Last Friday I had the honor of speaking to Winslow Middle School's 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. I had so much fun and consider the event a huge success. I even sold all of my books.
Before the event, however, I was unsure what to do or talk about and this made me very nervous. I scoured the internet looking for tips or advice on what to do or say, but all I could find was information from children authors who only speak to elementary schools. Unfortunately their format is different from what an author would do for a middle school.
Because I couldn't find anything super helpful, I thought I'd share what I did in hopes of helping other authors in the same situation.
I arrived early. Lisa, a super awesome teacher, and a few other super awesome teachers, helped me set up. I didn't have much: a plasma ball, a poster of my book cover, a few of my books on display, laptop and screen to show my book trailer.
I met with 8th graders first. I chatted with them as they came in, moved around a bit, invited them to touch the plasma ball. Once everyone was seated, I said that I wanted to get to know the audience first before I talked about myself. I then asked a bunch of questions and had them answer by raising their hands. This helped warm up the crowd.
Now it was my turn. Instead of giving a long list of who I am and what I've done, I played a game, letting the audience guess certain things about me. When I was finished, I introduced my book, starting with my trailer.
I told a little about my main character and then went into the "motivational" part of my talk. This is where I spoke about our own inner superpowers and how to develop them so we can slay the "villains" that come into our lives. This took maybe ten minutes.
After this, I opened it up for Q&A's. I had asked Lisa to get some questions from students a head of time so I could be prepared with a few just in case students were too afraid to ask. I also brought a bunch of candy to use as bribes if desperate for someone, anyone, to ask a question. Luckily I didn't have that problem.
At the very end, I had a drawing for a signed copy of my book. (Ahead of time I had teachers ask students to write their name on a strip of paper.) I gave a book away to each grade. Afterwards, I sold books and signed autographs.
I hope this information helps someone else. Let me know if you have any questions. :)