Posts Tagged ‘school visits for authors’

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?
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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When my picture book RED, WHITE AND BLUE GOOD-BYE came out, I was lucky enough to be invited to make several school visits. Each experience was a little different but most of the schools I visited were impacted by military deployments – although it might be safe to say this is probably true of most schools in San Diego. We’re a big Navy and Marine town. But also, this makes sense considering that my book is about a little girl who doesn’t want to say good-bye to her daddy when duty calls.

The title of my book lends itself to fun decorations – I was often greeted with lots of reds, whites, and blues!

I love school visits – the students are always fun and thoughtful and their teachers are appreciative and curious.

This experience has influenced the stories I write. When a new picture book idea comes to me, it has to pass the school visit test: Would I want to talk about this book in front of an auditorium of energetic kids?

I recently attended a dinner and discussion meeting of San Diego SCBWI published members.

Our gracious host, Edith Hope Fine – whether she wants the role or not – is also our leader, mentor, Mama-bear, Queen, and all around dynamo of inspiration.

Edith had asked us to bring any extra yarn we might have to help with her project of knitting hats for preemie babies around the world. Besides knitting them herself, Edith takes yarn and a nifty-knitter gadget with her to school visits. There she teaches a student how to make a stitch, then that student passes the nifty-knitter on, teaching the next person how. Each and every person contributes and makes a difference.

I love this! So simple, so profound… and, so very practical. I’m sure this helps to keep the students focused, engaged and excited.

AND, it is a perfect tie-in to the book ARMANDO AND THE BLUE TARP SCHOOL, which Edith wrote with Judith Pinkerton Josephson. This lovely book is a fictional tribute to the work and inspiration of David Lynch who is dedicated to teaching children who live near the Tijuana dumps.

From Edith’s website: 

When I’m not writing or reading, you’ll find me swimming or walking, baking, or making soup. In between my plants and flowers, I grow vegetables! I watch old-timey movies, have fun with my family, email pals around the country, do Sudokus, compost and recycle (call me the “Recycling Queen”), and work toward fairness and justice for all on this small blue marble we call home.

Obviously, Armando’s story is something Edith feels passionate about. Edith is also smart and funny and articulate – but her passion is why I would love to see one of her fabulous school presentations. If you are an author planning a visit, check out her guidelines for schools – it’s a great how-to  as well.

Can’t wait to see her new book coming out this summer: WATER, WEED, AND WAIT. And to hear about her tie-ins to this one!

Sarah Wones Tomp


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