Where To Do Author Visits for Children's and YA Writers

Thursday, June 27, 2019
Me at the Bella Arts Festival
If you're a children's or young adult writer, you probably (and should!) have school visits as part of your marketing plan. And yes, you should expect to get paid for these visits and sell books at them. There are so many factors to consider with each of these elements: a) doing school visits b) getting paid c) selling books that I could write an entire book on the topic (which I have thought about doing!); but let's tackle a small portion of this today: where to do an author visit. 

Personally, I have done an author visit with children or teens, as my main audience (as opposed to teachers, parents, other writers), in these places:
  • Elementary schools
  • Junior high schools
  • Gifted classrooms
  • Summer camps
  • After-school programs
  • Boys and Girls Club programs
  • Reading nights
  • Libraries
Many people think of an author visit only as the author going to a school, speaking in front of an auditorium full of kids, and then selling books afterwards. But there are many more opportunities to get yourself in front of your target audience than school assemblies, as you can see from my list above. 

Let's take a closer look at a couple of those. One time a small library in Rolla, MO, with a smaller budget booked me for a Skype author talk for teens about writing. They had a few interested teens who had some questions about being an author and the writing process, and I had a young adult book I was marketing. So, we did a Skype visit since they didn't have a budget to pay mileage, etc. The teens sat in a room together at the library, and I appeared on the screen (hopefully my head wasn't too big on the TV!) and we had a discussion. I was nervous! I wasn't sure how it would go, but it worked out fine. So libraries are a place for collaboration; and sometimes, these places have budgets for author presentations--even the virtual kind. 

The Boys and Girls Club program was an unsual speaking event, but so much fun; and it happened because I had a friend who worked there. After school, the Club had a program for kids to attend; and that day, I was their entertainment. I talked to the kids about my middle-grade historical fiction book and did my usual presentation. In this case, I received a small stipend to speak; but better yet, the club bought several books for their library and for kids to check out from them.

Think outside the box. Sometimes, it's hard to get into the schools for an assembly, and sometimes budgets and time are limited. But most schools have reading nights, summer school, and after-school programs that may need a speaker; and they can work out some kind of payment for you by buying  your books. Besides schools, you will find audiences of kids at Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, summer camps, libraries, homeschool networks, and churches. These places are often looking for programs! You can be the answer to their problems.

This post may make you have a million more questions--I'm sorry! Some that may pop up are: how do I contact these places? How do I know what program to do? What is a fair agreement? How do I sell my books to kids when they are at school without any money? We'll be tacking these quesitons and more in the new class I'm teaching for WOW!--School Visits and Author Talks for Children's and YA Writers and Illustrators, which starts on August 6. You can find out more and register here. 

Margo L. Dill has given hundreds of presentations in front of audiences full of children, teens, and adults. She is skilled at changing up her presentations to fit whichever audience she is in front of whether it is a gym full of 500 kids, a classroom full of 20 eighth graders, or a room full of busy teachers during a half-professional development day. A former elementary school and preschool teacher for sixteen years, Margo believes that every school visit and author talk is a chance to help teachers instruct children and teens and create a positive experience for everyone involved. She is the author of Caught Between Two Curses, a YA light paranormal romance novel involving the Curse of the Billy Goat on the Chicago Cubs; Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire: The Case of the Missing Cookies (picture book); and Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, a historical fiction, middle-grade novel. You can find out more about her on www.margoldill.com or www.editor-911.com. When she is not writing or editing, Margo loves to spend time with her daughter. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri; and if she could eat out every day, she would!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--What a smart cookie you are. You're just about to begin a new class... and along comes this post.

You're right. There are places eager to get a guest speaker...desperate to fill a spot. Match those places up with writers who are eager to talk about their book and their writing process, and desperate to sell their books. The math is easy.

Good luck with your class, with your marketing, and with eating out every day.

Mary Horner said...

Great advice, Margo. I wouldn't have thought of some of those programs as speaking opportunities. I'm sure your class will be great for writers of YA and children's books.

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