Working from the name of the writer:
VIRGO author search, working backwards
VIRGO keyword search
[last name of your author in TITLE field; "bibliography" in SUBJECT field]
Individual descriptive bibliographies:
For currently active younger writers: these are the hardest to find descriptive bibliographies for. You may get some help from your author's entry in Current Biography in the Clemons Library 4th floor reference collection (call number CT120 .C8); begin with the various index volumes.
For writers active before 1980: First Printings of American Authors: Contributions toward Descriptive Checklists. Matthew Bruccoli, series editor; Richard Layman, Project Editor. 4 volumes. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1977-79.
For writers active before 1970: Guide to the Study of United States Imprints, by G. Thomas Tanselle. 2 volumes. Cambridge, MA: Belknap press of Harvard University Press, 1971.
For writers who died before 1931: Bibliography of American Literature, compiled by Jacob Blanck; edited and completed by Michael Winship. 9 volumes. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955-1991.
Working from the publisher:
A Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions, compiled by Bill McBride. Fifth Revised Edition. West Hartford, CT: McBride/Publisher, 1995.
Merle Johnson's American First Editions, revised and enlarged by Jacob Blanck. New York: R. R. Bowker Company, 1942.
Other examples of the same: in VIRGO under Subject: American Literature--Bibliography--First Editions
The A sections of the following descriptive bibliographies contain detailed physical descriptions of books; they may be useful as models for your own descriptions:
Cather: Joan Crane. Willa Cather: A Descriptive Bibliography. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982. Copy in Special Collections: Z8155.65 .C73 1982.
Fitzgerald: Matthew Bruccoli. F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Descriptive Bibliography. Revised edition. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1987. Copy in Clemons stacks: Z 8301.2 .B69 and in Special Collections (same call number)
Styron: James L. W. West III. William Styron: A Descriptive Bibliography. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1977. Copy in Special Collections: Z8852.4 .W47. 1
Warren: James A. Grimshaw, Jr. Robert Penn Warren: A Descriptive Bibliography, 1922-79. Charlottesville: Published for the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia by the University Press of Virginia, 1981. Copy in Alderman Reference: Z 8949.73 .G75; copy in Special Collections: Z8949.73 .G75. 1; other copies listed in VIRGO.