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Christine N.
05-17-2005, 09:52 PM
I have a question...

My book is on it's way. Probably before Christmas. It's a MG fantasy, and I want to do school visits with it.
I don't know the first thing about it. What do people do when they visit a school?? I particularly want to visit my old elementary school, which is just across the street.

Trying to get my stuff together before I end up being rushed. Thanks :)

PVish
05-30-2005, 07:23 AM
My book is on it's way. Probably before Christmas. It's a MG fantasy, and I want to do school visits with it.
I don't know the first thing about it. What do people do when they visit a school?? I particularly want to visit my old elementary school, which is just across the street.)

You can either call or email the principal of the school you want to visit. Most schools have web sites and contact info is on the site. Email works better than a call because principals are busy. Also in your email, put the URL of your web site, so the principal knows you're on the level.

In your email, introduce yourself, tell what you can do for the school (read from my latest book and answer questions about writing), what grade level you are interested in speaking to (and whether you prefer individual classroom or assembly). Can you provide a lesson plan—or follow-up activities—to go along with what you are reading? Give the URL of your web site, so the principal can get an idea of what you write, who you are, that you're not some nut-case trying to infiltrate the school, etc.

I am a retired public school teacher and have done a lot of school appearances since I started writing late in life. In fact, last week I did two. My latest POD book, Where There's A Will, had my cousin on the cover. I arranged with the principal to do a "Book Debut" at the school where he is a first grader. I presented my cousin with his book, donated a book to the school, read two stories from the book, and answered questions from the kids (my cousin helped answer). Of course we had press coverage. The following day, I visited a school where one of the contributors to my book taught. I read for three classes there.

Since the principal and I had not previously met, I provided her with the URL to my web sites (See http://home.infionline.net/~rmushko for info about the book, pic of its cover, etc.) so she could see that my appearance was something worthwhile.

When you visit a school, you might want to take large posters that illustrate some phase of your book. Kids like to see things. You could hand out bookmarks with info about your book, if you want. Don't plan to talk/read for more than 45 minutes. Schools are usually on pretty tight schedules.

If you are interested in a large school system, contact the director of instruction for your target grade level/class.

Newspapers like to run pictures with lots of kids (Parents buy extra papers), so notify the media about what you're going to do.

In the meantime, work on getting lots of info about your book (and maybe even how you wrote it) onto your web site.

Christine N.
05-30-2005, 02:24 PM
Thanks PVish. That does help a lot. I also just bought a book called "Terrific Connections" so once it gets here that should have some more ideas.

45 minutes, huh? Cool. I can entertain kids for that long. Some of these authors were talking about doing a whole day!
If you don't mind me asking, how much do you charge for something like that? Some people are charging upwards of five hundred dollars, but I know I'm not quite worth that yet.

You can PM me if you don't want to post it to the board.

PVish
05-30-2005, 03:27 PM
45 minutes, huh? Cool. I can entertain kids for that long. Some of these authors were talking about doing a whole day!
If you don't mind me asking, how much do you charge for something like that? Some people are charging upwards of five hundred dollars, but I know I'm not quite worth that yet.


I don't charge schools unless an official from the school system contacts me and hires me to do a specific job. Then the rate is whatever they offer. Most schools do not have excess money for guest speakers unless they've gotten a grant for a specific purpose. Some writers do a "writers in residence" for a day or two or even a week. I haven't done that—yet.

I'm listed with the VA Commission for the Arts, so there's a way for a system to get a matching grant or something from another source. (I did a couple of appearances in 2001-2002; I received my checks from the local arts council who had arranged for my appearance—$50 or $60, as I remember.) I consider a school appearance a way of giving back to the community as well as good public relations. Every student is a potential reader; if not now, then in the future.

I also don't charge for appearances at charitable events. Again, good PR and a chance to meet new readers. Plus I usually have a lot of fun at these appearances, get a free meal, promote my book, etc.

When a program chairman contacts me for a paid appearance, I'm usually offered X amount. The amount usually has been set by the organization and is rarely negotiable; I can take it or leave it.

If I had to depend upon writing for my primary income, I might have a different outlook. As a POD/self-pubbed author, I consider my guest appearances my "book tour." If I make a little money, that's icing on the cake.

Christine N.
05-30-2005, 04:54 PM
Ah, I see. I am trying to make a name and a living as an author, so I guess I have to start somewhere.

I was planning on doing my own school for free, until I get the program down.
Thanks :)

Inspired
05-30-2005, 05:32 PM
We're discussing this on a yahoo group. You should join us.


To subscribe, send a message to childrens-writers-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or go the this group's home page at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/childrens-writers

Now that I double-check, I see that we've actually been discussing it more on a different list. But, if you join this group, it's very good. Anastasia Suen is offering a class on school visits soon. Join and then look in the archive around May 10.

PVish
05-30-2005, 08:09 PM
I am trying to make a name and a living as an author, so I guess I have to start somewhere. I was planning on doing my own school for free, until I get the program down.
Thanks :)

You will need several programs for different grade levels and subjects. Vary your program to the situation as needed. Up-date your plans often.

Plan on a year or so of free visits to a variety of schools until you are well-known in educational circles. Now is a good time to research the learning objectives of your school system and see what you can do to help teachers meet them. (In Virginia, they're Standards of Learning" and they're available on a web site.)

Everytime you make a visit, ask teachers to fill out an evaluation form on you and get permission to use any quotes from them. When you have some good quotes and definite plans, design a professional looking brochure to mail to other school districts. Also, put the brochure info on your web site along with a downladable lesson plan or two.

Offer 45-minute, hour-long, 90-minute, and all day presentations.

Work on a series of lesson plans and hand-outs now. Put together some learning packets for different grade levels and different classes. Make costumes so you can appear as one (or more) of your characters—plus a photo of you in costume will be a good attention-getter on your brochure.

Talk to school librarians this summer and find out when each school has its book fair. Offer to appear as one of your characters—in full regalia. (Good photo op.)

Talk to a few teachers and ask them what they'd like to see you do for their classes. A lot of teachers plan for next year over the summer. After you have some sample lesson plans, visit a few principals and explain to them how you can be of service at their schools. (Sometimes principals can allocate grant money to hire you.)

Talk to the director of instuction for your local school system. Sometimes you can be promoted on a division-wide level. Sometimes these folks have better access to grant money than principals.

Approach the PTA and see if they'll sponsor your visit.

See if there's a local (or state) arts council that promotes visits by artists, writers, etc. If so, join. Several years ago, I was involved in a presentation sponsored by one. Pay was OK; but preparation was time-consuming. Wish I'd had a book to promote then.

See what grants are available for you to pursue an artist-in-residence program to encourage writing/reading/literacy/etc. and apply for a few.

Christine N.
05-30-2005, 10:11 PM
That's very helpful PVish - thank you!