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Thanks for everyones help on how to handle autographing books in general
for an author visit and whether you should distribute preordered books to
students or hang on to them until the author visit for autographing
purposes .  Here is a requested hit on the subject.....

The pre order sheet I use has a space on it to fill in autographing info.
The books are not handed out to students until the day after the author
visit.  We put a slip inside each book with the name to be autographed to
and the author autographs in between programs, after lunch and after school
if needed.  That process has always worked well for us!  Good Luck!

Our students were responsible for returning their books to us for
autographs.  We had each student put a post-it note with his/her name on it
and their English teacher's name  on the inside title page of the book.
The author can then sign books when there is some down time.  A long line
of middle school students waiting for autographs is just asking for
craziness.... in my opinon.

Also... check with your author.  Some authors have very definite ideas as
to how they would like to provide autographs.  Some have provided us with
presigned bookplates.
I have had several author visits and the way I handle it is to have the
kids prepay for the books.  They do not get the books at all till after the
visit is over and the books are signed.  I cut strips of paper and
write the students name (or the name the book needs to be autographed to if
it is not the student) on one end and on the other end, I write the
teacher's name.  I put the strips in the books to be autographed and
stack them up in my media center office.

The authors do not generally like to sign them in the presence of the
kids--it is too time consuming.  When there is a break, the author goes
into the media office (supplied with something to drink and a nice
new pen) and signs the books.  I ask them to turn the slips around as they
do so the teachers names are sticking out and they are easy to sort to get
to the kids.  I usually manage to get them all passed out the
same day as the visit that way and the authors have appreciated the method.

I just saw your message on LM_Net and I know Sharron McElmeel responded,
but I thought I'd add my two cents. I used to work at a publishing house
and took orders for author visits. One thing I learned is that no matter
how carefully you send flyers home with the kids to decide on what books to
order and how many, there are always a few kids on the day of the visit who
decide on the spot that they have to buy the book.  This happens especially
after a good presentation -- and Gordon Korman is a fabulous presenter!  So
I suggest that you order a couple extra books, just to have on hand in case
you need them.  Also, I'd suggest buying bookplates or even plain labels,
and if you run out of books, ask Gordon to sign the bookplates, take the
order from the student, then call the publisher after the visit is over and
order the missing book or books. Most publishers will still give you the
same discount they gave you originally,  although they might ask you to pay
the shipping costs to you.

How lucky you are to have Gordon Korman visit!  We hosted him last year (on
a day we had a 2-hour delay because of snow and he was so accommodating!!)
He has a great program that doesn't waste a minute and keeps the kids
interested the whole time.  Your kids and staff will love him!
His visit was part of our annual "Book Week" where we invite 3-4 authors,
illustrators and storytellers for a visit each day during a week in March.
It is combined with a Book Fair (for the past 4 years put on by a local
Barnes & Noble) that takes place in the library that same week.  The books
of visiting guests are available for purchase that week.  When a guest's
book is purchased, if the student chooses to have it autographed, a form is
filled out about how they want the book to be inscribed, and we hold the
book with the form in the library until the day that guest comes and have
the guest do the signing at their convenience in between programs or at
lunch.  If a class comes to the library to purchase books at the Book Fair
and the author is there signing books, they can bring the book they just
purchased up to be signed. Otherwise, parent volunteers from the Book Fair
deliver the signed books to the classrooms. It means that often a student
won't "see" the author sign their book, but we've never had a complaint
(except when the inscription wasn't right--but you can't be perfect!) Often
kids are still a little shy at this age (we're gr. 4-5) to want to engage
the author in conversation when the book is signed, so are content to just
have the signature without the personal contact--the performance is enough.
But there is enough time, either after a program, at lunch (our guests have
been gracious enough to have lunch with small groups of students), or
book-signing time for students who want to talk to the author, to do so.

Gordon Korman was very gracious about signing the MANY books he had to sign
that day.  I don't think you'll have a problem whatever you decide to do!

We do preordering and keep the books until the author autographs them...
then after he/she leaves we distribute the books. More work for you
...less hastle for the author.
I always do presales for several weeks with my middle school kids
then they bring the books back on the day the author visits.  Of course,
there is always a lot of publicity to remind them to bring their books
back.  It has always worked well for us so the kids can get the books in
their hands ahead of time.  You will also sell many books after the
author visit so if you can get him to sign those white stickers you can
attach them to the books that sell later after he's gone!  We just had
Ben Mikaelsen and he is awesome!!!  Highly recommend him for middle
school author visits.

When the books are purchased, we have a slip filled out.  It has the
child’s name, the teacher’s name and how the books should be autographed.
We put the slips in the book and have the author sign them when he/she has
We have 12 authors come on the same day. We keep the pre-ordered books in
the office. Each one has a slip with the desired autograph/dedication. The
authors sign them when they first get to our school. Then while they're
visiting classrooms, an aide delivers the books to the students. We also
have an Author Tea and book sale after school.

I have had 2 authors visit within the past 2 years.  The books were
preordered and then we kept them in the library and divided them by the
classes with the student's order form in the books.  The first author
autographed them during lunch and we had a schedule for when the
students would come in while he autographed them.

The second author autographed them after school and I delivered them
the next day.

Our school has approx. 430 students 3rd and 4th grade students.  Some
of the students had multiple copies of the first author's books.  They
really enjoyed meeting him up close.  The author was Bill Myers of the
"My Life As...." series with Wally McDougal as the main character.

The day before the signing the students drop off their books which we
group by classroom. Each book has the students name and class in it and
a note stating who the book is being signed to.  We set aside about an
hour and half for the author to sit and sign. ( depending on the number
of books)
You might find some of the links we have at to be of value in regard to this

On the above cited page there is a link to "Make the Most of An
Author/Illustrator Visit "  -- Clicking on that link will take you to an
article that has a section about obtaining books and autographing -- as
well as links back to a page on our site that will provide autographing
slips for use the day of the visit.

In short I would recommend that you definitely let students have the books
to read prior to Korman's visit.  What a gift to the author to have him
invited to speak before students who have read and enjoyed his books.

Autograph slips can be provided for students  to fill out and leave with
their book the day or two prior to his visit.  The books can be distributed
back to the students (along with a bookmark or other appropriate keepsake
for every child.)

Given the difficulties students have in remembering, it would be a shame if
they missed the opportunity, so you might suggest to them that you could
keep the books. OR, send them home and have the author autograph a few book
plates just in case someone forgets. As long as your guest will be there
for two days, you could send books with him to autograph on the first
This means autographing will not cut into time spent with students.
Then leave some time at the end of the second day for the remainder.
I don't have autographing while students are present, because this
encourages things like, "Would you sign this paper? - or napkin? - or
For those students without books, I usually have on hand copies of
bookmarks that fit the occasion.
Thee author autographs a master sheet of bookmarks ahead of time
and then I just make copies.

Our school system curriculum director has the visiting author sign peel and
stick labels.  He had copies made of them also.  Then we place the labels
in  the books as they are purchased.  This year we had a parent expo where
the  visiting author kicked off the event with a speech about the
importance of reading and signed books afterward.  Some kids came to the
event to have their books signed.

We place the order sheet w/ the student's name and class inside each book.
We schedule signing time into the author's schedule. Then he/she signs them
privately. It gives the author down time as well as a nice break. We try to
deliver the cooks to the kids before the end of the day. If not we give
them out the next day.

Sharyn L. Mudd
Library Media Specialist
Veronica Connor Middle School
Grand Island, NY 14072
 (716) 773-8832

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