Episode 8: Bonnie's Double School Virtual Experience

Episode 8:

Author and co-host, Bonnie Clark shares her recent experience of virtually visiting two schools. What went right and what went wrong.

You can find us at ...

    Facebook and instagram: @bonnieclarkbooks
    Twitter: @bonclark

    Facebook & Twitter: @ShandaMcCloskey
    Instagram: @shandamccloskeydraws


This podcast is sponsored by and produced by Ben McCloskey of And if you enjoyed this episode, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts and share it with others who might enjoy it too! Thanks for listening to this episode of the Author Visit Podcast! 

Resources and books mentioned in this episode (with some affiliate links that help support this podcast):

Cut book order list into strips for easy labeling and distribution of signed books at school visits!

One of Author Visit Central's primary goals is to make the book sale process extremely easy for librarians, teachers, and PTA/PTO parents who coordinate author visits and here is one specific way we are doing that when it's time for the book signing...


Step 1.) Signing time! You’ll need the books, pens or book plates, scissors, and the list of orders.

Step 1


Step 2.) Cut the order list into horizontal strips.

Step 2


Step 3.) Take a strip, sign the book accordingly, and place the strip in the front of book.

Step 3


Step 4.) Make sure the student name, teacher, and grade level is poking out of the top.

Step 4


Step 5.) Organize the books into stacks according to grade levels and teachers.

Step 5


Step 6.) Now, distributing the books to the students is easy peasy!

Step 6




Episode 7: Interview with author-speaker couple, Chris Barton and Jennifer Ziegler


Episode 7:

Joining us today for an interview is not one, but two incredible authors, Chris Barton and Jennifer Ziegler, who have made a lovely life together of Texas living, family, and author/speaking careers! 


Chris Barton is an avid school speaker and a New York Times Best Selling Author! His work includes an extensive list of starred and award-winning children’s non-fiction books such as: Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, illus. by Don Tate and What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, illus. by Ekua Holmes. And fiction books too like: Shark vs. Train, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld and Fire Truck vs. Dragon, illustrated by Shanda McCloskey (which is how I met Chris!).

Jennifer Ziegler writes for tweens and teens. Her books include YA novels such as How Not To Be Popular, and MG novels like The Brewster Triplet Series: Revenge of the Flower Girls, Revenge of the Angels, Revenge of the Happy Campers, and Revenge of the Teacher’s Pets! And she, too, is very comfortable in front of students delivering curriculum-enhancing presentations and writers workshops to students and adults. 


Listen to the episode to hear each of their answers to the following questions...

  • First of all, Chris, I know that you (for several years) created a steady stream of income visiting like 100 schools or more each year, correct? Did you do that also, Jennifer?  How did the pandemic hit/affect/change you both as creative professionals?
  • What are each of you offering in the realm of school visits, currently?

  • I recently attended a webinar with Kate Messner about reinventing school visits for our current situation, and attendees were offered the chance to suggest one of our books for Kate to use as an example. So, I submitted our new book, Fire Truck vs. Dragon which as you know came out in March. And she used it! She put the cover up on her screen under the words: “TEAM UP”. And she went on to suggest how easy it would be (now) to do a virtual school visit together! And what a rare/wonderful opportunity a school could have hearing from both the author AND the illustrator of a book at the same visit? Or even if scheduling was an issue, she brought up the idea of exchanging short videos with each other showing our processes (writing or illustrating) that we could share on our own separate visits. Does any of that sound fun to you, Chris??

  • Do you guys have any (psychic) insight to the near and distant future of author visits?

