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Ten Tips for Author Event Organisers from Nicola Morgan

Writing.ie | All About Book Clubs | News for Readers

By Nicola Morgan

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Nicola Morgan is the award-winning author of many acclaimed books for young people, and is an inspiring speaker who has recently become Scotland’s first patron of reading. Her highly unusual and multi-award-winning novel, Wasted, won the Scottish Children’s Book Award and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal. As well as many books for children, her non-fiction book Blame My Brain, is internationally renowned and takes a reassuring look at teenage brains. Nicola blogs at NicolaMorgan.com

Having done hundreds of events of all sorts, from schools to festivals, conferences and AGM keynotes, in the UK and elsewhere, Nicola has learned that the success of an author event boils down to a few key points.

If you are organising an author event for your reader group, here are Nicola’s top ten tips for organising an author event. Nicola recommends for authors, that they should have their own event terms and conditions available on their website, Nicola’s are here, taking away a lot of the guess work for event organisers.

Nicola Morgan’s Ten Tips for Organisers:

  1. Choose an author you really want – your keenness makes a massive difference to how the event turns out and how much benefit the audience derives.
  2. Pay us – the only authors you’ll get for free are generally those so well-off that they can afford to work for nothing, or those so inexperienced that they are looking for experience and will do anything to get the gig. You are at liberty to ask them, of course, and you may get a good event, but you need to recognize that a) authors earn peanuts from books and therefore need to be paid for other work and b) if you want a professional you have to pay a professional. I also think you pay for what you get. Like other professional authors, I do a few free events around publication, and very occasionally in other circumstances, but otherwise you do need to pay, just as you pay your plumber, accountant, tutor, etc.
  3. Agree everything in advance, by email. No sudden surprises. The whole schedule for the day should be agreed, and include time for breaks and recharging.
  4. Enthuse the audience beforehand, so that they feel excited. Publicise the event, explaining who the author is.
  5. With children, get them to think about questions in advance. Discuss what would be good questions, and what would be silly ones.
  6. Book-selling is a very desirable part of an event – if our books don’t sell, our publishers drop us. (Not exaggerating.) So, after discussion with the author as to ways of doing this, please do your very very best to facilitate book-selling. We do understand that it isn’t always easy, but it is highly desirable for so many reasons.
  7. Understand that every speaker is different, with different stresses and different ways of dealing with them. I, for example, don’t like being taken out for a meal between/before events – I like peace, to go over how the first talk went and gather my energy for the next one. I’m quite shy (though not when public-speaking!) and I find talking tiring and difficult when I’m trying to think.
  8. Prepare a short, positive intro for your speaker. There is nothing more demoralizing than either being told to start talking without an intro, or getting the “Nicola Morgan needs no introduction,” one. It means that instead of launching into my stories or whatever, I have to say who I am, and it’s very horrible (impossible) for me to tell pupils that I’m an award-winning author etc etc etc. but very lovely if you do the praising for me…
  9. Contact the author again two weeks before the event, to make sure both you and he/she have all the details. (I have an event form which I’ll have sent out weeks before, which will contain everything we’ve agreed.) Make sure both of you have a phone number in case of last minute problems.
  10. After the talk, say something nice, unless I was really rubbish, which I know I will not be. I know someone who after each of my talks that she’s heard says, “How did you think that went?” That’s the most irritating and downcasting thing. What she needed to say was, “Great, well done.” It’s not hard.

(c) Nicola Morgan

Happy authors deliver great events, so keep your authors happy!

If you need to contact authors for author events, contact us at writing.ie (contact@writing.ie) and we’ll out you in touch.

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