Author Phil Bildner has launched, as of August 30, a full-service booking agency for children’s book authors and illustrators, the Author Village, to schedule school and library visits, as well as panels, conferences, workshops, and other special events. Besides booking such events for himself, Bildner has begun handling logistics for eight other children’s book creators: Elizabeth Acevedo, Derek Anderson, Laurie Halse Anderson, Matthew Cordell, Kevin Lewis, Loren Long, Meg Medina, and LeUyen Pham. Later this month, Mike Curato, C. Alexander London, Lauren Castillo, Laurel Snyder, Brendan Kiely, and Ibi Zoboi will join the Author Village.
Bildner said that he was prompted to launch the Author Village “the first Friday” of this past summer, after his longtime booking agent, Jean Dayton of Dayton Bookings, retired. Long, another of Dayton’s clients, called Bildner to ask him what he was going to do without Dayton, Bildner recalled, noting during the interview that since he had been handling the scheduling of more and more of his school visits these past few months, he told Long that he had decided to do it all in the future. When Long then asked Bildner if he would handle Long’s bookings as well, the Author Village was born.
“The light bulb went on,” he said. “It really did. I have a flashbulb memory of the moment.”
Long said that he asked Bildner to book school visits and other events for him because his work as an author-illustrator “swallows all of his time,” and also because Bildner is a “Type A personality” who “knows the school visit world much more than I do—up and down and every which way.” While Bildner says he has made as many as 60–70 school and library visits in one year, in comparison, Long typically does between five and 10.
“We’re starting out slowly,” Bildner told PW, noting that he is already fielding inquiries and has to date completed two bookings: Medina will participate in a conference in Virginia and Long will visit a school in Texas. “We’re expanding at my own pace [and] we’re only taking on authors I know and have seen present. Just because you can write or paint beautifully doesn’t always mean you should be in a classroom in front of a bunch of kids,” Bildner said, disclosing that a friend is assisting him with administrative tasks.
One of the benefits of his service, Bildner explained, is that if a requested author or illustrator is already booked, another author or illustrator can quickly be recommended to the client.
“We strongly feel that every kid deserves an experience with an author visit to their school,” Bildner said of his commitment to facilitating school visits, especially at Title I schools, for himself and his fellow authors and illustrators.
Bildner is confident he possesses all of the qualifications necessary for a successful booking agent: besides being an author, he taught middle grade in public schools in the South Bronx for 11 years; he also holds a J.D. degree from NYU and worked briefly for a corporate New York City law firm. “For me, this is not re-inventing the wheel. I understand it all, including contracts.”
Since booking school and library visits ebbs and flows during the school year, Bildner intends to focus on his own writing during the summer months. “This the logical next step for me,” he said. “But I also want to write.”