Invite a Writer to Visit Your New York Book Group

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FAQ

About

Your book group is reading a fascinating book, and you’ve got a lot of questions. How did the author come up with that incredible twist? Was the story outlined in advance or did it flow naturally? Was the experience of writing this book different from that of the author’s other books? 

BOOKTHEWRITER authors have a lot in common with you. They love books too, and they love to talk about books — including their own. They also live here in the city, and they’re available to visit local book groups. So why not invite one of them along to your next meeting?

BOOKTHEWRITER represents over 100 New York based writers — some of them Pulitzer Prizewinners, National Book Award Winners, New York Times Bestselling authors and well known television and radio personalities — who are available to attend groups in and around the city (yes, that usually includes Westchester, Connecticut and New Jersey). We’re not talking about phoning into your book group. We’re not talking about Skyping into your book group. We’re talking about ringing the doorbell, having a seat on the couch, saying “Why not?” to a glass (or a mug) of whatever you’re having, and joining the conversation.

BOOKTHEWRITER can create a literary experience for your group that is truly special and utterly memorable. Look for your favorite author in our list of incredible novelists, memoirists, poets, biographers and non-fiction writers, browse titles by genre, or let us help you choose a book that will appeal to your book group in particular.

The Book on BOOKTHEWRITER

For twelve years, I ran a “Meet the Author” book group in Princeton, New Jersey. Every month, the author of each monthly selection (a novel, a memoir, a biography or a work of non-fiction) would join our twenty-five members in my living room, explaining how his or her book came into being, what twists and turns it encountered along the way, and how its creation had changed its creator. The conversations were funny, sad, surprising and deeply illuminating, and members of the group walked away each month with a deepened understanding of writing in general and that month’s selection in particular…not to mention a signed copy of the book.

 

Having the author attend changes the book group experience utterly. Instead of wondering what the novelist was thinking when she created a character or situation, you can ask. You might hear that a non-fiction project grew out of a short story, or a biography began life as a novel, or that a long and complex work of fiction started life as an article for a magazine about something that seems entirely unrelated. You might learn how like the author you are, or how very different, or you might discover a connection to the writer or the work in a thoroughly surprising way. Even if the book is not one of your favorites, the conversation can be potent and enlightening. Members of my “Meet the Author” book group came to feel that they were the most fortunate readers in central New Jersey, or anywhere else.

 

Two years ago I moved to New York City, and created BOOKTHEWRITER to bring the “Meet the Author” experience to book groups in my hometown.  Please enjoy reading about these wonderful artists, scholars and journalists, and let us know whom you’d like to meet!

Jean Hanff Korelitz

How to Host a Writer

Never invited an author to your book group before? Don’t be nervous — it’s going to be fantastic! Authors enjoy meeting readers every bit as much as much as readers enjoy meeting authors.

Here are some suggestions — and one ironclad rule — to make the visit a success.

If your book group tends to undertake a certain amount of “business” at each meeting—choosing location and host for the next meeting, making future book choices—you might consider dispatching these items before your author arrives, or holding them until after he or she leaves. Use your time with the author to discuss the book, the writing process, or whatever else comes up in the conversation.

What should you say if…well…you didn’t utterly LOVE the author’s book? An author visit is not a praise-fest, it’s an exchange of ideas. And even if the book doesn’t turn out to be one of your favorites you may still be interested in the author’s writing process and experiences. Ask questions, and be open to thinking about books—perhaps even this book—in a new way. Remember that the time for making changes in the book is long past; even if you have identified a glaring error or have a brilliant solution to a perceived shortcoming, the author can no longer implement your suggestions.

And now for that ironclad rule…

In a typical book group, your group members may borrow their copy of the book from a friend, or the library, but when you invite an author to attend your meeting each person should purchase his or her own copy of the book. This is a courtesy that readers sometimes do not fully understand, but its importance cannot be overstated. The purchase may be made in any format—hardcover, paperback or e-Book—but it is a gesture that is truly appreciated. And yes, of course the author will sign your books! (Well, maybe not your e-Book.)

