Have Cart, Will Travel.

In previous posts, I mentioned what to bring when doing presentations. (Remember the office supplies and water bottle? Oh, please don’t forget the water!) But just how much of everything else should you bring when visiting schools or doing readings at bookshops or other venues?  Of course, the choice is yours, but my rule of thumb is….be slightly overloaded, but be able to carry everything yourself.




(My Cub Scout visit last night to talk about books and how to care for them was really fun! The bottom right photo is the bag I lugged with me, along with some large posters not in this photo. At the end of my talk, the kids presented me with my own “Reader Badge”! How exciting!)




First, if you’re doing quite a few presentations and you have big or awkward props (a projector, three feet of revision samples, or artwork), you should invest in one of those little personal roll carts, the kind you might use for luggage. It should be portable and fold up when not in use (so you can stick it in your car, or wheel it onto the subway easily). Don’t worry about looking lazy. You’ll be glad you can pull something behind you after a full day of presenting.



Second, there are always stairs, so make things portable. If you’re doing school presentations, as much as we’d like to hope the entire thing will take place on a stage in the gymnasium or other easy-access place, you might have to go from classroom to classroom. And multiple classes means going upstairs and downstairs, packing everything in between presentations, unpacking, then flinging it all back into your bag to go somewhere else. After a while, if you’ve got a lot of items that are awkward or heavy, you’ll be wishing you invested in that portable carrier mentioned above. Or not. Sometimes, that makes things worse. Just try to get one of those things up and down a flight of stairs. That nine-year-old sent to fetch you at the office isn’t going to be of any help. You HAVE to be able to carry everything yourself.



And third, if you don’t have a cart and you can’t carry everything yourself, bring someone along to help! Yay! But just remember, if you’re going to a school, sometimes a second person will have to be pre-approved. They don’t like strangers just wandering around the school corridors, and often, officials will do some prior checks on YOU before you visit. Make sure you ask about bringing someone to help. (Even if they don’t mind, they’ll be pleased that you cared enough about the students to check first! Bonus points!!)



If you’re doing a book signing or reading, you might want to ask the bookshop owner how many copies of your book they’ll have on hand. If it doesn’t sound like a lot (smaller bookstores might not be able to bring in as many as you’d like), then make sure you have extras…just in case. Bring along plenty of bookmarks, handouts, posters or any other display/giveaway stuff you’ll need. Better to have too many, than too little. No disappointed audience members, please!



I’ve also heard of authors making their own treats to bring to a reading (cookies from their newest cookbook, maybe….or little green men cupcakes for that sci-fi thriller reading). If you’re crafty/handy in the kitchen or creative in any other way and want to do something a little different, go ahead. Just remember not to make any promises that you’ll bring something like that, however, because you don’t know how stressed you might be the night before, and you don’t want to be up all hours just to get those hand-decorated cookies finished in time!



So, take it easy on yourself and your presentation will be all the better for it. Bring only what you can carry, but make sure to have plenty of whatever it is you’re there to promote. Anything on top of that is just icing on the cake!



I’ll be back on Friday with the next installment of Presentations in 145 Easy Steps! Don’t forget to check back…..



Heidi Sinnett



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