I originally self-published the first book of the Elementia Chronicles, Quest for Justice on the first day of 2014. As a junior in high school with no experience in the publishing industry, I wasn’t really sure what to do first. My parents had suggested a marketing blitz through social media, but I still knew there was more that I could be doing. How could I spread the word about my action-adventure series set in Minecraft? I pondered this question until one day, a month or so after publication, I received a letter from a child in a local Cub Scout Pack. That’s right… not an email or a text, a handwritten letter, and from an elementary schooler. In the letter, the student explained that he loved Quest for Justice, and that his school was going to be having a Reading Week in April that he would love for me to come and speak at it. Naturally, I immediately contacted the librarian of the school, who agreed that a presentation about a Minecraft book would really get the kids excited about reading. I was ecstatic, I finally had the opportunity I was looking for to spread the word about my book. But what was I going to say in this half-hour presentation? The first thought that came to mind was to just wing it. After all, I knew the story of how I had published the book, and what the book itself was about, so how hard could it be? Luckily, I had landed another presentation in another school before the big Reading Week presentation, so I decided to try out my idea. A few days later, in my first-ever school presentation, I stepped out in front of dozens of kids to tell the story of how I turned my Minecraft fan-fiction into a published book. What followed was an extremely uncomfortable half hour of an unfocused and unprofessional talk which told the students almost nothing about me or my book. Everybody walked away feeling disappointed. It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my entire life.
Realizing that going off the cuff was something I could not do, I set to work preparing for my next presentation. A week later, when I gave the Reading Week presentation, I didn’t just step out with an ill-formed presentation. Instead, I had a written speech in my hand which I had practiced over and over beforehand. I talked not just about me and my book, but also about the writing processes that I used and advice on how the students could write a story. The kids were hooked from start to finish, and the teachers told me it was a great presentation. Since then, I have given countless other presentations using that speech as my template, always working to improve upon each presentation. Most importantly, I returned to the first school to atone for my mistake. Now I know how important it is to prepare.
Sean Fay Wolfe is the bestselling author of The Elementia Chronicles, an unofficial Minecraft fan-adventure series. Visit his website, like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter, and find his books on Amazon or through your local bookstore.