On School Visits, Diversity and YA Books

Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited by  Walnut Road, a local elementary school here in Surrey, BC to talk to students in Grades 6 and 7 about my book and the writing process. Since this was my first visit to a school I wasn’t quite sure what to expect so I thought I’d share my experience and how I prepared for it.

First of all let me say what an amazing experience it was. The staff and students were extremely welcoming and I couldn’t have asked for a better audience. The students were polite and attentive but best of all they were very interested in reading and writing which made all the difference in the world. They had a lot of pertinent and thought-provoking questions and most of them liked the YA Paranormal genre. Many of them pulled out books they were reading and it was great to see that they carried these books around with them. Since they had recently finished their creative writing unit they also had a lot of questions about the writing process including editing and publishing.

Afterwards I mulled over why I had enjoyed my visit and what had made it successful. Here’s what I came up with.

Engage the students

If they get bored, then you’re pretty much just talking to an empty room. I started by asking them what kind of books they liked and by mentioning some book series similar to mine. They immediately perked up and began to call out books they loved. I knew a lot of them and so I asked them about specific characters and shared what I liked about them. There is nothing better than watching a roomful of 12-13 year olds with eyes sparkling as they talk about books. Really…it’s priceless.

Tell them your story

I gave them a brief idea of what my book was about and that got the conversation flowing. They wanted to know how I came up with the idea, how long it took to write the book and if there were going to be more. I also loved that they talked so enthusiastically about their own writing projects.

Ask them what kind of books they wish they could read

They were thrilled to read a story with diverse characters and we discussed the importance of reading diversely and exactly what that meant. I was blown away by their insightful comments on why we need to broaden our selection of books.

Tell them about writing programs and festivals that are available to them

The students were surprised to hear about the many opportunities there were to learn the craft and how many fun events were taking place close to home.

I am so glad that I had the opportunity to talk to such a diverse and talented group of students. They showed me their creative writing projects and I was very impressed by the talent. It was gratifying to see that many of them pursue this in their spare time and are excited to learn more.

Best part of the visit? A week later I was asked to pick up something  from the school office. When I brought it home I was completely choked up. The student had hand written individual letters telling me what they thought about the visit. I couldn’t even get through half of it without getting all teary eyed.

So, if any of you are thinking about visiting a local school and talking to the students about writing and about your book, don’t hesitate. Make that call, set up an date and I am positive it will be one of the best experiences in your life as a writer.

What I Learned From My First Author Signing

This past Saturday I was invited to do an author signing at the Strawberry Hills Chapters in Surrey, BC. Of course I was thrilled because as a very recently self-published author this sort of thing is just awesome. So here are some things I learned:

1. Have realistic expectations. Unless you are an established author with an existing fan base, it is not likely that you will be greeted by a crowd of people waiting with bated breath for your appearance. It will be more like a small trickle, mostly consisting of a few people who unsuspectingly wandered into the store and happened to stop at your table to check out what you’re selling. That’s when you pounce. Well metaphorically at least. You wow them with your pitch and overwhelming enthusiasm and before they know it they are buying a copy of your book, because it is the genre they read or they think it will make a great gift for someone else. Either way it’s a win for you. Then there will be those people who avoid making eye contact with you because they really just want to browse. After you’ve scared away the first couple of them with your fervent smile you’ll figure it out.

2. It is important to smile. Smile as though your life depends on it, even if your face begins to hurt after the first half hour. Pace yourself by exercising your facial muscles every now and then. Just don’t forget that people behind you at the Starbucks can see you. I didn’t realize it at first until I noticed a couple of kids staring at me in horror as I grimaced in an attempt to get some sensation back in my face. I hope they’re not scarred for life.

3. Be very,very appreciative of the people who work at the bookstore. I was blown away by how supportive they were. They came and checked on me constantly, made sure I was comfortable and that I stayed positive when things were slow. I cannot emphasize enough how much that meant to me as a first time author. Needless to say, having the support of your local bookstore is priceless.

4. Know where the washrooms are…and the music section…and the greetings cards. A fellow local author I met recently warned me of this and sure enough, at least five people asked me about this at various times.

