Advice on running other events

Guidance for festivals, libraries and community organisations

Some things to think about before deciding to run an event

Before you start planning your event you need to think about why you are holding it, who your audience will be, and how you will promote your event to them. You should also consider:

  • Is there something else similar running locally? If so, can you work together so, or are you simply duplicating activity?
  • Are there other events running on the dates you have planned? You can find the dates of other Scottish Festivals on the Creative Scotland website. You may also want to contact local libraries and arts organisations.
  • Who will be working with you to plan the event? Do you have enough people involved to cover all the work?
  • How are you going to fund the event? You may be eligible to apply for funding from Scottish Book Trust's Live Literature funding. You can also find information about funding for small festivals and larger projects on the Creative Scotland website.
  • What venue are you planning to use? Is it fit for purpose?

How to choose your writer, illustrator or storyteller 

It's crucial that you choose an author, storyteller or illustrator who is appropriate to the type of event you would like to organise. Think about the following:

  • The type of event/s you would like to arrange - for example, would you like the author/illustrator/s to talk about their books and writing, or to run a creative writing/drawing workshop?
  • The audience group you would like the visitor(s) to talk to. Will they be appropriate for your current audience? Are you trying to attract a new audience?
  • How many people are likely to come along?
  • Will there be somebody chairing the event? If so make sure that they are appropriate to the visitor you have chosen, and that they will be well prepared. A good chairperson can make all the difference to an event.

Once you've decided on the above you can set about finding a visitor who best fits the requirements you've set out.

 

Where to find an author, storyteller or illustrator

You can find information on the LL Database. There are also details on people's availability to visit organisations and the type of events they do.

You may also be able to get recommendations from other organisations or festival organisers.

You can find out more information about poets from the Scottish Poetry Library and more information about storytellers from the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

 

Planning a successful event  

It's a good idea to give yourself plenty of time to plan your event(s). Here's a suggested timeline of activity for planning your event. This will vary depending on the scale of your event:

Nine months to a year ahead

  • Do some research in to other festivals/library events in Scotland and your local area
  • Discuss your plans for the event with your colleagues as well as other local organisations if appropriate
  • Decide on the writer/s and send an invitation outlining your proposed event and its timing - making clear whether funding is confirmed or not (some writers may not accept provisional bookings)
  • Apply for support from Scottish Book Trust's Live Literature funding (if applicable)
  • Apply for funding from any other available sources (if applicable)
  • Think about how you will promote your event. See promoting your event.

6 months ahead

Once you get confirmation of funding, you should confirm the date and time of the session(s) with the visitor. In your correspondence, include the following details:

  • The estimated size of the group
  • The length of the session(s)
  • The number and timing of the session(s)
  • The venue
  • Any equipment required by the writer
  • Arrangements for refreshments, meals etc.
  • Accommodation and travel arrangements (we recommend that the writer is given a hotel or B&B if accommodation is necessary)
  • The fee agreed per session, plus expenses if appropriate

Remember to include:

  • the address and phone number for the venue
  • a map or clear directions
  • confirmation of collection times if arriving by train/bus
  • details (map, directions) of accommodation if necessary and confirmation of how it is to be paid

Find out from the visitor:

  • Which books/what topic they are likely to be talking about
  • Whether they are willing to sign books
  • What equipment they are likely to require (flipchart, overhead projector, table etc.)
  • If they are happy to be filmed (if relevant) - make sure the 'permission to be filmed' form has been completed
  • If they are ahppy for memebers of the press to be present - if relevant

One month ahead:

  • Concentrate on promotional activity
  • Contact the visitor's publisher(s) and ask if there is any display or promotional material available
  • Ensure there are copies of the books available - organise booksales through your local bookseller or equivalent. These can be sold in advance or/and on the day of the visit (see selling books)

Two weeks ahead:

  • It is never too late to do some last minute promotion. Send out reminder emails and contact local libraries and arts organisations to see if they'll forward on details of your event to their audience.
  • If the visit isn't funded through Scottish Book Trust, ensure that the payment for writers will be available on the date of the event
  • Alert colleagues to forthcoming visitor's visit
  • Ensure that the venue is suitably equipped
  • Contact visitor/s to confirm details.
  • If there are school parties coming along, make sure you have confirmed that they have the correct details.
  • Make arrangements for refreshments/lunch/ evening meal for the visitor

The day before the visit:

  • Ensure that the receptionist or front of house staff are aware of your visitor's arrival and ensure that the greeters know when to meet them and where they should take them

On the day of the visit:

  • Carry out a last minute check of the venue
  • Ensure that refreshments are available
  • Ensure that the visitor is met and taken to the correct place
  • If appropriate, ensure that the visitor is introduced to the chairperson and they have time to discuss the event
  • If appropriate, ensure that books are available for sale
  • Thank the visitor for their time, and show them the way out or on to any hospitality which has been arranged

The day following the visit:

  • Write and thank your visitor for their event - it's always great to get feedback

 

Promoting your event  

When appropriate we would encourage you to promote your event so that as many people as possible both attend and hear about your event.