  • Fun question: What’s the craziest question a kid has ever asked you or what’s the craziest thing that has ever happened during one of your school visits? (One time a kid threw up in the middle of my talk :)

  • Here's a question from a fellow Austin based book creator (Rivkah LaFille). Do you know her? She’s a writer, illustrator, and graphic novelist that I recently met and admire SO much. She recently caught up on all the Author Visit Podcast episodes, but still had a burning question … How do authors prepare for that moment when they stand up and actually start speaking? Do you sit down and visualize how it's all going to go and write down exactly what you plan on saying like a script? Do you do an outline with bullets but leave it loose within that outline to let the discussion go wherever? Or do you fly entirely by the seat of your pants? Or something else

  • Fun question: What is it like to be married to an author? Do you work in a shared space? Do you critique each other?

  • Jennifer,  I hear you’re teaching a writer’s workshop THIS Saturday (September 5th), correct? Can you tell us a little about that and how we can sign up?

  • Questions from GA school librarian (Beth Mitchell): 

    • Did you guys ever meet an author or illustrator as a child?

    • How do we keep a love of reading alive right now in our technology drenched, socially-distanced society? We offer online reading through outlets like SORA, and there is EPIC, thankfully. How do we encourage parents to embrace their role as students’ first readers? Does that make sense

  • Do you have any final advice for us authors and/or educators regarding school visits or anything else?


You can find us at ...

  • CHRIS:
    Twitter: @Bartography
    Instagram: @bartographyatx
    Facebook: link can be found on website :)

    Facebook: @jennferziegler
    Twitter: @zieglerjennifer
    Instagram: @jzstories

    Facebook and instagram: @bonnieclarkbooks
    Twitter: @bonclark

    Facebook & Twitter: @ShandaMcCloskey
    Instagram: @shandamccloskeydraws


This podcast is sponsored by and produced by Ben McCloskey of And if you enjoyed this episode, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts and share it with others who might enjoy it too! Thanks for listening to this episode of the Author Visit Podcast! 

Resources and books mentioned in this episode (with some affiliate links that help support this podcast):


Episode 6: Four Ways to Sell Books at School Visits


Episode 6:

Bonnie and Shanda countdown 4 of their favorite ways to sell books at in-person or virtual author visits for "traditionally published" books. Below, you will find our discussion along with each book sale method mentioned listed with pros, cons, and sample sale fliers to model your own after if you like.

#4 -

#3 - School's local bookstore

#2 - Author's local bookstore

#1 -


Resources and books mentioned in this episode (with some affiliate links that help support this podcast):


If you’ve ever performed a school visit or hosted one at your school, you know that selling books can be a complicated ordeal when the author is traditionally published and we are going to try to explain why…

First off, let’s compare traditional publishing, self publishing and everything in between...

  • Writer’s Digest says: “Traditional book publishing is when a publisher offers the author a contract and, in turn, prints, publishes, and sells your book through booksellers and other retailers. The publisher essentially buys the right to publish your book and pays you royalties from the sales.”
  • Self-publishing, hybrid publishing, vanity publishing all have completely different business models and profit margins compared to traditional. Different rules. Different perks. We are not talking to these types of authors today.

Now, let’s talk about book sales at school visits for traditionally published authors. These authors are not book sellers (or are not supposed to be), and from what I understand, publishers don’t even want their authors selling books regularly (it’s in a lot of our publisher contracts) for a few reasons…

  • Nielsen Bookscan numbers - When we purchase discounted copies of our books from our publisher or and resell them, those sales are not being “counted”. 

    Traditionally published authors NEED every book sale to be counted, not only for our royalties so we get paid, but for the future of our careers! The counts from our previous books can determine if a publisher will take a chance on us for another book. So it’s not something to take lightly if this is a career choice for you. And most likely it is if you’ve gone through the obstacle course of getting traditionally published in the first place.

    And then there’s the NYTimes best selling list numbers. It won’t matter if you sell a million books on your own if they are not officially counted in the Neilsen book scan.
  • There is also a lovely codependency built into the publisher/bookseller/author business model and relationship. We all need each other for a rich existence. We look out for each other.

