Wednesday, 25 March 2015

If Carslberg Did School Events by Tamsyn Murray

OK, OK, so maybe that title isn't the best on to associate with schools but you get the idea: if Carlsberg did school events did, they'd probably be the best school events in the world. And that got me thinking about what constitutes the Perfect Author Visit. Here's what I came up with:

  • Reserved parking space if needed (Desirable)
  • Office Staff are expecting you (Desirable)
  • Offer of (non-alcoholic) drink on arrival (Desirable)
  • Staff member who booked you or their counterpart is available to meet you when you arrive and to guide you to where you need to be. (Essential)
  • Children are expecting you (Essential)
  • Children have been reading your work and looking at your website (Desirable)
  • Someone introduces you to them (Desirable)
  • IT works OK - Powerpoint works (Essential)
  • Pupils as questions (Desirable)
  • Cake in staffroom (Desirable)
  • Regular offers of tea and coffee (Essential)
  • Breaks (Essential)
  • Parents are aware you are coming in - have had letters sent home for WEEKS (Essential)
  • Pupils are aware they can get a personally signed book of their very own (Essential)
  • Someone on the staff thank you to you (Desirable)
  • Pupils listen and say thank you (Desirable)
  • More cake (Desirable)
  • If you're doing workshops, pupils have time to finish the work in subsequent lessons (Essential)
  • Pupils buy all the books you have (Desirable)
  • Pupils get in touch afterwards to say how much they loved the book (Desirable)
  • Prompt payment if not part of book promo (Desirable)
  • Happiness all round! (Desirable)
 And then I woke up and it had all been a dream...

So what are your must-haves for school visits? All of the above? None of the above? Let me know!


Sue Bursztynski said...

You'd get most of these items at my school. Unfortunately, there wouldn't be many sales, because I work at a disadvantaged school, most of whose students can't afford to buy books, but you'd get lots of cake and lunch too, and tea or cold drinks, whichever you preferred, the IT equipment would have been checked, there would be at least some kids who had read your work and questions asked and me to welcome you, introduce you and have a student stand up and thank you and give you a small gift. And encourage questions when kids are shy.

Is this okay? :-)

Richard said...

This may be hopelessly naive... You can print 100 or 1,000 books with 16-32 B&W pages cheaply enough to sell them for £2 and make up to 50p profit. When visiting schools where nobody is going to be able to afford a "real" book, maybe you could offer them a cheap, limited edition short story. Obviously there are political and financial concerns, not to mention the design and preparation time, and it wouldn't work with picture books.

Sue Bursztynski said...

The thing is, Richard, when people come to talk to students, they generally like to promote their latest book. Kids who have been hearing about the wonderful new book the guest has had published recently aren't going to settle for a photocopy of a short story. And I don't think the author would like it either.

I do make sure that there are at least two or three copies in my library and I buy out of my own pocket, a copy to be offered as a prize for "best question" chosen by the author. It encourages someone to break the silence and ask, then others do.

Richard said...

That's a fair point. Although I'm not talking about a photocopy. Granted nobody would want that. I'm talking about a professional quality print-on-demand book, just a rather short one.

Sue Purkiss said...

I think that's a really interesting idea, Richard. I wrote a short story recently for a literacy campaign run by a local paper. It was unpaid (naturally: me and money seem to be like magnetic poles - the kind that repel each other), but I thought it was a good story. Maybe that's something else I could do with it. Hm...