TO PLAN AN AUTHOR APPEARANCE
in Advance: Planning should begin about a year in advance.
Some authors schedule visits over a year in advance.
Now, Consider the Following Questions:
1. Why the school should pay an author
or artist for a visit
From time to time we have heard that some administrators question
paying an author or artist for his or her services, so we feel
compelled to point out certain things in case you need to write
a proposal or make a presentation to your school committee.
First of all, author appearances are not strictly promotional
tours. Promotional tours generally promote the author's
latest book, and it's just recently released. No author
presentation is given. At author appearances, authors give
presentations and a wide variety of the author's titles are made
available for purchase. From time to time, authors do give
free author appearances, but they are highly selective and done
for very specific reasons. In general, we have learned that
often feel that they get what they pay for and if they're not
paying anything, they feel they're not getting anything worthwhile.
Such appearances don't always enjoy much success.
please keep in mind that most authors and artists are basically
freelancers who spend their time writing and/or illustrating.
Author visits take them away from their work, so authors need
compensation for their efforts and for the time they take away
from their work on books.
importantly, authors and artists should be paid for their appearances
because of the hard work they put in to their presentations! A
great deal of thought and time goes into preparing a good talk
and a lot of energy is needed to deliver the presentations. Hopefully,
children (and adults too!) learn something from the author's talks.
They discover the author's personal connections to his or her
books and see how books can fit into one's own life.
Authors frequently work with teachers to prepare a talk that will
fit into the curriculum needs. If nothing else, a great presentation
encourages students to read! In this way, authors and illustrators
are like teachers. Authors and illustrators have a great deal
to offer when they visit schools and, like educators, their value
should be appreciated and accepted.
What kind of budget do you have available?
What is the total budget for the visit? Remember that travel and
hotel expenses are not included in the author's honorarium and
are typically paid by the people inviting the author. Speakers
understand that most organizations have limited budgets. Occasionally
an author will make a local visit for a reduced honorarium, but
generally authors have a fairly established fee of which we have
a record. (Further information is provided on the "presentations"
page for each author; also see the "General Information on
the Cost of an Author Appearance" section.)
3. Who will be in the audience?
- How many
children will be involved?
- Will there
be adults, children, or both in the audience?
- What is
the age range of the children in the audience? Remember that
kindergartners and fourth graders have different needs and attention
spans, so they should be grouped differently.
How many presentations will the author be asked to make?
Most authors can only do three performances in a day without collapsing!
A few well-planned presentations with well prepared children,
or adults, will work far better than many presentations with a
weary and listless presenter.
5. How long will the presenter be asked
- One day?
Three days? A week?
- Have some
dates for the visit in mind, and be sure to consider the school's
calendar and holiday schedule when youíre choosing the
best time for the author appearance.
time the author is available" is almost never helpful for
scheduling, while some flexibility usually is.
6 . Do you have a particular author or
illustrator in mind?
- Good writers
are not always good presenters.
"someone famous" sometimes helps to rally the necessary
funds, but does not guarantee a successful visit.
lesser known authors may prove to be more available, more flexible,
and more affordable. We're happy to talk to you about anyone
you may be considering and offer suggestions given your parameters.
extend an invitation to the author of your choice, contact Catherine
Balkin at BalkinBuddies at the phone number or email address shown
below. If you wish to invite an author who is not on the BalkinBuddies
list, we may be able to contact the author for you anyway, or
we may know which publisher you should contact. If we don't have
the information you need, try calling the publisher of the author's
latest book. The Children's Book Council (212 966-1990) can provide
you with a list of contacts for each publisher.
1. Once you have decided to make a formal offer to one of our
authors or illustrators, we will forward your invitation and relay
the reply to you.
2. If the author accepts, we will send you a letter of confirmation
with the details of the visit as we understand them and send a
copy of that letter to the author.
