Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rethinking School Visits

Some authors can--and do--charge upwards of $1000 for a one-day author visit to a school. I'll be completely honest--I hope to be one of these authors some day. Because that will mean that kids everywhere know about my books and are reading them. Can it get any better than that (besides becoming a rock star)?

I LOVE the interaction with children that a school visit provides. Over the past 2 years I've spoken to approximately 15,000 students at over 2 dozen schools. I love reading to them, and hearing them laugh at all the right places. I love seeing the spark in the eye of a future Katherine Paterson or Richard Peck as I discuss the importance of "spilling blood" ( in red ink... Okay, it's really called editing or "making corrections"), setting goals, naming characters (hint--don't name the "bad guy" after someone you know, especially if you really don't like them), and how awesome it is to go to work in your pajamas--my favorite part about being an author!

This March I'm going to be in Utah for a week to speak at the LDStorymaker's Writer's Conference on the topic of Writing for Children and Youth on Real World Issues. When planning my trip, I figured in 2 days before the conference and 2 days after the conference to do school visits. I plan on attending 8 elementary schools somewhere between Ogden and Spanish Fork, doing 2 assemblies at each school...and I'm NOT going to charge $1000. Gasp! (Yeah, did I mention I actually want to get IN to the school.) For this mini Utah book tour, not only am I doing the school visits for FREE, I'm even sending the schools 4 complementary copies of my books Make Me a Memory and Make Me a Home (recently released) a few months ahead of my visit.

WHY? You ask.

Because my purpose of this book tour is to spread the word about my books! In order to spread the word somewhere, the door has to be open first. And even if you have an open door, it doesn't mean that the lights will be on, the heater humming, and a punch and cookie spread on the table top. I've done enough school visits over the last few years to know that if the students have read (or been read to) from my books, the energy goes up a notch--no, a gash! Only this gash feels GREAT! They're excited to meet you. The questions are so much more meaningful. The interaction that much more exciting. And, hey, they often want a copy of the book for themselves. A good thing, as I see it.

So if you live in Utah, somewhere between Ogden and Spanish Fork, and want me to speak at your child's school FOR FREE in March, drop me a line at tamra AT tamranorton DOT com. And if you're a blossoming author, get your feet wet doing some school visits. It's likely the closest feeling you'll ever have to being a rock star.


Josi said...

You don't want to be a rock star, Tami, those tight pants might do permanent damage. I think it's awesome that you are finding a way to do school visits that works for you. We all have to above all, be comfortable when we present and I think you're doing a bang up job of getting your name out there. Best of luck.

Julie Wright said...

Tami, you're awesome! I am so glad you're coming to Utah so I can see you! You'll be great! I think you're right about the school visit pay. I love speaking at schools too, but for me the pay isn't as important as doing a good job and sparking little readers into actually reading.

Rebecca Talley said...

I'm so glad you'll be at the conference--I'm looking forward to meeting you in person.

I bet you do really fun school presentations.

Janette Rallison said...

I'm sure you'll be one busy woman. See you then!