Author Ellen Hopkins visits a school. Photo credit: Kim Tyo-Dickerson
Laura wants to bring authors into her classroom and has some questions about how to do that.
4. If we wanted to bring an author to our classroom/school, who would we contact and how would we do that?
I think it would be so cool to have an author come to my school and speak to the students about writing or about school or learning or just anything in general. But I’m sure that authors, as famous people, are very busy and cannot just travel anywhere at any time. So who would I talk to about having them come to my school? Do all authors have a publicist that schedules events for them? Do they have a website with contact information? How much would it cost, on average, to have an author speak at my school? Is this something the school district will pay for? Does the school district or just my principal need to approve this event?
This is not something I ever did, but I do know where to go for help: children’s and middle-grade author Kate Messner!
Kate was a teacher before she became a full-time writer, and she is an incredibly generous supporter of teachers and their students.
Laura is right: it’s very expensive to have authors come in person to schools, but many authors do Skype visits FOR FREE! I think Laura will find everything she needs to know about Skype visits in Kate’s post, Authors Who Skype With Classes and Book Clubs for Free. In addition to an extensive list of authors who will skype with students for free, there are links to a few additional posts describing how a Skype visit typically goes including a couple of articles about Skype visits in SLJ (School Library Journal).
(I also have to plug the incredible FREE virtual writing camp Kate organizes each summer for teachers: Teachers Write.)
Most authors do have information on their websites about their policies and fees for school visits. Some authors arrange these events themselves; others do so through their agents or publishers. Schools should expect to pay the author’s fee as well as travel and accommodations.
Scholastic has some ideas for planning and fundraising. (They also list author’s fees as ranging from $500-$2000, which at least gives Laura a ballpark.)
Authors often plan their schedule a year in advance, so teachers should start planning early. Many authors will do multiple presentations when they’re at your school and visit with multiple classrooms, so teachers may wish to collaborate with each other to plan a school-wide event as well as classroom events. Some authors also detail the different presentations they give on their websites, so teachers may be able to select presentations targeted very specifically to the interests and needs of their students.
Children’s author Dan Gutman shares his suggestions for making a school visit successful.
Author Mike Mullin has a touching post on why author visits matter.
Children’s author Verla Kay has written a several part series on her blog about author visits: Part I is here.
I also LOVE children’s book author Jarrett Krosockza’s TED talk about how he became an artist: he credits an author visit by Jack Gantos, who offered Jarrett an offhanded word of praise that Jarrett never forgot. Incredible and inspirational!