Last year, I hosted several author events during which I met readers behind a booth. On Wednesday, I was wrenched out of my comfort zone when asked to speak to a group of students at Peru High School about writing and publishing.
I honestly didn’t know where to start. Do I talk about the writing process? Do I focus on indie publishing? Do I promote my published works?
Thankfully, one of my favorite indie authors, Adam Dreece, had recently spoken with a group of students and had some awesome advice:
One of the mistakes I see a lot of author speakers do locally, is they are giving a speech for them, instead of thinking of their audience. If the audience wants more about the series, give it. But start from the position of what are they likely writing, and that your goal really is to inform and encourage
Adam,I hope you don’t mind me sharing that verbatim but the advice was just too good to keep to myself! Actually, he shares more advice on his blog. Follow this link to check it out.
I’m glad I read his post first. Going into the event focused on the audience helped me create a better presentation. Audience interaction was fantastic! I could tell the kids had a really good time. Plus, I even sold a few books (at a special discount).
Why Should Authors Visit Classrooms?
Besides offering a break from the regular routine, an author visit introduces students to the writing process, publishing world, and gets kids excited about books. Most importantly, we as authors have an opportunity to encourage young writers.
Tips for Making Your Author Visit a Success
Be yourself. Kids can spot a wannabe and a fake in an instant. Tell jokes, juggle, and do tricks as part of your presentation if that’s your style. If not, that’s okay. Whatever you do, just be honest.
Be prepared. You don’t have to create a PowerPoint presentation like I did, but at least think about what you’re going to talk about. Prepare an outline if that helps. Practice at home and take along note cards if need.
Be aware of your audience. Find out what grade the students are in, how old they are, and what their interests are. I spoke to high school students from a writing club so I tweaked my presentation with that information in mind.
Plan activities as part of your presentation. Kids don’t enjoy long lectures. Keep their attention and engagement by including them in activities. At least involve them in the discussion. Students love to share their experiences and knowledge.
Bring copies of your published works. Keep in mind the point of the event is not to make a profit, but some kids might want a signed copy of your book. If nothing else, provide them links to buy your books.
Bring marketing materials. I gave every student who attended a free bookmark and a business card. I encouraged them to follow me on social media.
Have fun. I shouldn’t have to say this, but author visits are supposed to be fun. Kids are fun. So lighten up, relax, and enjoy the experience.
Now go schedule an author visit. It’s totally worth your time!