5 Tips for a Happy Author Visit

Fall is when most schools start thinking about a children’s author visit or residency. Here are 5 easy ways to make it a happy, productive event for everyone–especially the children:

* Make sure the students are as familiar as possible with the author’s work. It makes a HUGE difference to their level of appreciation, and there’s nothing like an enthusiastic audience to get the author psyched to give his/her best.

laughing kids

*Ask the author for copies of his/her books in advance if you don’t have them in the library. Many authors will happily send sample copies that a school can either decide to keep or return at the end of the visit.

* Make sure you know their technical requirements and have an IT person on hand to help with the (inevitable) glitches. I once had the school’s A/V system fail before a crowd of 600 kids, and it was not easy to make myself heard or “vamp” for 60 minutes when everything I needed to illustrate my points was on an ‘invisible’ slide presentation!

*Check out the author’s reputation as a presenter. Being a famous writer doesn’t guarantee an author is a good speaker. I (and a lot of teachers) once watched in dismay as a household-name author, the featured speaker at a book festival, sat on a stool and for 30 minutes delivered an off-the-cuff lecture to 400 eighth graders about why it was important to get an education. No slides, nothing  about writing, just a lecture.

*Start on time!!! Like most other authors, I have timed my presentation to the minute. When the school spends 15 valuable minutes getting students seated, making announcements, doing an introduction, it means I have to cut out something crucial, like the Q & A, or the funny ending I had planned.

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Schools work hard to come up with funds for an author visit. A few precautions like these will ensure everyone gets the most out it. Good luck with yours!


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