As soon as my first book was published, I began visiting classrooms, schools, and libraries to talk to young readers about writing. I’m a former teacher and a mom, and my colleagues – as well as my children’s teachers – invited me to speak to their students and library patrons. At first, these visits were favors to people that I knew, so I visited at no charge. I love children (of course – that’s why I write for them!), and I found that doing an “Author Visit” was a heady experience. The kids were so enthusiastic – they made me feel like a rock star!
At a bookstore signing, the owner asked if I’d be willing to join her “Authors in Schools” team. I gladly agreed, and since she arranged stipends for her author-speakers, I suddenly had a source of income while I waited for my royalties to “earn out.”
How do schools learn about you?
At most schools, author/illustrator visits are arranged by the media specialist. Eventually, word-of-mouth will be your best advertisement. Many school media specialists subscribe to list-servs in their district or state, and – if they are pleased with your visit – they’ll transmit information about you to others. Note: Most schools only invite one author per year, so the word-of-mouth method snowballs gradually.
How do you begin? When you present programs or autograph at public libraries, stores, and conferences, hand out your business card or author brochure to teachers and librarians. (You can arrange your own book signing events or ask the publicist at your publishing company to help.)
You can reach out to teachers and librarians by presenting a workshop at conferences, as well. To apply to be a presenter at state, regional, or national conferences, you will need to submit a proposal. Go to the organization’s website and download the application form. Consider starting with the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and the Association of School Librarians (ASL). Remember that the application deadline will be about 6 months before the conference, and your proposal stands a better chance of acceptance at a state/regional conference than at a national conference.
A website is also a great way to spread the word. Be sure to list “key words” that will help school media specialists locate your website when they search.
If there is a children’s bookstore in your area, contact the owner to see if s/he books authors/illustrators into schools.
Some author/illustrators send out postcards/brochures to schools in a district, or they pay to join up with a service, such as http://www.author-illustr-source.com/ that advertises to schools. Others employ a booking agency. These services can be very expensive, so you would need to be available for many visits to pay off the initial investment.
For more information about Gail Karwoski, visit her website, http://gailkarwoski.com/ or visit the Sylvan Dell Publishing website, http://www.SylvanDellPublishing.com. For additional inquiries or to schedule an interview with Ms. Karwoski, contact Sara Dobie, Public Relations, at 877-958-2600 or SaraDobie@SylvanDellPublishing.com.