Let us know how everything went! If you have comments about the author’s visit, please pass them along. And if there’s a photograph of your visit with the author you’d like to send us for our website, we’d love to see it!

Series

Would you rather sit in a large audience to hear your favorite author or gather around your own coffee table with him or her? That’s what we thought! In fact, why not forgo the lecture hall entirely and create your own author series? BOOKTHEWRITER has a few thoughts about reading group themes for your group, each book a fascinating opportunity to meet a great author, and cumulatively a compelling journey through a set of ideas and themes. Book one, or a series (for a special discount). Or create a theme of your own – we’ll help you make it happen! Email info@bookthewriter.com for more information.

NEW YORK CITY (AND ITS NEIGHBORHOODS)

Great books that celebrate and illuminate our city:

Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine. Schine’s most recent novel brings 1960s Greenwich Village to life with her customarily humor and grace.

Motherland by Amy Sohn. Sohn dissects contemporary Brooklyn in this hilarious novel.

Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants by Robert Sullivan. Acclaimed non-fiction writer Robert Sullivan spent an entire year observing rats in a downtown alley so that you didn’t have to, just to be able to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about our city’s other inhabitants. Soon to be a major motion picture! (Really!)

Fever by Mary Beth Keane. Keane’s powerful historical novel takes place in early 20th Century New York City.

Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family by Patricia Volk. Volk’s warm and hilarious memoir of her New York childhood and her family’s restaurant, Morgen’s, which fed the fashion district for decades.
Morningside Heights by Cheryl Mendelson. The first of a trilogy of books (you’ll want to read the other two as well!), this beautiful and funny novel has been described as “Trollope on the Upper West Side”. Populated by shrinks, academics, and growing families desperate for a little more room, it brings to life the author’s own beloved neighborhood.

STRANGE BUT TRUE STORIES

Truth really is stranger than fiction. Personal accounts of fascinating, sometimes harrowing, adventures
Larry’s Kidney: Being the True Story of How I found Myself in China with my Black Sheep Cousin and his Mail-Order Bride, Skirting the Law to Get Him a Transplant – and Save his Life by Daniel Asa Rose. The subtitle doesn’t quite say it all in this wild and wooly adventure, soon to be a film starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis.

The Perfect Score Project by Debbie Stier. Faced with a less than motivated teenaged son, author Debbie Stier decided on an unorthodox approach: to take the SAT – herself – repeatedly over the course of a single year. The results, for her entire family, surprised no one more than herself.

Among the Janeites: A Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandom by Deborah Yaffe. Journalist Yaffe, a lifelong admirer of Jane Austen’s novels, takes a plunge into the strange and vibrant community of Austen worship.

Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover. Acclaimed journalist Ted Conover trained as a corrections officer and spent a year in one of the state’s most troubled maximum security prisons. Intense and illuminating.

A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran by Joshua Fattal. In 2009, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal were captured by Iranian soldiers when they unwittingly crossed into Iran while on a hike. In this powerful memoir, they tell their story. (Shourd and Bauer live in California. Fattal, a Brooklyn resident, is available to visit book groups.)

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. Journalist Susannah Cahalan’s riveting account of the medical mystery that suddenly consumed her life.

Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked by James Lasdun. Poet and fiction writer James Lasdun’s terrifying account of the former student who stalked him for years.

Them: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson. Grand Wizards of the KKK, conspiracy theorists, authorities on the giant lizards (disguised as humans) who secretly run the world…The Psychopath Test author Jon Ronson has a gift for finding truly bizarre people and illuminating their ways of thinking.

MOM

If there’s one subject big enough to warrant a year’s worth of reading, it’s motherhood: having a mom, being a mom, losing a mom. Consider mom-ness from every angle in this gathering of fiction and non-fiction.

The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen. A love story and a ghost story as, thirty years after her death, Cohen’s mother returns during the hardest year of parenting she has ever had to face
The Long Goodbye by Meghan O’Rourke. What is it like to mourn today, in a culture that has largely set aside rituals that acknowledge grief? After her mother died of cancer at the age of fifty-five, poet O’Rourke discovered that nothing had prepared her for the intensity of her sorrow.

