I have been fortunate to be able to spend much of the past month visiting elementary schools to talk about my children’s books. Over the course of my visits, I have discovered a few things that may help other authors out there. Here’s what I’ve learned…
1. They Can’t Say Yes If I Do Not Ask
I am not good at asking for things. This makes it hard to ask schools if they would like me to come for an author visit. Prior to asking, my brain does this annoying little thing where is comes up with a dozen reasons why the school would say no. Thanks a lot brain, can’t you use that power for something more important, like remembering why I walked into my kitchen to grab a pen. Because I come up with so many reasons the school will reject me, I often do not ask.
Thankfully, I am starting to get over that hurdle. And it is paying off. Nearly all of the schools I visited this month were contacted out of the blue. They had never heard of me or Maury C. Moose. Despite all my reasons they would say no, many of them actually said yes. And that wouldn’t have happened if I would have been too afraid to ask.
2. The More I Do It, The Better I Get
The adage says practice makes perfect. I will never be a perfect public speaker, but I am way better than I was even 30 days ago. My presentation at each visit was better than the one before. And I am guessing it will continue to improve. I would love to sit at home and magically become a better presenter, but I’ve never heard the saying, “sitting at home doing nothing makes perfect.”
3. Questions = Best Part
Bill Cosby was right. No, not about that. Definitely not about that. What I meant was he was right when he said kids say the darndest things.
I used to think that selling books was the best part of visiting a school. Now I think the best part is hearing all the questions from the students. I have been asked everything from “Does Maury have knee caps?” to “Can you dab?” I never have to worry about the visit being boring, because the kids always come through with hilarious questions.
4. The 2nd Best Part Is Feedback
It is important for me to do these visit for many reasons: marketing, improving as a speaker, just to name a couple. But one of the best things that come out of these visits is the feedback I receive from the kids. They can’t wait to tell me about the stories they want to hear and the book ideas they have. That feedback has become so valuable when planning the next books I will write.
5. The Impact Isn’t Always Immediate
On a few occasions, I did not sell any books while at the school. I used to consider this to be a bummer. But now I am starting to realize that I should not judge a visit by the number of books I sell that day.
That is true for all of the above reasons, but it is also true because if I am doing a good job, the impact may be felt later, well after I have left the school. Sometimes I will notice an uptick in sales on Amazon. Other times I will hear from the school a week later, asking to buy some books. And best of all, occasionally the school will email me and tell me all about the stories their students have written thanks to my visit. Yes, it would be great to sell a million copies during the visit, but just because I do not, it doesn’t mean it still can’t be a successful visit.