7 Tips to Ace Your School Author Visit

April has seen Aussie Owned and Read talk about all things marketing. So far, the focus has been on online marketing strategies, but today I’d like to take a look at a face-to-face strategy particularly useful for YA authors – school visits.

IMG_3261 by Kian McKellar via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/qzBhBH

Image by Kian McKellar Flickr CC

“Word of mouth is the best kind of marketing there is”

In my role as a high-school teacher librarian I have been lucky enough to attend numerous school author visits. Authors LOVE to talk about their books, BUT there’s no quicker way to send a class of teens into a coma than to wax lyrical about every detail of your publication journey and current book baby. There’s a good chance most of your audience haven’t even read your book, so your mission is to make your story sparkle brighter than Edward Cullen on a cloudless midsummer scorcher and give them good reason to give up six to nine hours of watching funny cat videos on YouTube to want to read it.

So, how do you grab their attention, you ask?

Make connections. Establishing a relevant context for students by drawing connections between your experience and the students’ can leave them with a more rewarding experience. Try these ideas:

1. Tie into the syllabus content covered in class. Speak to the group’s teachers / teacher librarian before the visit and ask about the units the class is currently studying in different subjects. You’d be surprised where you can find crossover content to help make your novel’s subject matter relevant. English, yes, but also, History, Science, PDHPE.

2. Talk about your research. High school students are familiar with different research strategies for school assignments. Ask about their surprising / funny / unexpected research experiences then tell them about yours:

  • How did you go about your research?
  • Did you go anywhere special?
  • Did you meet / interview anyone in particular?

A visiting author I once saw had a hall of ninth graders in the palm of her hand when she told them about the time she was set on fire (under controlled conditions!) in the name of research.

3. Unpack the revision process. Talking about the evolution of your manuscript and all the challenges along the way can be effective if discussed in the context of the students’ creative writing.

  • Bring visuals of marked up pages – scrawls and scribbles of red by you and suggestions by your editor.
  • Show students the different stages of editing, allowing them to see all the work that goes into the finished product. If nothing else, the English staff will love you, because you’ve vindicated them in their constant mantra of ‘writing is re-writing’.

Image by Laura Ritchie via Flickr CC

Now, all this talking is fine and good, but to make your author visit a success you’ll need to balance your gabbing with something else, namely …

Less words, more action. One repeated negative piece of feedback I hear from students and teachers is that the author spent most of the session talking at them. To mitigate your audience tuning out, try the following:

4. Break up your presentation into segments. Five to ten minute segments are best, each with a different focus but with clear transitions linking one to the next.

5. ‘Activity’ is king. Involve your audience as much as possible!

  • Got a YA fantasy involving martial arts? Have students learn some basic martial arts moves.
  • Got a YA contemporary featuring dance? Get the kids grooving with a ten second dance routine.
  • No martial arts or dancing in your novel? No problem. Pick a bunch of students to act out a short scene from your book while you read out the excerpt.

Anything that involves the audience will make for a better experience. Even something as simple as …

Props and visuals. Everyone has a dominant learning style, be it visual, kinesthetic or auditory, so it’s good to include visual and hands-on material in your author talk, such as:

6. Slide-shows.

  • If you’re reading out a passage from your novel, have a slide-show ready to help set the mood or introduce the physical setting.
  • You could show pictures (hello Pinterest!) of your ‘cast’ of characters using actors.
  • Share images or video related to your research – people, places, activities.

7. Relevant props.

  • So your novel features martial arts, but your attempt at a roundhouse kick is likely to land you in emergency? Bring in a mannequin dressed in a dobok instead and show some video footage you came across during your research.
  • Is your novel a YA historical? Try to source some replica artefacts linked to your story that students can touch and examine.

The idea is to bring alive aspects of your story world to spark your audience’s interest.

Black Beauty by Carol VanHook

Image by Carol VanHook Flickr CC

If you include props and visual media, make sure your audience has plenty of opportunity to be involved, and you draw connections between your writing and their experience, you’re set for a successful author visit.

But how exactly is one successful author visit a marketing tool, you ask? Teachers and teacher librarians have wide reaching professional networks and word of mouth is the best kind of marketing there is. One successful author visit will likely result in invites from other schools.

Let us know what has and hasn’t worked for you when visiting schools. Leave your comments below.

Kat Colmer AuthorKat Colmer is a Young and New Adult author and high-school teacher librarian who writes coming-of-age stories with humour and heart. She lives with her husband and two children in Sydney, Australia. Her debut YA is due out with ENTANGLED TEEN in August 2017. Learn more on her website, or come say hi on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Trumpets, fanfare, and new releases

Let’s talk about new releases and the way in which book babies arrive into the world.

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This is NOT a picture of how book babies are born. I think …

Some books arrive on the shelves in the middle of the night, when no one is looking or expecting them. Their arrival is like that of a baby dumped on a doorstep. While other books we hear whispers of months before their scheduled release. When they arrive it’s amidst a whirlwind of attention; their covers are recognised, their titles widely known, and sometimes even their opening pages have already been read.

