We had an author visit our school this week. Young adult author Alecia Whitaker came to talk to my students about being an author and about her book, The Queen of Kentucky. She is currently working on a new trilogy, as well. Alecia is a friend of mine, and I knew she would do an awesome job (even with younger students), so I asked her to come down and speak to us. Her visit was a huge hit! If you are in the New York area (or anywhere else for that matter), I highly recommend Alecia.
Earlier this week (with unintended perfect timing), one of my readers emailed me about author visits, so I thought it would be a good thing to post about. I've had several authors visit my school through the years, so I thought I would share my tips on how to have an awesome author visit even if you have a small library budget.
1. Look for a local author. Travel costs are typically the biggest expense when it comes to having an author visit your school. If you can find someone in your state (or nearby), that can cut the costs significantly.
2. Split a visit with another school (or several). I always ask other area schools to jump on board when I'm planning an author visit. Usually the author will give you special pricing for doing this. Your district is a good place to start looking for people to split a visit, but if you can't find enough people, put a message on your state's library listserv. Don't forget about your public library! They are often looking for authors to visit as well. The author may ask you to help coordinate his/her schedule for the visits since you'll be more familiar with how long it takes to get everywhere.
3. Ask the author for a discount. If you can't afford the author you really want, ask if he or she would be willing to discount their rate for you. Authors understand how tight school budgets are, and may be willing to negotiate if you also allow them to sell their books during the visit. Just remember that the authors also have expenses, and that they may not be able to do this.
4. Prepare your students. Announce the author visit several weeks in advance, and send book order forms home (if applicable). Visit the author's webpage and watch book trailers to familiarize students with the author's work.
5. Ask the author how you can help. Before the visit, provide your author with all the school addresses he or she will be visiting. Provide contact information for local news stations and newspapers so the publicist can send the author's information to them. Be sure to provide a specific schedule since our school schedules are rigorous and difficult to change. During the visit, make the author feel welcome. One of the schools Alecia visited gave her a gift of travel snacks. She was very appreciative, as I'm sure any author would be. If the author will be visiting during lunch time, be sure to ask if he or she would like to stay for lunch.
6. Discuss expectations up front. Where will the presentation take place? Are there any special things the author needs, like a projector or sound system? Who will be introducing the author? Who will handle disciplinary issues? Is the author willing to sign autographs after the presentation? When will the author be paid? Make sure to take care of any paperwork issues before the author arrives.
I hope this list helps you when you're considering an author visit at your school. If you've had author visits in the past, what would you add to my list? Share with us in the comments!