    If I take the sales from the bookstores around me for all my school visits, I would be missing many opportunities for making various booksellers aware of me. They are buying and hand-selling books to their communities. They can’t order all the books in the world, but after a connection with you (even thru a third party) they are much more likely to carry YOUR books on their shelves and for telling others about your books, school visits, and possibly suggest inviting you to conferences, festivals, etc. in their area.
  • And I DO NOT want to keep and manage a stock of books or front the money to do so!

Seems kinda silly though for authors not to be encouraged to sell their own books, after all, a sale is a sale and there’s not an indie bookstore in every town. And then it gets really hairy when you talk with the comics world! As the comics’ world (which is driven hugely by authors selling their own work at conventions) collides more and more with the literary world in the form of graphic novels, things get more complicated. Each of these worlds use to operate separately for along time, but as they overlap more and more - things get messy. Anyway, I digress... 


So here's the countdown! Our 4 favorite ways to sell books at school visits, so here we go...

#4 -

Use to place one bulk book order for in-person or virtual visits...

This method would require the school to send out the order form and have families turn it back in to the coordinator with cash or check, then the author would place the order on with their own account and money, shipping to the school. The author would collect the money from the school after the visit.


  • Author can know the status/track order
  • Ships straight to school
  • Easily understood process
  • Supports indies … somewhere 


  • Author has to pay up front for the books to be reimbursed weeks later
  • Not much discount, if any
  • Librarians must collect forms, money and do accounting
  • Author has to do accounting too

Sample flier:

Flier example 1

#3 - School's local bookstore:

Use the school’s local bookstore to place one bulk book order for an in-person or virtual visit for students learning at school...

This method requires the school to coordinate with their nearest bookstore, send home an order form to be returned with cash or check (unless the bookstore could set up a special ordering link), and then pick up the books from the store or pay for shipping to the school. 


  • Sometimes savings of up to 20% off, so books are cheaper for families or can earn nice money for school
  • Author doesn’t have to lug a bunch of books to school, easy travel
  • Supports local bookstore


  • Someone Has to create flier 
  • Librarian has to coordinate with the bookstore
  • Librarian has to collect money and forms, and do accounting
  • Librarians may have to physically pick up the books from the bookstore or pay shipping
  • Author may have to mail book plates for virtual visits

Sample flier:

Flier example 2

#2 - Author's local bookstore:

Use the author’s local bookstore for virtual visits when students are learning remotely from their homes:

This method is perfect for getting signed books sent to individual students’ homes because some or all the students attend school remotely. It basically gives families a link to the author’s bookstore that the author can easily drive to to sign purchased books before they ship out.


  • Supports local bookstore
  • Easy on Librarian- doesn’t have to collect forms and money, do accounting, or distribute books (because books ship to homes)
  • Better not to deal with cash during pandemic, kids can't lose the money, easy purchasing online
  • No minimums required
  • Author doesn’t have to ship out orders
  • Can be used in combination with any of the other methods if you have a mix of learning types


  • Someone Has to create flier 
  • Author has to coordinate with the bookstore about the sale and signing before the books ship out
  • Expensive for families- My bookstore offers no discount this way, retail plus shipping

Sample flier:

Flier example 3

#1  -

Use for a virtual or in-person visit when students are learning at school...

This method is one we invented! (So we may be a bit biased.) It’s designed to be easy on everyone involved - it takes the accounting out of the school, has a built-in buying incentive that gives back to school, and supports a local indie in the school’s area. It also represents the author in a professional way!


  • Easy on Librarian- doesn’t have to collect forms, money, and do accounting
  • Easy to set up by author (very little leaning on librarian)
  • Supports indie bookstores
  • Nice flier generated for you
  • Better not to deal with cash during pandemic, kids can't lose the money, easy purchasing online
  • Earns a little money for the school (up to $1 per book, ordering incentive)
  • No book returns or pickups needed. Books ship to schools.
  • Assured Professional appearance
  • Author doesn’t have to lug a bunch of books to school
  • No minimums required


  • Small discount compared to other methods
  • Students have to be at school for this method to work for delivery of books
  • Author may have to mail book plates for virtual visits
  • Author may be on the line for paying shipping if not enough books are sold to qualify for free shipping. (Every publisher has a different threshold for this, so it's hard to put a blanket number on it.)

