Thursday, August 27, 2015

SCHOOL VISITS ROCK! by James Mihaley

One of the best ways to promote an MG novel is through a school visit.  This gives you direct access to your target audience.  Let’s face it, unlike their older siblings, most 9-12 years olds don’t spend all day on the internet blogging.  Personally I think this is a blessing.  Thank god they still want to build a tree fort. However, it does create adversity for writers who are trying to reach out directly to younger kids.  A school visit solves that problem.  I believe that the author presentation itself should be viewed as a work of art, just like your novel.

Authors make a big mistake when they don’t approach a school visit creatively.  We must bring imagination to this aspect of the publishing journey.  How can we make our author presentations unforgettable?  More importantly, how can we make them fun and engaging for a bunch of fourth graders? 

I was part of a week long event last winter in Santa Barbara that included myself, three other authors and thousands of kids from half a dozen schools.  One of the authors wrote a wonderful book about wolves.  However, her author presentation was a bit dry and too cerebral.  The kids listened but they weren’t enthralled.  One of the others writers involved in the event suggested that she should teach the kids how to howl like a wolf during the presentation and actually hold a howling contest at the end.  She took the suggestion and the kids had a blast.  So did she.  To her credit, she demonstrated great flexibility.  Not all best selling authors would be willing to accept feedback but she understood the ultimate truth that we never stop learning.

Back in May I participated in a book signing at a book fair that was comprised of ten authors, half of whom were self-published.  The self-published authors told me that they were having huge success getting into schools.  All of them were being extremely proactive, which is the key.  It doesn’t matter who is publishing your book, you need to reach out to schools and let them know what you’re doing!


  1. One of the many reasons I love school visits is I get to connect with real, live kids. Now that I'm no longer a teacher, I don't have that daily contact. There's very much a delayed response between writing, publishing, and then finally meeting your readers.

    As for memorable, I agree. When you have a captive audience, an audience required to be with you, it's essential you give them a reason to want to be there.

  2. It is good to know that self-published authors are also having success with this.

  3. Hurray for school visits, James! I've visited schools all over the world and have loved every visit!

  4. James, it is so great to hear that authors from all paths are getting in to schools! I am gearing up for school visits this fall. I did a few practice visits this past June.And yes, as Caroline noted, there is nothing better than getting in front of your main audience and engaging with kids! It makes that long road of publishing worthwhile. The great thing is that if you do well schools will invite you back (especially if you have a new book coming out) and so you can keep extending your travels and reader audience - and librarians do talk amongst themselves as well and spread the word about you. Also, if a school has budget issues a great way to offer a discount is to have them pair up with another local school to do a visit together.

  5. Great post, James! Sounds like you had an exceptional time which means the kids did, too! True, you have to put your entertainer hat on. But why not enjoy it? And oh yes, librarians talk! Yet simply being friendly is the easiest way in the door :-)


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!