Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm Really Not Boring, Honest!

Actually, perhaps that title should have been "I'm Really Not a Devil-Worshipper, Honest!" Maybe it's just me. Has anyone else on this list ever been contacted by a teacher/librarian/PTA person to ask what your program is and what you charge for an author visit? And you responded promptly with all the information, already rubbing your mental hands together in glee at a chance to talk to your target audience? And then had the rug yanked from under you because 1) no one ever got back to you on your response; 2) someone acknowledged your response and then never contacted you again, or (my favorite); 3) someone found your website and decided that what you write about is "inappropriate" for their students. AAARRRGGHHH!!!

I write stories of the supernatural so I write about ghosts and sometimes psychic abilities. When I come to a school to speak, and some of them have actually allowed me to do so, I talk about writing, about ideas, about publishing, about rewriting, about story construction, and then I take questions. Depending on the age and size of the group, we sometimes swap ghost stories.

I do not, however, light black candles, conjure up demons, or sacrifice goats on the teacher's desk. I don't advocate strange chants, blood-letting, or ceremonies that involve fire, knives, or even face paint.

But my area of published work still seems to make people nervous. I noticed on this we site that quite a few of us are working in the same field, be it spirits, vampires, shape shifters, or psychics. Do you have this problem, or is it just me? I don't think I'm a boring speaker. Kids stay afterwards to talk to me, if that's any indication, and some places have talked about inviting me back, although that's yet to happen.

So I don't think I'm boring, but somehow I'm scaring off potential venues. I hope it's not because they think I'm scary.

On the other hand, maybe I would rather be scary than boring.


  1. I've had #1 and 2 happen. #3 might have happened because I write fantasy but I can't be sure because when there's no response you can't be sure why.

    But I've had a number of great school visits and have participated in several writers conferences organized by school districts. It's always great to see such interest in reading and writing.

  2. I guess I'm really boring because I'm basically ignored by the school districts around here. I send my brochures of my program. Email the librarians, and except for one or two, nobody replies. One district you have to go through the central office person, rather than send directly to the schools. Done that. Nothing. Even the schools where I taught don't respond.

    Maybe they don't think I'm an author.

  3. It often happens when your publisher doesn't live in NYC, I've found.There's been a bias against smaller press, because the books aren't reviewed in SLJ, which is where most librarians get their information about new books for the collection. I get it, librarians have little time to read a lot of books, so they have to take valued opinions when building their collections. But it still stinks.

    I've done the same thing as you, Bev - sent brochures about all my books, point them to my website. Nothing. I used to do a program each year for my local 4th grades, but they moved everyone around and so I don't do it anymore. And I work now, which would make it hard.

    I have done programs at the local library, and I get invited to the annual National Library Week event for the county library system, but that's pretty much it. After a while I just gave up. It's not worth the effort - I'll just stick to Facebook and Twitter and local events and virtual book tours. Whatever doesn't work gets dropped!

  4. I happened to be on a panel when I was teaching where I had to contract authors on doing assemblies at my school. Most of the authors came with their books but also did presentations on how to write or illustrate a book. My favorite had to be the one author who had a huge board filled with his rejections.

    I do know with budget cuts and everything, these visits do disappear but then again it's a site decision per say meaning the principal and teachers at that school have to be behind it.

    I've done things with my local library but nearby schools, no. Though my son's charter school has expressed interest in me.