An author visit is one of the most exciting events for students and staff. Not only does it create a buzz around the library, but it also encourages students to read, write and explore the world of literature. However, planning and executing an author visit can be a daunting task. From budgeting to logistics, many things must be considered to ensure a successful visit. Here will share some 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). When planning an author visit, it's always a good idea to consider contacting other schools in your area. This approach not only creates a larger audience for the author but also allows for the possibility of special pricing. When looking for people to split the visit cost, starting with the district is an excellent place to begin. If that doesn't yield enough interest, it's worth considering putting a message on the state's library listserv. Don't overlook the possibility of involving the public library, as they may also be interested in hosting an author. When multiple visits are scheduled, the author may ask for help coordinating the schedule. As a librarian, you may be more familiar with the necessary travel times and can assist in creating a more efficient schedule.
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's 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 lunchtime, be sure to ask if he or she would like to stay for lunch.
6. Discuss expectations upfront. 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.
An author visit can be a fantastic opportunity to spark a love of reading and writing in students, but it takes careful planning to succeed. Following the tips and tricks outlined in this blog ensures that your author visit is awesome, engaging, and inspiring for your elementary school students. Remember to think about all aspects of the visit, from budgeting and logistics to promotion and activities, and work with the author to create an experience that will have a lasting impact on your students. Happy planning and happy reading!
Mike Artell says
'm an author/illustrator and I've been visiting schools for 25 years. Over time I've developed an "author/illustrator visit checklist" that covers just about everything a school needs to know/do to prepare for an author/illustrator visit - even things that may not be obvious like explaining where your visitor should park if your school has a very limited number of parking spots. If you use this checklist you can feel pretty confident that you've covered the bases for any author/illustrator visit.
Ms. O says
These are some great ideas. Definitely work with other schools (I should try the public library as well! Haven't done that in the past) and support local authors.
I would just add work with the teachers ahead of time as well. Prepare lessons that can be used in the classroom integrated with their curriculum and using the author's books. They need to "buy in" to the experience. AND they should attend the visit as well ... so as to connect things the author might say during his or her presentations to later lessons. "Remember when such and such an author came and talked about revision or journaling or observing the world around you?" Learned this from hard experience ... had a couple teachers sit in the back looking bored and grading ... sure they didn't mean to be so overtly disinterested but that's exactly how it came across. :/
I'm not as sure about asking the author for a discount, though. For so many of them school visits are actually how they make their living. Once they can actually make a living from the sale of their books alone many of them no longer DO school visits. Many understand budget constraints and have priced their visits accordingly to begin with. Or, at least, that is the way I feel. Anyone who wants to ask can certainly do so! It might work in some cases.