Planning An Author Visit

Please know I'm happy and honored to visit your school even if you don't put posters on the wall or reserve me a parking space. These are just to share and give ideas for those who want to go above and beyond. All schools are different. If you read my books and discuss them or do a writing activity, that will go far in making my visit a special day for you and your students.
  • No. You do not need to pick me up at the hotel in a limo!  Ha. But if you have an "in" with a limo company, it's  fun. This was a once in "author-visit-land" event.
  • A reserved parking spot is often helpful in busy school parking lots.
  • It's lovely...and delicious...when teachers and parents like to bake.
  • And when the entire staff loves to cook, I get a banquet.  This school replicated the dinners I enjoyed at my grandmother's, which I describe on my website.
  • Many schools do an activity surrounding HEART OF A TIGER in which each student chooses the name "that's in their heart."
  • Then there was the school where all the kids dressed as their favorite Marsha Diane Arnold book character. Sophie LeBeque, I presume?
  • Parents can get into the act! Here a daring dad dressed up as THE PUMPKIN RUNNER and acted the part.
  • Even dogs love to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday.
  • LILY art.
  • A HEART OF A TIGER jungle.
  • Where IS that snore?
  • The "critics" chose their favorite of my "works in progress", which I'd shared with them on my blog.
  • Learning about the author and her "purple pride" heritage.
  • Learning about cats and tigers.



PLAN IN ADVANCE

Give yourself the gift of time. Start thinking and planning early, perhaps six months to one year in advance. I'm happy to give presentations on short notice, but it's helpful to the school and the students if you can allow planning time.

Discuss a date for the event with the author. Be specific when considering what you want to happen during the author visit. Some things to consider are:

  • Date, day, and time
  • Location(s) of event
  • Autographing opportunities and schedule
  • Number of presentations the author will give
  • Length of each session
  • Age group the author will address
  • Size of the audience

INVOLVE OTHERS

Consider recruiting PTA volunteers and students to help. The more parents, students, and volunteers involved in the visit, the more fun and meaningful it will be.

Some schools enjoy decorating hallways and libraries with decorations reflecting the author's books. This turns the author visit into an artistic event as well as a literary one!

It's helpful, though not necessary, to have:

An Author's Day Coordinator or committee

A Media Liaison to publicize the event

The Media Liaison can announce the author visit and availability of books for autographing in the school newspaper, PTA Bulletin, and other publications read by students, teachers, and parents. They may also wish to publicize the author visit through local media. I'm happy to give interviews. In this way the author visit becomes a community event as well as a school event.

Author Escorts

It's helpful and fun if an escort is assigned to an author, to make sure they don't get lost from the bathroom to the library. This might be the librarian, a parent, or a student.

THE BUDGET

Consider coordinating with other schools and libraries in the community in order to share travel and lodging costs. This can be helpful for schools, saving time and money, and I enjoy blocking my visits into several days or a week.

Some schools help fund their event with sales of the author's books. You can order my books directly from the publisher, usually with a 40% discount. The savings can be passed on to the students or you can sell the books at a smaller discount and apply the funds towards the author's honorarium.

Funding resources include the PTA, Adopt-a-School Sponsors, Friends of the Library, Title I and Title VII, School Improvement Plan (SIP), Grants, School Site Council, Corporate contributors, Grandparents. Check Funding An Author Visit for more ideas.

LETTER OF AGREEMENT

After the date has been set, I'll send out a simple letter of agreement for the school(s) and myself to sign regarding the visit.

ORDER THE AUTHOR'S BOOKS (AND READ THEM!)

Books should be ordered 2-3 months prior to the author visit, if possible. Giving students a book order form is a good way to determine approximately how many books you will need, but there will always be last minute orders. You will want to order extra books. You might also want to send out another book order form closer to the author's visit.

You can order books directly from the publisher, usually at a 40% discount. I will provide the publisher contact information. They will accept returns of unsold books, but you will need to pack them up and pay shipping to send them back.

You can also order from your local independent bookseller. The bookseller may or may not be able to give you a discount, but they will often offer to deliver the books and/or come to your school to handle the book sales. They will also take care of returning any unsold books. Call your local bookseller to see what kinds of services they provide.

To get the most from my visit, read my books before Author Day. Ideally, each student should hear or read one or more of my books and complete an individual or class project based on them. The more a student interacts with a book, the more excited they will be and the more they will learn when I visit. Check out the book-related activities on my website.

AUTOGRAPHS

Meeting the author as she/he signs their book is always a special time for both student and author. But sometimes there are too many books to allow each child to present their book to be signed. In these cases, I'm happy to autograph books, to be distributed to students later, between my presentations or at my hotel.

I prefer to sign books only. No hands, shirts, or diaries, please.

Things move smoothly if a copy of the order form or a post-it note is placed opposite the title page, with the name to be inscribed printed legibly. Include the teacher's name if the books are to be delivered to students.

AS THE DAY DRAWS NEAR

  • Test all equipment (microphone, screen) prior to the event.
  • Remind students about the author's visit and collect last-minute book orders.
  • Brief the "Author's Escort" on escorting the author, helping to pack and unpack, acting as an aide (working lights, providing water, etc.) and assisting the author while autographing.

AUTHOR DAY

  • It's helpful to reserve a parking place for convenient unloading if the author is driving to your school.
  • Set up and re-test equipment to be used.
  • Make sure the honorarium is ready and presented no later than the end of the event.

I like to arrive at least one-half hour to an hour prior to the first presentation. During this time I will set up and sign books if needed.

AFTER THE AUTHOR VISIT

  • Return all unsold books. (I love it when there are none!)
  • I enjoy hearing from students and am always grateful for letters, artwork, or photos after my visit. If there has been publicity, news clippings are appreciated. If students have further questions, classes are always welcome to email me.
  • If you love my books, I will love you in return if you recommend one or more of my books for your state reading award.

HAVE A WONDERFUL AUTHOR'S DAY!

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