When the contract for publication came in the mail, the first people to know were my friends Sheryl and her mother Virginia. We had a babysit swap worked out, so I gushed out the news as soon as I pulled in the driveway to pick up my kids. Sheryl's sister sat in the garage staining chairs and overheard. She had come for the week from Kansas City where she worked in the school system.
"Let me know when it's out," Sheryl's sister said. "I can bring you in for a school visit."
"A what?" I asked.
"A school visit. Schools pay authors to come visit the kids and talk about how they became an author. You can also sell a lot of books."
"They do what?" Schools pay authors to talk about themselves and what they love?
She explained the process, insisted I'd need a website as I mentioned before in a previous blog entry, and gave me a few examples of authors who had been to her school before.
I could do that. I had experience in theater, loved public speaking, and am a master of creating props. I could do that. I wasn't sure how to get invited into schools, but her connection was a beginning.
As the book release drew closer, I put together a fun program geared not just at my book, but at the business of being a writer. This was my niche. It was what I was excited about. I started out reading the book to the kids, varying my voice based on the age group. Then I went on to talk about me, how I began writing as soon as I could shape my letters, and how I went on to be published at eighteen -- oops, see confession #2. Then, I launched into two games: the Rejection game and the Money game. I won't tell you exactly how each game works, but I will tell you that the kids love it. They learn about how authors handle rejection and they learn where the money goes when you buy a book. In the meantime, they laugh, ooh and aaahhh, and say, "No way!"
The biggest surprise of my whole first year? I love entertaining kids. I have hopes in the older market, but I can say for certain that I'll still publish in children's and YA just for that chance to stand in front of a group of school kids. I love to make them laugh. I love that moment when you know they can't wait for your next word. I love the controled chaos as we move through the games and the realizations that spread across their faces when they discover how money flows to everyone involved in the making of a book. I love walking out of the school building without my voice but with hundreds of new found fans.