At least once a year, I’m invited to speak about writing as a career to a sixth grade home and careers classroom in my school district. It’s a volunteer author school visit.
I give a short presentation before the students ask me questions from a list provided by the teacher. They range from “What training do you need?” to “How much do you earn?”
I pretend that I’ve never heard any of the questions before and do my best to answer at an age-appropriate level. (Meaning, I don’t answer “Not enough” to the question about earnings.)
I always enjoy the back and forth with students, but I really do it just for the thank you notes. I love the handmade cards that arrive in a big manilla envelope a few weeks later — even those that say, “Now I know that I never want to be a writer!”
At least I helped a student get clarity, right?
Author school visits done right
Now, thanks to author Kim Norman, I’ll do a much better job the next time I’m invited to present at a middle school.
I’ve just finished reading Norman’s new 262-page book, Sell Books and Get Paid Doing Author School Visits.
Let me cut right to the most essential information you need about this book: I love it.
It’s detailed, specific, and comprehensive. I particularly like the homework assignments — “action steps” — at the end of each chapter. They will help you start getting organized so you can make things happen.
All of your school visit questions answered in one place
If you have a question about doing author school visits, it’s covered in this book.
- What should you charge? There’s a whole chapter on that.
- Should you waive your fee if you can sell books? The answer is in there.
- What do you need to include in your contract? You’ll find that in the book.
- How do you handle waving hands in the middle of your presentation? Got it covered.
- Do schools expect a PowerPoint presentation? That’s covered, too.
Unfortunately, the table of contents (visible in the “look inside” feature on Amazon), doesn’t do the book justice. I wish Norman had included her subheads in the chapter list so you could get more of a feel for what’s covered.
You’ll have to take my word for it that the book covers just about everything you need to know on this topic.
Advice from the experts
Norman is a successful, traditionally published children’s book author who’s an old pro at doing school visits.
She’s written 20 children’s books published by Sterling, Scholastic/Orchard, Penguin/Random House, and forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Macmillan Publishers) and Candlewick. She has spoken to hundreds of thousands of students around the U.S.
Not surprisingly, then, the book is based on her experience.
For a book like this, many times authors will weave their colleagues’ experiences into the manuscript, often within the text or as anecdotal sidebars. Norman handled this a little differently by including an “Advice from the Experts” chapter at the end. Their voices help round out one author’s perspective.
My rating: five stars
If your fiction or nonfiction book targets youngsters in grades K through 12 and you want to speak to them in school settings, I highly recommend Sell Books and Get Paid Doing Author School Visits.
This isn’t a high-level overview that offers the what and why but not the how.
You get very specific “how” information, whether it relates to handling expenses while traveling to your event or why you always want to clean up your laptop’s “desktop” before using it for presentations.
Any writer interested in doing author school visits — novice or veteran — will appreciate the wisdom and experience packed into this book.
Are you doing school visits already? What’s your best tip for other authors?
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