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Posts Tagged ‘school visit tips and tricks’

We had such a great response from my post about creating great promo materials with Kelly Bennett  that I decided to do a similar post. I consulted author David Biedrzycki on the subject of school visits. We have featured David and several of his books here on the blog and I am pleased that he could share some of his insights with us today. David visits 70-80 schools per year (sometimes two in one day) and I would consider him an expert in his field. DavidBiedrzycki 
WOTS: How do you book these events?
DB:
Since I do not get help from my publisher I rely on several things:
  • My books being popular and in the school market.
  • Word of mouth.
  • Presenting at State Library and Reading conferences.
  • Networking.
  • Always being prepared, on time and just really nice and appreciative to those who bring you into a school. This will help your career.
  • Librarians, teachers and PTA members share a lot of information.
It is not cheap or easy bringing an author in for a visit. Funds must be raised or procured. Teachers and administrators must be onboard. Students must be made aware of the authors work.
If you do a good job word spreads fast. Also, if you don’t, word spreads faster.
Develop a unique and fun program. Easier said than done, I know, but eventually, just like writing or art, you will find your voice and your presentation style.
I use Facebook to keep in touch with those who’s schools i have visited. I make them aware of new books, stories and art I’m working on.
I also change and update my presentation all the time. There are something’s that stay the same. Teachers and administrators want to make sure you touch on some of the common core standards and you discuss the process of writing a story.
I try and make my presentation fun and fast moving. I rarely read from a book to a group larger than 30. On average my presentations are usually projected onto a big screen and to groups of 200+. I rely on this to keep the students engaged.
Life comes at kids fast these days and you have to do the same.
It’s amazing how they grasp all of it, but they do.

WOTS: Do they approach you or do you approach them?

DB: They approach me most of the time.
The only time I approach librarians or schools is when I’m going to be in the area and they have gotten in touch with me before about a possible visit. DragonCover

WOTS: Can you describe a typical visit?

DB: I’m usually contacted months in advance and a date and fee are set up.
I usually  send out a contract outlining the specifics about my visit and what is expected from both of us as far  as fee and travel expenses if there are any.
As the time approaches we discuss arrival time and schedule. I usually like to arrive an hour beforehand to meet the ones responsible for having me visit, set up and get my game face on.
I usually do from 3 to 4 presentations a day. Sometimes I will meet with two schools in the same district on the same  day doing two presentations at each school.

WOTS: Do you have any special links or connections for our readers?

DB: Sometimes the International Reading Sssociation has information about local and state conferences where you can try to attend.
AASL also has information about their conferences too.
I also suggest starting your speaking career at public libraries. They are always looking to bring authors in. Although they have little or no funds it is a great way to get yourself in front of kids and learn how to present.

Thank you, David for sharing with us today. If you like to know more about David and his work, be sure to visit his website. David’s newest book, BREAKING NEWS: BEAR ALERT will be released in October 2014. You can be sure we will mention it here on the blog.

Happy School Visits,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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Yesterday I shared the week prior to my first author visit (click here if you would like to read The Good, The Bad and The Ugly). Today I would like to share my own tips and tricks for a successful school visit. Please note these are my own ideas and there are great sites out there that can give you fantastic ideas such as schoolvisitexperts.com.

1. Have a Theme-

I chose to talk about teamwork. I tied it into working together both at school and at home. You can look at the list of standards for the grades that you are addressing and try to include those in your presentation as well.

2. Bring Props-

This makes the presentation more interesting especially when dealing with larger groups. Be sure to make them large enough for everyone to see.

3. Student Volunteers-

Students will be more engaged in your presentation if they see their fellow students up there participating. I made sure that I had a student from each of the classes I was presenting to so that no class felt left out. You can even ask the teacher to select a student, they have a better idea of which of their students will do better in front a large group.

4. Allow time to answer questions-

I found it worked better to ask the student to come up to the front to ask the question it is easier for the other students and the author to hear. I also plan to use a tip from schoolvisitexperts.com next time and have pre-printed question cards that the students can select out of a basket. Since I am addressing younger students (K-2nd grade) they get excited to raise their hand but tend to forget the question. I am hoping this will help solve that issue. I am going to write them on cards shaped like pears and let the child keep the question as a souvenir.

5. Be Prepared

Each visit is different try to speak with the person in charge to find out what their expectations are. If you require special equipment make sure to request it before the presentation, this makes it easier to set up and the custodian will thank you.

6. Pre-sell the Book Prior to the event

It is much easier to sign the books ahead of time and arrive with them ready to go rather than trying to handle sales and signings at the school. I work with Readers Inc. a local bookseller who helps handle the pre-sales and they do a great job. Be sure to bring extras for those who forgot to order ahead of time or teachers who decide they want to order after the presentation.

7. Have Fun

School visits can be unpredictable and every one is a little bit different, so go with the flow and have fun.

Happy Writing,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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