Author School Visit FAQ
What is an Author Visit?
An Author Visit is when an author comes to a school and speaks to a portion of its student body, usually on the topic of reading, writing, or the content of the book. It’s a memorable and rewarding experience and furthers the goal of getting kids to read. Plus, hosting authors helps schools receive grants, as you’re promoting literacy. And it’s free to the school! Setting this up on your own could incur author fees in the thousands of dollars. (The reason is that publishers send authors on book tours when they have a new book coming out. The publisher wants to promote the book and author, and therefore foots the bill on their expenses. The publisher’s goals are to get exposure for the author and to sell books. There are always new books coming out, and publishers are constantly sending authors.) Typically, an author will visit two school per day–one in the morning and one in the afternoon. An author will require certain AV, will want to speak with specific grades, and will sometime need a particular audience size. All of this information will be provided for you before you decide if you’d like to host them.
How do I schedule an author to visit my school?
Periodically, The Novel Neighbor will send an email to schools letting them know which authors are available and when. In order to receive these emails, please email Kelly@thenovelneighbor.com to get the conversation started!
Are there any requirements for the school?
Yes. Two things:
- By committing to host an author, the school agrees to purchase a minimum of 25 copies of the book being promoted. Schools usually hit this number very easily. We have a list of ways the school can help promote the visit to encourage book sales (see bulleted list below).
- To handle all the money that comes in from the students. The school keeps all of this money and The Novel Neighbor will send a single invoice at the very end to the school.
I’ve scheduled an Author Visit, now what?
As soon as the event has been confirmed, The Novel Neighbor will email you an official confirmation, which will ask you a few logistical questions. Following that, you’ll receive a “next steps” email that will include an Order Form/Flyer. We’ll order the books for you to sell at your school and let you know when those come in so you can pick them up at one of our locations.
What is an Order Form/Flyer?
An Order Form/Flyer is a flyer letting students and their families know about the event, the author, their book, and gives them the opportunity to buy a book in advance of the event so they can have it signed by the author (either at the event or before-hand, depending on the author’s schedule.) This Form is a requirement of the publisher as they’re sending the author to the school free of charge. The Order Form/Flyer is specially designed to be a poster/flyer to help advertise and promote the Author Visit, in addition to serve as an actual order form. It’s also designed for use before and after the event. A benefit of pre-ordering the book before the Author Visit is that the author will be able to sign the book.
How do I prepare for the Author Visit? Or, how to get the school excited!
It is the responsibility of the school to promote the event and distribute the Order Form/Flyer.
Getting ready for the Author Visit can be a lot of fun, and a learning experience in and of itself! The author is a guest of the school… how would you like to welcome them? How would you like them to perceive your school? This is your chance to roll out the red carpet and show off your school. By no means is any of this required, but you can use it as an opportunity. Here’s a list what other schools have done:
- Include Order Form/Flyer in Weekly Folders that go home with students
- Post Order Form/Flyer around school
- Post Order Form/Flyer on school’s and PTA’s website
- Share Order Form/Flyer on school’s and PTA’s social media outlets
- eBlasts from school and PTA/PTO
- Include Author Visit in the Morning Announcements (some even do it daily, some have students make the announcement)
- Have the students/art teachers create posters to hang around school (use “page 1” of Order Form, or create your own. Could have students do one as an art project. Include info about author, lots of visuals like author photo, book covers, etc.)
- Have the library buy copies of the books for their shelves, so they’re available to students to check out
- See if the PTA/PTO would like to buy some as prizes throughout the year — get them signed!
- See if the teachers would like to buy any for their classrooms
- If the date of the visit coincides near Parent/Teacher Conferences, plug the visit and that you can order books at them.
- Create a giant Welcome banner for the author for outside the school’s entrance and other key spots inside the school where the author will see it
- Have librarian print a list of all the author’s titles that are available in the library. (Adding the book covers makes a nice visual, too.)
- Have librarian create a book display of the author’s books (maybe even add in other titles, like “if you liked this, then you like this…”)
- Have librarian talk to all classes during their Media/Library special about a week or so before the author comes. Include who the author is, the books they’ve written, what they’re about, even do a read aloud.
- Put flyers up in the bathrooms (and stalls!)
- Talk to the PTA/PTO about helping to promote the Author Visit
- Read the book in the school’s book group.
- Have students write blurbs for the author’s books.
- Use the student blurbs in advertising around the school.
- Teach a lesson in marketing and advertising and have the students come up with ideas.
- Teachers can read some of the book aloud in their classes, do writing assignments based on the book, conduct a book club around the title
- Have a contest where a student can be selected to introduce the author
- Make a “Reserved for [the author]” sign and put it in one of the parking places. Or attached the sign to an orange cone. Be sure to tell us which spot it will be, so we can let the author and media escort know!
- If you have a band/orchestra/chorus in your school, welcome the author an the entrance to the school with music.
- Assign a student escort to the author for their visit.
- Have an author visit ambassador(s) who can visit classrooms and briefly talk about the upcoming visit: author’s name, date, read a short bio of the author, name some of their books, etc. This is a great lesson in public speaking.
- Bake the author cookies! They could even be decorated with something from one of their books. This is especially great when there’s food mentioned in the book!
- Just have fun and get creative!
What logistics do I need to take care of in advance of the event?
