Getting the most from an Author Visit

When I visit a school my aim is to make a special connection with the children; to energise and inspire a new appreciation of reading. I’ve been lucky enough to have had many wonderful days doing author visits to promote literacy. Here’s my top tips on what schools can do to make an author visit successful.

Ideas for Preparation

The School & Students

Tell the students that an author is coming – at least a month in advance if possible. Get them excited about it. You could put my books on display in the school library and put up a display of book covers in the hallway. Quote my website address so the children can take a peek at all of my work online if they want to. My website includes trailers & characters for TV animation which they may find interesting!

  • I will provide you with 3 books for your library prior to my visit. Have classes read the books and write book reports or think up questions to ask me on the day.
  • Set a competition and the winners could receive autographed books on the day of my visit. I am happy to provide 3 books for this purpose.
  • Have an art class make posters, banners, and bookmarks specially for my visit.
  • Have a writing class write reviews of my books.
  • If you have a school newsletter, arrange for the students to do an ‘exclusive’ interview.
  • Call the local newspapers. If they don’t attend the event you could take pictures yourself and submit them.

Remember, the more excited you are, the more excited the children will be. And when the children are excited, any message the author gives them will really hit home!

What I will require

  • Directions, where to park and contact name & phone number.
  • What are the times of the sessions and how many students will attend each session. If you have requested a half day visit I will provide up to 4 half hour sessions.
  • A full days event consists of up to 4 one hour sessions which will include activities.
  • Let me know the year group for each session. My work varies from Reception through to Year 8.
  • If I am presenting in assembly I may need some equipment—a projector, screen, chalkboard, extension cord, etc. We can discuss this.
  • A glass of water – it’s thirsty work!
  • Get everything ready in advance so nobody has to scramble around looking for things as the children are being seated.

Finally, payment :-) Please arrange settlement of my invoice on or before the day of the visit. It’s embarrassing if I have to track somebody down at the end of the day and ask for payment.

On the day of the Visit

Lunch. If I am with you for a full day it’s always nice to be offered lunch :-) I am happy to sit with the children in the dinner hall or you could even set a competition to choose 5-10 motivated children to have “Lunch with the Author.” This is great fun, the children feel special and I get to try out my latest ideas on them! If you prefer, I am happy to make my own lunch arrangements – just let me know.

If I am giving multiple presentations, consider doing them in one location. It’s difficult to move equipment from room to room quickly to set up for successive talks. If this isn’t possible I am used to whizzing from class to class – but this needs to be taken into account when planning time slots.
Please don’t expect me to discipline students. That is not my place. Please have a teacher present during my presentations to take care of any situation that may arise.

After the Visit

Ask the children to write about the visit, or write a class letter to me. I love receiving mail!

When you bring an author to your school, you are not only helping your students, you are also supporting the art of writing. With the exception of a few famous names, most authors do not earn a fortune! Visiting schools is very often the only way we can afford to continue creating books. There are a few things you could do for me that I would really appreciate:

  • Invite educators from neighboring schools to watch the presentation.
  • If you enjoyed my visit, then please drop me a quick line saying so. It can be used to get future bookings.
  • Tell other principals, librarians, and teachers about the successful visit.

Selling my Books

I will leave order forms to send home with the children and I am happy to deliver your schools order when convenient.

Finally

For me, visiting schools has been the most successful and rewarding thing I’ve done since I started writing. Not only do I get paid for my time and create fans for my books, but I have seen how I can really make a difference in a young person’s life. That makes me very happy!

The children and staff thoroughly enjoyed Sharon’s visit. Her books were amusing and informative and could be used to enhance several curriculum areas. I would highly recommend her visiting any school to inspire children and staff.
– Marie Beesley, St Barnabas School