Sample flier:

Flier example 4


You can find us individually at:

  • Facebook and instagram: @bonnieclarkbooks
  • Twitter: @bonclark
  • Facebook & Twitter: @ShandaMcCloskey
  • Instagram: @shandamccloskeydraws

Find us both at where we love to hear directly from our listeners! Feel free to leave comments or even ideas for future topics you’d like us to cover.

This podcast is sponsored by and produced by Ben McCloskey of And if you enjoyed this episode, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts and share it with others who might dig it!

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Author Visit Podcast!


Episode 5: Presenting To Teens


Episode 5:

Bonnie and Shanda discuss the interesting nuances of presenting to teens and high school audiences with guest young adult author, Christi J. Whitney,


Books we mention in this episode (with some affiliate links that help support this podcast):

Bonnie Clark, Shanda McCloskey, and Christi J. Whitney about to record the 5th podcast episode.

Episode 4: Designing Your Presentation: 3 Ingredient Recipe


Episode 4:

Aimed at authors/illustrators new to school visits, Bonnie and Shanda discuss several types of author presentations you can do and gives examples of each:

  • Book specific
  • Topic specific
  • Process specific
  • and combinations

Shanda talks about the 3-ingredient recipe that helped form her own successful author presentation, and Bonnie tells about a super fun/gross activity she's excited to try at her next presentation about speaking kind words.


Resources and books mentioned in this episode with affiliate links (that help support this podcast):

Episode 3: Where To Begin


Episode 3:

Cohosts Bonnie and Shanda, discuss WHY they do school visits, WHAT school visits might be like in the fall (predicted by librarians), and HOW to get started by thinking through a few logistics.

Resources discussed in this episode:

Thanks for joining us! Next time will dive into designing your presentation(s).

Episode 2: Amplify Black Voices with Books, Speakers, and Actions


Episode 2:

Co-hosts Bonnie and Shanda, and guest Tosha Sumner (a.k.a- T.L. Sumner) discuss racism and small ways we can begin to move forward to foster positive change and uplift black voices as librarians, teachers, educators, authors, illustrators, booksellers, parents, and people.


Books mentioned in this episode (with affiliate links that help support this podcast):

  • Just Like Me by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
  • I Love Me! by Laronda Gardner Middlemiss, illustrated by Beth Hughes
  • Brown Sugar Babe written by Charlotte Watson Sherman, illustrated by Akem


Tosha (T.L.) Sumner, Shanda McCloskey, and Bonnie Clark getting ready to record the podcast episode 2.


Episode 1: It's the Author Visit Podcast!

Episode 1:

Shanda and Bonnie introduce themselves and lay out what can be expected from the new Author Visit Podcast.

We had a great first podcast recording! Sure, we are learning this platform as we go, but all-in-all, we are super excited to start this venture with you!


Here is a list of books mentioned in this episode (and affiliate links that help support this podcast):

Author Visit Podcast!

I am so pumped to share that my friend, author Bonnie Clark, and I have embarked on a path of discovery about school visits (post pandemic) through podcasting! So... I'd like to introduce the Author Visit Podcast, dedicated to demystifying the business of school visits for authors, illustrators, educators, librarians, parents, and booksellers.

Since the pandemic, ALL of us are having to look at author visits with new eyes and new mindsets. So, no matter if you are a seasoned vet with lots of school visit experience or just starting out, I hope you'll join us on this escapade!

Our first episode is up! Let us know what you think, and what what you'd like us to talk about on the contact page of

And if you enjoy it, please rate and review us, as it will help others find us!

All my best,


Author-illustrator Shanda McCloskey and Author Bonnie Clark record their first podcast together for the Author Visit Podcast!