It’s really only three things: provide the info to The Novel Neighbor so we can prepare the Order Form/Flyer, have the books for sale and collect the forms and money, and promote the Author Visit (see bulleted list above).
The Novel Neighbor will create the Order Form/Flyer for the school to distribute. It will be emailed to you as a PDF file. Although it’s in color, it copies really nicely in black & white. There are few items on the Form that will be unique to each school.
QUESTIONS TO HELP CREATE THE ORDER FORM/FLYER:
- Exactly who will collect the forms/money? (The main office? School librarian? PTA?) The line on the Order Form/Flyer that says, “Please return order forms to your teacher or the Main Office.” needs to be determined for your school.
- Typically, schools or PTAs can accept cash and checks. If they can accept credit cards, please let us know and we’ll add it to the form.
- Who should the checks be written out to? The line on the Order Form/Flyer that says, “Payment: Cash or check. Please make checks payable to…” Is it the school? The PTA? Please provide exact wording.
- The author will need to be introduced at the beginning of the event. In addition to having a school administrator welcome the author and get things started, it’s often a unique and memorable opportunity to have one of the students introduce them! As you’ll see on the “Sample Order Form/Flyer” there’s info about “Introduce the Author Contest.” Please let us know if you’d like to do this, and if so, please provide a contact name and email address for students to submit their entry.
BOOKS FOR SALE & MONEY COLLECTION:
- About two weeks before the author visit and for about one week afterwards, the school will have books available for sale. The Novel Neighbor will have these books ready to be picked by the school up at one of our stores. The school will make them available to students. We’ll note the titles and quantities at the beginning, then whichever books are leftover at the end of the time frame, the school will return to The Novel Neighbor. We’ll tally what sold and a single invoice will be sent to the school for payment for whatever books sold. So, one invoice for all pre-order sales, on-site sales, day-of sales and post sales. This way, kids can buy the books on the spot when it’s convenient for them. It works like a consignment type thing… We know how many we start with, and however many we end up with — we subtract to see how many sold. Then we send a single invoice after all is said and done. Plus, the paper order form would be available, too.
- Hopefully, any books ordered via the Order Form/Flyer in advance can be fulfilled with the books at the school for sale. If not, please let us know ASAP by the deadline date so we can get them ordered in time for the visit. (The Order Forms/Flyers will need to be matched up with the books, so please have them handy.)
*Please note: Sometimes the book that the author is out promoting, doesn’t come out until just days before their visit — or sometimes that very day. Therefore, the book wouldn’t be available to you (or us) until then. We’ll let you know if this is the case, and adjust accordingly. (The author may have older titles that we can get in advance and await the new one.)
Why do we have to work so far in advance and why are there deadlines?
SCHEDULING THE AUTHOR: Publishers schedule authors on their book tours 4-6 months in advance. That’s when they contact the Novel Neighbor. There are a lot of moving parts when trying to coordinate all travel logistics for an author who will be traveling all over the country. While we don’t need to do everything 4-6 months out, the publisher needs to know that the school is committed to hosting the author, that there won’t be any testing going on that day, and that they won’t be out on school break.
EVENT LOGISTICS: These should begin 4-6 weeks in advance of the Author Visit. This has to do with preparing a Pre-Order Form, giving the school enough time to share it, time for the school to let us know which books have been ordered by the students, allow the Novel Neighbor to order the books, receive them at our store, process them, and get them ready to go to the school. This takes weeks. Please pay close attention to the deadlines!
How is money collected from the students who buy books?
Once the Order Form/Flyer has been distributed, the school collects the forms and money, then writes a single check to The Novel Neighbor for the full amount at the very end (after the event and after all post-sales).
What happens on the day of the event?
ARRIVAL, SET-UP & INTRODUCTIONS:
- The author should arrive 30-45 minutes before the start time of the event.
- The author and a media escort will be there.
- They’ll need a place to set any jackets, bags, etc.
- Determine a place for the author to sign books for the students.
- They’ll want to see the event space and make sure all AV and the room is all set and ready to go.
- It’s always nice to meet and say hello to the principal — and any other important school officials, too.
- In addition to possibly having a student introduce the author, we’d like the school to welcome everyone, introduce the event and the Novel Neighbor, and hand it over to the student (if there is one introducing the author) – if not, then the school can proceed with the author introduction. (Either way, we can provide you with info about the author.)
- The author will do their presentation.
AS THE PRESENTATION ENDS:
- At the conclusion of their presentation, please have school staff come up on stage to thank the author, dismiss the students and talk about any school-related housekeeping needs.
- Feel free to post photos and such on social media to let the community know about this fun event! Please tag us! (#novelneighbor) Tag the author, too. (It’s usually just “#” and their full name and/or book title. Just ask us if you’re not sure.)
- The author can sign books for the students.
- The Order Form/Flyer should be distributed at the end of the event, or sent with the teachers to hand out that day, while the event is fresh is the student’s minds.
- After the event is over, most likely we’ll need to leave pretty quickly, either to the next event or get the author to the airport.
What happens after the event?
The school will return to The Novel Neighbor any unsold books that were left on the day of the Author Visit. (We’ll coordinate the timing of this in advance. It’s usually about one week after the event.) We’ll tally all books sold and send a single invoice. If the books aren’t returned by the agreed upon date, the school will be charged for all the outstanding books.
Feel free to send photos from the Author Visit! Some students are ambitious and like to send thank you notes. We can send them to the author via their publisher, if you’d like to do this.