How to Add Gigs When Traveling

Cactus _Casa Grande_AZWhen my husband had to travel to Arizona recently, I went along, adding a school visit gig to sweeten the trip. Here’s how I did it.

 I didn’t know anyone in the smallish town where he was going to be headquartered, but I went to the school district’s website and found the email addresses of the 9 elementary school principals.  I wrote: “I just wanted to let you know that I am going to be traveling from California to your town in October. While I’m there, I would love to visit your school for an author visit.  I’m available on Friday, October 22. The only expense would be my honorarium since I’ll already be in town.”

 The email included a brief bio, how my books connect with the curriculum, and links to my website and on-line interviews.

This yielded a visit!  As it turned out, one school had just featured two of my books in a character education program the week before my note arrived, so my timing for them was perfect.  The school loved that they didn’t have to pay for travel or lodging.

If your search of public schools in an area doesn’t turn up any takers, author Bruce Hale recommends trying private schools.  He writes:

These days, I’ve been doing lots of add-on gigs when I know I’ll be in a particular city.  Since most public schools aren’t rolling in bucks these days, I visit, plug in the city, and start cold-calling schools.

 Most times, I literally call the schools cold, with no lead or introduction. Sometimes I’ll send an email first, if the contact person and email address are evident on the school’s website. Often the principal is the decision-maker, but in some of the larger private schools, the librarian controls a portion of the budget and can decide whether or not to hire you.   

In general, I’ve had better luck with the larger private schools (look for the number of students on the website listing), but sometimes 2-3 smaller schools are willing to band together to split a day’s visits.  I’ve found that you often have to call a lot of schools before you hit paydirt, but cold calls get easier with time.”

So, whether you inquire by email or are brave enough to do this by phone call like Bruce, letting schools know that you’re in town and available can be a plus for both the school and the author.

5 Comments on “How to Add Gigs When Traveling”

  • This worked for me last month when I wanted to meet my daughter in New Orleans.
    She was there for a conference so I found a school that hosted an author visit.
    The school saved money. The kids were great. And I had fun talking about books and teaching writing workshops.

  • Hi, Alexis!

    I am loving this blog! No nonsense, real world advice! Thanks so much!

    Take care,

  • Do’t you love it when it works out like this! How did you manage to find the school, Gwnedolyn?

  • Hi Alexis~
    I googled the elementary schools and emailed either the principal or librarian. My first choice was librarians, but their email addresses weren’t alwasys listed. Then I emailed the principal. Twenty or so schools yielded one invitation.

    I have been more organized thanks to your blog. Keep it up!

  • 1 for 20 is actually quite good for cold-calling! I think that if the school I mentioned in my post hadn’t already had me on their radar, I might have been 0 for 9.