The Value of An Hour: Economizing Your Time in an Author Search

A few days ago, I found the perfect pair of ski boots online. I’d been wanting them for ages, and was thrilled to see that a UK retailer had them in stock. The rub: shipping cost more than the boots themselves! Naturally, I began researching U.S. stores that might carry them, and before I knew it, I’d spent 90 minutes scouring the internet, with no luck. That’s when I thought of the question that prompted this article… Was two hours of my time worth the extra shipping cost? How much time was I willing to spend to find the perfect solution?  I bought the boots. But I couldn’t help thinking that I’d spent more than I needed to… I just didn’t have the time to keep up the search.

You’ve probably heard the saying “time is money.”  It’s a popular line for a reason – it’s true.  The value of time can change dramatically depending on how much of it you have available.  As library and university budgets across the country are cut, and coordinators are asked to wear multiple hats, freeing up even an hour every day can immeasurably improve productivity.

At some level, we all have an internal gauge for how much our time is worth. For example, if someone offers to pay you 5 cents for one hour of work, you would immediately decline.  Meanwhile, if someone offers to pay you $10,000 for the same hour, you’d get to work!  At Books In Common, we help you free up time spent doing the legwork, and negotiating discounts to enable an author visit to fit within your budget.

According to the old model of an author-selection process, the coordinator will often be tasked with gathering fee and availability information, along with viewing video clips of similar presentations, and reviewing titles for programming ideas. This can take HOURS, as many of the wonderful coordinators we work with have attested. Most event planners end up spending far more than they anticipated, both in time and in higher honoraria.

Books In Common offers a new model: once a shortlist is determined (this can be anywhere from three to 10 titles), your BIC account manager can get you quick fee information (usually same day, sometimes within minutes), speaker availability, feedback we’ve gathered from others who’ve hosted the author, and a general idea of what discount opportunities we might be able to get you, to ensure you meet your specific budget criteria.

I work with a wonderful university events coordinator in the Midwest who arranges author visits for several campus programs — commencement, the First Year Experience Common Read, and a large format Visiting Lecture Series. She used to spend a large percentage of her time tracking down speaker information, and waiting to hear back (sometimes this took weeks!) from multiple agencies and publishers. Now that we’ve been working together for the last two years, she has enough time freed up to expand her role in programming, marketing, and community outreach… “I can’t thank Books In Common enough for your support, ease of contact and quick responses… you are an answered prayer!” Another Community Reads Program in Minnesota reports, “I cannot thank you and your team enough for your patience and attention through this process – it used to be very lengthy and often frustrating, but you make life easy for us at every turn!”

Books In Common is able to provide this free service to venues because we have revolutionized the process. We’ve developed a cutting-edge database of thousands of authors, including new/emerging writers as well as some of the finest and most famous in the country. The database tracks authors’ schedules, their standard fees, and discount opportunities. Because we arrange a large volume of events each year, and work with hundreds of literary event planners across the country, we can piggyback events together to save each venue time and money. We’ve saved many venues thousands, even tens-of-thousands of dollars in honoraria We do much of the time-consuming research for you, pass along programming success stories and ideas, and provide promotional material, freeing up YOUR time and saving you money.

  • “I can’t imagine a more productive and enjoyable relationship than we have had with Books In Common over the past few years!” – Event Coordinator of a Nationwide Humanities Conference.
  • “This was the first time we were able to work with an author of such notoriety and I have not one negative comment. You made it all work so seamlessly. I can’t speak highly enough about my experience working with Books In Common!” – A Community Reads Coordinator in Ohio.
  • “I took on author event planning in addition to my normal branch management duties, so please know that your time and attention to details  is much appreciated!” – A Librarian in Virginia.
  • “I wanted to thank you for all your help in arranging our campus visit.  I’m sure that coordinating the author’s appearance at two schools in a single day was a challenge – and you devoted a great deal of time and effort to make this event a success. I speak for many here at the college in saying thank you.” – A First Year Experience Common Reading Coordinator in New York.
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