The purpose of this page is to give event organisers some extra support for putting on a show, whether they are planning a book launch, a literary festival, or an author tour.
At the New Zealand Book Council we’re noticing an increasing trend in the number of author events as well as an increase in requests for information on how to do things.
We seek to support events that are growing new audiences and showcasing the diversity of New Zealand’s writing and performing talent.
We all want to create a space where artists can deliver their best work, and audiences can feel welcome and inspired. We hope the resources on this page will help you do that.
Generally, the event organisers approaching the Book Council for support already know what and why they want to do this thing. They also know who they are doing this for and where it will take place. Some have also started telling people when it will happen and all that’s left is the physical how of delivering the event.
Whether it’s an individual book launch or a multi-day festival that you’re planning, you’ll find inspiration everywhere. Some of the festivals that have started in New Zealand over the last five years include Rotorua Noir (2019); Words Will Work South Auckland Writers Festival, Ad Lib Puke Ariki Festival and Blackball Readers and Writers Festival (2018); Manawatu Writers Festival and Storylines National Story Tour (2017); Samesame but Different LGBTQI Writers Festival (2016); NZ Young Writers Festival, Featherston Booktown and LitCrawl (2015); Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival (2014).
The downloadable resources that we’ve collated here include: checklists, templates, notes and schedules. They are freely available for you to use and adapt and can be found by scrolling down to the bottom of this page. Please do credit the New Zealand Book Council and share alike. And remember to add your event dates into the Book Council’s event calendar.
Whaia te pae tawhiti, Kia tata, Kia mā, Kia tina.
Pursue that distant horizon and bring it closer – make it ours.
This kit contains:
- An Author Tour Checklist which can be re-purposed as you see fit.
- A festival author invitation
- A launch invitation list checklist (yes! a checklist for a list!)
- A book publicist’s author questionnaire
- Creative NZ audience segmentation info is available to download from here
- Author appearance agreement template
- Feel free to browse through the Book Council’s Writers Files for inspiration
- Have a look at the Book Council’s Diversity Strategy. Please take it and build on it and share your own strategy with others
- Remember that you’re going to need a team to do whatever you’re up to because one person can only physically be in so places at any one time.
- Remember Richard Scarry’s excellent Busy Town series? Well, the Festival Grid is kind of like that but without the excellent illustrations: it’s a one page view of where everyone is and when.
- A (slightly) edited down version of the Book Council’s spreadsheet of sector events. And please, do enter your own event dates into the Book Council’s event calendar for the world to see.
No matter what the size of your event you’ll need a contacts list that you share with all of your team. You’ll also need a critical path document which tells you who’s doing which tasks and when. You’ll need a marketing and communications plan. You’ll need to undertake some Health and Safety risk assessment (there’s a very comprehensive look at one of those over here). And if you’re fundraising then you’ll need a profile document which gives all the relevant information that potential partners will want to consider. The actual tools that we can provide you with here include:
- Budget template
- Example of a copy-writing brief
- Awards night event coordinator’s checklist
- Book Council’s current schedule of author fees
- Book Council’s template runsheet for the Speed Date an Author event format
- Some very general advice for event chairs
Other great tools: There’s probably an app for that thing that you need to do... we use Toggl to keep track of how long things take, Trello for planning out the next steps and remembering where we got to, Doodle Poll for scheduling when we can all meet again, and Google Maps for figuring out how we’re going to get there. Other great tools we’ve heard about and have started tinkering with are Loomio for collaborative decision-making and Slack for information sharing.
For those planning to conduct an author interview or moderate a panel of authors, this is an excellent piece, by writer and editor Helen Moffett.
Finally, we’ve some books for you!
There’s some great advice on working with authors in The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago by Carol Fisher Saller and some fabulous inspiration on getting organised in both The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande and Getting Things Done by David Allen. For insights into being an author and taking part in events try Mortification: Writers’ Stories of Their Public Shame by Robin Robertson. And for a collection of local essays about creating and running a festival, look for a copy of Recollections of 5 Festivals: Writers and Readers Week, 1984-1994 by Ann Mallinson (some things about writers festivals will clearly never change!)