I’ve noticed a trend … the latter tend to be from authors who are either widely known, or have a strong back list, while the former tend to be the newer authors, both traditionally, digital first, and self published. I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps the more established authors have a larger following who call for it, or perhaps it’s because as people we’re all different. Some like to jump up on the table, singing at the top of their lungs while dancing along to the music. While others (like me) prefer to blend into the crowd, quietly mingling with the people they feel comfortable with. As authors though, I think we need to push the introvert within us aside at times. Release day is one of those times that we should


Embrace the attention.

Make release day special, or no one else will see it that way. Click to Tweet.


I’ve noticed that some books don’t even have a release date. They arrive in the leading e-tailers with no lead up, or no expectation that they are coming. As someone with an event management background, I feel like this is a lost publicity opportunity for any author, established or not. Release day is one of the biggest days a book will experience … unless it wins a massive award. And there are so, so many things that can be done to celebrate a release. In fact we’ve blogged about that before, just here. It takes a little time and effort, but if you do something online or in person to celebrate the release, it brings more attention to your new book. And that attention, well most of the time it results in sales.


Sales on release day are like gold when it comes to rankings.


And with rankings come more sales. As authors, isn’t that what we all want? For people to read our books, to meet our imaginary friends, and fall in love with our words. I know we all get busy, and many of us like blending in with the crowd, but it really is in our best interest to set aside our fears and a little time to celebrate the big things.

Bear PartyThe trumpets will (hopefully) fanfare when my new book releases on Monday.

As readers and writers are you more likely to purchase a book that you’ve seen around a few times or does that make you shy away?

Stacey NashStacey’s debut new adult novel, Shh!, releases on Monday and she’s more nervous than Elvis the kitty when he’s caught chewing shoelaces, but she’s gone all out to celebrate in style. To find out more about Shh! or give a supportive smile, find her at www.stacey-nash.com, twitter or facebook.

What makes a great book teaser?

We’ve had a few posts about covers and what makes a great cover, but I thought that today we might talk about teasers. It seems that every time I turn around I’m seeing a teaser for a new book on social media and it’s not just the Indie authors who are making use of them, the big 5 have been posting lots lately too.

Generally they include an image, an quote from the book, and the title, but I’ve seen teasers with both more and less info than that. Here’s a selection of teaser I found facebook, posted by publishers, and in the case of self published books, posted by the author. Let’s take a look.

after the rainconfessttbconfess1Allegiant_teaser













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So now we’ve looked at a variety of teasers from self published books and traditionally published books, I’m going to ask you what you think makes a great teaser? Is it a connection to the book’s cover? Is it plain and simple or more complex? A great image, no image at all? A long quote, a short quote, a chunk of dialogue? Something a little bit sexy or serious or emotional?

Personally, I like a great image that ties into the cover if possible and has a powerful quote. Tell me what you think!



Stacey NashStacey Nash has a new book releasing in February, so spent yesterday making teaser images. To chat about books or find out more about the books she wrote, you can find her at www.stacey-nash.com.

Street Teams: what do readers think?

Let’s talk about Street Teams.

I feel like facebook is full of them right now. Every time I turn around another one has popped up in my social media feed, my notifications, or sometimes even in my DMs. Sometimes I get invited and sometimes I’m just added. I’m a member of at least a dozen street teams, and I try to be at least somewhat active in all of them, but the more of them that pop up, the harder that’s becoming. Maybe that’s because I’m an author as well as a reader and I don’t want to flood my social media feed with promotional material. (We all know that’s a sure way to get yourself blocked.) Or maybe it’s because I’m a mum, an author, a publicist, a million other things and there are only so many hours in the day. Either way, I feel guilty when I don’t participate in all of the things for all of the authors. Because I LOVE them and I want to help, I really do.

But sometimes it feels a little bit like this:


GIF source: Joyreacter.com

With so many street teams around, I’m pondering a couple of things.

  • Are readers tired of street teams or do they still love them?
  • I know most teams have missions and prizes, but do team members actually want those prizes or are members there because they want to interact with the author?
  • Etiquette: Some authors add readers to their teams without consultation. Does this annoy people or is it okay?
  • Also with etiquette, when you’re a member are you expected to take part in the majority of events, and author requests, or is it okay to only participate sometimes?

And I guess all those thoughts led me to the big ones;

  • Are street teams losing their usefulness to authors as readers join more and more?
  • Are teams also losing their usefulness because social media is flooded with promo for so many books?

Technically it’s not poll day, but I’m going to whack a poll in here anyway, because I know a lot of you are shy and won’t leave a comment. As readers, I want to know what you think. Do you love streets teams, hate them, tired of them, or fall somewhere in the middle?

Let’s talk about this!

Stacey Nash (3) Stacey Nash doesn’t have a street team, but she does have a YA book out with HarperCollins Aus, and the second book in the series releases in just five weeks! Eeeep! To talk about that, or anything else, catch her at one of these places; website, twitter, facebook, or pinterest.