Children’s Writing Weblog

Prepare for Author Presentations with this Handy Checklist

Posted on: November 5, 2010

Like many people, writers are searching for ways to supplement their incomes. Some have turned to giving workshops and speaking to libraries, school classes, and other groups to earn extra money. An added plus is that speaking to such groups is a great way to promote your book. Consider having a friend or family member critique your presentation. You may even ask someone to tape you. Listen to the feedback and made any needed corrections. After all, you want to be invited back. Physical appearance

  • Are your clothes appropriate for the setting? You will probably not be dressed “to the nines” for an informal chat at an elementary school or the local library. You want to look approachable and friendly.
  • Could you dress in some kind of costume that relates to your book? Is your chapter book about a young girl’s journey west on a wagon train? Could you dress in pioneer garb? Have you written a “tween” novel about a Civil War era girl who befriends a slave? Could you fashion some kind of Civil War costume? (If you aren’t handy with a sewing machine, try visiting a thrift shop. I find thrift shops a great place to look for costumes or special clothing.)


  • Do you have props or visual aids? Children respond to things they can see and touch. A poster of your book (provided by your publisher) is always good, but can you incorporate something else? What about having something to hand out, such as bookmarks or some other token that is a reminder of your book? (There are companies who specialize in making giveaways for authors.) Younger children love to have something to take with them.
  • If your book features an animal, can you make arrangements to bring one to your presentation? Use your imagination to come up with intriguing ideas.

Special considerations for speaking to a school class

  • How many children are expected? You will want to know this before you show up so you can have the necessary number of bookmarks or other tokens to give out.
  • What is the age of the children to whom you’ll be speaking?
  • Will a microphone be available?
  • How much time will you have?
  • Will you be sharing the time with other speakers?
  • Can you make a power point presentation on how you created your book? Children love “how-to” presentations.
  • Can you find a way to involve the children in your presentation? Could you have them act out a scene from your book? Or could you read a passage from your book?
  • Have you left time at the end of your talk for questions? Chances are you will be peppered with questions from your young listeners.


  • Do you give your note cards an occasional glance rather than reading them?
  • Have you given in to nervous gestures, such as fingering your hair, stuffing your hands in pockets, or scratching your nose? These are common behaviors, ones that you may well not be aware of.
  • Do you maintain eye contact with the children?
  • Do you occasionally sweep the room with a glance?
  • Are you smiling?
  • Are you clearly enthusiastic about the subject? Children sense when a speaker is enthusiastic about her subject.
  • Do you project your voice?
  • Do you vary your pitch and tone? A monotonous tone will likely lull your listeners to sleep or, at the very least, bore them.

Speaking before a group isn’t for everyone. However, even the most reclusive writer can learn a few simple techniques to improve her presentation skills and become a sought-after speaker. Jane McBride Choate is a Contributing Editor to Children's Book Insider, and an author. Her newest books include Bride Price and Eden's Garden from Avalon Romance.

Interested in learning how to write a book and send it to children’s book publishers? Come on over to The CBI Clubhouse for audios, videos, insider writing tips and much, much more!

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