Speaking Engagements

Hiddey-ho Scribblers!  J Monkeys here – on a short vacation from my vacation!  I had an exciting first yesterday and I wanted to come back to the land of bloggers and tell you about it. 

Y’all know I write children’s books, right?  Heavens, if not, click here to see my bookshelf.  Well, all of the indie pub’d children’s authors I’ve met tell me the same thing, “We’re not getting any of the e-book love because our audience doesn’t have access to spend their own money.”  Too true – children’s authors need to appeal to kids and parents both.  One drives the demand for the book, the other holds the purse strings. 

One way to get books in kids hands is by going to their school and speaking with them, while at the same time, getting the school to allow a flyer to go home to the parents to sell books.  This happens with some regularity, my niece brought home at least 3 author visit book order forms this year.  But the trick is, to get the PTO or whomever, to select you out of the giant pile of authors who want to visit.

Big name authors charge big bucks for the speaking engagement as well.  I know of one author who charged my school $900 as a speaking fee, plus sold books for a whopping $14.95 a piece.  Not a bad haul for a day’s work.

While I know that getting into schools is a good way to market to my audience and I’m pretty comfortable talking in front of a crowd, I haven’t made much progress at this goal until yesterday. 

Yesterday was my first in-school author visit.  I spent the day in a K-2 school.  I gave 2 forty-five minute presentations to 150 kids at a time.  I talked about the things you need to write a story – and idea, characters, conflict and plot.  And I did a creative writing project with 40 kids where we wrote a story together and the children illustrated it. 

All in all it went very well.  I knew that the creative writing project was going to be a for a smaller group, but didn’t realize until the day before the event that “smaller” was 40 kids!  I had envisioned like 12 kids.  But even that piece went really well.  The kids were attentive, excited and seemed to really enjoy it. 

I was a bit worried that my explanation of the 3 types of conflict would be boring or over their heads, even though I used examples that I knew they would be familiar with, but I don’t think that it was.  They seemed engaged, and were able to answer questions.

In the end, it was quite a fun experience.  I got paid to speak, nothing like $900, but enough, and I sold 30 copies of Brook the Fish.  Once I put it together, I’ll have an example of the classroom creative writing project that I think could be a good selling point for other schools.  And most importantly, I’m over the hurdle of the first one.  While I was never nervous about speaking, I had been procrastinating this whole school-speaker thing because I hadn’t done it before and didn’t know if it would work or if it would be a disaster.

So here’s a secret for you: don’t procrastinate because you don’t know if something will go well.  Just jump in and do it.  If you have a disaster on your hands, you’ll likely get some insight into how to fix it, but you might surprise yourself and have a win.

Do you like to try new things?  What kinds of things scare you?




5 thoughts on “Speaking Engagements”

  1. Good for you J. Congratulations on a job well done.What scares me is the unknown. Unknown to me, that is. Like the pitch. I am hoping to pitch at national this year. So, I am boning up with a Michael Hauge workshop. Usually when I take lessons, it eases the fear, but the adrenaline overflows anyway, until I settle down. Thanks for the encouragement.

    1. I think like anything – practice makes perfect. Once you learn how to pitch (and don’t we all need that!) just stand in front of your bedroom mirror and practice away. I sometimes record myself on my smartphone so I can hear how I sound.

  2. So cool, J! I’ve been thinking the same thing–getting into the high schools with my books, but it’s a challenge getting on the schedule–even in my Alma mater! I’m so happy that it went well for you. I can see that as being an excellent way to reach your audience. Here’s to more of those speaking engagements in the future!

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