Today, Florida author Alex Flinn shares an example of a dream author visit:
In the perfect author visit (and I've had some), groups would be anywhere from 30-125 students, all of whom have read at least one of my books. If possible, they would also have self-selected to be at the presentation. Presentations would be scheduled for neither the first nor last period of the day. All of the above makes for maximum audience participation. There would be some time set aside, either a writing workshop or author lunch, for the kids who are really into reading and/or writing.
My personal favorite school was in Upstate New York. I visited several years ago and met with groups groups of 75 students, each of whom had read several of my books. They also had a lunch for teachers and students to meet me, and it was at this lunch that I got the idea for one of my books, DIVA. I also spoke at an evening library presentation for "The Great New York Read-aloud." Three years later, I visited this same school, spoke with two more self-selected groups of 75 as well as a roundtable of girls who had been involved in domestic violence incidents.
I've had many good school visits and a few bad ones. The common thread for the good ones was that I felt that every student at the presentation wanted to be there. Usually, but not always, this meant that the students had self-selected to be there. The few exceptions to this were schools where there was a large remedial reading population who liked my books. The worst visit BY FAR was one where a well-intentioned public library district had me go to a school for two full days without ascertaining that the students had ever heard of or read my books. They hadn't. They would have spent their money better to have me go one day and spent the second day's money on the books. I've had visits set up by public libraries, which worked, but it was because they made sure the kids had read the books.
Kim butting back in again:
I suppose that's one of the differences between presentations by picture book authors and YA authors. Since a YA is too long to read during the presentation, it really is imperative that students be familiar with the author's book/books before she arrives. Whereas, as a picture book author, I have appeared at many schools where the kids have not yet read my book. Heck, I started doing school visits even before my book came out. I figured, what I lacked in publication credits, I made up for in stage experience. (Yup, that's me, the "nun" on the left. How I'd love to wear that costume at a school visit some day!)
Also complicating the reading-in-advance issue is that younger students are fairly easily impressed. The really young ones greet a visiting puppet as a celebrity. So just being told that you're an author is enough to command respect from the grammar school set. Not true of older students, I'm guessing. If they've never heard of you OR your book, they're much more likely to tune you out.
THERE IS NO CHARGE TO BE LISTED on this blog, however I do ask for a reciprocal link to Cool School Visits, at www.coolschoolvisits.com . (Check it out! I offer lots of free advice about doing school visits!) Sorry, except for a few close friends, I can only list you in your home state.
MY DEFINITION OF "TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED"...If you're with a publisher you know I'll recognize, write to me and I'll add you. If you have any doubts, CLICK THIS LINK and scroll down to a list approved on SCBWI's "Published and Listed" (PAL) list. If you see your publisher on this list, write to me. If not, then you're with a publisher too obscure to be added. I don't want these author lists to become so lengthy that the site loses its original intent: to save educators time when "shopping" for an author.