In our last blog, I wrote about the advance planning needed to ensure you have a successful event. In this post, I want to offer some tips on what do after you get a booking for an event.
What to Send in Advance
Congratulations! You have a booking or bookings. The next step is to prepare a flyer that the school can download to send out to parents in advance of the event. The professionally designed flyer should be one page in length and contain the following:
- A summary of the presentation
- The title of your book, a brief description, and an image of your book cover
- A short author bio and an author photo
- A simple order form for students to purchase your book ahead of time and instructions on where to buy it later
- Your website address, info about your social media pages, and any other contact info you wish to provide
While not always the case, you may be able to purchase your books from your publisher at a significant discount. Price your book at an author event high enough so you can make a profit from any sales made but low enough that people feel like they're getting a good value for their money. Also, offer to personally sign with the child's name any books paid for in advance. On the day of the event, you should bring extra books to sell. Some children will show up ready to buy even though their parents didn’t order the book in advance.
What to Charge for Your Event
When you first start doing school events, you may want to do them for free and concentrate on book sales. However, after you’ve done several, feel more confident, and become more well-known in your region, you can charge anywhere from $100 to $400 per event with an extra $50 per each class that you add. For example, if you agree that your fee will be $250, but the school wants you to present to four different groups throughout the day, then the total fee you will charge will be $450.
Bring Freebies for the Librarians and Teachers
Teachers and librarians alike love receiving free gifts! When you arrive for your presentation, make sure to bring signed copies of your book to give to the librarian and teachers. You can also bring other promotional items such as bookmarks, magnets, pencils, etc. Story Monsters LLC offers these cool #CAUGHTREADING magnets and even copies of Story Monsters Ink magazine that some authors have used for their freebie items.
Photo Release Forms
During your presentation, you might want to have someone take photos that you can use to market yourself for future talks. If you plan to do this, be sure to get photo releases for the students who will be featured in the photos or in any video clips that you have recorded. Talk to the school prior to your event to find out what their process is. You may need to supply your own forms. If this is the case, you can Google "Photo Release Form Samples" to find one that might work for you. These “author in action” photos are some of the most useful publicity tools that you can have to add to your website, social media pages, and press kit.
Make sure to supply evaluation forms for the adults and a select group of students to fill out after the event is over so that they can comment on what they liked (or didn’t like!) about your presentation. Feedback isn’t always easy to accept, but it will give you a better idea of what pleases your audiences and help to improve your talk. Any positive feedback you receive, whether in a thank you note or on the evaluation form, provides great material to post on your website or social media pages. In the end, it's all about getting out there and promoting yourself!
Consider a Panel
Another idea to consider is forming a panel of speakers with your illustrator and editor. There are several ways you can use this approach. You can divide your talk into sections with each person responsible for speaking about a specific topic. Or, you can do a Q & A where each person has 5 to 7 questions that they are prepared to answer. The options are endless. The main thing is to create a dynamic presentation that will make the kids excited about your book and reading. As you can see, a lot goes into preparing a successful school visit.
Some Wrap-Up Thoughts on School Visits
No matter what advance planning you do, something may go wrong. Always have a plan B ready for how you’ll give your presentation in case there’s a bump in the road. It is important to relax, go with the flow, and stay in tune with your audience so the kids will have fun and ultimately, so will you!
Have you done author school visits? I'd love to hear what has worked for you! Share your ideas in the comments section below. If you like what you're reading, I would love if you shared this blog with your friends, colleagues, and networks!
About Linda F. Radke
Linda F. Radke is president of Story Monsters LLC and publisher of Story Monsters Ink® magazine, selected by School Library Journal as one the great magazines for kids and teens. For over 30 years, she has produced and marketed award-winning books for all ages. Clients and the media describe Radke as an industry leader in creativity, innovation, and customer service. She has received many publishing, public relations, and marketing awards, including “Book Marketer of the Year” by Book Publicists of Southern California. A former K-12 special education teacher and Arizona State University instructor, she has served as a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator for publishing and marketing. Radke is a member of the Children’s Book Council, National Federation of Press Women, and Independent Book Publishing Association. Based in Chandler, Arizona, she is passionate about helping authors make their dreams a reality. Radke’s motto is, “You can't compromise on quality. Do it right or don't do it all!”