Rather than sending out this information separately to everyone who is a host for the first time, I'm just going to point them here, okay? And it might also be helpful for people who are wondering if they should volunteer to host a carnival or if it will be too much work.
So here are some (hopefully) helpful numbered guidelines and tips.
(1) Currently hosting one of these is a fair amount of work. I usually take about 3 hours to gather submissions and other posts, and another 3 hours to construct the carnival post itself. This does not include time I spend in the month preceding a carnival surfing randomly around and spotting interesting posts.
(2) At present, I usually get between 5 and 10 submissions for any given carnival. These have to be padded out with other posts discovered by the host. You don't need to put together such a huge carnival as the most recent one I did (number 5), though. I think that anything from 15 links upwards is plenty (or even 10 if they are all by different people). I am hoping that numbers of submissions will increase as the carnival becomes more widely known.
(3) Submissions tend to arrive at the last minute. I generally have NO submissions until the 14th or 15th and sometimes continue to receive them for an hour or two after the carnival has gone up. So don't panic if you are hosting in a week's time and haven't had anything sent in.
(4) The email address associated with the carnival (grad dot carnival at gmail dot com) is designed to be passed around from host to host. So at the start of the month you are hosting (e.g. around the 16th), the previous host will clear any old messages from the account (at least from the inbox) and send you the current password (change it first if it is a password you use for other things). You then have access to the account to check for incoming submissions. You should change the password as soon as you get it. After you host, send on the password to the next host (and direct them to these guidelines, if you don't mind)! The list of hosts will be maintained on this page so that you can see who is up next.
(5) If during the month you are in charge of the email account, emails arrive that you think I should deal with (e.g. requests to be added to the blogroll on this site, offers to host future carnivals, etc), please forward them to me (styleygeek at gmail dot com).
(6) A tip for finding extra posts to include: I have the people from the blogroll in the sidebar here set up as a folder in my RSS reader (Bloglines for me). That way I can keep an eye on them during the month preceding a carnival and bookmark any relevant posts. This saves a lot of time. If you are hosting a carnival and think this might be helpful, I can export this folder into an .opml file and email it to you, so that you can then import it easily into any RSS reader you use.
(7) Please feel free to include posts by people who are not on this blogroll. If they are grad students, let me know and I will add them to the blogroll. If you aren't sure if they are grad students or not, please do find out before including them, unless their post clearly relates to grad student matters (e.g. supervision, the job market, writing strategies/tips, etc). It could be embarrassing for tenured professors to have one of their posts about how stressful grading is (for instance) included as an example of how hard the life of a grad student is.
(8) Have fun! If you aren't having any fun putting a carnival together, and other stuff comes up in your life that makes you regret your offer to host, do get in touch with me and I will be happy to help out. If it's two days before the carnival is due to go up, we might have to consider just letting it slide, or postponing it or whatever, but otherwise I can probably either take it off your hands, or give you some assistance in locating posts. I want hosting to be a good experience for you so that you are likely to volunteer again in the future!