After 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.
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!