Friday, August 5, 2022

School Visits for Illustrators: Planning, Promoting, Connecting with Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Debbie Ridpath Ohi is one of the most innovative artists/bookmakers/persons you’ll ever meet. She bravely she jumps into new formats and makes them her own, a true inspiration. You’ve seen her fantastic picture books and book covers (Judy Frickin Blume!), and you probably know she’s a social media dynamo, but did you know Debbie also makes art in virtual reality? And that she can play the harp (in all realities)!? 

She’s also the most generous person you’d ever hope to know in publishing, or on social media, and that sentiment is echoed in every quadrant of the industry/internet. As soon as I heard she was giving a presentation on—well—it didn’t matter—I knew it would be fabulous. 

And this particular session on School Visits for Illustrators: Planning, Promoting, Connecting has every nanosecond of it full of great tips and advice. The title says 'for Illustrators’, but really, Debbie has great ideas for authors and artists alike. It’s definitely worth rewatching if you missed it live, probably worth watching it multiple times til the link expires! 

Debbie reminds attendees that there are many benefits for book creators to try doing school visits: Connecting with readers is an enriching experience for all parties involved. It also usually means connecting with educators, booksellers and librarians, fellow adults who love kid books as much as kidlit creators do. And school visits can also be an important source of income to book creators.

Debbie and educators at a NerdCamp

Here are a few of Debbie’s tips for Nervous Newbies:

  • Practice in whatever way makes sense to you
  • Find a friendly pre-audience and get feedback. An educator being the ideal audience
  • Record yourself on Zoom, then watch the reply and figure out what you need to improve
  • Have a checklist of reminders

Debbie goes over the prep work that makes for a successful school visit whether it’s in-person or virtual. She has tips for engaging audiences of all age ranges, whether that’s in person or virtual, too! And she showed her virtual event presentation zone set up—Debbie has a green screen! Many monitors! And also utilizes various cameras/angles for easy sharing of artmaking or booktalking. And is the first to say you do not need any of that to give a quality virtual visit: The appropriateness of the content to the age of the audience and your energy and engagement are the key.

Debbie also shared wonderful business-side best practices for navigating the wide range of school visit opportunities that can come up. The School Visit Workshop handout she provided to session attendees (live or recorded!) is easily worth hundreds of dollars of tips and links—her tech and supply source links alone will save you time and money!

Find out more about Debbie and all the awesome things she’s up to on, on Twitter at @inkyelbows, and on Instagram at @inkygirl (art) / @inkyelbows (Bookstagram).

1 comment:

  1. Awwww...thank you for the kind words about me and my session, Jaime!