Author Welcome

Thank you so much for joining us in the Back Room! We’ll send more detailed instructions closer to your event, but for now, we want to give you a general idea of what to expect. 

Our audience is evenly split between readers and aspiring and published writers, so it’s always an interested and engaged group. Because our format allows attendees to interact with you directly, we promise you’ll make many new fans!

On the night of your event, we ask that you log in at 6:40 PM ET for a sound and video check. Our tech guru Tom Sullivan will put you in the green room when you arrive, so that the authors and hosts can meet each other before the show and answer any questions you have. 


At 5 minutes before the hour, we’ll all be moved into the main room where attendees are encouraged to have their mics and video on to give everyone a chance to say hello to one another.


As the program begins, attendees’ mics are muted, and the host and authors are spotlighted. After a brief welcome and introductions, your host will launch into a quick, round-robin game of fun and easy questions to give the audience a chance to get to know you and to set a relaxed, conversational tone.

The host then asks each author for their book recommendations, and then the authors and attendees are split into 4 breakout rooms, with one author assigned to each room. Each breakout room has a moderator who is familiar with our format who will help to facilitate the discussion, so you will never be left on your own. The audience remains in the same breakout room for the rest of the evening, while the authors rotate through each room in turn.

The purpose of our format is to give attendees a chance to interact with you directly, so this question-and-answer portion of each breakout room is the heart of a Back Room event.

One week before event

We begin to publicize the event with social media posts on Monday or Tuesday of the week prior and an e-mail announcement sent to our mailing list and social media posts. Where possible, we will tag you in these posts which you can then re-share.

We will also send you a link to a Dropbox file of social media images which you can use for promotion on your own social media accounts.

Day of the event

Please arrive 20 minutes early for a sound and video check. At five minutes before the hour, attendees will join the call with their mics and video on. Chat is also turned on.

As the program begins, attendees’ mics are muted, and the host and authors are spotlighted. After a brief welcome, we’ll play a quick, round-robin game of easy, get-to-know-you questions. We’ve found it works best if authors keep their answers brief – think sound bites instead of interview-type answers.

The host then asks each author one last question: “What book have you read recently that you think everyone should read?” Please be prepared to name a book and explain BRIEFLY why you loved it. There’s no need to give a plot summary – your enthusiasm for the book is what’s important. If you have a physical copy of the book you can hold up, that’s great—otherwise, an image on your phone is fine.

In the Breakout Rooms

Authors and attendees are then split into 4 breakout rooms, with one author assigned to each room.  Attendees remain in the same room for the entire evening. Authors spend 15 minutes in each room and are then moved into the next. This happens automatically, and you don’t have to do anything.

Be sure to introduce yourself and hold up a copy or your book when you enter each room. Not everyone will be familiar with your work, so this is your chance to introduce yourself more fully.

Keep in mind that people have registered for this event because they want to hear from you. Just as in a real-world event, if one person seems to be taking more than their share of time, or wants to talk about their own book, it’s fine to finesse and move on to someone else. 15 minutes goes by quickly, and we want everyone to have a chance to talk to you. Each room will have a special Back Room moderator. They will help you shepherd the attendees’ questions, add their own if the audience is shy, monitor the chat, and watch your times.

Concluding Remarks

At the 14-minute mark, you’ll get a notice onscreen saying, “One minute left.” This gives you a chance to say goodbye before you’re moved to the next room, since you won’t see these folks again. To avoid ending your remarks too early or getting cut off in the middle of a sentence when you are moved, it’s a good idea to set a timer for one minute so you can track how much time you have left. The moderator will also watch the clock for you!

When you see the 1-minute warning in your fourth and final session, please close out the event for us using your version of the following script:

I can’t believe the time has gone by so quickly! I hope you had as much fun talking to all of us as we did with you. I do hope you’ll stay in touch—you can find me on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and come to my website and sign up for my newsletter.

Back Room hosts Karen Dionne and Hank Phillippi Ryan have asked me to relay their thanks as well. If you enjoyed the evening, please help them spread the word about the Back Room so they can continue to connect authors and readers and help keep books and storytelling alive.

When you’re finished in your fourth breakout room, you will NOT be moved automatically. Instead, click on “leave breakout room” at the bottom right of your screen to return to the main Zoom room. Please stay on the call until all four authors have returned to the main room, so we know you’re all finished, and no one gets cut off prematurely, and then we’ll say goodnight!



If you have any questions, please reach out to one of your hosts, Hank Phillippi Ryan or Karen Dionne.

For any last-minute technical difficulties during the event, text Tom Sullivan.