Friday, November 18, 2011

Author School Visit: What is as Good as a Book Contract? by Donna McDine

The excitement that embraced me when I was offered my first children's book contract and the next three were like non-other. With each signing my heart raced and my blood pumped with the thrill of puttin pen to paper and signing off on each contract. All four signings a "birth" of a new book. With the first one published August 2010 and the next three in the publishing pipeline and awaiting their time in the publishing spotlight other wonderful opportunities have come along for my writing career.

Just when you think the excitement has waned a bit of the contract signings, an elementary school has seeked you out to discuss your author school visit workshops. And after presenting to the school representative what your visit would entail, they offer you not only one day of class visits, but a full week of classroom workshops. Yippie! Isn't this what writing for children is all about? To get out from behind the glow of your computer or writing pad and interact with the children.

I'd like to get a discussion going on what has worked for you to get your foot in the door to the powers that be at schools to discuss your author school visit workshops and to schedule dates.

As for myself, networking has been instrumental in marketing my author school visits by attending and participating in local reading council meetings and children's book author fairs.


If the presenter schedule is filled for an event, ask if there will be an information display table where you can place your author school visit information. If they do, provide at least 30 copies of your material for display.

Take this opportuity to discuss with the organizer their next event and how you can submit your discussion topic and media kit for consideration the next time around.

Make sure you obtain their contact information so you can easily follow-up with them and make note where you met them and what you chatted about. Follow-up with a "Lovely to meet you" email the next day and briefly mention what you discussed. You'd be surprised how pleased this makes people.

Many times one event leads to inquiries months down the road. For instance, I attended an event October 2010, that turned into a request for me to speak at another event in May 2011, which then turned into submitting my media kit and author school visit information for a New York state wide event, which then turned into an author school visit contract for a week of workshops in March 2012.

Offer workshops instead of just a book reading and signing. Teachers are under tight schedules for their curriculum and they need to adhere to their state guidelines, just like as authors we need to adhere to submission guidelines. My workshops are easily adjusted for grade level and I provide four different workshops to select from, which provides the flexibility for each teacher and their students.

Two key components that have sealed the deal are:

Offer a FREE telephone consultation or In-Person meeting to fine-tune the workshops to teachers requirements.

If the school is interested in me conducting more than two-days of workshops and if they are a local school (within a certain mile radius or your county) I offer the last day FREE.

I look forward to your thoughts and tips.

Be well.

Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Award-winning Children's Author
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.


  1. I'm a substitute teacher, which makes it difficult to schedule school visits. I wish I could think of more groups for kids outside of school that might like a visit from an author.

  2. Great post and congrats on the gig!

    One thing that REALLY worked for me and got the kids excited was to act out the story after the reading.

    Each student is assigned a character in the book and they act it out in their own words as they remember it--of course, you can help them along the way if they don't remember something.

    Since all the kids want to participate, we did this again and again until everybody had a chance to pay actor--they never got tired and it was just fun!


  3. I love posts like this, posts that give really practical how-to information! It's often the doing of it that is diffcult. Once we've been booked, that's a snap. (-:

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Excited about the release of the second edition of my popular Frugal Book Promoter filled with nitty-gritty promotion opportunities,

  4. Mayra, I love your idea of acting out the story with the kids participation. I like to dress up as one of the characters in my book, or as a character from the country the book is about.

    However, neither of these addresses what Donna asks: what has worked for YOU to get your foot in the door of the powers that be at schools? Access to the teachers and librarians is vital. We need their enthusiastic co-operation to discuss an author school visit, workshop, and to schedule exact times and dates.

    * Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

  5. I find that having been in education for many years it makes teachers wary of me when I try to arrange author visits. I shall try not to mention this fact and see if this makes a difference. :0)

  6. Donna,

    As usual great information. Garnering school visits is a must on my 'to do list.'

    I'm still in the process of getting all my material together.

    I'll be linking to this - and sharing!

    Hey, maybe a WOTM and/or WWC workshop on what to include in a school workshop would be helpful for authors!

    Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

  7. wonderful stuff for childrens .... also see mine here

  8. Ladies...thank you one and all for visiting and commenting.

    Janet...I would imagine you get a phone call early in the morning for subbing. Phew! the acting out idea

    Carolyn...the scheduling is definitely the difficult part. are so right. Hope you've had success with your Skpe Author Visits.

    Karin...there is always something to add to our never ending To Do lists...yikes!

    Dani...I'm going over to visit you now.

    Happy Thanksgiving!


Thank for you taking the time out to visit with me and to learn about my historical fiction children's book, The Golden Pathway.

Please be sure to leave your blog address so I can reciprocate.

I look forward to visiting you too.