Tips for a Successful Author Visit

Whenever I visit a school, library, or community, my goal is to get students excited about reading and to inspire them to engage in writing projects of their own.


Begin by working with your faculty, library staff, PTA, and administration as early as possible.

Decide When to Host the Event

Visits are most successful if the students have read at least one of my books or studied some of the subjects that I’ve written about such as immigration and settlement, the fur trade, logging, war and peace, the early industrialization of America, the Great Depression, overcoming a physical handicap, etc. My most productive visits are at schools that incorporate one of my novels such as The Broken Blade into their curriculum. (For study guides and lesson plan ideas see Teacher Resources on my website.)

Determine the Grade Level

I will address any age students and any size groups. I will do up to four presentations per day. Schools often have me combine two or three large group assemblies with a writing workshop for selected students.


My honorarium is $600 per day for Minnesota schools or $700 per day for out-of-state appearances, plus mileage and lodging. I will split a day between two nearby schools or combine a school visit with an evening library event.

There are many ways to raise money to fund an author visit:

Host a book sale/autograph session as a part of the event (book discounts can help pay a portion of your expenses); check into joint sponsorship of a library, community group, or historical society to help share costs; approach the PTA, arts council, local businesses and foundations, newspapers, or colleges; apply for a grant, use Title funds; or try a traditional fundraiser such as a bake sale, car wash, dance, etc.

Book Sales

Book sales can be organized through your local bookseller or regular supplier. You can also order directly from my publishers Random House (1-800-733-3000) and Scholastic (1-800-SCHOLASTIC) at a 40% discount. Partners (800) 336-3137) carries all of my titles, and The Red Balloon in St. Paul (1-888-224-8320) offers a 20% discount and free shipping to schools.

Let me know if you’d like a book order form with a list of books and prices. Pre-orders are favored by many schools, while others make books available on the day of the event. As a third option, since there is always additional interest in ordering books after students have heard me speak, I will also mail personalized bookplates to the school after an appearance.

Once an Event is Confirmed Please provide me with the following:

  • Contact information and location of the school.
  • A copy of the day’s schedule, including the number and length of presentations, and the times of book sale/autograph sessions.
  • Type of presentations and grade level of students. (I will do any combination of up to four large or small group presentations per day.)
  • For large groups please provide a microphone and an LCD projector (I’ll bring my own laptop). I’ll also have my PowerPoint presentation available on a CD and flash drive if it’s simpler to use your computer.

Making Your Author Visit a Success

The single most important reason to invite an author is to provide a learning opportunity for your students and to inspire them to become better readers and more active writers. Building curricular connections into an author event will guarantee a long-term impact on student learning.

The Broken Blade Wintering The Journal of Sean Sullivan The Journal of Otto Peltonen The Journal of C.J. Jackson Song of Sampo Lake Blackwater Ben The Darkest Evening El Lector The Winter War