Why Should I Pay for an Author Visit?
Assumption #1: Shouldn’t authors offer free school visits? After all, it’s great for publicity. Some authors do offer free visits, whether when first starting out or by offering one or two free visits each year. The truth, an author is a professional. It’s safe to say many of us make less (in many cases far less) than your average teacher. For an author, there’s no such thing as a steady income. Selling new books to a publisher can be sporadic, if it happens at all.
Assumption #2: We would like to have a bookseller come when you’re at our school. Aren’t book sales enough to cover an author visit? Thank you to every school that considers book sales! To give a child the opportunity to own a book — any book — is a gift! And there is special meaning attached to a book written by an author the child has met. Unfortunately, though, book sales are not the same as compensation.
Assumption #3: I’ve looked at your rates. You sure expect to make a lot of money an hour! An author’s rates can’t be translated into hourly fees. When a school pays for an author visit, they are investing in the years of knowledge and skill she’s amassed. Not only does a school compensate the author for the work she does that day, but all the preparation that went into the presentations beforehand, the time spent traveling to and from the school, and the author’s time away from her writing desk. An author visit isn’t just an event, it’s an experience, one that takes time and preparation to get just right.
Assumption #4: There’s no way my school can afford to bring an author in. Not true! SCBWI offers the Amber Brown Grant, which annually gives one school “an all-expense-paid visit from a well-respected children’s author or illustrator.” Be creative—perhaps money earmarked for field trips might be used for a school visit (think of it as a field trip coming to the school)! Click here for more information on funding and fundraising ideas.
An author visit is an opportunity to hook young readers, keep them reading, and serve their creativity, writing, and imaginations for years to come. It’s an investment, for sure, one I wholeheartedly believe is worth making.