You too can host an author/illustrator visit! Part 3 of 4

Part 3 – Partnerships & Making Contact

Author/Illustrator suggestions on school visits:

  • “It’s most helpful when students have read the book and have thought about what questions they would like to ask in advance.”
  • “Get the students excited prior to the author’s visit!  Have the librarian and teachers talk it up, or make a video book trailer as an “advertisement” for the book (or have a class make one!), or do a craft related to the book (the gigantic poster your students signed for me was awesome!), allow them to research the author’s website, bring in food mentioned in the book – anything to get them looking forward to the author’s visit.  Definitely have the students read the book BEFORE the author comes!”
  • “The students were prepared. You [were]… careful to not over schedule the writer, to allow breaks to gather thoughts and energy.”

Partner with another source

Looking to cut down on travel cost? Ask neighboring schools if they would like to work with you and host an author/illustrator for their school. Looking to make a community connection? Consider inviting your public library staff to work with you on this event. The author/illustrators could visit the school during the day and then for a family event, take it to the public library. Do you have a performing arts center in your area? Approach them about hosting an event. Don’t stop there, seek out opportunities when authors/illustrators are in town for festivals, visiting colleges/universities and local bookstores. When working with others meet several times face-to-face or online, but be sure to identify each person’s role.

Part 4 – Making contact!

How do you contact them? Today, it is easier than ever. Most have contact information on their webpage. If not, a publisher is a good place to start.  Be prepared for several rounds of correspondence to work out the details, expectations of both parties, and a working understanding of each other.

The following is a sample letter (on school letterhead) I used in my previous role:

8 September 2009

Dear author/illustrator,

My name is Schenell Agee and I am a librarian at GEM Middle School in Manassas, Virginia. I am in the preliminary stages of locating presenters for our school, June 2010.  Each year, for our Summer Reading Kick-off program we invite a presenter to speak to our 7th graders.   Our school participates in the Virginia Readers’ Choice program and our students enjoy the opportunity to meet an author/illustrator from that esteemed group.

A little about us…..

  • Middle School – 7th and 8th grade, approximately 1000 students
  • Located about 30 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.
  • Request 3 -4 presentations for 7th grade students only
  • I always purchase books to sell
  • Students read your book (are familiar with your work), prior to the visit

A little about you….

  • Type of equipment needed for your presentation
  • Honorarium
  • Would you be available 2nd week of June 2010
  • Are you willing to conduct a book signing for our students and staff
  • Travel arrangements, by air, rail, or road
  • Lodging requirements (I usually make reservations at Courtyard by Marriott)
  • Dietary needs
  • No promises, but when I secure a presenter I inquire with schools in the area to see if they would be interested in having a presenter. Would you be willing to conduct multiple visits in the area?

That was a mouthful, however, I know your schedule is busy and you need as much information as possible to make decisions regarding speaking engagements.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions. or via phone at 333.377.3333 (Direct Line).


Schenell Agee

Next week we will conclude our series on author/illustrator visits.


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