Simple ideas to promote your event:

  • create a mailing list and send advance notice of your event by post or email
  • produce a poster/programme to promote the event and display on public notice boards at local community centres, libraries, schools etc.
  • inform colleagues about the event and ask them to spread the word
  • contact your local newspaper by phone to ask them if they would be interested in covering the event (you may also wish to send a press release with a brief outline of what is happening) - please ask the author/illlustrator if they are happy to do interviews or photos
  • contact the visiting author's/illustrator's publisher to see if they can assist you by providing posters or other promotional materials (eg. bookmarks).
  • Invite some pupils to write an article about the author event for the school newsletter and website.
  • Scottish Book Trust can give you advice on marketing and PR as well as provide copies of Scottish Book Trust's logo if you have funding from us.  
  • Please note that it is a condition of Live Literature funding that Scottish Book Trust is acknowledged on all promotional material and press releases.

 

Selling books

Before you start

  • Think about how many copies of the books you will need to order. How many people are attending the author's/illustrator's event, and out of those, how many are likely to buy books?
  • Think about which of the author's/illustrator's books you would like to order. If they have had lots of books published, it may well be worth getting in touch with the author/illustrator to ask if they are going to talk about one book in particular on the day of the event. If this is the case, it is a good idea to order more copies of this title.
  • Order the books at least two to three weeks in advance of the event to make sure the stock arrives in time.

Where to get the books

Before ordering from any supplier, check that you can order the books on a sale or return basis. This means that you will only pay for what you sell on the day, and you can return any unsold stock to the original supplier afterwards.

Ordering books from your local bookshop

You will find details of your nearest bookshop in the Yellow Pages.

  • Think about whether you want them to sell books (see below) or whether you want to get books from them to sell yourself
  • If they will send the books out to you, or whether you need to go and pick them up from them
  • Ask if they will offer a discount
  • If you're ordering a good quantity (more than 10 books), it's worth asking if they will increase the discount on the books.
  • Keep a record of what you sell on the day and return any unsold stock to the bookshop, together with payment for the books you have sold.

Ordering books from the publisher

  • Find out the name of the publisher

If you have a copy of one of their books in front of you, the publisher's name is usually on the spine, and always on the opening pages of the book. Their contact details will be on the publisher's website. Check Scottish Book Trust's Scottish writers database. You can also look the author's/illustrator's books up online. Remember an author/illustrator can often be published by more than one publisher. If there are with several publishers, it may be easier to get the books from your local bookshop or school supplier.

  • Ring the publisher and ask to speak to the sales department. Ask if they supply books to organisations on sale or return. If they do they will generally allow you to place the order over the phone, or they will post/fax an order form for you to fill out.
  • Remember to ask if they offer a discount and see if they will offer you a bigger one if you're ordering a good number of books.
  • Keep a record of what you sell on the day. After the event, ring the publisher to let them know how many books you will be returning. They will send you labels to put on the front of the parcel of books you send back to them to show that the return has been authorised.
  • Using the official labels, return any unsold stock to the publisher, together with payment for the books you have sold.

Asking a local bookseller to bring books to sell on the day

Alternatively, you can see if someone from your local bookshop would like to come to the venue/s to sell the books This probably means that you won't receive any revenue from the booksales, but it will save you having to order the stock yourself, send unsold stock back after the event and having to deal with any associated paperwork. You can find details of your local bookshop in the Yellow Pages.

Bookshops in Scotland who usually offer this service include:

 

Blackwells

Blackwell's have stores Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and St Andrews. Contact details for each of their stores can be found on their website: www.blackwell.co.uk

 

Blast-Off Books

103 High Street

Linlithgow

EH49 7EQ

Tel 01506 844645

Fax 01506 844346

Email blastoff.books@virgin.net

Website www.blastoffbooks.co.uk

 

Waterstone's

There are Waterstone's stores in most major towns and cities in Scotland. Visit www.waterstones.com to find your nearest store.