3. After you receive the confirmation letter, we ask that you
contact the author/illustrator and work out the logistics; transportation,
hotel accommodations, and the visit schedule. So that we can best
serve you and the author, we ask that you send us a copy of all
recommend that you place your book order at least 6-8 weeks before
the author appearance. Most publishers offer about a 40%
discount. If books aren't available from the publisher,
they'll probably be available from your local bookstore, distributor,
or online at barnesandnoble.com, borders.com, buybooks.com or
booksense.com. You may also want to check bookstoresusa.com
to get a complete list of available bookstore sources.
each author on the BalkinBuddies.com website, there is a list
of that author's books on the author's "Books" page;
also see the author's "Book Ordering" page to links
to each author's publishers' book ordering policies and terms
or phone numbers as well as links to other sources. If you
have any questions about any of these links, publishers or have
any other book ordering questions, please contact Catherine Balkin
- The more
people that know about the event, the better the turnout and/or
support for events in the future.
- Send short
descriptions of the event to local papers. Follow up to make
sure your messages were received AND read.
- If you
have e-mail, you may want to advertise the appearance on appropriate
photos and biographical information can be downloaded from the
Balkin Buddies website.
- We suggest
you contact the author's publishers to see if they can send
you some promotional material to support your efforts.
- Make information
available to your audience as well. If the audience has read
books or seen illustrations by the presenter, the author/illustrator
will feel better appreciated and everyone will be more enthusiastic
about the visit.
event's success or failure often lies in the details. A few suggestions:
Make sure to go over ALL planned activities with the presenter.
For example, if the author will be expected to read manuscripts,
clear this with him or her beforehand.
Make sure to work out all the details of the honorarium check
before the visit date to avoid any last minute misunderstandings.
Most authors appreciate getting the check for the honorarium
on the last day of the visit.
Ascertain what the presenter will need for his or her presentations
(pens, pads, microphone, slide projector, podium, a room that
can be darkened for a slide presentations, etc.).
the author: Who will meet the author? When? Where? How will
you recognize each other? (Meeting him/her at the airport baggage
area with a copy of his/her book in your hand is a nice touch!)
- Food: Find
out if the author/illustrator has dietary restrictions, allergies,
Be sure to schedule some free time for the author, especially
after traveling, between talks, and be sure to offer him or
her a lunch break.
For school visits, some authors prefer that you collect the
books beforehand with a slip of paper in each book with the
child's name on it. Getting through a stack of books this way
may be simpler than having 50 anxious children stand in line.
General honorariums are listed on the "presentations"
page for each author, but they are not set in stone. Authors may
be negotiable, and the reasons for this vary. An honorarium may
be reduced because the author may:
- Have family
in your area and want to visit.
- Want to
do research in your area for an upcoming book.
- Be looking
to supplement his/her income and be willing to agree to a lesser
- You may
live in a great vacation spot that the author has always wanted
to visit.On the other hand, authors who don't want to do as
many school visits as they've done in the past may raise their
fees in order to curb requests and focus on their writing. (Check
with us, however, as this is subject to change.)
may vary depending on how many presentations you want.
An author may reduce his fee if you're asking him to do only
two sessions, instead of three. Also, an author may ask
for an additional fee if you're requesting an evening performance.
- An honorarium
may also vary depending on how many days you want the author
to come. A one-day visit usually takes three days away
from the author's writing, due to traveling, so sometimes the
fee is reduced if you ask him to stay 3 or more days.
These and other factors can and do affect fees. It's true that
many authors and illustrators will not do appearances for under
a set dollar amount. But this isn't true of everyone, and there
are always exceptions, even to set fees. We know some people have
to report back to principals or committees about costs, so we
hope you will be able to use the above information in your presentations.
For even further information, please see the "General Information
on the Cost of an Author Appearance" section.
For Further Information Please Contact:
Author/Illustrator visits are a wonderful way to promote reading
and writing! Having fun is a great way to learn!