Author Visits

I’ve never actually had an author come to one of the book discussion groups I’ve been in or moderated.  I’m curious to know what others’ experiences with this are.

Does the presence of an author make readers uncomfortable, unable to give any criticism of the book?  Or does it make them too giddy to do much other than gush over the book?

How do you handle an author’s visit – do you structure the discussion any differently?

Please leave a comment and let me know your experience with author visits, whether in person, via phone, or via Skype!

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About the Author:

Rebecca Vnuk is the editor for Collection Management and Library Outreach at Booklist. She is also the author of 3 reader’s-advisory nonfiction books: Read On…Women’s Fiction (2009), Women’s Fiction: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests (2014), and Women’s Fiction Authors: A Research Guide (2009). Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_RVnuk.

2 Comments on "Author Visits"

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  1. Neil Hollands says:

    Rebecca, I think you’re asking a good question here. I haven’t had an extensive number of author visits in my groups, but I have had a few in my SF/Fantasy group. From that I’ve learned that it is important to give the author some advance guidelines for what you would like for them. I’ve had a couple of very pleasant sessions with authors, but a couple of others that were nothing but rather rambling, and not very impressive, advertisements for books.

    It helps if the group can generate specific questions they would like answered that the author can look at in advance. It’s as it is with the mixed success of authors we see at library conferences: Before offering the invitation, someone should speak to them to see if a) they understand how book groups work; b) they can talk intelligently about their own work without defensiveness and beyond mere self-promotion; and c) they can talk about their work in the context of other works on the same subject or in the same genre. Some authors are great at these things, others have led rather unexamined literary lives.

    But like you, I’d love to hear other comments on what works and what doesn’t in structuring meetings with author visits.

  2. marcies@bloomingtonlibrary.org' Marcie says:

    We have had authors join us by phone for 3 of our mystery book discussions at no cost to us. I try to plan these in advance of reading the book, however we had one author who contacted me a few days before about joining the discussion when he learned we were reading one of his books. We usually only have the author join for a portion of the discussion. If someone didn’t like an aspect of the book, I encourage them to ask a question that might help them understand the author’s choice better. A great example would be “Can you tell us why you chose to create a romantic event between the protagonist and the detective?” (Many mystery readers don’t care for the romance, I have learned.)

    We start out by having the author tell us a little about themselves, how they got into writing, etc. Then we open the floor for questions. I don’t think the group would like having the author join us for the whole discussion. And, based on my experience, 20 minutes is a good length of time for the author to spend with us.

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