As part of our reading promotion work, we organise regular author tours for special events like World Book Day and the Summer Reading Challenge or other campaigns to encourage children and young people to read more.
Schools and libraries can also organise their own visits by authors and illustrators. Hearing them speak about their work and their experiences can be a great way of leading young readers towards the world of stories and reading – and inspire them to write their own stories.
Here’s our toolkit to help you with the logistics of organising an author tour and we’re always happy to answer any questions you may have.
PREPARING FOR AN EVENT
To get the maximum benefit from an author visit it helps greatly to prepare the children beforehand. Authors are always very grateful when their work has been discussed in advance of a visit, and in our experience it enables children to engage more fully with the event.
We recommend where possible reading some of the book, researching the author or creating a classroom/library display. It is also very useful if the children are able to think of some questions they would like to ask the author in advance of the visit.
arriving at the event
It is always nice for the author to receive an enthusiastic welcome when they arrive at an event. An offer of tea or coffee, being introduced to staff members and shown the event space all help to make the author feel comfortable and relaxed before an event.
the event itself
Most authors will speak for approximately 45 minutes and will leave an additional 15 minutes at the end for questions (one hour in total). This will vary slightly according to the audience’s age group. Book signing is usually additional to this time so please advise the author if this is to be part of the hour event.
Please be aware that the author may require additional equipment for the talk or workshop. For example, an author using a PowerPoint presentation will require equipment to display this, and others may need a flipchart or a table. This information should be confirmed before the event so that all requirements can be catered for. A glass of water should be provided.
- there should always be teachers/librarians in attendance at these events and the author should not be left alone with the children. If the staff are seen to be enjoying as much as the children then everybody will get more out of the event.
While authors and publishers fully appreciate that not all children attending an event will want or be able to buy books we do ask that the option to buy is given. Contact your local bookshop and arrange for them to manage book sales at the event. Please be assured that this is common practice and an excellent way to forge a good relationship with local booksellers. The bookshop should be able to organize stock, provide a member of staff for selling, and handle all monies.
We recommend that letters be sent home to parents and guardians in advance of the event advising that books will be available to buy. It often helps if the books are on sale a few days before or after the event as children often forget to bring their money in on the day and some will decide they would like a book only after hearing the author speak.
Authors are always very happy to sign books at events. Usually this will take place at the end of the session. We ask that a member of school staff be on hand to organise children who would like signed books into an orderly queue, preferably with their books open at the title page ready for the author to sign. It also helps to stick post-it notes on the books with the child’s name clearly written to prevent any spelling mistakes when signing.
Unfortunately, signed books cannot be returned to the bookshop or publisher. The children are also very welcome to bring in any of their own books from home by the speaking author, should they wish to have these signed. It is often during the signing that the author will really appreciate a hot drink!
Good author events should be enjoyable for all involved and a great way to inspire young people to read.
99.4% of all schools who host an author visit considered it an invaluable experience that encouraged reading for pleasure, wider reading and creative writing