(See also “Virtual Author Visits” in Digital Library section)
Organising an author visit is a great way to raise the profile of reading within your school
Planning the Visit
First decide why you want an author, because this will inform the nature of the visit and your choice of writer e.g. do you want a reading, a creative writing workshop or both? What year groups will be involved? Would you like to tie the author visit to a particular event, such as World Book Day or National Poetry Day?
Decide on when you would like an author to visit your school. Bear in mind that some authors are booked up between six-months to a year in advance, so it is always good to be as flexible as possible.
Think about your budget. Costs can vary considerably. Average rates quoted by the Society of Authors are around £400 – £600 a day and £300 for half a day but authors, particularly if they are well known, can charge £800 or even as much as £1,000 for a full day’s visit. In addition you will also be expected to cover any travel/ accommodation expenses that the author incurs. These costs can be reduced by booking an author who lives locally or by arranging for the author to visit another school in the area, thereby sharing expenses
Once you have decided on all of the above you can start to compile a shortlist of suitable authors. If you have particular authors in mind they can be contacted via their individual websites or through their publishers’ publicity departments. However, if you are at a loss as to who to choose, there are a number of agencies who specialise in finding authors and even arranging bookings, but they do charge a small fee. (Please see associated links below)
Once a suitable author has been found, you will need to reach an agreement on the details of the visit. These should include – the date and time; travel arrangements; the venue; the age, number, and “personality” of the student body the author will be addressing; the length and number of sessions; details of any work the author would like the students to be familiar with before the visit; any special requirements such as a projector and screen, whiteboard, microphone etc; the cost of the visit; reimbursement for travel and any accommodation requirements and how payment should be made
Make sure the visit is well-publicised, the venue booked and the pupils prepared – the more the students know about the author, the more they will appreciate and benefit from the visit
Arrange with your local bookshop to have a supply of books on sale or return for the author visit. If you get them at a discount you can either pass that on, or sell the books at the normal rate and use the profits to offset the cost of the visit. If you experience any difficulty obtaining the books, contact the publisher, or even the author.
About 4-6 weeks before the visit, plan a detailed itinerary of the day, accounting for presentations, breaks and special events such as book signings. E-mail the itinerary to the author to look over. Include transport arrangements and directions to the school. Also check whether the author has any dietary requirements for lunch. Remember to give the author a contact number/name in case of any problems
Send the finalised itinerary to all the staff in your school so they are aware of the day’s events. They will still be needed on the day of the visit to supervise their classes as usual. Remember authors are never to be left alone with the children!
A week before the author is due, alert children and parents to the possibility of buying books and the need for money
On the day ensure someone is on hand to welcome and escort the author to the various venues and a nice touch is to ensure that he is formally introduced to his audiences by the Head or at very least a senior member of the English Dept. Also have refreshments available throughout the day.
After the visit it is usual to send some feedback and a letter of thanks to the author
For more detailed information on organising an author visit please see :
- The Society of Authors Guide for Schools Organising an Author Visit
- World Book Day Your Guide to Organising an Author or Illustrator Visit
Websites that help you find your own author/illustrator/poet
Agencies who specialise in finding authors for you – a fee is usually charged for this service.
- http://applesandsnakes.org/ (specialise in poetry)
- www.nibweb.org.uk (specialising in non-fiction authors)