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Yes, Adam, you have calibre – high calibre, in fact. And we are super excited that you are here sharing your highly skilled and knowledgeable authorly insights on what you have learned through your 20+ years of experience as a full time writer and school presenter. Readers, you’ll soak up everything Adam Wallace has to say about his new short courses (and more!) in our interview! Enjoy, but don’t mention ‘Peter Pan’ to Adam… ever! 🙂
Thanks heaps, Romi! Awesome to be here, and I’m very happy to have calibre, that sounds impressive!
Congratulations on your new venture in training authors on being successful in the kid lit industry! Your short courses, run under the name ‘Kid’s Book Creator Capital’, cover topics from acquiring and planning for school visits, to generating income from various publishing avenues, sales and marketing techniques, to just being focussed and working on your craft. Brilliant!
Thank you so much. This is something that’s been in my brain for a long time. In a way it started back in around 2003, when I did a writing retreat at John Marsden’s property. It was incredible, and he was incredible, and I decided then and there that when I made it I would give back to the community as much as I could.
It felt like the time was right for that now!
Let’s start with your course, School Visits 101. From someone who has been an AWESOME presenter for 20+ years at more than 500 schools, what really are the secrets that you teach authors about through your course?
Haha sooooooooo many … well, at least three! I think the biggest one is that it is so important to be authentic, to be YOU! It’s easy to see other people doing a certain type of presentation and think that is what you have to do, but there is space for all types of personalities, authors, illustrators. Kids love authenticity. They don’t want to be talked down to, or tricked in some way … unless the trick is revealed!
As an overall thing, it looks at all the ways I have got school visits (or attempted to, in some cases!), things to think about for the visits, we plan actual school visit sessions, look at book sales, important numbers to know, and more!
What are the biggest take-away lessons or rewards you have experienced from your school visits?
Just how much kids love books! Seriously! You hear so much about how kids don’t read anymore, there are too many distractions, etc etc blah blah blah! Go to as school and watch a presenter, and watch the kids crowd them afterwards wanting autographs, see how the presenter’s books are never on the library shelves in the weeks after the visit. Kids seriously love books and reading, they just need to have the opportunity and the inspiration.
I think the biggest lesson is the being yourself one, along with focusing on the kids who are loving it and who want to be there. I spent many years trying to entertain and hook in the bored kid, or the naughty kid … now I basically ignore them and focus my presentation and enthusiasm and energy on the kids who will soak it up. Otherwise they are missing out for a kid who may not come along anyway.
And once the energy is great for those other kids, little old boredy boredface will realise he or she is missing out on a whole lot of fun, and then they have a choice to make!
Have you ever had to deal with an embarrassing or difficult situation as a presenter? What advice do you have for authors to ensure they’re prepared for anything thrown at them?
Haha oh yes, but not as many as when I used to host kid’s parties. Lets never talk about the Peter Pan costume … ever!
After that the visits are a breeze haha, probably the hardest thing is noise, sometimes from the kids sometimes from teachers chatting. That can be awkward, asking teachers to stop talking, but it is necessary sometimes, and can be done respectfully.
Having good crowd control techniques is a must, something that took me a while to build up. I go through a few in the course, but talking to kids or teachers is a great way to find some techniques to try and see what works best for you!
The only other embarrassing thing is when I tell a joke and pause for the laugh that doesn’t come haha, but if that’s the worst thing it’s not too bad!
Are there things you do both before and after the school visit to keep students and staff engaged in your material / books?
Not so much beforehand, aside from giving the link to my author website which has some videos. If I am close I will drop off some books, but usually do that on the day. I always give a set of books to the school as part of the visit, which is nice for the library or classrooms to have for the kids to read after the visit.
I also do activities that are a starting point, rather than a closed activity. That way, after my session is done, the teachers have a base from which they can do numerous sessions. And teachers have amazing ideas to follow on, and do things I would never have thought of, it’s brilliant!
