I wanted to visit schools when my first picture
book, MIND YOUR MONSTERS, came out. But apparently my
School-Visit-Fairy (who wears glasses and carries a ruler instead of a wand and
leaves a trail of chalk dust wherever she flies) was booked that month. So I
had to teach myself the ropes. Here are some tidbits that helped me. Maybe they
can help you too :) Please note they are written from the perspective of a short
lady from Florida who writes picture books and has a terrible singing voice.
(1) Make sure it is age
appropriate. Kindergartners cannot edit paragraphs. Third graders do not want
to sing your silly monster song.
(2) If you do crafts or
bring give-aways, like moi, bring extra in case there are kids out sick.
(3) Make it interactive if the numbers allow. For preK through 2d that means crafts, chants/songs, and simple games. For 2d and up that means creative exercises and Q&A.
(4) If you have technical needs, like for a power point, work it out ahead of time. And have a Plan B.
(1) School teachers,
librarians, media specialists, etc. are basically the greatest people ever and
you should treat them accordingly. So be nice and respond promptly to emails
and phone calls.
(2) Get a cell phone
number, name and specific meeting place for your contact at the school.
(3) Find out where to
park ahead of time.
(4) If you have a bunch
of supplies (books, craft materials, huge wooden photo booth like me) politely
request a media cart ahead of time.
(5) Make sure there is always a teacher in the room with you.
(6) If you do not want
your presentation recorded, let the school know ahead of time. Someone will
have an iphone, and they will aim it at you.
(7) Remember what I said
- GREATEST PEOPLE EVER - so say and / or send a thank you afterwards.
(8) Assume it will rain.
SELLING BOOKS AT THESE
(1) The purpose is not
for me to sell books, but it is a nice by-product for both me and the kids who
think it's neat to meet an author and have a take-home souvenir.
(2) Make a flyer
explaining how parents can obtain your book and get this flyer to the teacher /
your school's contact person at least 2 weeks ahead of time. Then the teacher
can e-mail the flyer to parents, or print it out and send it home in backpacks
/ hand it out.
(3) There are three
options that I use for parents to buy books, all of which are explained on the
flyer. One, I let people know they can purchase the book themselves from places
like Amazon and send it into school on my visit day. Two, I explain that I will
have a limited number of copies to sell on site too, but they need to send in
exact change or a check. Three - and I only do this option if there is enough
time - I do "pre-orders" which means I tell the parents I will buy
the book and bring it to school for them if they get a check to the teacher by
a certain date (be sure to keep in touch with the teacher to get a total). A
fourth option is to work through a local bookseller, which I do for large
(4) Always keep 25 extra
copies of your book in your car.
(5) Bring free
give-aways for those kids who can't buy your book so they don't feel cruddy. I like
coloring sheets because I can “autograph” them. And tell them that your book is
available anytime they want in their school / local library.
THE ACTUAL VISIT
(1) Bring your driver's license - they need it when you check in at the front office.
(2) If you are doing a power point, fine, wear a dress or whatever. If you are visiting individual classrooms - wear pants or jeans. School visits involve a shocking amount of squatting.
(3) Also wear close-toed shoes. Nobody wants to see your feet.
I will think of more later, but this post is long enough already :)! Good luck. Oh and you are an Author, which is a job, so treat it like one. Be professional and charge for your time.
I am ringing in the New Year with a cover reveal for my second picture book, HYPNOSIS HARRY!! It releases from Sky Pony Press the first week of March and I am beyond excited. So cue the trumpets, drum rolls, and red carpet...
The story is inspired by something I read as a kid, a wicked little book about how to get your parents to give you anything you ever wanted. What a glorious concept - that idea that a young child could, with a few simple tricks, eat anything, do anything, BE anything.
But of course you have to be careful what you wish for ...
SOCIAL MEDIA: "Hey. Hey Catherine. Where ya' been?"
ME: "Oh just visiting libraries and dozens of schools and hundreds of kids and prepping for the release of my new book - it's coming soooooon! - and updating my marketing and writing some new stuff and editing some less-new stuff and doing critiques for other writers."