So I've embarked upon this mission of promoting my book, I Am NOT a Princess! Something authors like to complain about and not without reason. We are handed the task of "getting the word out", almost single handedly. Even with all of my marketing expertise, this is not easily done, especially as my third job.
I figured a good strategy would be to approach schools about doing readings and signings. After all, elementary school kids are my target audience and every marketer knows you need to be where your target market spends most their time.
The first school I visited was my daughter's school, The Willow School, in Vero Beach, Florida. I felt comfortable presenting there first since I know all the staff and most of the kids, plus it's relatively small in size. I absolutely love this school and they have been incredibly excited for me and supportive. They offered me the opportunity to speak to some of the older students about writing and then to read the book to 4th graders on down.
Well, as someone who has spent most of the past twenty years sitting behind a computer all day, speaking in front of anyone, even a bunch of kids, was a terrifying prospect. But I knew this is what I needed to do.
I took some time to really think about what I wanted to say to the kids. What I wanted them to take away. I can remember certain teachers and grown ups who made a distinct impression on me as a child. Thank god for those people! I decided I wanted to inspire them, not just to write but to do what is crucial for anyone wanting to be a writer, to read. I told them how when I was a kid my mom volunteered at a library. I was brought along and had nothing to do. I would find a quiet corner and surround myself with a pile of books and read for hours. I also told them that to be a writer they need to observe. Take notice of the people and places around them. This is not possible when one is glued to the TV, a cell phone or computer, I advised.
The kids were very enthusiastic about my talk and they loved the book. At the end of the event and my daughter stood in front of her classmates and read I Am NOT a Princess! aloud. I was extremely proud. Altogether it was a great day and I felt very gratified by the whole experience.
My positive experience at The Willow School was just a warm up for my next school visit at The Manatee Academy in Port St. Lucie. This was a much larger school with one hundred first graders that I would present to in two shifts of 50!
I felt my heart beating out of my chest when the first group of kids entered the library. All eyes were on me. But when I looked around I realized they were happy and curious eyes. Admiring eyes. They couldn't wait to hear the story and to get a chance to talk to me. The librarian, Debra Remington, was very supportive and gave me some very helpful tips for presenting to kids. Altogether the presentations went off seamlessly. The kids ran up to me afterwards and treated me like I was a celebrity. They were so kind, respectful and just plain adorable.
So despite my reticence about presenting in front of people, something I've always loathed, I've actually found that I absolutely love the experience of presenting I Am NOT a Princess! to kids. I like having the opportunity to shape how they see reading and writing. I'm thrilled that I have the chance to inspire them and hopefully ignite their appetites for reading and writing. What an amazing gift this book has given me and what an amazing gift to be able to give to others. Feeling truly blessed!