Okay, let’s move on to Making Money 101. The big question on everyone’s lips – How do you turn writing kids’ books into a full (or part) time, well-earning job? What will authors learn from taking this course?
Haha it is definitely the question, mainly because we are given this bad advice that you can’t turn it into a job. This just isn’t true! My belief is that if anyone has done it, anyone can do it!
Is it easy? No, but it is definitely possible, and it’s like a snowball. Once you start building that momentum, and building different streams of income, the sky’s the limit. Seriously. JK Rowling’s piles of money might just reach the sky, all on the back of kid’s books!
What I hope people learn from the course is that it is possible, and I go through every single way I have earnt money as a kid’s book creator. I also look at all the different types of publishing (traditional, self, partnership and flat fee), the pros and cons of each, how they work, and how income is generated.
I want to give everything so people can watch the courses and pick and choose the bits they feel will work best for them. Or take a nap. One of the two!
And, Zombie Inspiration. Why would an author want to be like a zombie?
Haha, ohhhhhh, because zombies are inspirational! So inspirational! Think about it … they set a goal, they focus so hard on that goal, they give 100% and they never ever give up, and they are always on the move, ready to go when the opportunity presents itself.
And other stuff too, but they are my top four things about zombies, and when applied to creating books for kids, they are so important.
Setting goals is a major part of how I have reached the levels I have reached. Focus is something that is getting harder and harder to hey what’s that out there oh my gosh it’s a … sorry. I’m back. But it is hard, and finding that focused time to create is SO important.
As is resilience/persistence. In this industry, we will get rejected. Be it a publisher, or a review, or a kid not liking the book, whatever, we need to keep going and have a strong why, a strong reason to push through those hard times and it is so worth it to do so.
And I think, because of that, we need to continuously work on our craft, get it as good as we possibly can, so when the opportunity comes to present or pitch or whatever, we’re as ready as we can be at that time. Ready to take the opportunity. Ready to eat that brain … I mean, submit that work.
That’s what I meant.
Do you have a favourite quote or mantra that drives you to achieve your goals?
Oh boy, this could take a while! I am a quote fanatic! I have them on my walls, my desk, my computer, and my body!
I love Bruce Lee, and have a tattoo of his quote, “Be water, my friend.” Part of a much longer quote, it is about adapting, about being aware of your surroundings/environment, and using them to become the best version of you in that situation. Love it.
I also love “See what no one else sees. See what others choose not to see” from Patch Adams. There’s always another way, a new way, a way that is you and your voice, and if we can see these other ways, that is how we can set ourselves apart from the crowd.
Okay, I’ll stop there … I have many more though!
Finally, what book or series of yours have you had the most joy from writing or presenting to kids?
My series starring Pete McGee was always super fun, mainly because the villain in the third book, The Master of Darkness, was the best! He was kind of dumb, he had a super villain accent, and he was really fun to play around with.
I also love doing the gross books, just because it grosses some kids out which is hilarious.
But really it’s the How to Draw books. These books changed everything for me, and were a huge reason I got a lot of school visits. I wasn’t a natural drawer, but I taught myself and worked my butt off, which made it hard to sit down, but which has made the biggest difference, both to me and kids. I just love presenting, drawing with the kids, and have so many kids say they can’t draw who then run up afterwards so proud of what they have created. It’s incredible, and gives me the biggest buzz, and hope that they realise there will be other things they think they can’t do that with the right steps, breaking it down, having fun with it, anything is possible.
Thanks heaps for the AWESOME interview, Adam!! 😊
Thank you so much for having me, always awesome to chat!
Adam Wallace is a New York Times bestselling author who writes every single day, no exceptions. He plans to do that every day for the rest of his life, and he plans on living to 130! From self-publishing through to traditional publishing, Adam now has had over 80 books published, and has had his books read on the White House Lawn and Kim and Kanye’s house!
Follow Adam at these links:
Adam’s Website: www.adam-wallace-books.com/
Kid’s Book Creator Capital Website: www.thekbcc.com
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