Lunch with the author

Delightful crocodile and monkey cookies served during a festive Lunch with the Author at Hudson Maxim School in Hopatcong, NJ.
Delightful crocodile and monkey cookies served during a festive “Lunch with the Author” at Hudson Maxim School when children’s book author Kim Norman visited Hopatcong, NJ, in the spring of 2014.

Some schools like to schedule a special “lunch with the author” event. Usually this means inviting a few students (selected by the school) to share lunch with the author. Or it may be a larger luncheon with balloons and pizza with a few students from each grade collected at tables, and the author is asked to drop into each one for a few minutes. (This was the case at Hudson Maxim School, pictured above. Luckily, I was supplied with plenty of croco-cookies to fortify myself.) Students are chosen to attend the lunch in a variety of ways, from attendance records to number of books read to essay contests to simple lotteries. How they’re chosen will be up to your host. [Read more…]

“Cold Calling” that works!

ColdCalling_150Last year, I discovered an effective way to add an extra visit or two to an out-of-town gig. I’ve never had much luck with “cold call” mailings — not only when I was new to the game, but also when I had quite a few published books that librarians would likely recognize. I just never saw any evidence that my mailings ended up anywhere but in the trash. So I had nearly given up on cold calling.

Then, I found something that really worked! [Read more…]

Siri! Follow that bus!

FollowThatBus_150Whenever I’ve got the luxury of time, I try to scope out a school’s location ahead of time. I don’t do this for nearby schools (within 90 minutes) even if I’ve never been to that school before. But if it’s far enough away that I’ll be staying the night before in a hotel, if I get into town early enough, I’ll sometimes swing by the school the night before, just to get the lay of the land. What the heck. I’m there with not much else on my dance card for the evening, right?

Most of the time, the early foray hasn’t turned out to be necessary. Most schools have typically sufficient parking, and my smart phone would have gotten me there with no problems. But occasionally I’ve run into confusing locations that made me glad I checked them out in advance. Even when I HAVE pre-checked the location, the scene will be very different in the morning if I’ve been asked to arrive during that crazy student drop-off time.

Some obstacles to watch for: [Read more…]

Clowning around and playing for laughs

Clown-faced baby imageIt always irks me that actors who play dramatic roles grab most of the Oscar statuettes when comedy is just as hard to pull off… if not harder. I can think of plenty of comedians who are also good at drama, but far fewer dramatic actors who have starred in successful comedies.

Okay, Oscar rant out of the way, here’s my point: comedy is an art. Humor relies not only on content (funny punchlines) but also on timing and “knowing the room.” Meaning, you have to know what will amuse the particular audience in front of you. As a visiting author, in one day, you’ll be presenting to audiences with very different funny bones.

Here are some guidelines: [Read more…]

Don’t forget advance promotional materials

I have a collection of promotional materials I offer schools at various points in the booking process. Immediately after a school contacts me inquiring about an author visit, if they’re simply looking for more information, I “snail mail” my advance packet. (See below.)

Kim Norman's author visit advance promotional packetEven if a visit never comes to pass, they’ll have my brochure and other materials, including a music CD of my “Storytime Boogie,” and they may remember me in a coming year. I have had PTA coordinators tell me they were handed my packet from an out-going committee member, so it’s clear that at least some of the recipients really do value and hold onto the packet for future years. [Read more…]