What’s the best thing about being published? That’s easy, being a guest author for classroom visits.
Over the last nine months, It has been my privilege to visit classrooms from Fort Kent, Maine to St. Augustine Florida. I’ve met high school and college students who want to be writers, who already have a book in progress, or who are just happy not to be doing grammar worksheets. I can’t think of any better way to spend my time.
There’s always one kid who secretly (or not so secretly) wants to be an author and takes tons of notes, and another kid who pretends like they’re not interested but then asks a really specific question. Someone always wants to tell you about their work in progress or a book they loved reading, and if you’re very very lucky, a kid will come up to you and have a heartfelt conversation about their life goals.
Why visit classrooms?
Not so very long ago, I was the kid sitting in that classroom wondering if I’d ever actually publish a book? Would strangers read it? No, of course not, things like that don’t happen to kids like me. Kids from rural Maine who were raised on farms and went to public school and felt kind of sick anytime they had to read their own work out loud didn’t become authors. They just didn’t.
Except me. I did. I am.
Just by showing up. Just by standing in front of a classroom, I prove to students that their dreams are possible. Forgive me if that sounds a little grandiose. I guess it is. But it’s also true.
Every time I walk into a classroom as a guest author, I look around for my former self. I know I’m there somewhere, watching, waiting, hoping for someone to tell me my dreams aren’t stupid or out of reach. Sometimes I spot her and sometimes I don’t, but I know she’s listening as I talk to kids about how to finish a first draft, how to edit, how to handle critique and how to turn personal tragedy into something empowering.
How to find a guest author
Most authors I know are thrilled to talk to students for all of the reasons I mentioned above. Of course, traditionally published authors can be a little harder to contact, but it’s worth emailing them if there’s someone your students are really excited about. Indie authors like me tend to be more approachable. We also have a little more control over our own schedules. Again, a simple email is all it takes to get the ball rolling.
At this point you might be wondering about cost. Some authors do charge for presentations, others see free talks as a way of giving back. I’m in the latter group, although I do appreciate it when schools buy copies of my book to share with students and faculty before I get there.
If you want me to come to your classroom email me. I’ll do my best to make it happen. Also, feel free to share this post with teachers and administrators across the country. I love to travel almost as much as I love talking to students about writing.