Teachers have the biggest impact on children’s reading and writing.
Author visits can however provide a useful boost to a school’s literary strategy.
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I love visiting schools. It’s great to see the children totally immersed in my stories, and then – even better – to hear them coming up with so many ideas of their own.
I have one major aim for all visits: the children should feel more excited about reading and writing after I’ve visited.
In my busiest year, I visited 26 primary schools, presented to 5,700 children and signed 4,500 books.
Here’s what schools are saying:
“Children who disliked reading are now reading during playtimes, lunchtimes and registration time! I recommend that every school should experience a visit from this exceptional author.”
“Booking Ed Wicke to come to our school during book week was one of the best decisions I have made as English Coordinator.”
“Ed is a consummate story teller and his lively, madcap stories have universal appeal. Since his visit, I have had lots of positive feedback from staff, parents and pupils. I would thoroughly recommend Ed to a primary school looking for a visiting author.”
(Full references available to all enquirers)
How I like to start a visit
Over twenty years, I’ve found that what works best is to bring together all Key Stage Two students (or as many as will fit into a hall!). I prefer to spend around 70 minutes with them, in an exciting, interactive mixture of stories and ideas about reading and writing. I have often presented to over 200 students at once.
I usually have similar sessions of 40 minutes for Key Stage One and 20 minutes for Early Years.
What happens next
I can do whatever the teachers want! I often run sessions on writing stories, either using themes the school is working with or providing my own themes. I have image-rich powerpoint presentations about how I work with illustrations and illustrators. Or we can just have 30 minutes of fun in the classroom making up stories together and discussing what works.
Who I work with
I’m comfortable working with groups of any size.
I write mainly for Key Stage Two and my follow-up work is best suited to that age group.
I like working with all kinds of students but I take greatest delight in engaging reluctant readers and writers.
Cost of a visit
I try to keep fees to a minimum, because (as an ex-teacher and school governor) I want schools to spend their literacy budgets on books, not authors.
I find that I am able to sell enough books to cover most of the fees recommended by literary organisations – even in deprived areas. Therefore I don’t normally charge a fee within an hour’s travel, unless the school is very small.
Where I do charge fees, I try to keep them reasonable and I always agree them in advance. If you’re two hours away, I might charge you between £100 and £150 for a full day’s visit – and I would provide some free books for the library within that price.
For free visits, I usually ask schools to purchase a small number of my books (at £5 a book) for their libraries: this ensures that the children from poorest homes will have access to my books too. Schools tell me that the Wicked Tales books are almost constantly checked out!
These low fees depend on schools making appropriate arrangements, including:
- I normally need to be able to sell and sign books on the day of the visit and at the end of the following day. If there will be a high number of sales, I might need to do some signing at lunch times too.
- I don’t need any help for signings, but it helps to have a member of staff around for crowd control!
- If the school has other Key Stage Two authors visiting around the time of my visit, I would have to charge a fee since I would sell fewer books.
- It’s fine for schools to have a “travelling bookshop” arrangement going on at the same time; I don’t find there’s much overlap between those sales and my own.