Ask a Book Question: The 47th in a Series (When a Writer Comes to Town)

January 16, 2007 | 2 books mentioned 3 3 min read

Denise writes in asking how best to find out when authors are visiting her town:

I was perusing your blog and thought you might know how I can get advance info on book tours. I have been to different publisher Web sites and sent in faxes per their requests, and I never get a response. Book tour info, like for Khaled Hosseini’s new book coming up in May, would be helpful for those of us that live in places like Montana. NO ONE comes to Montana!!!! At least, not willingly, or unless they already live here. I get it, but it makes it tough to get signed books by our favorite authors, like Hosseini. I’d love to get my copy of Kite Runner signed if he passes though promoting his new book. Do you have any tricks up your sleeve you can share?

For music and movies there are exhaustive databases available online that are rich with details on musicians, actors, directors, albums, and films. Want to know when your favorite semi-obscure band is going to be an tour? Check Pollstar. Want to know what movies your favorite actor has on the way? Check IMDb. Want to see the full discography of a band you just found out about? Check allmusic. With Amazon and publisher Web sites, one can cobble together something like this, but these sites are for shoppers, not enthusiasts and so don’t offer quite the same experience.

So, the best advice I can offer is to mostly do what you’ve done already, with a few additional steps. Out of the possible places to find book tour info, publisher sites, for whatever reason, are typically the least helpful. Hosseini’s new book A Thousand Splendid Suns is being put out by Riverhead, an imprint of Penguin. The Penguin site doesn’t yet have the new book listed and the Riverhead site is even less helpful (warning: the Riverhead site annoyingly generates a pop-up and resizes your browser.) Publisher Web sites have gotten better, but they are rarely the repositories of information about their authors and books that they could be.

Author Web sites are often better, probably because there are less people involved. There are many, many authors who do a great job of communicating through their Web sites, updating readers about book tours and the like. Some are even prodigious bloggers. Khaled Hosseini’s site, unfortunately, appears to have not gotten all that much attention over the last year or so – no mention of the new book even, as of this writing, though you may want to sign up for his mailing list to see if he prefers to get the word out that way.

The best way, though, to find out about author events in your area is to get schedules from the venues. Bookstores and libraries typically are shouldered with most of the burden of publicizing author appearances, and so they do the best job of getting the word out, often posting notices of upcoming events well in advance. So my advice would be to locate the venues nearby that would be most likely to host Hosseini and ask them if he’ll be appearing and sign up for their mailing lists so you can see who else is coming your way.

Returning to an earlier point, though, I’ve often wondered why there isn’t a better repository for literary information online. I’ve seen a few half-hearted attempts over the years, but none of them have approached the comprehensive experience offered by movie and music sites. Still, I think the opportunity is there. It’s even possible that existing “user-powered” sites like Wikipedia or LibraryThing could, with some effort by active contributors, offer what Denise is looking for and more.

Anybody else have site recommendations or other thoughts on the topic?

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.


  1. I get on the mailing lists of bookstores where authors usually visit in my area. Here, that would be Harvard Bookstore and Brookline Booksmith in the Greater Boston area. I get frequent updates about author events that way (as Max has also suggested).

    Harper Collins has a neat feature called 'Track this Author' where you can sign up for all future correspondence about one author — including future tour info, book releases etc.

  2. Denise,

    There is a "celebrity book signings" Web page that isn't terribly literary, but appears to be regularly maintained and occasionally lists "real" authors (the latest version includes a signing by David Mamet). Web page at

    Otherwise, Max is right — if possible, get on mailing lists for local bookstores, libraries and colleges/universities (check out English departments, the student events/activities center and online overall college event calendars). And keep an eye on the entertainment section of your local newspapers.

    – Laurie

  3. For Denise in Montana, Feel free to check in with the Montana Center for the Book which tries to keep up to date with author tours and literary events in the state (and even nearby states.)
    Kim Anderson
    Montana Center for the Book

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