Author Visit Packets

AuthorVisitPacket_Interior_smWhen a school books me for a visit, I send them an Author Visit Packet.  While some of authors have hosts download PDFs posted on their websites, I send a 2-pocket folder filled with materials.  So why bother?  Schools invest money to have me visit.  An advance packet is part of the package.  And I can’t tell you how many hosts have mentioned how helpful this packet has been to them as they prepare kids and staff for my visit.

I include three types of materials: 1) items to post on bulletin boards, 2) background information on my published works and 3) business information, including an invoice and information on scheduling and room set-up.

Items for Bulletin Boards: headshot, brochure, postcards, book covers, and news clips.

Background Information: For each book, I send a pamphlet called “Because You Asked,” which answers kids’ questions on the book; a Teacher Idea Sheet filled with activities in major curriculum areas; a list of related books; a master for an autographed bookmark, and a hands-on art activity. I also include a complete list of all my published works – books, magazines, and newspapers.

Business Information:  Sample book order form; scheduling suggestions; a diagram of how the room should be set up; a list of equipment needed (including a parking space and lunch!); the invoice; and a signed W-9 Form for taxes.

As a former teacher and a conference organizer, I appreciate the convenience of having materials I can hold in my hand and use right away.

How about you? How do you feel about Author Visit Packets?

22 Comments on “Author Visit Packets”

  • Thanks for a glimpse into your packet, Alexis. I send advance materials, too, but I need to bulk up what I send. I’ve been working on a Q&A document. I think many people do a better job of reading thru printed materials than digital materials. Since I’m a graphic artist, I can easily produce nice-looking documents. I always include a CD of my “Storytime Boogie” song which I often use as a closer at assemblies for younger kids. It’s nice if students know the song before I get there, but they seem to enjoy it whether they know it or not.

    I’m glad to see you have launched this blog. It’s great!

    Kim Norman

  • I’m one of those authors who uses pdf files for my packet. I find it is easier to get it directly to the person who requested it as opposed to languishing in some seldom-checked in box. But after reading your post, I can definately see the advantage of sending a packet via snailmail. There are some things that are just easier to have in hand. Thanks for the great suggestions.

  • I just found your blog and I love it. I am at the point in my career where I’d like to step up my author visits. I’ve had some and they were very successful.
    But your blog has already given me some new ideas.

    In Oklahoma, we have a web site like the Utah one you’ve listed. Ours is . Authors in other states might consider doing something similar.

    I look forward to reading your blog.

  • Kim — A CD enclosure is a great bonus! What graphics program do you use? I use Publisher. It’s so easy to learn.

  • Mary Ann – I have PDFs posted at my website which can be downloaded by anyone. But I wanted to give something special to those who actually booked me for a visit.

  • Gwendolyn – The link for your Oklahoma speakers list didn’t post. Care to share it again? Or you can send it to me off-list and I’ll get it up. Writer to info2@schoolvisitexperts.com

  • This is an exceptionally thorough laundry list of to do’s for school visits. Success comes from preparation- thanks for a raft of great ideas.

  • Anytime, Mary! And keep watching for more as we build our grouup of experts.

  • Alexis, thank you for growing this resource to make life easier for everyone involved in school visits! I have a comment and a question.

    My comment is that my packet includes, in addition to my headshot and book covers, more items designed for quick-and-easy use on library posters. The items are large (full page or half page) and they show info that might register at a glance even if people don’t slow down while walking by.

    For example, I include
    ● 2-4 illustrations or photos from the book(s)
    ● single-word, font-size-26 quotes from reviews (e.g., “Outstanding.” –Library Media Connection)
    ● a one-page, maximum-font-size bio consisting of only a few bullets (grew up… loves… believes that…)
    ● and my name (font size 135) for the poster title. I use colored fonts or black on colored papers.
    All librarians need to do is pick this-and-that and staple it up. And they do!

    My question is, why do you include your newspaper pieces in your list of publications? Is it because they are all relevant to literacy or to your books? Should authors include publications that are not relevant to their books or to literacy? Oh dear, my question multiplied.

  • Great blog! Please send me your Oklahoma speakers list.
    I need help in preparing for school visits.

