re: Do You Have To Be Published To Do Class Visits?

posted 2/27/12

Dear Editor…

A former teacher of mine is teaching a creative writing class to high school seniors and invited me to speak to them—basically offering that they would read a few chapters of my ms (which has an agent offer) and then we could have a discussion. While a part of me would love to do a school visit (and start building my reader platform), I’m not sure if the timing is right since I don’t have published book yet. What do you think?

Anonymous

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Dear Anonymous…

First, congrats on the offer. Second, visit the class. It’ll be great experience for you. When you do have a published book, you can do another visit with that teacher’s class—which will be full of entirely different students anyway. No need to turn down this opportunity because the book isn’t pubbed yet. You can expose this group to the writing/publishing process and to your work . . . and it would sure be inspirational to them. Bonus: You would get in some presentation practice when the stakes don’t feel so high. You’ll have plenty of events in the future for which you’ll worry about having books on hand; for now, get your speaking feet wet in a friendly setting.

Happy writing!
The Editor

 

P.S. For more on this topic, read Promotion
posted by: The Editor
under: Promotion
Comments to "re: Do You Have To Be Published To Do Class Visits?" | Add a Comment
    1. Sharon K Mayhew wrote (on 02/27/12 at 7:35 am) :

      Great questions and answer. I’ve wondered the same thing about being interviewed when you don’t have a published book. I’ve been asked to to interviews a couple times, but have been hesitant as my only publications are in magazines/newsletters.

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    2. Samantha Clark wrote (on 02/27/12 at 8:21 am) :

      I agree, great question and answer. On the marketing side, it would be good if you have a website or blog for your writing that can be mentioned. That way, if the kids are interested in learning more about your process as an up-and-coming author, they can visit it for more information. If they’re intrigued by the excerp of your book, they might like to know when it’ll be published, and they can follow your journey — and learn from it — through your blog or website.

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      The Editor replied (on 02/27/12 at 8:23 am) :

      I second this advice about getting a website together.

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    3. Kathy Higgs wrote (on 02/27/12 at 8:36 am) :

      SCBWI.org offers a lot of advice on school visits. I know many of my published friends encourage me as a nonpublished writer to get out in the schools. They have suggested, though, that I be sure to charge for my time since school visits are a large chunk of what keeps kidlit authors fed and watered and to not charge gives schools the impression that those visits should be free.

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      The Editor replied (on 02/27/12 at 9:28 am) :

      I agree with the sentiment that if you give something away for free, it can become undervalued, and author visits are incredibly valuable to students and teachers. Authors should get paid for their time and expertise. That said, many veteran authors found their busy school visit schedules cut down to just a few visits last year because of the issue of schools and money/funding. For the first few visits, a writer might consider doing it unpaid as a way of perfecting your presentation in front of an audience, building up references, and starting the “school visit buzz” that happens as teachers share successful visits with other teachers. Be sure to get testimonials from the teachers and students that you can then incorporate into your School Visits page on your website. Take pictures, too (not of kids’ faces) for the same purpose. Ask the teachers about other teachers who might like visits. Just like building any business, building a busy (and well-paid) school visit calendar requires focused effort.

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      Christie Wright Wild replied (on 02/27/12 at 9:56 am) :

      A question I’ve offered wondered about! I’ll have to check out SCBWI for more info. Will teachers take you seriously without a published book? Maybe we should at least wait for a contract, unless specifically invited. In that case, I’d definitely go out!

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      Sue Ford replied (on 03/03/12 at 2:10 pm) :

      I’ve done a lot of speaking in schools just based on my magazine writing, so don’t forget that counts, too. I definitely agree about practicing for free with school visits and charging later. I did that at my kids’ school and learned a lot doing OJT! When you already have a relationship at a school, that is a great way to start.

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    4. Kathy Higgs wrote (on 02/27/12 at 10:10 am) :

      As far as teachers taking you seriously without a book/contract… it truly depends on what you offer. I work with students–lead them through writing an entire piece from start to finish, incorporating state standards and writing strategies that I find useful. It’s part of a writer-in-residence program I offer. I do have a degree in education and teaching experience, but that’s not what they seem to respond to–it’s the hands on interaction with the students.

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    5. Michelle Bradford wrote (on 02/28/12 at 11:46 am) :

      Thank you Dear Editor. I have been speaking for many years, mostly on Career Days by word of mouth and referral. I have been a bit shy about marketing before my debut picture book comes out. Recently though, I began marketing and received several offers to speak immediately. It also helps to have a solid web presence to send interested teachers to. Thank you for your encouragement, I’m looking forward to being back in the classroom.

      michellebradford.com
      michellebradford.wordpress.com
      michellebradford.blogspot.com

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