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Author: A True Story
Before inviting a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt author or illustrator to make a presentation, please read the Author & Illustrator School Visit Guide.This guide explains all the details involved when considering hosting an author/illustrator at your school or library, such as costs, travel and lodging arrangements, ordering books, and so on. After you read through the guide, use the links below to view the directories of Houghton Mifflin authors/illustrators that currently visit schools, organized by name, location and grade range. If you would like more information on any of the authors/illustrators listed or have any questions, please email the Children's Publicity Department (


Deciding to Host a Visit:
In general, it's best to shop around. Do some research with the help of your librarian, media specialist, or teaching team. Try to find an author/illustrator whose books match the students' interests, ages, and reading levels. Peruse the listing of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt authors/illustrators that currently visit schools, what they charge, and what kinds of programs they offer. Please also search our site to research authors and illustrators and find promotional biographies, press releases, and teacher guides that you can download. Many authors/illustrators also have their own Web sites that describe, in detail, their presentations. Check them out!

If you would like more information on specific authors and their presentations, please fax your request to Children's Books Publicity (617.351.1111) or email the Children's Publicity Department (

Costs and Expectations:
When inviting an author/illustrator to visit, be aware that you will be responsible for the following expenses:

1. HONORARIUM: This is a per diem fee paid for the author's/illustrator's professional expertise and his/her time spent away from work.

• This fee should be paid at the end of the visit (or on the final day of a multiday visit).

• Fees range from $300 to $2000 per day and are subject to change without notice. Many speakers offer half-day fees. It is reasonable to expect that the more celebrated an author/illustrator, the higher the fee will be.

*All honoraria are subject to change. Honoraria figures for traveling appearances do not include expenses such as airfare, accomodations, ground transportation, parking, and meals. Many authors/illustrators offer half-day fees for visits that are within easy driving distance and can be completed in one morning or afternoon.


• Roundtrip air/train fare and the cost of a taxi or car service to and from the airport (if necessary) is covered by the host organization.

• In cases where the author/illustrator drives him- or herself, the host will be responsible for mileage reimbursement at a rate of $0.445/mile.

• Often the speaker will opt to make his/her own travel reservations, in order to choose flight times, airports, and other arrangements that are most conducive to his/her schedule.

• If the author/illustrator has requested that the hosting group make the travel arrangements, please note that while the need for low airfare is understood, the number of connecting flights should be limited. A jet-lagged, travel-weary guest is not nearly as enjoyable as one who has traveled comfortably.

3. LODGING: The host group is responsible for making all arrangements for the author/illustrator if he/she will be staying in the area one or more nights.

• Usually if the author/illustrator is to spend the entire day visiting, he/she will want to arrive the evening before and/or spend the night after.

• Please arrange for the hotel bill to be sent to you, not to the guest.

• Although it may be helpful to your organization's budget to invite a speaker to stay in a private home rather than a hotel or B&B, it is not advisable. Visiting speakers need breathing room for a good performance and freedom to do as they please with their spare time.

4. MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES: The host group is also responsible for expenses incurred, such as meals, carfare, and the like, during the agreed visit. It is customary that upon the speaker's return home, he/she will submit an itemized bill for any such expenses. Please reimburse him/her accordingly (and promptly!).

To Request an Appearance:
Write to the author/illustrator in care of Publicity at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children, 222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116. You can also email the Children's Publicity Department ( or send a fax to 617.351.1111. At this point, please be certain that you have all the necessary funding approvals from within your organization. It's best to get your request in as early as possible; many schedules are booked six to twelve months in advance. Late spring tends to be particularly busy. If the requested author/illustrator is unavailable at that time, we will do our best to suggest a similar speaker who would fit the needs and interests of your group. Your letter should be as specific as possible and should include the following information:

• The preferred date(s)-please offer several possibilities-or month

• The number of days you require the author/illustrator AND how many presentations he/she would need to make per day (3–4 maximum)

• The size and grade levels of each group

• An acknowledgment that you will pay the author's/illustrator's honorarium fee, as well as all travel, lodging, and miscellaneous expenses

• A contact name, return address, email address, and phone number

Once your request is received, it will be forwarded to the author/illustrator for consideration. The author/illustrator will then correspond with you directly. Please keep in mind that the particulars of your request (dates, number of presentations, and so on) are subject to alteration by the author/illustrator.

The ultimate goal of any author/illustrator visit is to motivate kids to read. These appearances make books come alive, by showing kids that authors/illustrators are real people. If kids are excited and interested by the visit, they will invariably ask, "Where can I get your books?" If the books are not on hand, the moment is lost. Having the author's/illustrator's books at the appearance is an integral part of a successful visit. Book sales should be a part of your visit preparations.


While there are different options for ordering books, there is no "best" way, because it depends on the offers made by bookstores in your area. With a little research, you should be able to find the most cost-effective plan for your school. Often, your organization can earn a discount on books ordered for the event. You can then sell the books at retail price and earn a profit for your group (many schools use the profits to ensure funding for annual author/illustrator visits). Houghton Mifflin does not set or control resale prices.

• Contact local bookstores/wholesalers. Explain that you will be ordering a large quantity of books for an author/illustrator event. Large superstores will usually offer a standard special event discount, no matter the title or author.

• Smaller, independent bookstores are sometimes willing to offer a more significant discount. (If you know that the author/illustrator lives in your local area, check with him/her if they would recommend a particular store.) Be certain that you also discuss the store's policy for returns on unsold books. Check for independent bookstores in your area.