    Thanks.

  • Caroline – Great suggestions! I appreciate the details. About the newspapers. I include news clips of me visiting schools and bookstores. In terms of my writing, I include clips I have written for children. Everything I enclose is relevant to my career as a children’s author.

  • Emma – For more information on Okalhoma authors, go to http://www.scbwi.org and contact the Oklahoma regional advisor or check out the online Speakers Bureau for more information.

  • This is a great service to those of us who have been asked to visit schools.
    Thank you.

  • Thanks, Alexis, for sharing your experience here. I’m sure that teachers appreciate all the information you can give them up front. The packet’s a great idea.

  • As a first time author, I’m just getting started with school visits…I can’t tell you how thankful I am that you started this site! Love, love, love it!!!!

  • Hi Alexis,
    You asked about the programs I use: I have the entire Adobe Suite, (although I desperately need to upgrade) which includes InDesign (mainly a layout program), Illustrator (more of a design program for cool graphics & text manipulation), Photoshop, and Acrobat which allows me to do various tricks with PDFs. The Adobe Suite has a fairly steep learning curve, but it was a gentler slope for me since I learned it years ago while working at a newspaper. It’s also kind of expensive, but worth it for my particular situation since I also freelance as a graphic artist. Since I home school, I got an educator’s version which is about 60 to 70% cheaper.

    For anyone on a Mac, I would highly recommend Pages, a very simple program with lots of nice features. For years, I avoided the expense of buying MSWord since I primarily work in graphics programs. The occasional graphics client sent me Word files which worked fairly well when I opened them in Pages. I finally broke down and bought MSWord this year because I was working with editors on text files, and I needed to be able to see their edits & notes. “Pages” comes in a package called “iWork” which includes a spreadsheet program and Keynote, a terrific PowerPoint type program, all for 79 bucks. What a great deal!

    I had someone make up my CDs for me after I sent him a master. If I remember correctly, I paid something like 69 cents per CD including paper sleeves with round cello windows, which I thought was a good deal. He burned several hundred for me. I print up a few labels at a time and affix them to the CDs as needed. The same guy sold me several hundred sheets of pre-cut sticky label papers. He was clearing them out, so I bought them for next to nothing.

    Kim

  • This is SUCH a great blog idea! Found it through Christine Fonseca’s blog. Love this information; practical, imaginative and totally timely. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Kim – Thanks for all the specifics on the graphics programs you use. I feel a bit like a kindergartener plodding along with Publisher, but it’s simple and has worked for me so far! Some day I’ll grow up and actually learn otehr cool tools. You’ve inspired me!

  • I used to send a massive packet but I have gone the route of “paperless” bookings. My clients book me online through my website and my assistant emails all the files they need or provides links to the book activities on my website. There are over a hundred activities on the website so I can’t possibly provide hard paper copies of everything.

    I do send real bookmarks for all the students in the school and reading posters for the teachers. I order bookmarks by the 10,000 from http://www.willywalt.com for $260 + shipping. The company is based in Florida and you can speak to real live people! Ask for Joey and tell them Dianne sent you. :) I want everyone to leave with a memento of my visit.

    So far, it has worked splendidly and teachers love the downloadable activities. I encourage the school to email all the teachers with the links so they can access the activities when they want to. It seems to be a lot easier than copying the activities for all the teachers. Also, the teachers can pick and choose which activities they want to use in their classrooms, depending upon their grade level.

    Well, that’s what works for me!

  • Dianne – I think that automating your bookings online is a useful idea, so thanks for that tip and the bookmark link. In terms of downloadables in place of packets, I’m in favor of sending a selection of handouts in a physical packet — handouts that I really want my host to pay attention to. But having the auxilliary materials as downloads is a great way to go. I still think that teachers ilke the “wow” factor of having the items in hand.

  • I was reading your post again because I have a school visit coming up. I just realized that you asked for the Oklahoma author website. I’m sorry I didn’t see it sooner. Here it is: http://www.oklahomaauthorsandillustrators.com

  • Gwendolyn – Thanks for the link to the cooperative site. in Oklahoma I like the short video posts on each author, and I’m sure that schools do, too.