Authors and Teachers Coming Together

Monday, September 23, 2013
Recently I was helping to organize a family reading festival. Children’s authors who had participated in the past had an unusual (I
thought) comment. Throughout the whole day not one teacher had approached them about a school visit. Many teachers attend the festival, some schools even have their own table with literary-themed activities for students.

As many children’s authors will tell you, live events such as school visits are one of the best ways to connect with readers. So why aren’t young readers and authors connecting in this way? With the help of comments from both teachers and authors I’ve come up with a few tips.

1. Information – It turns out only 25% of the authors involved in our festival had information about school visits on their websites – even though almost all of them were open to school visits of some type (some had restrictions on distance traveled, etc.). So get that information into cyber-space! And if you’re participating in something like a reading festival it doesn’t hurt to have a flyer with the information that teachers and other interested people (homeschoolers, librarians, etc) can pick up off your table or you can hand out to teachers so you can book that next event.

2. Money – Teachers’ budgets have been slashed from next to nothing to nothing. But if a school is in your area why not consider an abbreviated form of your visit that focuses on the school with a goal of pre-selling a certain number of your book as opposed to collecting a speaker’s fee? Point out that they don’t have to sell just to their school community but can also sell to the community at large. Other things such as visiting two nearby schools in one day or scheduling a visit when you’ll already be in the area can allow you to take a portion off your fee and still make the day worth your while.

3. Plan an Event – Yes, it seem overwhelming but with the help of a few other authors it can be manageable. Because after all, children (and parents) are more likely to come out for an event where they can meet 10 authors as opposed to just one. So befriend the other authors in your area and find a spot – a library, shopping mall, school, Y and find out if they’re willing to host an event or allow you to “piggyback” off an event they’re already planning.


Crystal Otto said...

Great ideas Jodi - thank you for your observation and your ideas as well as today's post!!!


Elizabeth Maria Naranjo said...

My kids' school hosted two author events last year. My daughter came home with the coolest bookmark--printed with the book cover and with all the author's information. I looked up the author's website and downloaded the Kindle sample to check out her book. So it works to do these events, and I can't wait to try it out.

What I'd love to hear more of is how to do these events :) Maybe that could be a future post or article. Lots of authors need HELP! with speaking publicly. If WOW! comes up with a class on this, I'm signing up . . .

Marcia Peterson said...

Great tips Jodi. I like #3 since kids who love reading would likely want to meet their favorite authors, and it would be a fun family outing. Thanks for sharing these ideas.

Margo Dill said...

One thing I did at a small school that didn't have much of a budget (but that was within 30 minutes of my house) is sell them 10 copies at a reduced rate and then visited their book club for free. I sold books (which is important) and got to meet with kids who read my book (which is completely awesome). Budgets are low, but you can also ask PTOs to sponsor things--thinking outside of the box definitely helps!

LuAnn Schindler said...

We have two active organizations in Nebraska that promote authors visits to schools. As far as how many authors take advantage, I am not sure, but I know several who did. Also know a teacher-turned-writer who wrote the state's new social studies textbook. I've included a story about her.

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