Bringing An Author To Your School


Excerpts from Rick Walton



Why Bring an Author to Your School?

  1. To get students excited about reading
  2. To get students excited about writing
  3. To teach students how to write
  4. To encourage students who might be considering writing as a career
  5. To learn more about the subject matter of a particular author’s book


What an Author Can Do at Your School

  1. Present information about the subject matter of their book
  2. Read from their books
  3. Talk about what it’s like to be a writer
  4. Answer questions
  5. appear on panels
  6. mentor talented student writers
  7. judge contests


How to Find a Suitable Author for a School Visit

  1. Ask around.  Contact local writers groups and libraries
  2. Get recommendations from other schools who have had authors visit
  3. Watch newspapers for articles on recently published books by local authors
  4. Browse the Internet.  Many authors now have websites


How to Get the Author to Your School

  1. Plan as far in advance as you can.  The more popular the author, the earlier you will have to plan.  Even beginning local authors have lives, schedules, and events they have to plan around. 
  2. Establish a committee of people who will plan the details of the author’s visit, including communicating with the author about the specifics of the visit.  Consider involving students in the planning process.
  3. Decide why you want an author to visit and how much you can pay.
  4. Contact the author to arrange the details


How Much Will It Cost?

Although most writers enjoy visiting schools and talking about their work, doing so takes the writer away from his or her job – writing.  They lose not only the time at your school, but all the travel time, the preparation time and the recovery time.  Most authors, as much as they like to, cannot afford to make many free public appearances.  Writers on average also make a lot less money than people think, and the money from public appearances keep many authors from starving, especially authors whose sole income is from their writing.  The more in demand an author is, the more they’ll cost.    Top authors charge as much as $2000/day to visit a school.  The average cost for most authors, however, is between $300 and $600 per day.  If an auth or has to travel a long distance to get to your school, you’ll also be expected to pay travel expenses, put them up in a hotel if necessary, and provide for meals (often as a per diem). 


There are some things you can do to lessen the cost of an author visit:

  1. Go in with another school to share the author for a day and split the author’s full day rate.
  2. Arrange to have the author spend a week at your school district, visiting several schools.  A weekly rate will sometimes be less per day than the daily rate.
  3. Plan fundraising events involving the students to earn money for the visit.
  4. Request funds from the school’s PTA.


How To Make The Author Visit Successful

  1. Get publicity information about the author.  The author will usually provide these if asked.  Make sure you have a list of the author’s books.
  2. Make sure your library has copies of the author’s books.
  3. Introduce the author’s books to the students.  Assign them to read something by the author, or have the librarian or teacher read the author’s books to them. 
  4. Give students some fun assignments that relate to the topics or illustrations in the author’s books.
  5. Plan the author visit for a time when writing as a major curriculum focus, for example, during a Young Authors Fair or during preparations for a school writing contest.  Invite parents in for the presentation.  Parents frequently get as much from the author visits as their children.
  6. Prepare the students for the presentation.  Give them some things to look for.  If there will be a Q&A session, have them think of some questions ahead of time.
  7. Arrange for a pre-sale of the author’s books or a book signing on the day of the visit.  If a book signing is planned, be sure and assign an adult to assist the author with the book sales so that the author is free to sign the books and meet the students. 


Details for the Day of the Author Visit

  1. Make sure everything the author needs is up and running.  They may need slide projectors, screens, microphones, podiums, laptops for PowerPoint, etc.  A printed schedule is a good idea to keep everyone on track throughout the day.
  2. Have a bottle of water handy for the author and be sure to allow at least 10-15 minutes between presentations.
  3. Have someone enthusiastically introduce the author.
  4. Relax and enjoy your Author Visit!