Mention doing school visits and some authors cringe and try to collapse into themselves. Trust me, I get it. Facing a room (or worse, auditorium) of teenagers – some of whom are being forced to be there – is totally intimidating. You’ve got a mic in your face, a picture of yourself behind you, and are going to be talking about yourself or your book for at least half an hour… maybe more. If a bucket of pig’s blood doesn’t drop down on you, you’ll call it a success.
But it can can also be totally awesome.
I spend 40 hours a week talking to teens who (trust me) could not be less impressed by my publishing credits. I’m just their librarian. I’ve even dropped so far as to pick up the nearest book and start reading aloud with a fake Irish or British accent just to gain their attention. (This totally works, by the way, and I highly recommend everyone use this trick).
That being said, I love doing school visits. Sure, there are kids that don’t want to be there, but once I start talking about how extreme dehydration makes your eyelids stick inside your skull and your tongue swell so much you can’t close your mouth I usually have their attention too. Even if they despise reading, they’re interested in me talking about horrible ways to die. And I totally excel at that.
But you also get kids that are thrilled to meet you, kids who want to have pictures taken with you (sure!), ask for signed bookmarks (no problem!) and bounce up and down while you talk to them (sometimes I bounce too just for fun). You also get emails later, from the kids who weren’t quite up to the picture taking and bouncing, lovely emails where they want to share what the book meant to them and how much they enjoyed meeting you.
And you get stuff like this… kids who wrote an original song inspired by your book. I’m floored.