Planning First-Year Reading Programs


Over the past few weeks, many of our speakers have been traveling to college campuses around the country to participate in first-year reading programs (FYE). Every year, we are thrilled to help colleges plan their FYE programs and assist them in selecting the perfect book and speaker for their students and campus. Below, we’ve compiled some helpful information to assist you in planning an author visit as part of your FYE program.


 Working with the Speakers Bureau: A Cheat Sheet 

No matter your stage in the planning process, the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau is here to help make your author visit as smooth as possible from start to finish. We want to be your starting point in helping to create an extraordinary program for your students.

Need Suggestions?  

We recognize the time, effort, and challenges that go into producing a successful FYE program, and we’ll make the process as easy as possible for you. We’ve worked with hundreds of FYE programs over the years, and we know that hosting the author of the common reading selection on campus can be one of the most rewarding elements. We can help you develop a list of potential speakers; determine which authors are available; investigate fees to ensure the visit meets your budget; and advise whether an author’s availability suits your schedule. We believe an author visit is an integral part of the adoption process and therefore there is absolutely no cost or commitment involved in this “discovery phase.”

 Have you already selected your book? 

If you already have an author in mind, we will help you quickly find out if the speaker is within your budget and available for the date of your event. If for some reason they are not, we can help you find alternatives suitable for your program.

 We have selected a book and the author is available for speaking! What next?

Books: We can help you coordinate a book purchase with your campus bookseller, or a local bookstore, and discuss any other options that may be the best fit for your event.

Logistics: We handle booking travel, creating an itinerary for the campus visit, and working with the author to tailor the content of the lecture for your campus. During the entire planning process, one of our 16 full-time lecture agents will be personally assigned to your event, serving as a dedicated liaison between you and the author and guaranteeing a successful, worry-free event.

 Helpful hints:

    • If you are already in contact with Penguin Random House’s Academic Marketing department about your title selection, you do not need to start from scratch when booking the author. We work in tandem with our colleagues in Academic Marketing (both Penguin and Random House) and will ensure the process is easy for you.
    • Most standard author visits include a keynote speech, Q&A session, and book signing. It is very important that any activities beyond this be discussed from the beginning of the planning process to ensure a memorable event for your students while also respecting the author’s professional and personal schedules.
    • Even if the author is not available for a multiple-day visit on campus, your programming can still be extended beyond the keynote speech. We are happy to help you find innovative and creative ways to further highlight the book’s themes and messages on your campus.
    • Just call us! (212-572-2013) Even if you’re not sure where to start with your inquiry, we will help you or quickly find someone who can.

2015 PRHSB FYE events  

PRHSB Speakers Who Are Popular with FYE Programs in 2015:

Will Allen: The Good Food Revolution

Edwidge Danticat: Brother, I’m Dying

Mohsin Hamid:  How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia 

Blaine Harden: Escape from Camp 14

Doc Hendley: Wine to Water

Cristina Henriquez: The Book of Unknown Americans 

Edward Humes: Garbology 

Kristen Iversen: Full Body Burden

Phil Klay: Redeployment

Carlotta Walls LaNier: A Mighty Long Way

Charlie LeDuff: Detroit 

David Levithan: Every Day

Drew Magary: Someone Could Get Hurt 

Emily St. John Mandel: Station Eleven 

Carine McCandless: Into the Wild, The Wild Truth

Celeste Ng: Everything I Never Told You

Ruth Ozeki: A Tale for the Time Being 

Gary Shteyngart: Little Failure 

Cheryl Strayed: Wild 

Victoria Sweet: God’s Hotel

Isabel Wilkerson: The Warmth of Other Suns