Monday, April 16, 2012

Author School Event

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. :)


Luisa Perkins said...

Super helpful, thanks! I'm doing my first school visit this Thursday--it's a high school creative writing class.

Piano Gal Val said...

So Cool! I bet those students will not soon forget their time spent with the famous author. You are so good with teens!!!

Hildred said...

That's pretty awesome you got to do that! I know for sure when Iwas that age I would've been all over that sort of talk from somebody. No doubt you made somebody's day in that audience. :)

Kimberlee Turley said...

Having the audience ask questions would make me nervous. (Seriously, what if one of them asked my bra size?)

I'm certain you had it more controlled than just open-discussion, but when I'm nervous, I like to be prepared, and the only way to do that is to plan ahead.

Rachel said...

Luisa - good luck on Thursday! English classes are fun to talk to because you can usually go more in depth in discussing the art of writing.

Kim - that made me laugh. :) I was given some questions ahead of time to answer, but, of course, the kids started asking all sorts of other questions. Fortunately most of them were on topic. I think the strangest question I was asked was, "Are you obsessed with death?" Maybe I should've left the bit out about visiting every graveyard I drive by.

Prose By Design said...

Thanks for sharing your experience and all the hints, Rachel. I'm glad you had a good time!

Lindsey R. Loucks said...

Wow! It sounds like you did a great job!