Quick Tips for Planning A School Visit or Book Event
Step 1.Pick the date
When picking a date for an Author's or Illustrator's visit — think simple— try not to combine thevisit on the same day as picture taking, carnivals, field trips, and other school-wide events, unless, of course, you are having a book fair or special book-related event.
Pick out a first and second choice of dates, then contact the author/illustrator with your choice dates. When a date is settled upon, you will usually receive a confirmation, but if not, be sure to confirm it through email or phone. Feel free to contact the author/illustrator with questions or concerns regarding the event and/or book sales.
Step 2.Preparation & Promotion
Read, do book talks, and share the author's/illustrator's books with your students and teachers. Visit the speaker's website to print fun book activities, writing lessons, songs, bookmarks, arts & crafts, AR tests, and other ‘goodies’ which your students and staff will enjoy. Hang up announcement posters throughout your school. Some authors and illustrators have their own ready-made announcement posters on their webesites, others don't, but they're pretty easy to design and print with a computer.
Also, some of our authors/illustrators have ready-made press releases to send to your local newspaper. All you have to do is print them out, fill in the date, and mail. If you let the newspaper staff know ahead of time, they'll often send a reporter to your school or event to take photographs for the newspaper.
Step 3. Place Book Order
It's always best to sell books in conjunction with a school visit. Students and teachers alike enjoy having the opportunity to purchase a book and most publishers offer nice discounts on book orders. ** Always check the website for each author or illustrator to see how he/she handles the selling of books. He/she may want to bring books or may want you to go ahead and order them through your local bookstore or their publishers.
If YOU are going to place the book order:
Four weeks (or as soon as possible) before a visit, send home ‘Announcement Letters’ which will announce an author's/illustrator's visit, as well as take take book orders.Some of the authors/illustrators will have these on their web sites, other's won't, so you may have to design your own letters.
Collect the book orders and place your order with your local book store or with the author's/illustrator's publishers.Most bookstores give up to a 20% discount and many publishers give up to a 40% discount.See each author's/illustrator's individual website for book ordering details. Also, on our "Publisher's Page", we provide a listing of the publishers' websites so that you can go directly to their sites if you want to order books through them.
Step 4.Make a Schedule Keep in mind, each author and illustrator usually does a certain number of sessions per day.Some may do four.Others may do three. Others, five or more. So check their websites to know exactly how many sessions they perfer to do. If you want them to do more sessions than they normally do, ask first. Some may have an additional fee over a certain number of sessions. Once you know how many sessions to plan for, be sure to allow 10-15 minutes between sessions for the coming and going of classes and for the author/illustrator to catch his/her breath and regroup for the next session.
Also, if you'd like the author/illustrator to do something a little different than the usual group-type presentation, check his/her website or email him/her about what it is you would like to do.Do you want someone to visit individual classrooms?Visit with select groups of students such as the Gifted & Talented, writing clubs, book clubs, etc?Then be sure to let the author/illustrator know exactly what you're looking for so that you can work it out before the author/illustrator gets there.
Step 5.Get the Location Ready Each author/illustrator will have their own list of needs detailed on their websites.But as a general rule, consider having these items available: •Table to display books and chair Microphone (some speakers may bring their own mic & amp, check with them ahead of time) •Two extension cords
•Large screen or empty white wall
•Cart for a projector and laptop(check to see if they bring their own projector & laptop)
•Chairs for teachers... Don’t forget the teachers need a seat!
Please note: If you have skylights or large windows in the room where the speaker will be speaking, make sure the room can be darkened for a powerpoint presentation prior to the author's/illustrator's arrival.Check to see if he/she will want to do a presentation with low lights. Also, if the author/illustrator is speaking in a room that is generally used for something else, such as a gym, cafeteria, library, please consider letting teachers and students know ahead of time that this room will be closed to classes. You might even consider putting a CLOSED sign on the doors. If in a cafeteria, make sure the cooks know so there won't be a lot of noise during presentation. (Often the clanking of dishes and kitchen noises are very disruptive, so check this out ahead of time.)
If the author/illustrator is speaking in a room where there are no walls and it is open to the school population, such as a library in the middle of an open school or a large room that's open to the hallways, please consider asking teachers ahead of time to make sure their students are as quiet as possible as they dismiss and go down the hallways while the speaker is speaking.
Step 6.Autograph Sessions Each author/illustrator has different ways of autographing books.Some may want to meet and greet each student.Others may want to sign before or after school without the students present.Usually, though, he/she will be willing to do whatever you decide is best for your students.Also--remember authors/illustrators often get 'tired hands', so if there are a lot of book to be signed, it may be best to split up the signing so his/her hand can get a much-needed rest! For autographing, be sure to provide a sturdy table that doesn't wiggle. Also, be sure that the students' books have a clearly printed name on them if you wish them to be personalized.
Step 7. Lunch Whatever you plan for lunch is usually acceptable to most authors/illustrators.Many enjoy eating with students or teachers, but be sure to check their websites for lunch details as some authors/illustrators may have special dietary needs. It's not unusual for schools to select a group of students to eat with the author/illustrator.Sometimes, a local pizza parlor will donate pizzas, sandwiches, etc. These types of luncheons are often for students who have been "caught reading" or who have written an essay as to why they would like to eat with the author/illustrator. Or perhaps you'd like to take the speaker out to lunch. It's your choice! Step 8.Enjoy Your Day
Don't worry, if you have never hosted an author visit before, remember our Oklahoma authors and illustrators are more than happy to walk you through it.They've done enough school visits that they can give you lots of pointers.And if you have any worries or questions, just email or phone them. And be sure to allow time for YOU to sit back and enjoy the speaker.
Step 9. Word of Mouth
If you enjoyed the presentations that the Oklahoma author/illustrator did at your school, please spread the word. Let other schools know. Email your librarian friends. Put a "review" on your library's list serve so that other schools in your district will see it and might decide to invite the speaker to their school. Write an article for your reading association's newsletter. Get the word out. The very best promotion an author or illustrator can receive is "word of mouth!" Contrary to what most people think, most authors and illustrators depend on their speaking invitations to make a living. So they are actively seeking invitations and appreciate any promotion you can give them!
Step 10. Optional: Send a quick written review to the author/illustrator If you are pleased with the author or illustrator who came to your event, something to consider is sending that person a short "review" which he/she can use to help advertise his/her speaking. (It sounds so easy and so simple, but yet very few event-planners take the time out of their busy schedules to encourage the authors and illustrators!) Something as simple as "______ did such a great job at our school that the kids are still talking about her. We can't keep her books on our library shelf!" could really be of help when our authors and illustrators are redesigning their brochures or looking for fresh reviews to add to their website. If you do this, remember to just keep it simple, direct, and honest. The Oklahoma authors and illustrators on OCAI would love to thank you in advance for your kind words and encouragement!