Friday, January 26, 2018

Author at a Career Fair

I've been asked to be the designated author at a Career Fair in February. Students wanted an author as one of the choices.

So, of course, I'm doing research beforehand. This Career Fair will only be two hours, so already I see I don't have to do the elaborate presentation that an all-day event would supposedly need. I checked with the person who contacted me if I could bring some of my books and awards as examples and got the okay on that.

So what else will I have? Not a banner - I still haven't invested in one because I'm still waiting on the re-releases of books with new covers. Books to display (both my own and how to write), check. Awards, check. Promo bookmarks for my books and short stories in case anyone wants one, check. Business cards in case they might have questions later and wish to contact me, check.

What else would I need? It sounds like students will be able to wander from table to table and ask questions, so I don't need to have a lengthy presentation. How to prepare for what questions might be asked during those two hours?

Before I retired from my day job as a university librarian, one of the classes I used to talk to about doing research was a Counselor Education class on, luckily, Career Education. I set up a website that the class could use to find out information about occupations. So I know some of the information that that class used to have to find. This Career Fair will be held at the Senior High School, so I'll probably get a mixture of very general questions and perhaps more specialized ones.

Basic questions students need to find out about an occupation: what do you do, what are the requirements, what's a normal salary, what's the job outlook. Answers can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, though the entry for Writers and Authors has some interesting responses. So far I only know I'll have a table, so I'll have a printout of that entry I can refer to in case I get those basic questions.

As a small press author, I found the salary in the entry rather optimistic. But I'll also have a printout of Jim Hines' 2017 Writing Income blog post, so a more traditionally published author will be represented. And, since not everyone is J.K. Rowling or James Patterson, the importance of a day job needs to be mentioned. Though when I decided to be a writer at age 14, I was convinced I would only need a day job until I became an established writer. So I expect to be ignored about that. But it will be mentioned.

I'm published with a few small presses, so I can definitely talk about my experiences with those. I know a very little bit about self-publishing, as I have a couple of short stories published that way on Amazon Kindle.

For other questions, I have a handout of websites about writing science fiction and fantasy, lists of useful books, markets, and such that interested students can take. Some of the websites are listed on my Interests webpage under "Writing Aids".

Have you presented at a Career Fair? What types of questions did you get? What would you have liked to have known?