If you are unable or prefer not to order books through a local bookseller or wholesaler, you can order directly from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Please read the instructions and information outlined below:

• At least 5–6 weeks prior to the visit, contact Houghton Mifflin Trade Customer Service at 1.800.225.3362 orfax 1.800.634.7568

Provide the following information:

• Complete shipping address — street address required, no P.O. boxes

• Complete billing address, including name of sponsoring organization

• Date of author appearance

• Date you wish to receive books

• Titles, ISBN numbers, and quantities

We are unable to guarantee prices quoted prior to invoicing because prices are subject to change.

Books are shipped from our warehouse via UPS. Rush orders can be shipped via Federal Express if requested; additional charges will be reflected on your invoice.

Shipping Costs
You assume shipping costs on both outgoing orders and returns. Shipping costs for outgoing orders will be reflected on your invoice.

Our appearance discount is 35% off trade book orders. An itemized packing slip will be enclosed with the book shipment. A three-part invoice will follow, billing your organization for the quantity shipped (at a 35% discount off of the retail price) and shipping charges. Retain the packing slip and shipping cartons. DO NOT PAY THE INVOICE UNTIL AFTER THE EVENT.

Unsold books in salable condition are fully returnable. They should be packed in the original cartons, with packing materials added to avoid damage in shipment. Enclose a copy of the invoice in each carton of returned books marked "Author Appearance. Return for full credit." Send return shipment to:

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Trade Returns Dept.
2700 North Richard Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46219

We strongly recommend returning books by UPS, FedEx, or registered mail in case proof of delivery is needed.

Pay the invoice promptly after the event, editing it, if necessary, to reflect the correct billing after returns. For example, if you ordered 50 books, sold 40, and returned 10, mark the invoice as follows: "Author Appearance/Promotional Event — 10 books returned under separate cover. Payment enclosed for 40 books." Send your payment and edited invoice to:

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Trade Customer Service
181 Ballardvale St.
P.O. Box 7050
Wilmington, MA 01887

Tips for a successful event:
• Publicize the event well in advance, with library displays and classroom activities. Students should have read at least one of the author's/illustrator's books prior to the visit. If possible, let the speaker know prior to the visit which book(s) the students have read. The presentation can often be tailored to center around the book(s).

• Contact local newspapers and radio stations. Alert parents that a celebrity will be visiting.

• Contact Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children for available promotional materials, like author photos, book jackets, and biographical info. (Materials are provided free of cost.)

• Do all you can to welcome your special guest. If possible, meet him/her at the airport. Assign someone to handle any requests and to accompany the speaker throughout the day (student escorts are great, too!). Show displays you've prepared for the visit and projects the students have done in conjunction with reading the author's/illustrator's books. The speaker will appreciate all the hard work you've done to make the visit a success!

• Be certain that you have arranged for transportation to and from the hotel, the event site, and the airport.

• Consider the size and location of the event! Gymnasiums are a difficult speaking arena because of poor acoustics. Presentations to smaller groups in libraries/media centers are much more effective and personal than all-school assemblies.

• If you wish to videotape the appearance, you must first get official permission from the author/illustrator. If permission is granted, please send a written statement on your organization's letterhead, specifying under what conditions the videotape will be used (future classroom use, primarily); when it will be used (only during the school year); and that it will not be copied or sold at any time without the author's/illustrator's permission.

• Make sure any equipment needed for the presentation (microphone, slide projector, and so on) is set up and working prior to the first presentation. Have a glass of fresh water and a box of tissues handy.

• If the speaker is doing more than one presentation, please be sure to schedule breaks (15–30 min.) between presentations. If possible, offer an empty office or classroom for his/her use at this time.

• If a Q and A session is part of the program, field questions for the speaker. We suggest that classes brainstorm interesting questions prior to the visit.

• Authors/illustrators are pleased to answer student questions, but it can be discouraging if they are asked excessive questions related to their perceived celebrity ("What kind of car do you drive?" or "How much money do you make?"), instead of intelligent questions about the creative process or the day's presentation. When time runs out, end the session with "one last question," and allow both the students and the guest to express thanks for the opportunity.

• Please check to see if the speaker has any special dietary needs and discuss mealtime plans prior to the visit. A day of public speaking can be very socially demanding, so allow him/her the flexibility to have meals alone, if preferred. If you hope to have the author/illustrator as the special guest at a formal or informal lunch or dinner attended by teachers and/or librarians, this must be discussed in advance. Authors/illustrators greatly appreciate the educators who support their books and will do their best to accommodate such requests if their schedules allow.

• Allow plenty of time at the end of the day's events if there will be a book signing. Lines will move slowly as kids talk to the author/illustrator. Pass out Post-It notes to those in line so they can write down the name of the person to whom the autograph will be addressed. This will expedite the line and ensure correct spelling. Have a teacher assist the author/illustrator in the process so that it goes smoothly.

• Pay the speaker's honorarium fee upon his/her departure with a check in the agreed amount.

• Be certain that the schedule allows adequate time for the speaker to return to the airport without rushing.

• Follow up the visit with a thank-you letter, sent in care of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children. Personal notes from the students are always appreciated, as well.

To Arrange for a Costume Character at Your Event:

If you are interested in having a trademarked Houghton Mifflin Harcourt character at your event, please contact Costume Specialists (1.800.596.9357). They will answer all questions concerning availability, delivery, and pickup. See costume selection below:

Curious George
The Man with the Yellow Hat
Lyle the Crocodile
Tacky the Penguin
George and Martha
Martha the Talking Dog
Rotten Ralph
Stella Luna
Auntie Claus
Chet Gecko
Oliver K. Woodman

Please note that these costumes are not available for private functions (birthday parties, and so on).

If you would like more information on specific authors and their presentations, please fax your request to the Children's Publicity Department (617.351.1111) or email it to

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