Saturday, May 22, 2010

Author School Visits: For Authors

School Visit
I'm often asked what constitutes a good author school visit.

From the school's point of view, they want to know what they can do to make it a success.

From an author's point of view, it runs more toward asking this question, "What should I expect and how can I make it a success?"

I'm certainly no expert, but I can talk a little bit about what (in my experience, anyway) works, and what doesn't. For this reason, today I will concentrate on school visits for authors. 

In another blog post, I will concentrate on what schools can expect and what they can do to make an author's school visit a success.

Address as Much as Possible When You First Set Up Your School Visit:

* Be honest and open about what you will do and what you will charge. State your daily rate and the number of presentations you will do for that rate. If you are only able to do two presentations per day, for example, make that clear in your first conversation with the school.

* Be clear about what you charge for traveling, room and/or board, and any other expenses you will incur.

* Find out when you will be paid, i.e., the day of the school visit, or in the case of Title One, how long you will have to wait for their approval and your check.

* Find out whether the local media (radio, TV, newspapers) will be contacted about your school visit, whether they will attend, and whether time will be set aside during that day for interviews and taking photos.

* Create an invoice with name, address and phone number of school, the name of your contact there, all charges, and the total for your school visit. Make sure your invoice also has your personal contact information. Mail it to the school, but on the day of the school visit, make sure you bring along a backup copy, just in case.

* Decide how book sales will be handled, i.e., when and where you will sign books, who will collect the money, if you will be discounting the retail price of your book(s), whether they will allow you to take pre-orders for books prior to the school visit.

* Tell the school what props you will need for your author visit, i.e., bottled water, coffee, easel, chalkboard and chalk, chair, stool, rocking chair, rug to sit on, microphone, podium, etc.

* Find out where your presentations will be, i.e., auditorium (stage), cafeteria, library, classrooms. Talk to the school about the maximum number of students you would be comfortable speaking to -- very important.

* Find out where you should park and what time you should arrive at the school to set up.

* Ask for your school visit schedule as soon as they can give you one, so you can plan, i.e., how long the school has allotted for each presentation, the ages of each group so you can modify your presentation, (should you need to), and to plan when you will sign books (During lunch break? After the last presentation?).

* Keep accurate records (copies of everything) for IRS: the total for the entire school visit, i.e., amount you received for the actual day, or days, of presentations, number of books sold and the dollar amount, any expenses incurred that were not paid to you, or for you, by the school.

* After you get home, be sure and send a "Thank You" note to your contact and to the school.

If you think of any questions you may have about things I haven't addressed here, please feel free to either call, or email me. I'm always happy to help in any way I can.

Happy School Visit!

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck


dshamrow said...

Hi CJ! I'm so glad to have found you on Linked In groups! Your blog will be very helpful to me as a new author. I am going to do speaking engagements, but having a really hard time knowing what to charge. How did you figure out what is reasonable and fair?


Denise M. Fleming

CJ Heck said...

Hello DS,
Most of us set our own fees, depending on our experience level.

In the case of an author with a first school visit, you might want to set a low fee to start, just to get your feet wet and to get some school visit references.

The next year, as a more experienced speaker, and with the references you have from your first year, you could then raise your fee.

I'm glad to help you in any way I can -- If you have more questions, just ask.

Thank you for your comments and I wish you success!