Sunday, May 26, 2019
Success Strategies For School Visits For Authors
For children’s authors, a school visit is a great way to make a direct connection with your young readers and boost your personal brand, and there’s often a modest fee too. Children in turn get a thrill in meeting a real author, especially one whose books they may have read. Here are some tips on how to get the most out the experience…
Be realistic about money
School visits rarely attract a big fee, so it’s best to accept that fact up front and find other ways to make the best of the opportunity. Schools can help you promote your books ahead of the visit and organize sales on the day for children and parents too.
Check with the school beforehand that they have any kit you will need for you workshop or talk, such as projector and PowerPoint. If you want a classroom or hall organized in a certain way, be very specific about what you want and who will be doing it. Do you want children to work in groups or pairs? Will they need pens and paper? The more detail, the better.
Get ahead with your books
To make the most of the selling opportunity on the day, let the school know well in advance – a fortnight beforehand, at least – about the titles that you’ll have to sell, along with details of reading age, price and so on. Confirm that the school will send out advance information to parents, so that children are more likely to bring money to buy your books on the day.
See to the basics
When you arrive, find out where the staff toilets are. Check where you get some refreshments too. Teachers are not always used to hosting visitors and you’ll need a drink at least to get you through the visit.
Do an early technical check
On the day, check that all the equipment is as you need it, and that chairs and tables are arranged right. Lighting and sound need to be checked too, as well as clickers and screen resolution. Make sure you arrive in good time to check all these things.
Tailor your talk to your audience
Make your talk interactive, snappy and attention-grabbing. Half an hour is usually as long as children’s attention will last, often shorter. Leave lots of time for questions, of which there will be many. Talking about ideas and inspiration and a few relevant details of your life is fine, but be selective. Keep it light and fun, and avoiding running through your whole CV.
Get teachers to help with discipline in workshops
Teachers are the experts when it comes to keeping a class under control so that you can get on with running your workshop. Don’t be shy about asking a teacher to help if there’s an issue with maintaining discipline in the classroom.
Make time for every child
While it’s tempting to focus on a handful of children who are the keenest and speak the loudest, do your best to include as many children as possible in conversation and activities. Walk around, take an interest, gently encourage shyer children to take part. Often children are under-confident, but they only need a little nudge to get involved.
Come up with new answers to old questions
Children love to ask questions, and this is often the most fun part of a school visit, so always leave lots of time for them as part of your talk or workshop. Inevitably you will get a lot of the same questions coming up, so to keep things fresh try to think of something different to say each time. You don’t have to give a straight answer, and you can always a question with a question…
Even if you’ve had a tough day, with dodgy tech, few sales and unruly classes, always make a point of finishing well. Thank everyone, praise the school and leave with a smile. As with any networking opportunity, you just never know what else might come of your visit.
Dan Brotzel (@brotzel_fiction) is co-author of a new comic novel,
Kitten on a Fatberg (Unbound). As a reader of this newsletter, you can pre-order Kitten on a Fatberg for a 10% discount – simply quote promo code KITTEN10
Agree or disagree, readers? Anything you'd like to add here?
Image credit: Pixabay.com