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Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Natalie here. Today I’ve got a fantastic tip by Sandy Carlson on school visits. Details about the giveaway with be at the end of the post.

So here’s Sandy.


Having been a teacher of kids in K-5 for many years, I was never worried about doing school visits for my historical fiction, THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED, published last March. I love history. I love teaching. I love being around kids. I am a kid. (Just don’t look at my photo.)

I’m aware that in these days and times the author (both traditionally- and self-published) ends up doing most of the marketing and promotions for the book herself. I’m a writer. I’m a teacher. So what did I know about this whole new field of marketing, etc.? Nothing! I seriously needed a plan.

Sandy’s School Visits Plan:

First, for about three months prior to publication, I went cross-eyed reading nothing but about school visits and marketing and publicizing and doing promos.

Second, I planned what to wear during my school visit outfit. Since I wrote a historical novel, my clothing ought to be historic-looking. It would also make me stand out from the everyday adult teacher. More research.

Third, I attended author visits of writer friends at different schools, taking copious notes. (As both a teacher and a writer, I’d already attended over 30 author visits before this time, but needed to keep fresh.)

Fourth, I contacted teachers I knew in town (all five), and offered them free classroom or school visits. I figured I had to get my name (and story) out there, plus, it would give me experience for the future.

Fifth, I looked up educational standards or common core for my target ages and I set up eight distinct sessions from which teachers could choose for their visit (e.g., the Victorian/Pioneer age, revisions, plot, character, etc.). I also asked the teachers what they themselves wanted to see in an author visit. As a former teacher who’d weekly made up lesson plans, I adapted each visit to each teacher expectations or requests. The first month my book was published, I’d visited with eighteen classrooms, K-4, with more elementary school and middle school classes planned for later in the spring.
Sixth, I handed out evaluation sheets to the teachers with a SASE so I could see, in their opinions, what worked or didn’t.

Seventh, via email, I contacted principals and media specialists in schools around the area in which the story takes place, and researched other locations where the story would be of particular interest for future contacts.

The hardest part of all this was getting over my shy self, and boldly telling others about my book, THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED! The rest has been pure fun!

Bio: Sandy is a former teacher and present author and speaker. Her latest book is yet another historical fiction titled TALES OF THE LOST SCHOONER about sailing around Michigan’s Mitt in 1854. (Yay! She gets to wear her hoop skirt some more.)

Here’s a blurb about THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED from Goodreads:

Act of man or act of God? Just how many homes and friends does a kid have to lose in twelve years?

Driven from his neighborhood during the Chicago fire of 1871, Adrian and his parents move to the Michigan wilderness where his father lands a job at the sawmill. The town is called Singapore - as if a name could make a tiny spit of a town into a great seaport.

Adrian finds it difficult to adjust to his new surroundings. Back in Chaicago, it was easy to keep his hobby a secret, even from his father. But in this small town, will people discover who the true knitter of the family is? Only his best friend, big R.T., keeps Adrian level, even though R.T. does have that habit of speaking in animal dialects.

Then, just as Adrian starts to feel that Singapore is his home, he discovers the moving sand dunes along the Lake Michigan shore are slowly burying his town. He tries to stop it, but how can he fight both man and nature?

Sandy has generously offered a print copy of THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED to U.S. residents and an e-book to International residents. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on September 28th. I’ll announce the winner on September 30th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.

Tomorrow I’m interviewing one of our followers, debut author Christina Lee, and giving away an e-book of her new fantastic adult novel, ALL OF YOU, a contemporary romantic story with great characters.

Hope to see you tomorrow!


Carrie Ann Pearson said...

Great tips, Sandy. With your preparation and positive energy, I'm sure every member of your school audiences grew from your visits.

Ann Finkelstein said...

Interesting tips, Sandy. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Danielle H. said...

Wow! You really prepared for your presentations. Great ideas! I'm sure the teachers and students loved you. I hope to win a copy of your book. I will share on Facebook.

Kristin Lenz said...

Yes, Sandy, wow you really did a lot of preparation, and 18 classroom visits in a month seems like a lot! Kudos and congrats again on your novel. (Natalie - no need to enter me in the giveaway since I already have Sandy's book.)

Barbara Watson said...

Great preparation! I love author visits when you can tell the author took time to put together they're presentation. Makes readers feel special.

I'd love to be entered in the giveaway. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Love all the prep you stick into your visits! Since I am a dyslexic author I love telling kids about how I was told I would never be a writer when it is all I ever wanted to be and what inspired me. It's amazing to see their faces light up when they hear how I struggled and that struggling is ok. Can't wait to read your book!

Crystal Collier said...

Awesome! That's what you call raw ambition in action. Whew! Just reading all that made me tired. ;)

Cherie Reich said...

Fantastic tips! I love how you included a survey, so you could get feedback on what to improve upon too as well as gearing the talks to fit the curriculum.

Emily R. King said...

Wonderful advice! I hope I get to do a school author visit someday while my children are still young. That would be so much fun. Thanks!

Rosi said...

Wow. Sandy really knows how to plan and carry out school visits. Great post. Thanks. I love historical fiction and didn't know about this book. Thanks for a chance to win.

Unknown said...

Holy cow! Is Sandy a super-achiever or what? I've never heard of anyone going through tat much preparation for a school visit. But maybe her inner teacher refused to be silenced! lol

Loved the article - good luck to Sandy! :-)

(Not entering drawing since my TBR list is full until 2018.)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Very helpful advice, Sandy, on school visits. I've only done a couple, and was "flying blind". For any future visits, I will re-read this. (I'm bookmarking it.) Meanwhile, The Town that Disappeared sounds like a fascinating read.

Mary Preston said...

I love how much effort you make for your school visits. THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED sounds wonderful.


Wendy said...

Sandy's book sounds intriguing! Animal dialects mixed with knitting?! Truly looking forward to reading. Thanks, too, for the school visit tips.

darlenebeckjacobson said...

As a writer of historical fiction for the MG population, I appreciate all the effort that went into your preparation for visits. I look forward to incorporating some of your tips when my first historical MG WHEELS OF CHANGE with CRESTON BOOKS debuts next year. Thanks so much.

Heather Villa said...

This post is so helpful. Thanks, Natalie and Sandy! School visits are a perfect way to reach out to so many kids. My daughter loves it when authors visit her school. Prior to the visit, my daughter often gets a chance to purchase a book. The authors usually arrive to the school with personalized, autographed copies of books for kids who "pre-ordered" books. Great for the authors and for the kids.

Videoclimber said...

I fondly remember the author visits we had when I was a child. I follow on GFC and BL.

AshleighSwerdfeger said...

Research is so important to an author. I;m glad she is so serious. I like historical fiction. I don't recall any author visits but that is so cool.
Follow on bloglovin Ashleigh Swerdfeger