We’ve Got Plenty of Time, Right?

CH headshot

BIC’s Christie Hinrichs

You’ve just wrapped up another successful annual event: your audience was inspired, your community was engaged, and your boss is singing your praises. All of the hard work you put into programming goals, endless committee meetings and event marketing have paid off, and you can finally relax for a few months, right? Err, not exactly.

More and more, we’ve found inadequate lead time to be the #1 challenge to the thousands of Common Reads, First Year Experience, and Library event planners we work with. Does this sound familiar? The current year’s event has taken place. You give yourself a month or two to rest on your laurels. “We’ve got plenty of time!” Before you know it, only six months remain and you are scrambling to wrangle committee members, budget considerations, and programming ideas in anticipation of quickly-approaching deadlines. Is the author even available? Is the venue already booked? Questions like this can turn what should be a fun and rewarding process into a stress-fest for all involved.

At Books In Common, we work to collaborate with event planners to alleviate, and in many cases, completely eliminate this kind of stress. Not only can we do much of the difficult legwork for you (confirming fees, checking author availability, exploring discount opportunities for ANY author on the short list), we can also work with you throughout the year to ensure the best possible outcome.

Make no mistake, we understand the pressures that most of you are dealing with. Many of the coordinators we work with wear several different hats throughout the year. But lead time is important for a few reasons that will make a lot of sense: (1) with maximum lead time, we can arrange “piggyback” events nearby, which will entice your selected author to accept a heavily discounted fee; (2) the further ahead we can schedule, the more likely your selected author will be available, and willing to fill open dates; (3) as industry insiders, the Account Managers at Books In Common often know about opportunities now, which will reap big rewards down the line – for example, a film adaptation in production that will eventually make your selected author very popular and expensive, or, a trip already planned through your region; (4) successful program planning takes time, and often requires collaboration between departments – the more time, the better the programming! By utilizing an 18th month process, you are almost certain to increase the quality of your events (and your mental health!).

Here’s what that looks like. The following schedule is one we recommend to all coordinators of annual events. In almost 100% of cases, venues that adopt this schedule save themselves up to 50% off standard fees, are able to book for their preferred dates and timeline, and end up with titles at the very top of their wish list. Let’s say your event occurs every April, and the next one will take place in 2016…

November 2014: First committee meeting to go over selection process, program goals, possible themes, suggested titles and any concerns/special circumstances for the 2016 program.

January 2015: You’ve developed a long list of titles and everyone is reading!

March 2015:  You’ve narrowed down your long list to a short list of no more than 5 titles, and committee members rank their favorites. Work with your Books In Common Account Manager to get fees and availability for shortlisted authors.

April 2015:  Pause to enjoy the 2015 program – yay! And more celebration is called for, because you’ve just decided on your #1 choice for 2016. Your Books In Common Account Manager secures you the best possible fee (almost always at a good discount, owing to lead time), and an Event Confirmation Agreement is drafted.

May – September 2015: Work on programming, community participation, advance marketing. Sip a latte. Get your nails done.

October 2015 – January 2016: Arrange some advance media with local newspapers and radio stations – authors are almost always happy to participate by offering interviews, etc. Prepare promotional material like postcards, posters and flyers to hand out in your community. Develop strong social media campaigns to publicize your event.

February – March 2016:  Work with your Books in Common Account Manager to prepare the Event Itinerary, which will lay out your event in detail. With your event almost here and the details sorted out, you’ll have plenty of time to start working on 2017!

April 2016:  Have a wonderful, stress-free event!

No worries if you have a shorter planning cycle, of course. We’ve secured authors with as little as two weeks lead time, and with as much as two years! However, our hope is that by communicating what we see as a process to ensure the best outcomes, we’ll begin to create better programs that connect readers and writers, and build common ground for all involved – that, after all, is the #1 goal for all of us at Books In Common.


This entry was posted in Issue #9, Newsletters and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Garth Stein: A SUDDEN LIGHT