#School Visits For Authors

Slide of Jen Malone's suggestions


School Visits for Authors

Author Jen Malone has great how-to tips for authors who would like to make school presentations. You should check out her website at JenMaloneWrites.com. Her site embodies many of the principals she talks about and that I summarize below.

As you begin

You begin this journey by starting with referrals from friends and friends of friends. Even if you’ve landed a contract with a publishing house, you want to start small and locally. The truth is, that even with a publishing house behind you, you’ll need to do this sort of work on your own.

Things Aren’t What They Used To Be

In the past, authors used to visit schools and talk about being a writer. But these career-day presentations are a thing of the past. Given the need to teach to the test, teachers can’t spare the time. If you hope to get into a classroom, you must fit into their curriculum. To do this, you’ll need to get help from teachers or research their common core curriculum. That way, you can pitch your presentation as fitting into their lesson plans.

Passing Muster

Be prepared to undergo a background check before you step on campus. You need to ask about this early on to get clearance. But once this has been done, it’s usually retained on file and easier to do for subsequent visits.

Setting Your Terms

Some visits may be informal and arranged with a phone call. But others may require travel, and you may incur up-front expenses. The more formal the visit, the greater the need and likelihood you’ll need a contract that spells how the costs are to be covered, and any cancellation clauses. Weather events can cancel school even as the author is en-route or past a refund date for air fare and accommodations. Who pays in such a case? It’s best to have a clear understanding, in writing, to cover such contingencies.


This is something you’ll probably revise as you go, but know that you’ll need to put the information on your website so teachers can see and know if you’re within their budget. You can, of course, offer some freebies to low-income schools, or package deals that offer some free visits. At the time of the 2014 talk, Jen said that a nominal amount would be $1,500 for a day at a school with 4 classroom visits and an all-school presentation.

Contact Information

Your website should make it easy for teachers and interested administrators to contact you. You may want to show yourself in action, but this requires planning. As you might expect, you can’t just take pictures of yourself with kids and put them up on the web. There needs to be permission slips signed off, and children without this sort of prior clearance will need to be tactfully excluded from promotional images.

Talking With Kids

Know that kids will ask all manner of direct and awkward questions, especially about money and how old you are. This can be a lot of fun, but you’ll probably be dispelling myths about how rich or famous authors are. Take it all in a spirit of fun.


Jen noted many websites, in addition to her own as an example of how you should project a professional image. Again, don’t expect your publisher, agent or anyone else to do most of the legwork required to make a successful visit.

But do check out some of the author-websites such as the following:

Here’s a list of tips from the American Library Association. The advice is aimed at parents and teachers, but it is useful for author’s too.

Here’s a link to the Children Writers and Illustrator’s web page that discusses authors visits.

#Writing Tip Number 10 – Elmore Leonard

Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Elmore Leonard, Rule #10

photo of author Elmore Leonard

A good friend of mine, accomplished writer Charlie Price, shared a list of rules that make for better writing. I’m looking at this list, and #10 is intriguing. I think it’s good advice, but the problem is that I don’t know, without asking, what people skip when they read.

So I’m asking. What do you gloss over when reading an author you like?

I add the “author you like” because I’m assuming that you’ll skip a book or author entirely if it’s not to your liking. But assuming that a storyteller has hooked you, lured you in, then what would be the best way to “lose you.”

I have some theories on this point. If the conflict lags, or description is too long, florid or cliché, or the plot so murky that you have to bail out to get your bearings, then the author is in trouble, and the kindest thing you can do, short of hurling the book across the room, is to fast forward.

So my question to you, and I genuinely would like a reply, post or email, is to tell me what you (as a discerning reader) think this means. You might also give an example.

I’ll share the best suggestions I get.


[email protected]


Kindle Shorts – Author Mimi Barbour Shares Her Thoughts

Image of Mimi Barbour

Mimi Barbour

Thanks to Mimi Barbour for sharing her experiences with Kindle Shorts. I’m sharing this with her permission.

Hi Robb,
I tried writing short but when I sent it to Kindle Single, they didn’t accept it. I’m thinking maybe the story didn’t have enough of whatever they were looking for…not sure what that is?? The story I wrote was just a sweet contemporary romance. But it made me realize that they have so much to choose from, they can afford to be really picky. On the other hand, with the new Unlimited rules about getting paid for pages read, maybe the shorter books aren’t paying off which can mean that the authors will go back to writing longer and there’ll be less competition.
As far as promotions go, I often buy 3 days (Thurs – Sat) of promos including eReader News, Digital books Today and maybe Book Sends and get my book to around the #1,000 – #2,000 paid on Amazon and then quickly up the price on the Sunday and ride the wave back down. Most times it gives me a enough of ROI that it makes it worth while and I know I’m getting a bunch of new readers. But the wave doesn’t last very long. Of course, when I set up the promos, I also market on social media and many times add some of the cheaper ads like eBook Stage and Booklovers Heaven (donations) on the same days to bolster them even more. It gets expensive and it takes time but if I don’t push, then the sales get depressing.
Hope this helps.