How to plan an author school visit

Hello, my name’s Niel Bushnell. I’m a children’s
author and I often go into schools, colleges and libraries to deliver author events. So
what makes a good author event and how can you plan your own? Here’s a few tips and things
that I’ve learned along the way that might help you organise your day. First up, why
have an author event? There’s lots of really good reasons for having an author come into your school. It generates excitement around reading, it encourages creative writing, it
pulls out reluctant readers and gets them talking about books and words. It makes reading
and writing interesting and fun. The visit can even enhance and sit alongside the curriculum work that you’re already doing with your pupils. It can help to enhance not only English but
other subjects as well. Maybe Art, maybe Drama, there’s lots of ways you can tie in an author
visit to other subjects, no only English. It all about just thinking about how you can
do it. In a recent study conducted by the Society of Authors 99.4% of those who conducted
an author visit considered author visits to be an invaluable enrichment that encourages
reading for pleasure, wider reading and creative writing. So how do you go about choosing the
right author for your visit? Well first and foremost you need somebody who’s appropriate
to your audience so an author who writes for children or young adults is perfect for schools. Start by looking at directories of authors who do school visits. Contact an Author,
The Society of Authors, Authors Aloud, there are lots and lots of different ones and I
listed them all in the first comment below this video. Search through those directories,
make a shortlist, find ones that you think might be appropriate, then have a look at
their websites and see what information you can find on there. There’s usually information
about the kind of school visits that each author would deliver, the workshops and talks
they would do. You need to look and make sure that they have insurance for coming into your
school, that they have an up-to-date disclosure and barring certificate. You could also look
on social media. Lots and lots of authors are on Twitter, are on Facebook and you can
find out lots of information about them there, and get a feel for their personality. Why
not ask other schools and other libraries if they’ve had an author visit and whether
they could recommend anyone to you. So you’ve found an author you want to work with and
you’re about to get in touch with them. Before you do think about when you like them to come
into your school. First and foremost you need to plan ahead. Lots of authors get booked
up well in advance, especially around key dates like World Book Day. Try and think of
about key dates that are happening in your diary that might enhance a school visit. So if you’ve
got an awards event coming up or maybe a library opening, things like that, you could tie in
the author event to that would help to enhance the visit. So you’ve got a date, you’ve picked
out an author that you want to work with, the next thing is the easy bit: making contact
with them. Usually that’s an email to start with and you can usually do that through the author’s
website, through the publicity department of the publisher or through the author’s agent.
Most of this information is really easy to find, especially if an author is used to doing
school events, that information will be on their website. Most authors who deliver school
visits will have some kind of brochure or a document they can send you so once you’ve
found someone that you’re interested in working with you can email them and ask for some further
information on the types of workshops that they would normally deliver. So you’ve found
an author, you’ve agreed a date, it’s time to plan the day. Most author days start with
a talk followed by some workshops to smaller groups. Pupils love to buy books so given
the the chance they’d love to meet an author and have a book signed. So make sure that
a book signing is scheduled into the day and let the students know that this is going to
happen so they can plan for that in advance and make sure they turn up with some money
on the day. Think about the other things that you might be able to do as well. Maybe you
can run a competition in advance that the author could judge and give out a prize for.
Have some students interview the author. Write a blog, write a review about their books.
You could maybe even make a book trailer based around the author’s work. Maybe you could
organise a book lunch where you have a small group of students who come along and interview
your author. Is there a way of tying this in with drama where you could get some students
to perform a scene from the author’s book. But it’s not just about the school event,
it’s about building anticipation beforehand. Let other members of staff know this is happening,
let the students know it’s going to take place, send out a letter to the parents so they know
this is happening as well. Think about other ways that you can build anticipation. Maybe
you can get in touch with your local press and get something in the newspaper. Think
about longer term relationships as well. This doesn’t just have to be one day. Think about
appointing your author as the Patron of Reading for your school. This way you can have a much
longer relationship, over a year, with an author where they come back for a series of
visits and enhance the work that they can do with your pupils. So what will this cost?
Well most authors follow the guidelines set down by the Society of Authors of around £400
to £500 for a day. That usually covers a talk and two or three workshops. Some authors
charge per event, so per workshop or per talk, but the costs usually work out around about
the same. If you’re looking to engage a high profile author some of these do charge up
to about £1000 for a day so be aware of that. So the main things to remember: find an author
that’s appropriate to your audience, plan ahead, find a date that works for you and
the author. Make sure that everyone knows this is happening, tell the pupils, tell teachers,
tell the parents. And try and get the most out of the day. Think about how you can engage
with the author and the pupils to make this more than just a few hours in the school and
that way you’ll have a really really good author event and the impression of it will
last much longer than just that one day. I hope that helps you to organise your author
event. I’ve put the links to everything that I’ve mentioned below in the comments section.
There’s also a link there to download the brochure for my author events if you’re interested
in me coming into your school. If you are please do get in touch and thanks for watching.

2 thoughts on “How to plan an author school visit

  1. Here’s the links mentioned:

    The Society of Authors school visits research:
    The Society of Authors, Author visits, guidelines for Schools:

    Author Directories:
    Authors Aloud:
    Authors Abroad:
    Contact an Author:
    Hercules Education:
    NAWE Professional Directory:
    National Literacy Trust:
    Scottish Book Trust:
    Society of Authors directory:
    Start the Story:

    World Book Day:
    Patron of Reading:

    Contacting me:
    You can read my schools brochure here:
    My contact details are here:
    My Facebook page:
    My Twitter page:
    And feel free to ask me any questions. Thanks.

  2. I'm so glad you shared this information, thanks!  I have a school reading and I'm so thrilled.  Great job of explaining.

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