Friday, May 24, 2013

School Visits

My husband will be starting grad school in the fall.  Hooray, yay, yadda-yadda, that's great and all, but the sticker shock is killing me.  I've told him he'd better land an awesome role on Broadway immediately after graduation so we can start paying off our loans.  In the mean time, my mind has been mulling over what else we might do for income and I remembered about visiting schools.

Lots of authors and illustrators supplement their meager income with school visits.  Doing a little research I found that for practice or newbies, the typical fee is $0-$150, going up to about $500 for someone with a little more experience speaking and/or publishing.  The average for the whole country is about $1000.  Big names can demand as much as $2500.

Visiting authors/illustrators can do assemblies, individual class visits, workshops, or art projects.  Whatever you do, you should develop something unique to offer.  Use media.  Make a powerpoint presentation.  Show your process. Do something to catch their interest.  Call your local school and volunteer your time and have someone film you.  As you improve, film again and post your video.  Use the internet to network.  Call or email your local schools and ask if you can visit.  Build your repuation.

I once volunteered as a parent to help with a visiting artist.  She seemed really grumpy and not very approachable.  She told the kids just what to do, and left little room for originality.  She seemed a little miffed when I joined the kids, did the project myself, and changed it up a bit.  It was like she was being forced to do this school visit against her will. Don't be like that.  If it's not your thing, don't bother.  But if you love interacting and insipiring, do it!  And reap some rewards, too.

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  1. Rachel, what a great idea! Schools desperately need upbeat presenters. I've been able to do the Artist-in-Residence program for four years. It's a lot of fun, especially with writing and artwork, which I love. Children are naturally creative. And you're right - they need some leeway. We've been able to do portraits (one year) and the other three years the children wrote and illustrated their own children's stories. They learned the process of planning, writing the actual story, and then editing and refining all aspects. The teachers had fun, too. They encouraged the students to use current vocabulary words, as well as put in plugs for topics they've been covering in English, Social Studies, Science, etc.

    Long story short, if you create a good program, and put the word out, chances are you'll get snapped up. Thanks for the great post!


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