Tips For an Author Visit
If I agree to do a visit to your venue, I will make every effort to be punctual, professional, courteous and to provide an entertaining and informative session. The following are points you can apply to any author or illustrator’s visit, but they are written from my point of view. Some of these suggestions may seem blindingly obvious, even daft. They are here because some people still don’t think of them. They are based on my experience of hundreds of visits.
- Please make sure the children are familiar with my books and have read at least one of them before the session.
- Try to ensure the venue for the session is as quiet possible. Don’t have it in a room that is being used for another purpose at the same time, is likely to have regular knocks on the door or has phones ringing all the time.
- If it is a public session, please specify an age range in all the promotional material. People will often disregard them anyway, but it’s very difficult to cater for four-year-olds and twelve-year-olds in the same session.
- Don’t have the session during a break, when I’ll have to compete with the noise of the kids outside.
- I will make every effort to arrive at the venue at least ten or fifteen minutes ahead of the start time. I may have come a long way, or have been sitting in traffic for a long time. Give me a few minutes to relax before I go into the session. Show me where the toilets are.
- Introduce me. I don’t need a fanfare, but you will need to tell the kids who I am and why I’m talking to them. I’ll take it from there.
- I hardly ever have issues with discipline. I consider it my job to keep the audience interested for the duration of the session and a certain amount of cheek is to be expected with any bunch of kids. In the rare event of someone actually disrupting the talk, please do not keep shouting or snapping through the session. It can be as disruptive as the troublemaker. If they won’t shut up, remove them altogether so that the other kids can continue to enjoy the talk.
- If there’s anything that beeps, chimes or makes any other annoying noises in the room, please turn off the noise. That includes the barcode readers in libraries.
- Please, please, please, do not hold an ongoing conversation with your colleagues during the session. You would be amazed how many teachers do this and they wouldn’t put up with it if they were taking the class.
- If the visit stretches across lunchtime, I’ll need lunch. People often provide lunch (sometimes assuming an enormous and indulgent appetite on my part), but I’m happy to pop out to the nearby shop for a sandwich if you point the way.
- I don’t use a laptop or projector, but some writers do. If these or any other kind of technology, such as a PA system, is being provided by the venue, please make sure it’s working before the session.
- There must be a teacher present at all times with a class group, or a member of staff from the library/venue if it’s a public session.
- I will normally leave time at the end of a session for questions. I get asked a lot of the same questions in every session, and while I don’t at all mind answering them again (it’s part of the job), it would be more interesting for everyone concerned if the kids read my Frequently Asked Questions section here and came up with some different ones.
- I’ve done a lot of visits. If you need more information, or if there’s anything you’re unsure about, please ask me beforehand, or ask the PR people at one of my publishers. We’ll be happy to help in any way we can.