I recently attended a writer’s conference where I took a class by Middle Grade authors Chad Morris (Cragbridge Hall Series) and Tyler Whitesides (Janitors Series) on “rocking the school visit”. It was so fun! The guys taught the class by modelling for us what they do at their school visits. I thought I’d share some highlights from what I learned.
Have a theme that ties in to your books.
For instance, Chad’s books are about inventors, so he starts his class out by asking what the kids think is the greatest invention ever (answer: THEM! People, humans, you and me.)
He uses the theme of the human body being a great invention as the core around which he builds the parts of his presentation.
Switch things up so it never gets boring. Use a TON of slides, sing a little opera, do a little dance . . . anything and everything that would entertain while enhancing your theme.
Celebrate a couple kids.
This is the main idea that struck me. I knew that it would be fun/good to have a kid come up to the front, but Chad said that it was important that you make the kid(s) feel good about themselves. They should be getting high fives from their buddies when they return to their seats. They should be looked at as cool and lucky for having the chance to participate.
So make sure you have fun with the kids you call up front, but don’t belittle them or embarrass them. And give them a signed poster or something as a prize.
Above all, be sincere.
I was thinking that I don’t think I have enough to bring to a school visit just yet. Oh, I could fake it, but what would be the point in that? Kids can spot a poser a mile away, I think. But if you’ve got a natural theme, a fun and real way to add variety to your presentation, then go for it! Take these tips and rock that school visit!
Oh, and p.s. Don’t forget to issue an invitation, a “call to action”, for the kids to find your books in the library, or to come to a signing or buy a book.
Parents want kids to be excited to read and if you’ve sparked that interest in their child to read YOUR book (because of your awesome visit) ~ a sale is assured! And more importantly, a fan.
Alex Banks doesn’t live on Planet Earth. Alex lives on the Prime Colony Ship orbiting Jupiter or on a pirate ship off the Nova Scotia coast, or on a world called Insulunda where the land masses shift and move like clouds in the sky. Wherever there are dreams to be charted like stars, or fun to be had just down the street . . . that’s where you’ll find Alex Banks.
(Alex Banks is a pen name for YA/NA author, Ali Cross)
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