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What does a school visit entail?
Typically, I speak for 45-60 minutes about growing up on a small tobacco/cattle farm in Cynthiana, KY and my journey to becoming a published author now living in NYC. I discuss the themes in my books, examine common rural/city stereotypes, and describe the genre of commercial rural fiction. In a small setting, I lead the students in writing exercises; in a large setting, I do an extended Q&A. I always show my book trailer, produced by and starring Kentucky teens. I read from my book, let students pick my brain about the publishing process, and sign copies for those students who have them and want one personalized.
What do you charge for a visit in person?
So as not to cripple school budgets, I only charge my author fee, which is $300 for 60 minutes, but that means that travel expenses like hotels, rental car, and flight are on me. I tell you that to tell you this: if you really want me to make it to your school, please get other local schools involved. If I can visit you in the morning and another school nearby in the afternoon, chances are greater that I can make the trip!
Can you come visit my school this year?
Probably! My booking agent sets up monthly visits and tries to group schools together so that it makes sense for my travel.
Will you do a half-day or full day program for a reduced fee?
If you are interested in booking me for two sessions in the morning, I will offer the 120 minutes for $500.
If you book me for two sessions in the morning and one in the afternoon, I will offer the 180 minutes for $750.
How many presentations will you do in one day?
My limit is three.
What does a Skype visit entail?
Over Skype, I discuss moving from a small town to a big city and following my dream to becoming a working actress and successful author. I discuss rural/city stereotypes and offer suggestions about enriching their writing with sensory detail. But mainly, I host a Q&A where I allow students to pick my brain. Teachers will have shown the book trailer ahead of time and introduced students to one of my books so that they are prepared with questions about book themes, publishing, writing tips, country vs. city life, etc.
What do you charge for a Skype visit?
I charge $100 for 30 minutes. I will mail bookmarks, magnets, and a signed copy of a book to the teacher ahead of time to be given away to students. If any students bought a book and wish it were personalized, the teacher can provide me with those students' names and I will sign bookplates provided by my publisher and mail them to the school so that students may stick them on the inside cover of their book, thereby making it a signed copy.
What books have you written?
The Queen of Kentucky is about Ricki Jo Winstead, a sassy fourteen-year-old Kentucky girl who trades her Bible for Seventeen magazine, buys new "sophisticated" clothes, and manages to secure a tenuous spot in the cool crowd at her small town high school. Published by Poppy, the young adult imprint of Little, Brown in January 2012.
Wildflower is a three-book series about Bird Barrett, a young country music star navigating the world of Nashville glamour and gold records while remaining true to her roots. Published by Poppy of Little, Brown, the first installment will hit shelves in July 2014.
Are any of your books being made into a movie?
Looks that way! The Queen of Kentucky was optioned by Unbridled Films and is being produced by Permut Productions. Read about the deal in Variety.
For what age are your books appropriate?
The publisher has categorized them as young adult, appropriate for ages 12 and up. Since many kids read up, I advise the parents of younger readers to read the book first and make that call. And parents, these books will take you back in time–believe me! :)
How do you structure events at Elementary Schools since they are too young for your books?
When I visit elementary schools, I sometimes divide the hour into two smaller sized sessions 30 minutes each or just do an extended Q&A for one 60 minute group. I speak to them about writing and publishing as a career. I show my book trailer and read a very short excerpt from the book. The best part is teaching them a formula to storytelling with a fun interactive exercise where they help me structure a story. We discuss character, exposition, call to action, tests, crisis, climax, and resolution. It's fun!
How many students do you like to speak to at once?
I've spoken to groups of 25 and I've spoken to entire student bodies. The key is the room. Libraries, classrooms, amphitheaters, and auditoriums work well, but gyms aren't usually ideal acoustically. Plus, I like being close to the audience.
Do you do small creative writing workshops as well?
Yes, I love meeting with students who are interested in writing as a profession and leading them in writing prompts. I also want to encourage them in that smaller, almost safer feeling session to ask questions they may not have felt comfortable posing in a large assembly. If you add a small workshop onto the booking, I offer 30 minutes for $50.
Do you need any equipment or preparation on our end?
Yes. A projector and screen with audio (or some way to show the book trailer) and either internet access to show it from my website or a pre-downloaded jump drive to show it right from your computer.
Also a bottle of water, a fine point Sharpie, a podium, and microphone (if a large group).
Do you have a teacher's guide?
Yes. Click here.
How do we arrange a visit?
Email your invitation to my booking agent at bookings(at)aleciawhitaker(dot)com or fill out the contact form at the bottom of this page. Please include the following information:
After an appearance has been confirmed, you will receive my direct contact info, my bio, and book ordering information.
Your name, email address, and phone number
- Preferred date of the event
Audience size and age
Number of presentations desired
Type of presentation desired
How do we arrange for students to purchase your books?
1. Talk to your local bookstore and ask for their school event discount. (If you work with a local bookstore, please let them know that I will stop by and sign their stock if they'd like.)
2. Or you can order books directly from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. We suggest ordering books six to eight weeks in advance of the visit. Once an appearance is confirmed, we will send you an order procedure form and customer service number. The publisher offers 40% off of 1-14 copies and 50% off of 15+ copies with free freight.
Will you autograph things other than books?
After the presentation, I will sign books for and take pictures with any student who ordered one. Then, if there is time, I will autograph bookmarks or bookplates for remaining interested students.
What can we do to get students excited about your visit?
Announce that I'm coming, post flyers, and display my books in the library. Really talk it up. Your enthusiasm will be catching! Some teachers read aloud to their students beforehand, others assign reading a few chapters. Definitely have them think up and write down questions for me. Show them my website and book trailer.
Arrange for someone on the school paper to interview me. Call the local paper and ask them to send a reporter/photographer.
And if possible, get copies of the book in their hand. The visits where students are already familiar with me and my work are always the most rewarding for everybody.
How do I pronounce your first name?
Alecia: uh-lee-sha, like Alicia Keys.