Posted in Promotion, The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing

School Visits, the Extended Version

After sharing my last post with others I got great feedback from other writers, so asked their permission to share their wisdom, too. Of course, as usually happens, what they say makes me think of other things, too.
Affordable Rates
Trudy Ludwig also recommends, “due to lack of public school funding, authors can make their school visit rates more affordable for schools by recommending schools in close physical proximity join forces in co-sponsoring an author visit. That way, the two neighboring schools can share the author’s travel expenses and author visit fee.”
Cost Cutting Ideas
“Sometimes I offer to stay with a teacher or administrator at their home to save them lodging costs,” says Trudy. “Another way to help out schools with tight budgets is to ask if there are any school parents who would be interested in using their frequent flier miles to obtain an airline ticket for the author to save the school the airline expense. A public school in NYC actually approached me with this suggestion and I gladly accepted.”
“I’ve written/had published 19 NF children’s books and have struggled with getting school visit gigs in these tough economic times,” Mary Meinking says. “I recently did a school visit at a neighboring town’s elementary school (I live in rural Iowa), which I do for free since they’re in my community. Anyhow, since I didn’t charge them a fee, I sold books and kept the profit instead. I ended up selling 94 books, which actually made me more money than my usual $300/day fee. So it ended up being a win-win situation for everyone.”
School Visits via Skype
Rachelle Burk shared Skype an Author Network created by author Mona Kerby and Library Media Specialist Sarah Chauncey. Under “Author Visits in Your Library or Classroom” there are directions for authors and directions for teachers and librarians. Authors can ask to be included in the list. There are also Illustrators on this list.
“I’ve just started doing school visits,” Helen Landalf told me, “but one thing I’ve come across recently is schools canceling a scheduled visit. I’m not charging for my visits right now, since I’m a newbie, but when I do start charging, I’ll have to think about adding a cancellation fee to my contract.”
This reminded me of something I’ve had happen–as the teacher turned the class over to me, she said, “They don’t know why you’re here.” Aaugghh! She hadn’t even told the students they were having a special speaker. At least ask the teacher or librarian to introduce you. But better yet is if the kids are anticipating your visit! It’s worth giving one of your books or magazine stories/articles to the class ahead of time and asking the teacher to read from it. I’ve also sent printable-ready “about the author” flyers to help teachers/librarians have something tangible to share with their students. One school’s technology department had the student’s visit my website. That teacher used facts in my bio for the kids to figure out how old I was. So include something in your letter or contract about the school preparing the students for your visit. -Sue
Still worried about what to do for school visits? Or have some issues or concerns? Deb Lund, author, teacher and coach, will be speaking about school visits at the Oregon SCBWI conference this May. Plus Deb is offering a free webinar in May to those who subscribe to her blog. Meanwhile on her blog there’s a chance to win a school visit coaching give-away by Deb. Drawing is April 1st!
Author Kim Norman runs a site called Author School Visits by State. You can ask to be included by emailing Kim; see the directions on the site itself.

About the authors/illustrators interviewed in this piece:
Rachelle Burk is a magazine and picture book author and a children’s entertainer. Read more on her blog.
Helen Landalf‘s new YA novel, Flyaway, is recently out from Houghton Mifflin. It sounds fascinating! Read what else Helen has done here.
Trudy Ludwig is an award-winning author who specializes in writing children’s books that explore the colorful and sometimes confusing world of children’s social interactions. Read more about her and her books on her website.
Deb Lund is a picture book author and a writing coach. See all she does on her website.
Mary Meinking is an author/illustrator who does nonfiction books and magazine pieces. Check out her work on her website.
Kim Norman writes fiction and nonfiction for children. See what she has coming out this year here. Plus Kim has a blog about school visits and writing.

Thanks to Clarita on for the above image.