April 24, 2022: School Author Visits
This week was another busy week for School Author Visits, as I had two days of visits, chatting with over 200 students total. This is definitely evidence that we are much closer to normal now than we are to pandemic protocols. While we still are being careful and following CDC guidelines, in-person events, books signings, and conferences are now filling up calendars.
School Author Visits are a big topic of discussion in on-line writers groups, as many new authors seek information, guidance, ideas, and tips for how to handle school visits.
There are no right/wrong ways to handle these types of events, as every author needs to establish procedures, routines, and policies that fit with their work, lifestyle, and purpose. But like most things in writing, it is helpful to see how others do things, as this insight can often help us to hone in on what will work for us.
The biggest burning question always seems to be:
Do you charge a fee to conduct a School Author Visit?
For me, I do not. Not ever. Not a penny. There are several reasons for this.
· Schools and teachers do not have the money. As a classroom teacher myself, I can tell you that teachers are dipping into their own money for classroom essentials, and charging for an author visit can be a real hardship for most schools and teachers. Even school-based funds available to teachers are limited, and I do not want to miss out on a chance to visit kids simply because the budget couldn’t support it.
· When a teacher reaches out to me for a school visit, he/she has already decided that my book is a great fit for use in their classroom. I want to support and encourage that. When teachers are deciding what books to do as literature studies in their room, knowing the author is available (for free) to come and chat with their students, can often be the deciding factor. I want to help ensure that my books are being used in classrooms!
· My life-purpose is to get kids excited about reading and writing. As both an educator and an author, my vocation is kids and books and bringing them together. An Author event where I can share my passion with them is so powerful to that end. While I understand the thinking that “my time is worth something”, I also know that worth can be measured in ways that do not involve currency. Every child that reads my books, knows my name, remembers my words, increases my “worth”.
· When you do not charge a fee, it is very easy to ask the school if you can bring books for purchase. Clearly schools and districts have their own policies and procedures for this, but you are much more likely to get the green light for this, if you are not already charging the school a fee to just show up. The books sales from author visits can add up to significant amounts.
· You are much more likely to be invited back in subsequent years, which means more students being exposed to your work, which mean reaching more kids, which means more books sales! After a successful School Author Visit, I am often booked on the spot, for the next school year!
School Author Visits are one of the best ways to connect with kids who have already read your book AND to inspire and motivate those that may decide to read it in the future. Taking the time to visit schools and answer students’ burning questions, is a great way to pay it forward!