For more than a decade, the National Writers Series has been bringing bestselling authors to Traverse City, MI. Nearly 200 authors have graced the stage—virtually or in person—since we began in 2010. Since then, we’ve welcomed 70,000 attendees and sold more than 18,000 books through our local bookstores.
This page will help authors and publicists get a feel for what an evening with the National Writers Series is like. Below, learn more about our events, our mission, and our esteemed NWS alumni.
At NWS, we believe in the power of conversation. Each event features an author and a guest host who functions as an interviewer for the evening. We love pairing authors and hosts, always seeking to find the perfect match to bring out the best stories.
Our events are held at the historic City Opera House in downtown Traverse City. Live events can seat 600+ attendees and are livestreamed to virtual attendees across the country. Occasionally we bring authors in virtually, and our digital evenings garner an average of 350 attendees, while hundreds more catch the replay on our YouTube channel or podcast.
In addition to putting on a wonderful book event, we also pursue press opportunities for visiting authors. We line up author interviews locally and regionally in advance of the big day, and all of our events are later aired on NPR stations throughout the state. Finally, we work hard to encourage book sales. Our area is blessed with multiple independent booksellers, and we work with all of them to make sure visiting authors have books in stock, and our official bookstore partner, Horizon Books, facilitates book or bookplate signings. Authors can expect a sell-through of 10-30% based on attendee numbers, though those numbers can be much higher near a publication date for a highly anticipated book.
We love bringing great conversations together for our audience. But even more importantly, we believe in encouraging literacy and a love of books for youth in northern Michigan. Proceeds from our events go to our Raising Writers programs, which include poetry workshops, book trivia competitions, writing classes, scholarships, and more.
As part of your author visit, you have the option to lead a group of young writers in a “masterclass” on the craft of writing. While not mandatory, many authors have found this to be one of the most rewarding aspects of their visit.
As part of introducing you to the National Writers Series, we’re also thrilled to introduce you to Traverse City. Tucked among the waters of Lake Michigan, Traverse City is renowned for its food, wine, and natural beauty.
We’re also an official “book city” and one of the cultural epicenters of the state of Michigan. Here, you’ll find:
- The City Opera House, an 1800s gem restored to its former glory and the official venue of the National Writers Series
- The Dennos Museum Center, home to one of the largest Inuit art collections in the world
- The State and Bijou Theatres, which host the Traverse City Film Festival (run by Michael Moore)
- The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, one of the largest historical renovation sites in the country that converted a former asylum into a community of art and history
- And so much more
See what some of our visiting authors have to say about their experience with the National Writers Series. You can see all of our past authors here.
“Traverse City wrung my tired soul out. I got a chance to spend some time with the young writers of tomorrow, part of the National Writers Series, and then I read in the magnificent old Opera House. All the ghosts of the past and the voices of the future in one very special place.” —Colum McCann
“Thank you for the wonderful visit. It makes me want to write another book in hopes of being invited back.” —Nikki Giovanni
“Traverse is French for ‘cross.’ Not as in, ‘I think I can cross the National Writers Series off my list,’ but rather, ‘I’d cross the US on my knees for another fine day at the National Writers Series.” —David Sedaris
“Thank you to the National Writers Series in Traverse City for a five-star experience – great event, great audience, and even a themed cake!” —Margaret Atwood
“Surreal. Traverse City is an alternative universe that honors the writer. A giant poster at the airport announced my book event to fellow travelers. A small box in my hotel room contained sweets named after me, compliments of the local bakery. The City Opera House was packed. The conversation partner hand-picked by organizers threw me off my script and made me dig deep. How refreshing. Easily one of the best tour stops in America.” —Aarti Shahani
“Beautifully done.” —Alice Walker
“This program is FANTASTIC. What you’re supporting here is the future of our children, and it’s important work.” —Mitch Albom
“When you put together a community that cares deeply about reading and a staff that cares deeply about writers, magic happens. The National Writers Series was one of the highlights of my last book tour.” —Jodi Picoult
“It was truly enjoyable to speak at the National Writers Series zoom event. I am honored by your interest in my book. Thank you for caring about the injustices in our system, and for exposing the need for reform.” —Albert Woodfox
“I’d dreamed of being part of the National Writers Series for years, and the experience went far beyond everything I anticipated: fantastic promotion, outstanding attendance, smart conversation, and significant book sales—I’d return in a heartbeat if they’ll have me!” —Karen Dionne
Want to Join Us?
Want to Join Us?
If you are an author, agent, or publicist interested in learning more about the National Writers Series, reach out to Executive Director Jillian Manning at firstname.lastname@example.org.