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7 Steps to Get Started with Author Visits

So you're an author with a book about to be published or maybe you're already published. Congratulations! One fabulous way to connect with more readers is through school visits (also known as author visits). 

If you're interested in providing author visits to schools, you need to know this is an important service. It's not just a storytime or a reading. Instead, it is an opportunity for you, the author, to engage with readers in a way that supports the school curriculum while showcasing who you are and your books. You'll likely sell a few books along the way. And honestly, author visits are a big part of many kidlit author's income. 
To get started with author visits, you need to prepare. Here are 7 steps to get started with author visits.

1. Add Author Visits to Your Website 

Your website needs to showcase your presentation options. Folks (like teachers, librarians, and PTA volunteers) will find you online as well as by word-of-mouth.

Create two presentation blurbs (with titles). Three is even better. Keep in mind you won't present the same exact thing to first graders as to fifth graders, but it can have the same description/title. If your book audience has a wide age/grade range, reflect that in your presentation descriptions. 

(Please note: Once you do a program, evaluate it and tweak it. You may find eventually one program serves schools best. Then stick to that program. I currently offer multiple programs, but unless something else is requested, I present Nonfiction: Facts Are Fun.) 

In addition to the title and blurb, make sure your description showcases how it will benefit the students while supporting teachers. Are you discussing the writing process? Creativity? Overcoming obstacles? Bullying? The story behind the book? Research?

Be sure visitors to your website can find your author visit information easily. Put it in your menu. 

Since I also provide writing workshops and other presentations for adults, I have two tabs on my menu where people can learn about my author visits: Speaking and Teachers. I also have an "Author Visit" label which can be searched.

2. Include Grade Levels

State on your author visit page who your target audience is. Include grade levels. Is this presentation for K-1, but this one for K-5? Say so. 

Most schools I visit are K-4 or K-5 schools. However, I have also visited high schools, middle schools, and intermediate schools. To get the most invitations, be sure to create presentations for multiple grade levels. Some schools have a wide grade range like K-6. If they pay for an author visit, they want the author to present to all of the grades even if your book targets only older or younger readers. So target a range and make it known.

Include grade levels not only on your site but also on your author visit flyer. (When I updated mine, I failed to include this! OOPS!) 

Speaking of author visit brochures, if you do any community events or conferences, you want to have a one-page brochure. (You could also create a tri-fold brochure. I used to do this, but the cost of ink is crazy, so I now include the same information on one page.) I also have a multi-page, comprehensive author visit printable, but not many authors do that.
See my 2023 author visit flyer.

I've created these flyers in both Word as well as on Canva. The ones you see above are from Canva. 

3. List Author Visit Fees

I know. I know. Not everyone is comfortable showcasing fees. However, multiple teachers and librarians have told me if an author doesn't list fees, they assume the author is out of their price range, and they move on to another author.

A note here: Some schools have incredible amounts of funding. Others are on a shoestring budget. If your fees are flexible, I recommend you saying so. (I do this though I word it differently.) I've booked plenty of visits with schools saying this is our full budget which is less than my typical fee. In those cases, I likely donate the mileage and hotel and possibly giving an additional discount. (The author visit contract reflects those discounts, too!) Many schools have full funding for an author visit with me (as well as mileage and lodging).

When coaching new authors, I've noticed many clients typically have fees listed for single programs. You can do that. But please, please, please also list a fee for a full day because most schools hire authors to visit for a full day. 

Should you do visits for free? Only if you're just getting established. Your expertise and time deserve to be paid. Book sales don't count as payment for your expertise and time. Those payments are for the book.

4. State Your Location

Somewhere when you're talking about author visits, you should say where you live. For those of us in small towns, it's okay if you give the general geographic location of your state. I'm not comfortable stating my fairly rural town. So, I say I'm in southeastern Pennsylvania near Maryland and Delaware instead of stating my town name. (I'm also close to New Jersey, but I'm just a couple of miles from Maryland and about 15 from Delaware, so I leave it at that.) I could say I'm near Philadelphia or Lancaster, PA but both are an hour or more from me--in good traffic--so I don't include the cities though I certainly could (and probably should). 

If I lived in a small state such as Connecticut or Delaware, I would likely just state that (instead of saying southeastern Pennsylvania as I do now). 

