“Tween the Weekends is a monthly feature hosted on Emblazon. This is an opportunity for writers and readers to promote tween literature, that age bracket squashed between middle grade and young adult. You can review a great tween book, post about writing for kids, connect with others who love the genre, support and encourage one another, relate news, share links, or just about anything else tween related.” I hope you’ll join us.
Now that the school year has begun, it’s a good time to discuss topics for school visits.
Every speaker has a mouth; An arrangement rather neat. Sometimes it’s filled with wisdom. Sometimes it’s filled with feet.
— Robert Orben
If you’ve never done an author visit at a school, library, or bookstore, it can seem a bit scary.
Being prepared helps boost your confidence.
Remember the old cartoon Felix the Cat? Whenever he got in a fix, he’d reach right into his bag of tricks!
A bag of tricks is good for authors to have on hand for public speaking, no matter what age you’re addressing. Basically, props are part of your bag of tricks, whether large or small. You can use them as an ice breaker or throughout your presentation.
For ideas on props, here’s my post with suggestions.
When you schedule a visit, be sure to ask how much time you’ll have and what ages you’re dealing with. If you’re going to talk about writing in addition to reading excerpts of your book and sharing a little about your personal journey, ask if there’s a certain topic they want you to cover, such as plot, figurative language, the importance of reading, etc. That will help you prepare ahead of time. Usually I’m free to discuss whatever I want, though.
So, what should you talk about?
Introduce yourself. Explain what genres you write and what ages you write for. If you use the word “genre,” ask the kids if they know what it means.
Share a little about your writing journey.
If you did a lot of research, explain how you researched your book.
Engage your audience by asking questions. Before I read my short story “Cyclops Clyde,” I ask if anyone has had their computer do weird things. There’s always a show of hands. Then I explain how my computer does so many strange things, I think it’s haunted, so one day I wrote about a monster that lives in it. After I read the story (with tons of drama and animation), I tell them they can write their own computer monster story.
If you have enough time, you can have fun engaging your audience with questions such as, “What are you afraid of?” or ask them about anything that ties in with your theme or book.
Be sure you have lots of extras in your bag of tricks to use as backup material in case you’re there longer than planned.
If your book is about animals, have a list of interesting and amazing animal facts. If you wrote a historical piece, have extra trivia about that time period handy to share. You can ask the kids if they think they would have liked to have lived back then. If you write sci-fi, you can come up with all kinds of cool questions to engage your audience.
Promote literacy. Encourage reading and writing. I always tell them, “If you want to become a writer, you need to read as much as possible.” Stress how important it is to practice to become a better reader and writer. “Athletes work out for hours every day to perfect their skills. Writers must do the same, and reading is part of writing.” Teachers love it when you talk about how important it is to revise. Jaws drop when I tell the kids some of my books were revised 50 times.