Today I paid an author visit to our local middle school where I discussed the topic, "My Path to Publication" with five different English classes. It was a lot of fun, both because I had the chance to associate with old friends (I used to work at the school) and make new friends. I also discovered that many of the students were excited about my book. I don't know if I can express this adequately enough, but there is something truly amazing in knowing that many people are reading and enjoying Missing, my novel! Yes, I've written dozens of articles and stories for magazines, and I know they have influenced an untold number of readers, and I am grateful for that opportunity, but I must say that seeing readers with my book--the middle school library has ten of them!--and hearing they enjoyed it brings a unique kind of pleasure. And gratitude. Thank you, readers. You are awesome!
Just as a side perk--after the successful day, two other teachers asked me to visit their classes next month. Yay!
Now, because this is a how-to-write blog, let me list a few things I learned through my presentation (in no particular order):
1. I initially felt uncomfortable with the idea of talking about myself, but as I prepared, I realized I do have valuable experience to share. Better than that, as I spoke, most of the students really seemed interested. As I've written at the top of the blog, our value and strength is in our individuality.
2. What happens after your book is accepted is a great unknown to students and teachers alike. As authors, we can enlighten them.
3. Listeners like to hear the author read a bit of their book. I hadn't prepared to do this, but the good thing is, I quickly found a short, intriguing section to share, so it turned out well.
4. I brought tootsie rolls. When students asked me questions related to the subject, I gave them one. Some classes asked more questions than others, but they were all so respectful, I gave all a tootsie roll at the end. Note: Generally, this school frowns on teachers, etc., bringing candy to school, so I discussed this idea with the librarian who initially contacted me and she gave her permission to give out tootsie rolls.
5. Try to incorporate humor in your discussion, or at least be prepared to include it as needed.
That's all folks!