Find Your First Author Visit Events

At this point, you've done enough that you can get your first gig if you're ready to work with someone you know...and for free.

Your first few gigs will likely be volunteered depending on your comfort level with large group presentations. Ask teacher friends, family member's school, and your local library if they would be interested. Mention it's a pilot program. You'll still want to have an event contract that shows expectations on both sides as well as the discounts you're providing. If it is free, include your requests for photographs, feedback, and testimonial in your contract. 

(Library budgets vary greatly. Not all have resources to pay. Also, keep in mind folks use the library to save money--most don't go looking to purchase books.)

One more thing to consider: your local bookstore. They rarely pay for author signings, but in my opinion, they are worth doing. As booksellers, you want to be on their team! I always try to provide more than a signing--an event--when I do them. The bookstore loved my first one so much that they have recommended me to local schools when asked. The bookstore has also created special events related to my book launches. So we've been at the local zoo twice. 

Whether you volunteer an author visit or are paid full fees, give it your all. Plan to put in many, many hours before the actual visit preparing to inspire readers through a valuable author event.

5. Request Action Photographs

Now it's time to test the waters. Before the visit, let your event coordinator know you would appreciate multiple photos of you presenting, especially action photos. You can suggest a time when you have props out, when students are called to help you in the front of the auditorium, when students hands are raised, and more. I love pics from the back of rooms that show kids are engaged (even if you can barely see me).
Honestly, teachers and librarians are busy. Sometimes they take lots of pictures but don't have time to send them to me. Consider handing your phone over to get shots, too.

Once you have action pictures, share them on social media, your website, and your flyer. But NEVER show a child's face in your publicity materials without permission. Sometimes you can get creative with a photo that shows faces.

6. Get Event Testimonials 

With your very first few author visits (and really as often as possible throughout your career), ask for feedback. Ideally your presentations will improve over time. Though you'll notice things you could change, ask for feedback. Along with that, ask your school visit coordinator(s) if they would be willing to write a few sentences about your visit that you can include as publicity such as your website and author visit flyer.

7. Spread the Word

Once you have a couple testimonials up on your site, it's definitely time to spread the word. Make sure your site includes a way to contact you. (Many prefer a direct email address instead of a contact form.) I have a few suggestions to get the word out that you're available for author visits.

Share on social media. 
Yes, share on your business social media platform, but also share on your personal social media. Include links to your site. Share pictures of previous events. Share what someone said about you. It all helps.

Attend community events as a vendor.
For me, events aren't just about sales. They're about connecting with readers. And often (but not always) worth the investment because of people spreading the word. Have your flyer ready!

Attend librarian and teacher conferences.
Worth the investment just like community events above. 

Let previous event coordinators know.
If you know a previous event coordinator loved your presentation, let them know you'd love for them to spread the word and share your newly updated website with them. 

(Honestly, I would only do this with someone who loved me. I wouldn't want to put anyone in an awkward position. But also know recommendations happen without you asking. Last year a librarian booked me in the early spring. By the end of the school year two other librarians in her district also booked me. I didn't make any requests.)

Not sure about author visits? 

You'll be seeing more information about author visits in upcoming blog posts. I plan to talk about book sales at author visits and event contractsevent contracts for authors...maybe moremore. I've been asked so much about these in the past few months! 

(I also teach writers about author visits, but blog posts will need to suffice for now. If you have a writing group and want me to present...just reach out! I also provide personal coaching.)

There's a lot to be learned about author visits. I definitely recommend School Visit Experts! Give yourself time to go down many rabbit trails and learn a ton!

I have another important resource for you to consider while you wait for my blog posts. (I only post a couple times a month.) Even experienced presenters learn a lot from Kim Norman's book called Sell Books and Get PAID Doing Author School Visits. (Affiliate link at no additional cost to you.)
If you're ready for a personal consultation, I'd be happy to help. Some authors want advice about presenting assembly-style instead of just small groups. Others seek advice about their website and flyer or fees. Still other authors brainstorm or improve a presentation together. How can I serve you?

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  1. This is such a helpful post, Annette. I shared it in the school visits workshop I'm co-teaching.

  2. A very helpful post. Thank you, Annette

  3. Lots of great tips here. Thank you!

  4. Anita Crawford ClarkNovember 6, 2023 at 7:36 PM

    I appreciate these steps, Annette. And thank you so much for also sharing examples of one sheets and more.