5. Celebrate the small victories. I may not have sold more than a few copies of my book, but I got a lot of exposure which is what my main goal really was. After all, I am a newly self published author that nobody has heard of yet. If I want to change that I have to spread the word. This takes time and hard work. It does not happen overnight, so it’s important to stay positive and good things will happen. I am fortunate enough to have very supportive people in my life and I am extremely grateful to Chapters for giving me this opportunity.

Heartfelt Thanks to Blog Tour Hosts

Yesterday concluded my seven-day blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. It was my first experience doing something like this and I just wanted to thank all the wonderful people who signed up and took the time out of their undoubtedly hectic schedules to read, review and write posts about my book. I am also deeply grateful to Libertad Araceli of Diverse Book Tours for organizing this blog tour and making it such a great experience for me. Please check out  and share the blogs of these fabulous people:

Libertad Araceli at http://diversebooktours.com

Lisa Cresswell at http://www.lisatcresswell.blogspot.com

Jessica Jackson at http://thepsychoticnerd.blogspot.com

Madhuri Blaykock at https://madhuriblaylock.wordpress.com

D.C. Cowan at http://www.fantasyfictionkingdom.com

Constance Burris at http://constanceburris.blogspot.com

Misty Iputi at http://mistyiputi.blogspot.com

Tamara Philip at https://tamaraphilipwrites.wordpress.com

Tricia Drammeh at http://www.triciadrammeh.com

Day Seven of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours

Tamara Philip over at tamaraphilipwrites.wordpress.com and Tricia Drammeh over at http://www.triciadrammeh.com/ were the hosts for Day Seven of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. 

If you would like to check out a review of Realm of the Goddess  please go to:

https://tamaraphilipwrites.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/diverse-book-tours-presents-my-review-of-sabina-khans-realm-of-the-goddess/

If you would like to read an excerpt from Realm of the Goddess please go to:

http://authorstowatch.com/2015/02/15/realm-of-the-goddess-book-tour/

Day Six of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours

Misty Iputi over at mistyiputi.blogspot.ca was yesterday’s host for Day Six of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. If you would like to check out her review of Realm of the Goddess please go to:

http://mistyiputi.blogspot.ca/2015/02/realm-of-goddess-by-sabina-khan.html

Day Four of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. Host: D.C. Cowan

D.C.Cowan over at Fantasy Fiction Kingdom hosted Day Four of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. You can read an excerpt from Realm of the Goddess at

http://www.fantasyfictionkingdom.com/realm-of-the-goddess-sabina-khan/

Day Two of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. Host: Jessica Jackson

Jessica over at thepsychoticnerd.blogspot.ca was today’s host for Day Two of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. You can check out her review of my novel Realm of the Goddess at http://thepsychoticnerd.blogspot.ca/2015/02/blog-tour-realm-of-goddess-by-sabina.html

Day One of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours: Host Lisa T. Cresswell

Lisa over at http://lisatcresswell.blogspot.ca/ was the host yesterday for Day One of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours.

Check out an excerpt from my YA Paranormal Fantasy novel Realm of the Goddess

http://lisatcresswell.blogspot.ca/2015/02/weneeddiversebooks-realm-of-goddess.html?spref=tw

Realm of the Goddess Blog Tour with Diverse Book Tours

Realm of the Goddess is going on tour with Diverse Book Tours, an awesome group of ladies who have made it their mission to promote books that offer readers an opportunity to learn about other cultures and perspectives. I’m thrilled and honoured to be part of their line-up of diverse books. Check out the schedule for the week of Feb 9-15.

http://diversebooktours.com/2015/02/schedule-for-the-realm-of-the-goddess-mini-tour-by-sabina-khan-sabina_writer-diversebktours/

Free Kindle Book: Realm of the Goddess

My YA Paranormal Fantasy Realm of the Goddess is free for download Jan 14 & 15. Grab a copy if you like Indian mythology, kick-ass heroines, diversity, romance, exotic locales and lots of action.

http://www.amazon.com/Realm-Goddess-Sabina-Khan-ebook/dp/B00Q0OWI4G