Monday, July 3, 2017

Pricing School Visits: YIKES!

Dear Kim (and friends!),

Yikes.
Oh boy.
Holy moly.
I am not ready for THIS...



I should clarify.
The visit.
The actual school visit.
I AM SO READY FOR THAT. As a former classroom teacher, literacy coach, and school director, this is my dream, baby. Taking a book that I wrote and using all of the teachery wonderfulness from my years in the classroom- yes and YES! Sign me up. (No, really, sign me up.)

I've made teacher guides.
Book-pairing lists. (Thanks, Bookish Ambition for getting me started.)
I have a flyer detailing the assembly and workshops.
I've painted thousands of rocks for the pre-k to grade 2 art projects and bound hundreds of journals for the grades 3-5 book making.


Kids have even practiced the activities.



All is good, right?
Until the first phone call with a PTA president. And she says, "How much do you charge?"

Pause.
Pause.
Sweaty.
Pause.

"Hello, Ms. Green Myers. Are you there?"

I'm here, but barely. In all of my prep: Book lists. Activities. Writing the freaking books. I never considered how much to charge at school visits. I think that's good, right? Who wants money to seep into the fun part? Not me.

Of course I've been around school visits from both sides. First, hosting authors and illustrators in my own school and classrooms. And then, hosting school visit workshops at the Highlights Foundation.

At the Foundation, I listened intently as faculty chatted about what to charge.
Was I listening intently? Or was I more concerned that the speaker had water? The students had good sight lines. The lights were dimmed enough to see the screen, but not too much to wash out the speaker's expressions. That the hum of the ice cream cooler wasn't too loud...

Turns out. 
I didn't really listen to the money part. 
(This should come as a surprise to absolutely no one.)

So I started making phone calls to friends. I heard wonderful (and comical) things like:

"Kids love author visits. You're providing a special event. Own it."

"Charging for school visits values ART as a profession. Kids need to see that."

"Do free things, just not school visits. That undermines the profession. We'll come after you."

"Don't be afraid to charge. You're a professional without a 401k or a health care plan or job security."
(Gulp.)

This time I listened. The children's book community is so generous. I am grateful that these women gave me their time and advice. (Also nice to know that each bookmaker said that she had the same question when she started. There's comfort in that. Maybe I'm not a phony?)

So I took to the Google to find out some stats. (Kim, you will love this.) I looked at the appearance sheets from several publishers, dug around on some author websites, and found that the typical (I don't know that my sample was large enough to say "average") costs are...

Skype visit is typically 30 minutes and $100*.

Many authors charge by the day. Typical day price: $800 (This includes stats from "practicing" visits up to authors who sell out stadiums. Some charge as low as $75 for the day [practicing], others $7500 [holy sh*t]. I did not include travel fees.)

Assembly only, looks like around 1 hour, and $200.

On top of these stats, authors have all sorts of cool ideas about book sales and signings during school visits. (Not to mention fees for special events and conferences.) Take a minute to hop around the web and see. I found the following links particularly helpful:

http://sns-production-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/assets_net/list_of_authors_and_illustrators.pdf

http://thebookingbiz.com/speakers/

http://authorbystate.blogspot.com/

https://www.scbwi.org/speakers-bureau/

http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/tradebooks/inviteanauthor.htm


I've taken three additional calls from administrators since that first PTA shudder. I have my numbers. I feel confident-ish about them. At the heart of it all, I can't wait for the visits (and to have more books to share with kids.)

Onward!
Much love,
A