Put on a Show: How to Perform a Memorable Author Visit for Children

Get Out and Share your Story!

Once you have your published book, it’s time to perform! Let’s think about what other ways we can enhance this baby!

What else can you do to compliment your book? Could you also sing a song or recite a poem? Perhaps you could create a play or an audio drama. Maybe you could do all of the above!!! You may have to rework some things depending on what format your Story Time takes, but don’t be afraid to test some out audio and visuals.digger & camera

 

This is really the fun part!!! JUST GO FOR IT!!! Play to your strengths. If visual aids and props are your thing, then great. You can dress up like a character. You can also incorporate sound effects or instruments. Maybe you even like to sing or do character voices. I mean go wild with it. This is your time to play. The more fun you are having the more fun the kiddos will have as well. Whatever form your narrative takes it is always a great idea to find ways that bring the story off the pages and into the 3-dimensional world somehow. Say you write a story about a birthday party for a little Maple Tree. Tell your audience the story and then take them outside and have a party for a tree. Have the children make presents and decorations out of objects they find in the woods. Sing happy birthday and dance around a tree. The possibilities are endless and all of these activities help reinforce the core message from your story.

Time to Go Back to School…

There is no “substitute” for a good old-fashioned school visit. All of the online marketing in the world cannot take the place of directly engaging with your audience in person. You are creating works for small children and 3-5-year-olds aren’t going to be on Twitter and Facebook (hopefully). You are going to have to go to them.

Since launching my books and podcast, I have been to schools, libraries, community events and even grocery stores. At many live events, my audiences are small, but when you are the “new kid on the block,” you want to start out by creating a foundation of loyal enthusiastic fans who are excited to share your stories with their friends and family. In today’s fast-paced world of digital communication, face to face visits are just so much more memorable.

Hit the Pavement

Contact local preschools, librarians, and educators in your community. In my experience, most people are thrilled at the idea of having a local author visit. I started out by doing unpaid story-times and then have worked my way up to being paid for my visits. There is a really great website called “School Visit Experts” that can help you navigate that sort of thing.

Promote your Visit

About a week before my Author Visit, I will send along a flyer to the event coordinator school/daycare etc… I ask them to put up the flyer on the bulletin board and/or pass them out into the children’s cubbies. Often the flyer will be posted on the school or daycare’s social media. This is a crucial step especially for visits where parents will not be present. You can’t rely on the children in your audience to relay all of this information back to their parents (your potential book buyers.) So you need to get your exact message out to them. Here is an example of my flyer:

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What I Bring on an Author Visit:

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(Gosh, maybe I should list all of the things I don’t bring on an author visit…)

  • A Cardboard Cut Out of my character Digger the Dog (make sure this thing is sturdy because the kiddos will go bananas if you have a cardboard character & Digger has taken some diggers.
  • Digger’s Rock Collection I pull out a special box of rocks/gems after I read the story Digger’s Daily Routine.
  • Plastic Hard Hats (Just like Digger’s) honestly these are kind of a distraction but they are great for photos so I only use them with tamer audiences.
  • Book Marks & Coloring/Activity Pages the kids get to take home a souvenir from our story time together!

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I also bring these Fabulous Fabric Triangles with googly eyes along with a boombox and mp3 of my song “Go Triangle Go” to accompany my story The Shape Escape. The kiddos and I wave the triangles in the air and sing and dance around. It’s a SUPER fun intermission because everyone gets to shake their sillies out!

triangle

Make Room for Spontaneity

At the end of each story time, I tell some jokes and we do a little Q&A. We clean up and say our goodbyes. I keep the end of the visit pretty loose and read the room. If the teacher wants me to wrap it up, I do. If it looks like they want more of a “teacher break” I keep chatting with the kiddos. Just remember that whenever you have an audience full of children, you need to be adaptable. You never know what your audience will say or how they react but you are ALWAYS guaranteed to have an adorable adventure.

 

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