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I spent Monday working in a high school. My job takes me to various public schools, but I spend most of my time in elementary schools. Even though I currently live with a teen, it is always good to hang out with real teens. To see them in action, to listen to them talk, to be reminded who my ideal YA readers are.

If you write for young people, there is an excellent chance that at some point you will be interacting with your readers.

We can’t always predict what your readers will ask (see Suzanne’s post), but you have to be ready for as many possibilities as you can anticipate. I’ve set WIPs aside because I realized I didn’t want to have to represent–or defend–a particular topic or issue. 

May I suggest a Meet Your Reader Test? Some questions to think about:

  • Do you want to talk face to face about your topic/theme?
  • Does the topic thrill you? 
  • Are you an expert?
  • Do you have more to say on the subject than you could ever fit within the confines of a book?
  • Does the story lead you places you want to be?
  • Are you ready to face any controversies that could arise from a discussion about your book?
  • Can you calmly discuss opposing views?

Yes? Well then, write on!

Sarah Tomp

WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK

 

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Yesterday I shared the week prior to my first author visit (click here if you would like to read The Good, The Bad and The Ugly). Today I would like to share my own tips and tricks for a successful school visit. Please note these are my own ideas and there are great sites out there that can give you fantastic ideas such as schoolvisitexperts.com.

1. Have a Theme-

I chose to talk about teamwork. I tied it into working together both at school and at home. You can look at the list of standards for the grades that you are addressing and try to include those in your presentation as well.

2. Bring Props-

This makes the presentation more interesting especially when dealing with larger groups. Be sure to make them large enough for everyone to see.

3. Student Volunteers-

Students will be more engaged in your presentation if they see their fellow students up there participating. I made sure that I had a student from each of the classes I was presenting to so that no class felt left out. You can even ask the teacher to select a student, they have a better idea of which of their students will do better in front a large group.

4. Allow time to answer questions-

I found it worked better to ask the student to come up to the front to ask the question it is easier for the other students and the author to hear. I also plan to use a tip from schoolvisitexperts.com next time and have pre-printed question cards that the students can select out of a basket. Since I am addressing younger students (K-2nd grade) they get excited to raise their hand but tend to forget the question. I am hoping this will help solve that issue. I am going to write them on cards shaped like pears and let the child keep the question as a souvenir.

5. Be Prepared

Each visit is different try to speak with the person in charge to find out what their expectations are. If you require special equipment make sure to request it before the presentation, this makes it easier to set up and the custodian will thank you.

6. Pre-sell the Book Prior to the event

It is much easier to sign the books ahead of time and arrive with them ready to go rather than trying to handle sales and signings at the school. I work with Readers Inc. a local bookseller who helps handle the pre-sales and they do a great job. Be sure to bring extras for those who forgot to order ahead of time or teachers who decide they want to order after the presentation.

7. Have Fun

School visits can be unpredictable and every one is a little bit different, so go with the flow and have fun.

Happy Writing,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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