Life is busy for your school visit hosts. Miscommunications happen. The result might be a madhouse schedule, payment that doesn’t arrive on the day of your visit, a lunch that isn’t delivered. But before going all “prima donna” or “pezzonovante” on them, cut schools some slack. Consider the challenges they face and address them before they become an issue.
One of my school library friends, Holly Kunkle of Camarillo, California, shared some of the challenges schools face today when booking an author visit:
• Many library personnel are clerks or technicians or volunteers with minimal work hours at the school site and are unable to work beyond that.
• Coordinators are in a constant rush and are overwhelmed with paperwork. They don’t have time, or take time, to read preparation instructions beyond a single sided page.
• Expectations have changed. Schools are pressured from so many directions that they figure, “If I am paying for this person, everything will be covered by the person.”
• Parent coordinators often don’t have experience in coordinating author visits. Also, it’s difficult for parents to ask teachers to do extra tasks such as pre-visit activities with their classes.
Here are some suggestions Holly makes to smooth communications:
• If you have a website inquiry page, be sure to request an email, phone number and position for your primary host, whether the host is school staff member or a parent.
• Opening email attachments can be a problem in school settings. If an author is delivering preparation materials by email, condense it into a bullet list within the email. Title the email, “Preparation for Author Visit with ____.” A separate email titled “Marketing Materials for Author Visit with ____” might contain a link to a Dropbox-type system where you post pdfs.
• If the school visit host is a parent, ask for the email and name of a staff member. Write the email as “It would be great if. . .” Phrase your message so it can be forwarded to the staff easily, because your internal contact may only have time to do that. Avoid the word “required” except when describing room set-up (table, microphone with 25 foot cord, screen, projector, etc.).
• Expecting the library to have copies of your book can be challenging because of budget constraints. But if the first item in your bullet list is, “Read the following books . . .,” people are resourceful and will find a way to get the title and share it with your audience.
How do you smooth the communications process? Share your tip in the comments section below.