I started doing “virtual author visits” when the pandemic began. Since then, I’ve been doing about two a week during the school year, and I’ve found them to be so much fun that I plan to keep doing them after Covid is finally over. I occasionally visit libraries, bookstores, and conferences in person, but I do NOT do in person school visits anymore. Regarding my virtual visits, here’s the info you probably want to know…
I should start with the money stuff, because you might take one look at how much I charge and ask, “Who does he think he is, Beyonce?” I do a minimum of one and a maximum of four 45-minute online sessions in a day. The cost:
- 1 session=$500.
- 2 sessions=$1,000.
- 3 sessions=$1,500.
- 4 sessions=$2,000
(If you have no budget, you can show the kids 100 free episodes of “My Weird Read-A-Loud”)
Let’s talk about the content of the sessions. Every school is different, of course, and I try to be flexible. Depending on the grade level and the school’s preference, each session consists of…
–A brief introduction about how I was a reluctant reader as a child.
–For grades 2 and 3, I explain how I got the idea for the My Weird School series, and how I write the books.
–For grades 4-6, I do the same with whichever one of my books or series your students are most familiar with (My Weird School/The Genius Files/Houdini and Me/baseball card adventures/Flashback Four).
–For everybody, I demonstrate how kids can write a story on their own, in 9 simple steps.
–For everybody, I show my rejection letters and tell the kids they should NEVER GIVE UP.
–For everybody, I read a chapter of the upcoming My Weird School book before it has been published.
All that takes 30 minutes. Then I finish up with 10-15 minutes of Q and A.
It’s nice to have small groups (one class or one grade at a time), but I’ll speak with large groups too. Obviously, with larger groups there’s less opportunity for interaction during the Q and A.
My ideal grade levels are 2-5, and most schools have me do two talks (2/3 and 4/5). If a school wants me to talk with K-1, I’ll read the kids two of my picture books (from the “Rappy the Raptor” series), but I don’t feel those grades get as much out of a virtual author visit.
I ask schools to send me a link invitation a few days before the visit. My preference is to use Zoom or Google Meet, but I’m open to other platforms if your school can help me through any technical issues. I’m not very tech savvy. I insist on doing a quick tech check at least 30 minutes before the first session, to make sure the link works and we are able to connect.
If you’d be interested in purchasing books in conjunction with my visit, I recommend contacting Allyson Hickey of Booked: (email@example.com) or 914-351-3401. She makes the whole process easy. I can sign bookplates, so the kids will get autographed books.
I request that you prepare the students for my visit in advance by sharing a book or two with them and/or researching my books online.
It’s fine to record the sessions for your students who can’t attend. But I request that you do NOT post the sessions online for the general public.
I’m happy to provide you with a W-9 form for tax purposes, but I do NOT have liability insurance or documents that certify I’m not a criminal or crazy person. I’ve been doing this for 25 years and visited over a thousand schools with no problems. If your school district requires virtual visitors to fill out multiple page contracts, PLEASE do not invite me to your school. Paperwork is my worst nightmare. I have no secretary or assistant, and I’d rather pass up work than spend my time deciphering legalese.
Interested? Do you have questions? Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). We can save a few back and forth emails if you include in your reply: the name of your school, the town and state it’s located in, your position, a cell phone number where I can text you if necessary, the number of sessions you will need, and a few months that would be best for a virtual author visit.
That’s about it. Questions? Give me a holler.