Online Promotion: Market Yourself as an Author-Speaker to Schools

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Your website can help sell you as a speaker to school groups.

Publicist Susan Raab of Raab Associates says, “For many authors and illustrators, schools have a significant impact on their careers because they offer opportunities for doing school visits, workshops, and other events that provide substantial income separate from the revenue any given book brings in.”

You may want to create a separate “events” page, which includes information on your school visits and young author workshops. School visits are made up of one-to-five classroom or auditorium presentations during the regular class schedule. Young author workshops may be distinguished in that they take place on weekends or after school and the students involved are participating by choice.

In each case, include information on the types of programs you offer.

According to Anne Irza-Leggat, educational marketing supervisor at Candlewick Press, it’s important to include: (a) whether you do donation events; (b) your rates; (c) the number of programs you’re willing to do in a day; and (d) any preferences when it comes to student age range and audience size.

Author Tanya Lee Stone provides an “About Tanya” section, which includes three different lengths of biographies, links to interviews with her, links to articles and reviews she’s written, speaking information, and downloadable photos. “These things have really helped people access the information they need,” she says, “especially when inviting me as a speaker or having students learn more about an author.”

But not all author/illustrator visits occur in “real space.” Chat technology has made it possible for speakers to participate in an online question-and-answer session with classroom groups. Supply the same information to planners as you would for an in-person visit as well as any specific technological requirements.

Finally, the page should include information on ordering your books. Many publishers offer related pages on their own sites that can be easily linked for a complete overview.

Cynsational Notes

This article was originally published in the The (21rst Annual Edition) 2009 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, edited by Alice Pope (Writer’s Digest, 2008).

The (22nd Annual Edition) 2010 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, edited by Alice Pope (Writer’s Digest, 2008) is now available. From the promotional copy: “The 2010 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrators Market is the most trusted source for children’s publishing information, offering more than 700 listings for book publishers, agents, magazines, and art representatives. It also contains exclusive interviews with and articles by well-respected and award-winning authors, illustrators and publishing professionals as well as nuts-and-bolts how-to information. Includes exclusive access to online listings on”