Get Booked! How to Make the Most of Children and Teen Author Visits in Libraries, School Libraries and Classrooms
By Julie Doepken
A group of six authors and librarians shared tips and insights to encourage attendees to arrange author
visits for their school or library. The session was an informal panel discussion, guided by a moderator
who asked questions of the authors. There was a brief Q & A at the end as well.
One of the first questions asked was why even go to the effort and expense to arrange an author visit.
The answers varied slightly, but most of the authors viewed visits as a way to model writing as a
vocation. One author suggested that visits help to ‘humanize’ authors, to make them regular people and
therefore presents writing as something that could be attained by any student as well. Another author
shared that visits could get students excited about writing in a way that regular classroom instruction
could not. Author visits are a unique way to get students to engage with literature.
As far as preparing for an author to come, all of the authors agreed that the host school or library must
prepare the audience by sharing as much information about the author as possible before the visit.
Share the author’s books, tell about the author’s background. If students do not have a sense of who
the author is, it is much more difficult for them to connect with the author once the author is there. One
author shared that a visit went quite awry because the students had no idea what books that author had
written. By laying some groundwork, the visit should be much smoother. By being super positive and by
advertising well, a host librarian or teacher can make it feel as though a celebrity is coming, making the
visit highly anticipated and more well attended.
The panel advised potential hosts not to hesitate to reach out to publishers and ask questions. Find the
author’s website and peruse it for information that will help set up a potential visit. Do some homework
to know if the author’s fees are affordable. If it appears that cost will be a factor, seek out grants or PTA
funding. See if the event can be connected with another library. And, a large number of authors will
Skype for free or a reduced fee. Kate Messner has a great list of authors who will Skype for free. It
may not be the perfect option, but one author on the panel shared several Skype success stories, with
the visit being more focused on one aspect of writing or the author’s books. The authors acknowledged
the fees may feel expensive, but that in the end, it is worth the cost to bring an author to a school or
Throughout the discussion, it was quite evident that the authors enjoy author visits and use them to
energize student learning and encourage future writers. There may be a lot of paperwork involved, but
in the end, fighting for ways to better engage students is worth the work.