BLOGGER: TIM SHOEMAKER
Tim will serve as a fiction mentor for a Morning Mentoring Clinic at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, 2016 and lead a bonus session Friday night, Preparing for the Appointment
YOU WANT TO SPEAK AT SCHOOLS? DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
Speaking at a school is a pop-quiz—and a quick way to ruin your reputation. If you don’t do your homework, that is. Some authors seem to feel that just showing up for a classroom visit is enough. They go in with a celebrity mentality, and that’s a big mistake. Huge.
There was a day when meeting an author was rare. Now you can hardly ride an elevator without bumping into a writer. Authors aren’t the novelty they once were. If we want the admiration of others, we need to earn it.
One of the biggest obstacles to getting into schools is other authors who have been there before you. Authors who thought they were celebs. Authors who bored the students. Authors who left faculty unimpressed—and consequently gun shy to bring another writer in.
You want to create a good impression … so here are some things to remember when you’re doing your homework for a school visit.
-Be normal in the way you talk, act, and dress. Building a quirky character for your story? Great. Being a quirky person in real life? Weird.
-Find out how the teachers dress. You don’t want to overdress, and definitely don’t want to be more casual than they are.
-Trying to be cool is not cool at all. Don’t wear jeans and a T-shirt because you’re a cool author—or want the students to think you are. News flash … if you’re over twenty-five you’re old in their eyes.
Don’t try to be like the students. Kids don’t respect that. You’re older. You have wisdom to offer. Share that, and many students will long to be as smart as you. You’ll inspire them and give them something to aim for. Dumb speakers try to be like the kids … and give the students little to shoot for.
-Arrive early. Stay late. Try to deliver more than the teachers/staff expect.
-Bring a gift for the teacher or librarian. A poster of your book. Your book.
-Bring something for the kids. A bookmark picturing your book works well.
-Have more prepared than you can possibly use for an author visit. Have things ready to fill time if kids aren’t asking questions. Was there some actual event that inspired your story? Is there some inside scoop … some little detail about your story that nobody else knows? Kids love to hear about that stuff.
-If they offer you a stool or chair, thank them … but stand. Sitting up in front of a bunch of kids in some elevated king-chair drips with self-importance. Stand. Move around closer to the students.
-If you’re not a people person, stick with a blog. Please. You’ll hurt your reputation—and people may think you’re writing is just as awkward.
Speaking at schools is like a pop-quiz. Whenever students are involved, you never really know what’s coming next. But the grade will stick. Do your homework, and you’ll do just fine.
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