Not for Everyday Use by Elizabeth Nunez. Novelist and scholar Nunez, called home to her native Caribbean island on her mother’s death, considers the legacy of her mother’s life.

The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy by Priscilla Gilman. A professor of romantic poetry discovers that motherhood is vastly different from the glorious Wordsworthian experience she’d anticipated.

Black + White by Dani Shapiro. In this novel, the daughter of a famous photographer is forced to revisit the unsettling questions of her mother’s art.

The Mistress’s Daughter by A.M. Homes. Homes’s brave and funny memoir about her birth mother, who materialized when Homes was thirty years old, and wouldn’t leave.

What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-One Women on the Gifts that Mattered Most, edited by Elizabeth Benedict. The ultimate mom anthology, as writers describe the most meaningful gifts from their mothers. Editor Elizabeth Benedict might even bring along some of the BOOKTHEWRITER authors (Katha Pollitt, Roxana Robinson, Elinor Lipman, Caroline Leavitt, Ann Hood, Emma Straub, Elissa Schappell, Sheila Kohler, Mary Morris, Martha McPhee and Jean Hanff Korelitz) who contributed essays to the book.

BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS (AND WRITING THEM)

We all love books. (If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be in book groups!) These authors ask, in different ways, why writing is irreplaceable.
The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller. It’s one thing to love a book as a child, and quite another to revisit that book as an adult. Critic Laura Miller does just that with her reappraisal of C.S. Lewis. An intellectual adventure story for those who live in thrall to the magic of books.

Still-Writing by Dani Shapiro. Novelist and memoirist Shapiro’s meditation on the creative life has become a classic guide for writers in the year since its publication.

So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Nelson. A challenge to read one book per week for a year is the catalyst for this charming memoir about reading and how it feeds us.

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. Longtime editor Will Schwalbe rediscovered how important books can be when he and his mother formed a two person book club in the final year of her life. This beautiful memoir about love and reading has been a New York Times bestseller.

The Accident by Chris Pavone. A manuscript so lethal that anyone who reads it is in imminent danger? Internationally bestselling novelist (and former publishing exec) Chris Pavone populates his thriller with editors and agents. A suspenseful and fun thriller about…yes…the publishing world.

BOOKS ABOUT NOVELISTS

Biographies, a memoir and even a novel about novelists

Reading my Father: A Memoir by Alexandra Styron. A powerful memoir about growing up with one of America’s greatest novelists, William Styron, by his novelist daughter.

Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books by Claudia Roth Pierpont. Including previously undisclosed biographical details and unpublished material, an exploration of one of our greatest writers, through his art.

Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace by D. T. Max. An exhaustively researched life of a profoundly influential writer.

The Talented Miss Highsmith by Joan Schenkar. Just in time for two upcoming films based upon Highsmith novels, a captivating and illuminating life of this singular woman and author.

Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler. A beautifully imagined historical novel about the lives of the Bronte sisters and the writing of Jane Eyre.

TO SPEAK OF THE WOE THAT IS IN MARRIAGE

Robert Lowell wrote those words! Four novels and a memoir take up the challenge.

The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris. A man and his wife struggle to understand his compulsion to walk
Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies. A captivating memoir about the all too ordinary – but still heartbreaking – end of a marriage.

Whitegirl by Kate Manning. A marriage is reconsidered in the wake of an act of violence
My Education by Susan Choi. A graduate student undertakes separate affairs with a charismatic professor and his wife in this intelligent novel.

I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck. A long marriage is recalled by a newly bereaved wife in this novel by National Book Award winner Lily Tuck.

A YEAR OF FASCINATING LIVES

Biographies and one unusual memoir about unforgettable people.

The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark by Meryl Gordon. An eccentric and vastly wealthy New Yorker who owned multiple homes but spent decades living as a recluse in a hospital.

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman. The internationally bestselling biography of one of 18th century England’s most influential aristocrats.

Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner – A Sort of Love Story by Alan Zweibel. A deeply personal and truly special tribute to the great Gilda Radner by her friend, legendary television and theater writer Alan Zweibel

American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell by Deborah Solomon. Solomon’s masterful biography of our unofficial “artist in chief”.

