Thursday, April 26, 2012

School Book Fairs and School Visits

Recently I've been gathering information for the SC Author Connection to make connections with schools and do various book fairs across the state. With three authors in Charleston and able to pretty much cover the lower region of the state, it is easy to get them scheduled. I'm by myself for now in the upper part of the state and some of the counties that are pretty close to me have many schools (one county has 103 schools) to include primary/elementary, middle and high schools. I'm hoping to recruit some more folks from this area who will be able to take some of the burden off me and help out.

What are the criteria of becoming a member of the SC Author Connection?
1. You must be an author who currently resides in South Carolina.
2. You must be a children's, middle grade or young adult author.
3. You must be able to participate in the books fairs scheduled close to where you are living or that you can easily travel to.
4. You should promote all members' books at any event you participate in representing the SC Author Connection, not just your own.

While doing the book fairs, we authors can also provide a reading, a workshop or something for the students and parents at these schools. While visiting Donna McDine's posting about "Teacher's Guides" on the Writers on the Move blog the other day, one of the comments was from a lady who is in the UK. Paraphrasing her comment, authors are practically discouraged from making school visits. She mentioned the schools with their policing and what not and that visitors to schools are not welcomed. My question is this, knowing that most authors, especially if you are self-pubbed or with a small publishing house, are not going to make a lot of money from their books. So how are authors supposed to eek out a living in the UK if they aren't given the opportunity to do school visits or be brought in as a guest speaker? Here in the USA, most authors supplement their royalties by charging for school visits and other speaking engagements and schools welcome authors with open arms. Usually the media specialist or the PTA will host a guest speaker and they are glad to pay these folks for their time. Grant it, not all schools can afford authors or guest speakers, but there are ways around that.

If you are an author and making mega royalties and are happy with not doing guest speaking engagements or presenting to a body of students or you are making enough on your royalties, I would love to be you for a short bit of time. Most everything I make from sales (I really don't make royalties any more from my sales since I'm now self-pubbed) goes right back into my books, and most of the time, what I do make doesn't cover my costs for the event or whatever, not always but most of the time I end up in the hole. I've not broken even on any event yet.

So how do you compensate yourself as an author in situations like this? How do you turn the minimal royalties you make as an author from just book sales into a living or career? You need the guest speaking engagements to supplement the income and build your career.

Do you do school visits? Do you charge for your school visits? If not, are you making enough from your royalties to make a living as an author? I can't imagine living in a country or place that discourages authors from making school visits. What are you thoughts on the topic?


Susanne Drazic said...

Hi Elysabeth! Found your post interesting. As I'm not yet a published author, I've not had to deal with these issues. It is a shame that in the U.K., authors are not welcomed in the schools for author visits or as guest speakers. I think school children are missing out on a wonderful opportunity to meet someone who has chosen to write.

I re-tweeted your post and posted a link to Facebook, so I hope that others will stop by and share their experiences.

elysabeth said...

Thanks, Susanne. I too feel that children are missing out on a wonderful opportunity. Annie sent me some information that I meant to read and incorporate into this posting but I haven't had a chance to do so yet.

I may do a followup posting next on this with the information I've received from her.

If you are writing and plan on having your book published, it is never too early to make contact with schools. You can offer writing topics or workshops or things that you do know. Not all school visits need to be readings from books we have published. It does help to have a book published or almost published but most schools love having writers and others as guest speakers. I would love to do more school visits but that opportunity hasn't presented itself to me as of yet; hopefully by being part of this group I'll gain more school visits. Time will tell.

I hope others do stop by and leave comments on this topic. It will be interesting to see - E :)