Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Meeting" the Author

School visits are a great way for kids to connect with the authors and illustrators behind their favorite books. Author/illustrator presentations can inspire young writers and artists and enrich the curriculum.

But not every school is able to host book creators on a regular basis. And not all authors and illustrators are able to travel far from home to visit students. What’s the solution? Videos.

Seeing someone on screen isn’t quite as powerful as a live visit, but videos are a great option for schools that lack the time, resources, or funding to bring in authors and illustrators. They’re also a great way for any school to increase their students’ exposure to book creators. And because teachers can watch the video clips in advance, they can easily build lesson plans around the footage.

Inspired by the wonderful videos I saw on TeachingBooks.net, I hatched a plan to create a series of short videos that had a professional look without a professional price tag.

First, I organized a group signing event for seven authors and author-illustrators in my area. All of them had new picture books coming out around the same time as my title When Rain Falls.

On the morning of the event, I arranged for the local cable access channel to film 20-minute interviews with each participant. The interviewer was Sue Burgess, a children’s literature educator who taught at a local college for many years and is a former Regional Coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

The cable people were happy because they used the interviews and footage from the signing event to create three separate one-hour programs. The authors were happy because they got some great local publicity, and each one received copy of his or her interview to use for promotional purposes.

Working with the clever folks at Winding Oak, who designed and maintain my website, I isolated about 6 minutes of the interview and converted the footage into three short segments and posted them on my website in a sort of jukebox format. The segments answer the questions students and teachers ask me most frequently.
I’m very pleased with the result. What do you think?


Susan E. Goodman said...

great idea Melissa--and welcome to I.N.K.

Unknown said...

How enterprising of you to organize that kind of signing and taping! Also, getting a pro to do the interviewing was a stroke of genius! I agree that video is in all our futures.

Katie said...

You're right... author visits are a great way to inspire cildren to read! The district where I sub always has a theme for reading month, March, and culminates with a visit from the author. Kids always love it!

Chris Barton said...

What a terrific idea, Melissa -- making videos has been on my pre-publication to-do list, but I hadn't figured out how best to go about it.

I think I have now, though, so thanks!

Anonymous said...

Great job, Melissa. You're not only an outstanding author, but a smart businesswoman. I admire you!

Anonymous said...



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