their knowledge and insight, as well as fundraising strategies, funding resources and author recommendations.
Give some thought to what kind of author events would work best in your community. Have you considered a One Book One Town model? These programs are fantastic launching points for continued programming, as they provide a “brand” around which your organization can build. Many of the One Book programs we’ve helped launch now have ancillary Visiting Author Series, Teen Week programming, and active book clubs.
Second, prepare. For most large format events, you’ll need time to muster your resources. That means checking in with organization admin to understand how the current budget works, and what you’ll need to submit in order to be considered for the following year’s budget review. What will make an author event most impactful for your shareholders and board members? What do they most want to see from your efforts? Understanding what a successful proposal might look like it crucial to know before you start drafting! This is also the time to seek out possible grant funding for state/local arts donors. Many states provide “legacy” funds for author programming that addresses particular topics/regions. Curious if your community might be eligible? Let us know and we can do the legwork!
Finally - ASK. Once you’ve done your research and prepared your proposal, start asking! And don’t stop with your organization’s funding sources - seek out local business sponsors, private donors, and corporations in the neighborhood for their support! We’ve seen many coordinator receive donations for travel expenses, hotel accommodations, and even cash for author fees.
HOW A|U CAN HELP? Once you have an idea for possible programming in place, get in touch with us ASAP! We can collaborate with you to maximize your resources in the following ways:
We’ll identify and approach possible partners who can join your fundraising effort - these might be local schools, nearby libraries, charitable organizations and corporations. By sharing the cost between several parties around one event, the burden on each is reduced considerably. We’ll make the pitch to possible partners, and rally support around your efforts!
We’ll let you know which authors might already be traveling through your area around prospective dates. For these authors, we can almost always secure a reduced rate, and save you money on travel and expenses.
We’ll negotiate on your behalf, and do our very best to lock in a fee that won’t break the bank. We can also give you keen insight on how to make the offer to the author as attractive as possible.
We’ll help brainstorm on fundraising ideas - including VIP receptions that can offset honorarium fees, steeply discounted book purchases for resale, and longer term campaigns in conjunction with your organization’s goals.
Remember - A|U is here to help at any point along the way! Facilitating a successful event is an investment of time and energy, but when they are done right, hosts will build their program brand, earn the loyalty of return participants, and most importantly, generate important conversations.
Do you have ideas or success stories about building robust budgets you'd like to share with hosts around the country? We'd love to hear from you! firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamie Ford is a Northwest author most widely known for his bestselling Seattle-based novels. His debut, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list, won the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award, the Pacific Northwest Book Award, and the Langum Prize for Historical Fiction. Hotel was named the #1 Book Club pick in 2010 by the American Bookseller Association and is now read widely in schools all across the country. This multi-cultural tale was adapted by Book-It Repertory Theatre, and has recently been optioned for a stage musical, and also for film, with George Takei serving as Executive Producer.
Jamie's second book, Songs of Willow Frost, was also a national bestseller. His third novel set in Seattle, Love and Other Consolations Prizes, was published last fall and Library Journal named it one of the Best Historical Fiction Novels of 2017. An award-winning short-story writer, his work has been published in multiple anthologies, from Asian-themed steampunk set in Seattle in the Apocalypse Triptych, to stories exploring the universe of masked marvels and caped crusaders from an Asian American perspective in Secret Identities: The first Asian American Superhero Anthology, and Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology. His essays on race, identity, love, heroes, and complex families have been published nationwide and his work has been translated into 35 languages. He says he’s holding out for Klingon, because that’s when you know you’ve made it.