I Made a Video…

by | Feb 26, 2022

I made a video.

In a newsletter this past summer I talked about the need to get my book into the hands of young (and young-at-heart) readers.

One critical way of doing that is school visits. That is, after all, where all my potential readers are!

I want to be invited to talk to middle graders about how awesome non-fiction can be, using my book Alexandra the Great: The Story of the Record-Breaking Filly Who Ruled the Racetrack (hopefully!) as an example.  

I haven’t done nothing:

I was part of two literary festivals in Illinois, one of which was focused on school visits; and have been to a handful of schools (including two in California) and bookstores. During each visit I’ve been equal parts terrified and enthralled (fellow authors, tell me this isn’t true for you too!!), but every time I do a visit I am reminded of how much I adore that middle-grade age.

So. School Visits = Good.

But how to get more invites?

Trying to book school visits is an energy sapper for me, not an energy creator (like writing and editing is). 

What have I done so far to get in the door?

  • I’ve emailed every school within an hour of me. Crickets.
  • I made and sent postcards about my book to every horse camp I could find. Nothing.
  • I’ve tweeted and Facebooked. Nada.

Pretty discouraging!

I get it. I’m no Jason Reynolds. Or Jaqueline Woodson. Or Steve Sheinkin, or any of a myriad of authors I admire.

But I am me and I am here and (I believe) I have something to offer.

Finally, I have done something that has been on my to-do list for more than six months. I made — and posted! — a video of myself talking to teachers about why I want to come to their school (I don’t know why the book cover comes out backwards!).  

My thinking: Unless you are a big name, what would make a teacher or librarian think you are worth bringing to their school, I wondered? I thought it might help my chances if teachers could see a short video of me talking about what I would do at a visit. They can decide if I’m a good fit for their students, all without having to meet me. The video is an amateurish effort, but it exists. I see that SCBWI-IL network is offering a webinar on making a book video in a few months, so I’ll definitely learn how to improve this first effort.

I bet you can imagine all the various ways my brain blocked me in this project. First, I had to really believe in my book and its value to middle-grade readers. Second, I had to write a short but engaging script addressed directly to teachers. Third, I had to record it, which means having to look and listen to myself dozens of times… that was almost the dealbreaker. Fourth, I had to post it on my website. That turned out to be the hardest step!!

Boy! listing all those reasons makes me appreciate why it took me so long and also feel amazed I did it at all. So, here it is, my video. It’s not a masterpiece, but I think it gets the job done. Time will tell….

Alexandra the Great book cover

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