TIP: Revisit Schools Every 5 Years!

Even though I had visited this school before, books sales were amazing, thanks to an enthusiastic librarian and principal!

Even though I had visited this school before, books sales were amazing, thanks to an enthusiastic librarian and principal!

Four principals surprised me this year by inviting me back to do assemblies for all their kids.  “But I’ve already visited your school,” I said, thinking they might be having a memory lapse.  “Yes,” they said, “but we have a whole new crop of kids here now.”

 And that’s when the lightbulb went off over my head.  Of course!  Kids graduate. The new kids hadn’t heard me yet, and I had had a new book published in the meantime.

 So here’s my TIP: be sure to keep addresses for all your school visit contacts.  Every five years, send a postcard or letter reminding the school of what a great time you had when you visited, and name the year.  Tell them what’s new with you, and that you’d love to come back to meet their newest learners.

17 Comments on “TIP: Revisit Schools Every 5 Years!”

  • Great start and a great reminder. Kids don’t stay kids for very long and books last forever.

  • Great idea, Alexis! You’re off to a terrific start!

  • Great tip, Alexis–and congrats on launching your blog–YAY!!!!!

  • At least we HOPE they last forever! School visits help keep our books in the consciousness of readers.

  • Alexis said:
    >> “At least we HOPE they last forever! School visits help keep
    >> our books in the consciousness of readers.”

    And kids help you KEEP WRITING books.


  • Excellent advice! I’m so pleased for you (and all of us) that you started this new blog – congratulations, and thank you for both sharing your expertise and creating a hub where our community can talk school visits!

  • Fabulous blog, Alexis! I always look forward to your column, so now I will have more wonderful tips to read. Thanks! Liz

  • Your sage advice is grounded in actual personal experience and interviews with others. Thank you for sharing. You offer a great service to authors and illustrators who are at a loss on how to conduct a school visit or those who need to refine their presentations.

  • Oh! I LOVE being called a sage! Makes me want to grow a beard (well, sort of!) Stay tuned for interviews with other experts as we all share advice on how to navigate this world of school visits.

  • Unfortunately, the PTA person you dealt with before also graduated with their child. (and teachers and principals change) A second step might be to double check with the school’s listing for up-to date contacts. -wendieO

  • Wendie –
    This is so true. PTA officers change every year. But if you send your card to “VP-Programs” it will be routed to the new person holding that position if you don’t have time to call each school.

  • P.S. to my response to Wendie. I just noticed that another parent group calls the person who organizes assemblies, the “programs coordinator,” (yes, with an “s” on “programs”) so that’s another term you might use. You’ll know from the correspondence you had with the school originally.

    Does anyone know of what other parent groups call this position?? I’d love to know!

  • Terrific idea for a blog, Alexis. Great photo of you, too, laughing with the kids.

  • Alexis, You have put together a well thought out and much needed site. Thank you for sharing your insights. You rock!

  • Alexis, your site is fabulous. One thing I’ve done differently in recent years is to not give out my Social Security number. Instead, I applied for and received a Federal Identification number which serves the same purpose. I feel a bit safer without my Social Security number floating around quite so much.

  • Great blog, Alexis!

    I’d like to add a pair of tips for (eventual) return visits to schools:

    1) Start a file of directions to each school you visit (and note the time it took you to get there when you left at X o’clock), so that you don’t have to repeat the research later on (this is also good for income taxes, when you’re calculating your deductible mileage in April).

    2) Jot down notes about the school you just visited, before driving home. What worked especially well at this school? What didn’t? Which teachers were most/least receptive? You think you’ll ALWAYS remember this day, but you’ll thank yourself when you arrive five years later, prepared for that one teacher who had specific, strong opinions about your presentations, or who was so wonderful that you wanted to bring something extra for her/him next time around.

    It may sound like a lot of extra work to do these, and especially early on in your school visit “career,” you may think you’re never going to be asked back to a school. But notes like these really make future visits easier. There are schools I’ve visited annually for over a decade, and I count on my notes to be sure I don’t repeat things from previous years, and to remember conversations with PTO organizers, teachers, etc.

  • Alexis,
    Finding ways to “reach” the right person in resuming contacts is essential. Technology helps- check the school’s/district’s website, look for the PTO link, and you’ll likely find a list of committee positions. If in doubt, send to the PTO pres. and ask to forward as appropriate. CC to the school principal, too. Sad to say, hard copy postcards are less likely to be forwarded than email messages would be.