Author Welcome

Welcome to the Back Room! Here’s all you need to know about how your event will run. We suggest bookmarking this page and printing these instructions for reference.

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.