Will awards net you more author visit invitations?

DoAwardsMatterAfter a recent Linked-in discussion about book awards, it got me wondering whether being an award-winning author or illustrator will increase a person’s school visit invitations. Specifically, whether awards would make a librarian more inclined to invite an author to her school. I’ve always thought perhaps it would, so I posed the question to teacher and librarian friends on Facebook. My friends said that, for the most part, awards played virtually no part in their considerations. Here are some of their answers:

• I think it wouldn’t make a big difference to me at all. In fact, if there was someone with a big award, I think it might be more difficult and expensive to get them, and it might actually deter me if my budget is small.

• The majority of the time, schools make a decision based on finances.

• I try to pick someone with a range of in-print books so our children will be able to purchase autographed books while the author is in town. I do like to find someone who has a few paperbacks so the books are affordable.

• Budget is the biggest factor. I also agree (that) the children like to have that connection with the author long after the visit.

• I’m more worried about which authors my readers love.

• Budget and curriculum connections (let’s be honest… standardized tests) are the factors for us.

• One of the things we also look for when scheduling authors is being able to schedule several schools in a row, so we can split expenses like hotel/car/food. The other thing I always think about is whether or not an author has good reviews from other librarians. Just because an author’s books are successful doesn’t mean that their visits will be a hit with kids.

• We had one author this year who offered to do a craft session related to her books with an after-school art club. Her books all related to Black History, so it was our first Social Studies integration. One year, our art teacher asked me to find an author who was also an illustrator. The art classes usually do lessons related to our authors books, but being able to focus on both the text and the illustrations was a good experience.

• I have many Texas authors come just to avoid travel expenses. I try to have a writers workshop every year for 4th grade. There are many SCBWI folks who are fantastic with kids but have no awards.

So there you have it, from the mouths… er… keyboards of the pros.

"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Cauldecott."
“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. Caldecott.”

Now, I might argue that it’s probable a librarian is more likely to have HEARD of you if you have won an award, but I’m talking about the famous, highly-respected awards handed out by ALA every year. And perhaps a strong SCBWI award, like the Crystal Kite, but that would need to be an invitation from a librarian knowledgeable of the doings of SCBWI, as the Texas librarian above clearly is. As for most other awards, especially those awards that charge authors an arm and a leg to win some silly sticker and a mention on a website that no one visits… well, I doubt that will ever do anything but hurt you, because after entering, your bank account is smaller.

But all in all, it’s comforting to know that those of us without gold stickers can compete with the stars as long as we’re entertaining and/or educational and leave behind happy memories of our visits. At last, a job where my drama queen skills may finally pay off!



  1. says

    As the author of 16 books for kids, I love visiting classrooms with my Magic Carpet of Books. HOOKING kids on reading is my goal., along with telling them about the writing process, and where plot ideas come from. The Q and A time at the end is always great fun. Kids learn more when they are engaged and having fun with a topic.

    However, I do it all FREE, via SKYPE. Skype allows me visit schools I would never be able to go to in person. I have enjoyed skyping all around the US, in Australia, New Zealand, India, and recently Kazakhstan. I am originally from Australia, but now I live in Oregon, USA. I also show aboriginal artifacts when I read from one of my Aussie themed picture books or young teen books. I would love to visit more wonderful kids–Skype Makes it Happen!!

    The comments in your article ring true for me. They offer a broad consensus of what I discovered will tempt teachers and librarians to invite an author to visit.

    Books for Kids- Skype Author Visits

    • bigbosslady says

      Yes, isn’t Skype amazing, Margot? Last week, I joked that I “went to work” in Iowa, but was still able to have lunch with hubby here in Virginia. I wonder, though, with your vast experience, if you shouldn’t consider charging something for your Skypes? Nothing like we charge for in-person events, but I know many authors who do charge anywhere from $50 to $300 per session, (typically around 30 minutes, I think, although some may do 45 to 60 minutes for older groups of students.) I do offer free 15-minute Skypes, too (often they run to 20 minutes) — one per school, but sometimes schools ask if they can have longer or more sessions, so I ask a modest $50 per 20-30 minute session. If I started getting more Skype invitations, I might drop the freebies, but so far, it hasn’t overwhelmed my calendar… maybe 2 to 4 per year, only about a tenth of the number of in-person visits I do. Even though it’s more modest pay, it really is nice to do the whole thing from home. Right now, I’m packing for a plane flight to Iowa. To be able to click a digital button and suddenly “be in” Hong Kong or South Korea? No plane fight, even in first class, can rival that convenience! But all of my really far away Skypes to Hong Kong and Korea have been paid. I really think you should consider charging. You’re worth it, if only to hear your lovely accent!

      • says

        Bigbosslady, long ago, before the bottom dropped out of world finances, I could make far more for ‘in person’ school visits than I did on royalties. Of course then I only had one or two books to offer–now I have almost 16. But most schools are still strapped for cash, and I am NOT a famous author. So FREE is what gets me in the door, so to speak.

        I do stress that I would appreciate the school and parents to buy a few books. To this end I send an Order Form + an Introductory letter to the teacher–to be sent home to the parents.

        There are millions of books out there for readers to choose from, even if Amazon is in most countries. I am not writing books for the money (who is?), I just want to see my books read by as many kids as possible. My Magic Carpet of Books flies wherever I can HOOK as many kids as possible on reading.

        When the economy and school finances improve, I will consider charging a modest fee. These days, you need a ‘breakout’ book to get on the famous list–I am still waiting for this to happen!

        Books for Kids-Skype Author Visits

  2. says

    Wow, this was very enlightening (and yeah, it did make me feel better about the fact that my only gold stickers say “”autographed copy”.

    • bigbosslady says

      Ha! Yes, that’s the only gold so far on any of my books, too, Moira. You’ll see the occasional silver stamp, but that’s part of the title, not a medal! 😉

    • bigbosslady says

      Ha! Well, glad to know the site is starting to rank in Google, even if for the totally wrong topic. Thanks for the heads-up! 😉