A good option for YA and children’s authors, school visits are a perfect way for you to reach your audience directly, while meeting the influential teachers and librarians who purchase books for classrooms.
We’ll be honest, scheduling these visits can be tricky. Schools are often hesitant (at best!) to allow self-published or indie authors to conduct visits. However, the more resources and information you can provide to the school, the more likely they’ll be to hear you out.
Before you reach out to schools, you’ll want to consider what type of event you’re interested in – an assembly, workshop, presentation, classroom visit, or some combination thereof.
Next, think about how you can communicate your expertise in public speaking or in working with kids. Do you have relevant career or volunteer experience that the school should know about? Do you have sample presentations you can share with them, or references from past events where you had a speaking role?
Now, consider what materials you can provide. Schools love when authors come prepared with educational materials like lesson plans, discussion questions, activities and worksheets for students. We recommend partnering with professionals like Rm 228 to develop these materials, as they will help ensure that your educational plans follow current curriculum guidelines.
Lastly, you’ll want to consider your speaking fee. Debut authors often waive their fee, with the understanding that the school will purchase a certain number of copies for their library. A “pay-what-you-can” fee is also a great way for debut authors to visit schools regardless of budgetary limitations.
Make the connection
Now that you’ve determined the type of event you want to offer, you’ll need to find the contact information of the school’s librarian. If you aren’t able to find any, search for the contact info of the principal, school administrator, or specific teacher in the subject and grade level that makes the most sense for you and your book.
When reaching out to them, be sure to share all of the information you prepared in an organized way. State clearly what type of event you’re hoping for, list your expertise, share relevant materials (PowerPoints, lesson plans, worksheets), and state your fee (if applicable). You should also link to your press release, and include the synopsis for the book you’re promoting. If you can, state briefly how the book connects to relevant lessons in history, geography, STEM, etc.
If you’re having trouble connecting with schools directly, you can also contact local bookstores to enlist their help in setting up school visits for you. Many stores have programs in place to do this, but in these instances, you will not be able to charge a speaking fee.
After the event, you should thank everyone for their time. Consider asking the teacher for notes on areas where the event could be improved. You can also ask the teacher/librarian if they’d be willing to act as a reference for you when booking visits at other schools.
Update your website
Once you’ve successfully booked an event or two, consider adding an “appearances” tab to your website to showcase the schools you’ve visited. Here’s a lovely example from author Kate Messner.
You can also add a “request a school visit” tab, where you include a contact form for teachers to fill out, as author J. Elle has done.
Booking school visits can take quite a bit of time and effort, but by being prepared and anticipating the school’s needs, you’ll be in a great position to build your network and increase sales, all while having a lot of fun!
Jackie Karneth is a publicist with Books Forward is an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers.