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Self-publishing Tips

Author Visits to Schools and Libraries. Why they matter?

By November 27, 2022November 28th, 2022No Comments
Authors Visits to Schools

You’ve finally written your book and published it. You are happy because all of your dreams have finally come true: you’re a published author. But now you wait. And wait. And wait.

Now what? How do I get my book into the hands of kids? Isn’t it enough that it’s available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble?

Living “the dream” of being a published author is actually the same as starting an author business and learning how to get your book sold. Your books need to sell in order to return your investment and get into the hearts and minds of kids with your stories.

One of the major ways that children’s book authors can sell their books are author visits to a school, library, or retail store event. There are many ways that schools and children can benefit from having an author visit, aside from having a fun time listening to a story.

Benefits from Author Visits for kids

Reading and writing are two very important skills to learn, but encouraging children to do so can be difficult, so anything that can help to motivate them to take part in these activities for pleasure is invaluable.

Through reading books, children can improve their cognitive development, increase their breadth of vocabulary.

Authors can bring their books to life like no one else can, and this really helps children to engage with the story and the characters. Children will feel creative and imaginative following the reading, and will be more likely to want to write or read a story themselves.

Having the opportunity to ask an author questions gives children a better understanding of the book writing process, how a book is put together, and how long everything takes. This is an insight that they may not get otherwise, and it really helps to give children a better appreciation of books and the work that goes into them.

Having someone new and exciting in the school telling the children how important it is to read lots of books and work on their writing is a great way to reinforce what their teachers tell them during their lessons.
For any children who aspire to be an author or illustrator, meeting one in person is a fantastic way to give them the belief that they can reach that dream, and it might encourage other children to feel the same way too.

Children love the opportunity to sit and listen to a story, and with all of these benefits available, author visits are a great idea for any school to get involved with.

Authors Visits to Schools

Self-published author Nicky Mee is reading her books in the local community.

Benefits from Author Visits for authors

Do you know how children’s books sell best? Yes, through human connection. When you show up at a live event and get to meet your future fans face to face, you form a connection. This is true for humanity overall, right? Being together can create a kind of trust, a bond, and loyalty.

This is especially true for parents who see someone genuinely love their kids and make them happy. Think of a time you went to a concert or heard a new-to-you speaker. If you had seen an ad on Facebook, you probably would have skipped right over buying their music or message. But after the concert or presentation, after your experience with the person, it’s quite possible you bought their book or music as a new fan. Why? Because you made a personal connection with that person.

What is an Author Visit?

An author visit is an opportunity for you to meet your fans, sell your book, spread your message. Sometimes an author visit includes a presentation, as in a school visit. Sometimes it’s simply you at a table signing books. Other times it’s your face or voice on a screen responding to interview questions. Whatever the format, your job is to bring your best self and do what you can to support the mission of your host.

How to reach out for Author Visits?

You can reach out to a school, library, or store via email, phone, or in person. But before you do, do research into the school, the library, or the store and their particular mission, purpose, or goal for their clientele or students.
Do they have a particular focus? For a school visit, look into the school’s theme for the year. Do they have a slogan? For a library visit, look into their themes or goals for visitors. For a bookstore, look into the goals of the particular store. Do they love promoting local talent? Do they host regular children’s events?

Should you charge for an Author Visit?

Some authors do offer free visits, whether when first starting out or by offering one or two free visits each year or in other situations when they choose to do so.

But consider that you are using your time and expertise to put on an amazing event and this is one way that authors make a livable income—book sales and events. Try to estimate your time for author visits and start offering your rate for visits. Not only does a school compensate the author for the work she does that day, but all the preparation that went into the presentations beforehand, the time spent traveling to and from the school, and the author’s time away from her writing desk. An author visit isn’t just an event, it’s an experience, one that takes time and preparation to get it just right.

How to Prepare for a School Visit?

  • Get signed agreement and payment (if there is a payment) from event coordinator
  • Plan your presentation
  • Get planned schedule of the event for the visit
  • Order books to bring with you
  • Gather your packing list – a tape, a signing pen, a camera, coloring pages, your business card, any related decor, a bottle of water, an easy, healthy snack, and even a friend to help sell books while you’re signing books and smile for pictures.

What to do at an Author Visit?

  • Have some discussion questions to follow up the stories, related to your book theme.
  • Have a short “fun facts” time where you share about the work process, the illustration process, or putting a book together.
  • Some authors only read their books, some bring activities, songs, or videos for kids to engage in. Whatever you choose to do, always make sure that it’s aligned with who you are and reinforces the needs of your event.

Remember, you never know what kids will ask or say. And most importantly, have fun!

Have you done an author visit before? What was your main takeaway from the experience?