A lesson on school visits

If you write for kids, you've probably considered the benefits of giving a school talk. The idea sounds nice, but you might have questions about where to start or how to get the most out of the opportunity. Since I've never given a school talk, I decided to reach out and get advice from an author who's been there and done that. Please welcome, Kelly Hashway!


School Visits Can Be an Author’s Best Form of Marketing

School visits are a great way to reach more readers, but how do you go about setting them up? School librarians should be at the top of your list of friends. Put together a press release or one sheet with your book cover, blurb, pertinent information (like publication date, publisher, ISBN), and any endorsements you have for your book. Also, make sure you have your contact information in there. If the school is local, go meet the librarian and bring a copy of your book to donate to the school’s library. If the school isn’t local, you can get the librarian’s email address from the school’s website. Or call the school and ask to speak to the librarian.

If you aren’t a big name author (yet), offering to give your presentation for free is an almost guaranteed way to get your foot in the door. It’s about spreading the word and getting your name out there, so even if you don’t make money from the presentation itself, you can and most likely will gain readers and make sales after the presentation.

When you approach the school about coming to visit, let them know you are open to small group or large group settings. I’ve spoken to individual classes, which makes it easier to interact with the students, and to auditoriums full of students. The key with either setting is to be enthusiastic. If you are excited, the students will feed off of your energy.

A word of advice for big group presentations is not to hide behind a podium. The school will set one up for you, but I wouldn’t stand behind it. It’s screams “I’m going to lecture you for the next hour!” Kids hate that. For one of my presentations, I stood up on the catwalk that was on the stage for the spring play. It was great because I was up high so everyone could see me (I’m only 5’1”) and the kids thought it was awesome that I was up there. They weren’t expecting it, so I grabbed their attention from the moment they entered the auditorium.

Kids are very visual, so you’ll want to have visual aides. A slideshow with lots of images is great, but arrive to your visit early and perform a test run with any technology you are going to use to make sure everything is working properly before you begin. During your presentation, don’t stand in one spot. Move around. Interact with the audience. Keep your energy high. Don’t be afraid to crack a joke and just be yourself. Kids can sniff out fakeness from a mile away. No matter what age they are, kids love to be read to so bring a copy of your book. If your book isn’t out yet, print an excerpt and bring that with you. 

And leave time for questions. They will have them. Just be prepared from some questions about your age. For some reason, they always want to know how old you are and how much money you make. One of the best responses I got from a group of students was after I told them that I sold my first short story for a whopping two dollars. The entire auditorium broke out into applause. Why? Because I was so excited to make money for my writing—no matter how small the amount—and they could see that. They shared in my celebration. Enthusiasm is contagious.

Finally, be prepared to stay longer than you anticipated. I was asked to stick around for lunches so the students could interact with me in a less formal setting. It was so much fun, and I signed everything from agendas to paper plates. 

So go make friends with school librarians, because school visits can be a really fun way to reach a large amount of potential readers.

Great advice, right! As someone who's only 4'10" I can totally relate to the evils of podiums. Be sure to check out Kelly on her blog or Twitter. While you're there, check out all her great books, including her YA paranormal series, TOUCH OF DEATH.

AmazonB&N, or Walmart
Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know.

After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendants of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins.

Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn’t difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.

Already a fan of the Touch of Death series? Be sure to pre-order FACE OF DEATH, releasing January 7th at AmazonB&N, or Walmart!