Walter White: The Dilemma of Black Identity in America by Thomas Dyja. The fascinating life of the NAACP secretary and anti-lynching crusader Walter White.

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright by Jean Nathan. The bizarre life of the artist who created the “Lonely Doll” books.

Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis. Michaelis’s life of Schulz illuminates a beloved but little understood figure in American Culture.

On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker by A’Lelia Bundles. The definitive biography of the legendary African American entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste by Luke Barr. Three towering figures in the food world converge in Provence in 1970.

NEW YORKER MAGAZINE, IN PERSON

Poets, fiction and non-fiction writers, editors, fact-checkers, and even a very special receptionist from New Yorkers’ favorite magazine.

BOOKTHEWRITER is privileged to represent many New Yorker writers who are available to visit book groups in and around the city. Poets Lucie Brock-Broido and Tracy K. Smith (whose memoir, Ordinary Light, will be published in March), fiction writers like Lily Tuck, Roxana Robinson and A.M. Homes, staff writers Tad Friend, Philip Gourevitch, D.T. Max and Claudia Roth Pierpont, and humor (and shopping!) columnist Patricia Marx (whose book Let’s Be Less Stupid, is coming in July).

Curious about the magazine itself? Peek behind the scenes with New Yorker poetry editor Paul Muldoon (himself a Pulitzer Prizewinning poet with an about to be published collection, One Thousand Things Worth Knowing), and onetime fact-checker, novelist Susan Choi. And for a rare historical perspective, former longtime New Yorker receptionist Janet Groth, author of the memoir The Receptionist: An Education at the New Yorker.

Pop-Up Book Groups

(Above) Author Ilene Beckman (LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE) draws for us at a Pop-Up Book Group on the Upper West Side, February, 2015

 

 

 

BOOKTHEWRITER regularly organizes its own “Pop-Up Book Groups”, gatherings with our authors in private homes around the city. Pop-Up Book Groups are small (limited to 15 participants) so that conversation can be relaxed and intimate. We set the author, book, date and time; you sign up on our Eventbrite page. The address will be given to registrants a few days before the book group. Don’t forget to purchase and read the book and come with lots of questions for the author. And bring your copy of the book with you — the author will sign it for you.

 

See our currently scheduled Pop-Up Book Groups HERE!

 

Like to hear about our Pop-Up Book Groups as they’re scheduled? Sign up for our Newsletter

Author Visits by Skype

For book groups beyond the New York area, we are pleased to offer Skype sessions with our authors. Please email info@bookthewriter.com for information and fees.

Is Your Book Group Interested in Free Author Visits?

BOOKTHEWRITER occasionally works with publishers to arrange book group visits for authors on tour. There is no charge to the book group for these visits, and publishers often provide copies of the book in advance. If you would like your book group to be considered for these author visits, please email info@bookthewriter.com and tell us a bit about your group:

How large is your group?

Where do you meet?

What is the age range of your members?

Men, women, or mixed?

What kinds of books does your book group typically read?

What are the names of some authors whose work your group has especially enjoyed?

For Libraries, Institutions and Corporate Book Groups

“In a world of limited budgets, BOOKTHEWRITER allowed me to offer my constituents a community experience. Everyone had read the book, making the event a discussion, not a lecture.” — Therese Nielsen, Huntington (Long Island) Library, on Christina Baker Kline’s visit to her library book group

BOOKTHEWRITER is delighted to work with libraries in the New York area. Invite an author to your library’s book group for a truly unique experience. Libraries and other non-profit organizations may request a small discount.

If you coordinate an institutional or corporate book group, we’d love to work with you, too! To schedule a series of author visits, please email info@bookthewriter.com

BOOKTHEWRITER in Other Cities

Although our website serves the New York City area only, we do maintain lists of great writers in a few other cities. If your book group meets in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles or Washington, DC, and you would like to invite a writer, please email info@bookthewriter.com for information and fees.

For Authors

BOOKTHEWRITER is not actively expanding its author list at this time. If you, your publisher or your publicist would like to get in touch with us, please email Jean at info@bookthewriter.com.