Bay Area Book Festival

Program Manager, Bay Area Book Festival

1569 Solano Ave. #635, Berkeley, CA, United States, 94707

Position: Full-Time

Note: Also see for current open jobs in writing, development/fundraising, marketing, and sponsorships for the fast-growing Bay Area Book Festival.


As the Bay Area Book Festival plans its sixth annual event May 2-3, 2020, we’re seeking a new Program Manager—an exciting, creative, influential position in presenting the annual Festival. The Program Manager also works with the Executive Director (ED) in developing year-round literary events in the Festival’s Women Lit series ( The position offers excellent opportunity for advancement.

The Program Manager position requires a full-time commitment from October through May (most intense is January-April), with at least part-time availability the rest of the year (summer is flexible). All Festival staff and consultants work from home but collaborate closely and meet regularly in Berkeley.

Key Responsibilities

  • Under the direction of the ED, curate and deliver 80-100 literary programs for adults (keynotes, interviews, panels, performances) with up to 225 speakers (authors, interviewers, moderators) over the Festival weekend in approximately 14 different venues in downtown Berkeley:
    • Identify and recruit speakers and design the programs in close collaboration with the ED, two Program Associates (international and children/young adult), and a Program Steering Committee of local literary leaders
    • Serve as the main interface with publishers, publicists, and speakers from start to finish
    • Write/co-write compelling program descriptions for the website and San Francisco Chronicle Program Guide
    • Creatively contribute to marketing and promotion plans
    • Assist in generating resources for programming, including grants and sponsorships
    • Orchestrate the smooth functioning of programming over the Festival weekend
    • Collaborate closely with the Program Systems Manager to accomplish all programming logistics, participating in the following work:
      • Maintain a full programming infrastructure using Google Drive system with extensive internal spreadsheets
      • Design schedule of all programs across venues and time, under guidance from ED
      • Prepare, manage, and share relevant information internally, such as bios and program descriptions for ticketing, website and Program Guide
      • Hold responsibility for “book provisioning” (ensuring that Festival authors’ books are sold at each event), supervising a Book Provisioning Coordinator
      • Manage Festival Green Room with the Program Systems Manager
      • Co-create (with ED) 6-10 standalone author events throughout the year at various Bay Area venues in collaboration with Festival partners and Women Lit
      • Participate in early development of other satellite events throughout the greater Bay Area

Profile of Ideal Candidate

  • Strong experience in literary industries, ideally event programming
  • Extensive knowledge of book publishing, ideally personal relationships with book publicists and publishers nationally and with the Bay Area literary community
  • Literary sensibility that spans genres and topic areas, including well-established authors, emerging talent, and authors of color; commitment to a diverse program that appeals to the broad Northern California community
  • Excellent and well-demonstrated writing skills (MFA degree a plus)
  • Grace, warmth, and steadiness in communications within the Festival team and hundreds of authors, publishers, partners, and other constituents
  • Exceptional skill at organizing and multi-tasking; perfectionist ability to track, record, and thrive amidst thousands of details; absolute trustworthiness and ability to adhere to deadlines
  • Ability to self-start and to work independently, working effectively from home in context of a collaborative team using a variety of electronic tools and meeting regularly
  • Openness and eagerness to contribute and learn; intellectual curiosity; desire to craft programs on current issues with leading thinkers
  • Ideally, experience or aptitude in business development and/or fundraising, helping secure funds and sponsorships connected with programming

Note: We are open to seeing candidates with different degrees of experience in the areas above. While our ideal candidate has many years of experience, younger candidates who have the required skills and some experience in literary fields (for instance, in bookstores) are encouraged to apply. 

The fast-growing Festival also is hiring in the areas of writing/communications, development, sponsorships, and marketing, and we may end up configuring positions in response to candidates’ skills. So please present the array of your relevant interests and skills to support them.

Position reports to Executive Director. Position begins as independent contractor and has the potential to transition to a staff job with benefits. Compensation is competitive based on experience.

Qualified applicants only; others will not be acknowledged. We strongly encourage candidates of diverse backgrounds to apply, including people of color, LGBTQI+ people, women, and gender nonconforming individuals. Please email and include “Program Manager” in the subject line. (For this purpose, please do not use other Festival email addresses you may have.) In the body of the email, please describe your relevant experience in detail and specific interest in the job. You may address your note to Cherilyn Parsons, Executive Director, and attach a resume or LinkedIn profile. References will be requested later. No phone calls, please.

Please visit to be familiar with the Festival when you apply. We expect many applicants and encourage you to inquire quickly if you are qualified and interested. We hope to fill the position by the end of July, with the new Program Manager starting part-time between Aug-Sept as available, then full-time in October. 

About Bay Area Book Festival:

The Bay Area Book Festival (, held each year in Berkeley, CA, is one of the premier weekend literary festivals in the nation. Over its five years of operation it has featured 1,250 notable writers—Pulitzer Prize winners, best sellers, intellectual and creative pathbreakers from the Bay Area and around the world—in more than 500 distinct Festival programs. Each year the event thrills audiences of 25,000 people. Filling downtown Berkeley, the Festival also presents an outdoor fair (200 literary exhibitors) and a robust set of children’s programs. The year-round Women Lit series has featured authors such as Gloria Steinem and Eve Ensler in locations throughout the Bay Area.

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