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HOW TO PLAN AN AUTHOR APPEARANCE

Plan 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
people 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.   Also, 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.

Most 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.

2. 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.

4. 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 to stay?

  • 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.

"Any 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.
  • Also, "someone famous" sometimes helps to rally the necessary funds, but does not guarantee a successful visit.
  • Local, 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.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

To 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. Or take a look at the Speakers Bureau on the ALAN website.

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 correspondence.

Book Orders

We 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.

For 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 at 718-857-7605.

Publicity & Preparation

  • 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 listservs.
  • Publicity 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.

Details

An event's success or failure often lies in the details. A few suggestions:

  • Schedule: 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.
  • Honorarium: 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.
  • Materials: 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.).
  • Meeting 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, etc.
  • Breaks: 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.
  • Autographing: 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.

Honorariums

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 honorarium.
  • 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.)
  • Honorariums 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:

Catherine Balkin
Balkin Buddies
Telephone 718 857 7605
Email BalkinBuddies@aol.com

Have Fun!
Author/Illustrator visits are a wonderful way to promote reading and writing! Having fun is a great way to learn!