Author visits – get (and give!) the Wow factor.

As part of the London and South East SLG Lib Meet in April 2014 we had an afternoon of discussions based on topics that had been chosen by the delegates on the day. We were lucky enough to have some wonderful authors with us on the day and they took part in the discussion groups.  The discussion was made all the better by their contribution from “other side of the table”! Our thanks go to authors Margaret Bateson-Hill, Sam Osman, Sandra Agard, Alex Wheatle, Annette Smith and James Dawson for making the day such a pleasure.

The key points raised during the discussion about author visits are listed here.

The attending school librarians had fantastic discussions with the authors and together came up with some superb ideas that could help you turn an average author visit, into an inspirational time for all and give your visit the WOW factor!

  • Authors to relate to students the importance of good accurate research and how they accomplish that.
  • Authors to prepare a lesson relating to his work /novels to help facilitate debates/discussions.
  • Author could recommend YA books that think are good for students to read: these could be put on display.
  • Authors to contact the school and suggest ideas of promotion or send in a teasing sample of text from their books.
  • List of books that influenced the author: the author could supply list in advance so that librarian could ensure these are in stock – library could promote them before and /or after visit – could have a pre-prepared handout to give out after the event.
  • Book trailers to be placed on school website.
  • Stories not just in books – promote love of narrative that are in film /cartoons/ etc. to appeal to those who do not read traditional way?
  • Creature writing – read students own work.
  • Item on school webpage / local press/ promotion of school and author.
  • Media students could interview author / make a film as part of visit.
  • Creature writing competition inspired by author books Before visit – winner could be read out or selected by the author.
  • Sale of books signed by author.
  • Bookmarks that list all the published books of the author or those recommended – could be double sided – publisher could produce – getting promotional material from publishers to help librarians promote author events.
  • Prizes – eg. t-shirts.
  • Excerpts from books around the librarian in advance – author could supply particular ones to use as might talk about at event.
  • Promotional material from publisher in advance – could include graphic material.
  • Ask students to ask questions based on the author’s books.
  • Each year group had a book read to them so students could prepare questions.
  • Author to find out about school in advance.
  • Check the audience – focus.
  • Emphasise strengths to Librarian.
  • Website information so that librarian knows all about you in advance.
  • Video clips.
  • Budget restrictions – can you offer more for the money?
  • Advertise well in advance that author is coming.
  • Contact Waterstones to become part of an existing book offer: unit £5 good discount
  • Prize book plates from author.
  • Timing can be difficult , authors should be flexible
  • Liaise with the public libraries.
  • Add creative writing lessons to the mix.
  • Offer Skype creative writing sessions – lower cost availability can be recorded conference option.
  • Ask an author / interview after the visit
  • Answer Twitter questions – less cost etc.
  • Author to write to Headteacher to say they enjoyed visiting the school.
  • Put Children Librarians’ comments on the author’s website.
  • 2 way impact – raising issues for further discussion.
  • Competition based on the both – win a copy.
  • Authors who talk about inspiration – their lives.
  • Sharing life experiences – role models / particularly if they have had a troubled background.
  • People who make the children “Think about the children!”
  • Being a writer is achievable.
  • Impact on reading.
  • Author needs to made the talk different STAND OUT.
  • Author who is not just words on a page.
  • What strange to wonderful things did you need to do to research your book?
  • Creative writing aspect.
  • Make author visit memorable.
  • Less is more – small groups work best.
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