This past year I was honored with a scholarship to PMA University. Being there was a tremendous experience that rejuvenated my creative marketing abilities.
As a former English teacher, I had spent hours working with local schools and on educational projects, donating much of my time. However, after attending PMA-U, I determined that I possess knowledge that is worth money to educators and new authors. So I took a new approach to offering my services.
October is educator conference month in Florida. Each state conference requires many workshop presenters. And writing/reading is a hot issue in the Sunshine State. Since I feel comfortable addressing groups of educators, I updated my resume to include all my previous speaking engagements (I was amazed once I actually wrote them all down in one place!). Then I surfed the Internet to find conferences that would be interested in what I could share with attendees.
Because all third-graders in Florida are required to take standardized tests, and since many are held back each year because they do poorly on those tests in reading and writing, I started with the Florida Council of Elementary Education. Lo and behold, I was accepted!
That prompted me to apply to more conferences. Soon I had speaking engagements at annual statewide conferences lined up for every week in October. And both the public- and private-school teachers to whom I spoke were excited by my suggestions for making writing exciting.
What did I tell educators? I shared the way I employ the full writing process in my creative compositions. I told them how I determine plot, setting,2THEracters–just hints from a novelist, but valuable hints that assist teachers. I always emphasized the importance of going public with student works. (Why write something of merit if it will be read only by the teacher and get you nothing more than a grade?)
Just today we received an order from a single school for 54 books, a result of networking with district-level school supervisors. (Multiply that order by the many schools in a state, and the potential is pleasantly lucrative.) In addition, my appearances have brought new authors to our publishing house. And we have expanded to offer digital printing (www.My-First-Book.com) so that students can afford to print their anthologies. Once I speak to students and get them excited about writing, we can format text, design covers, and print their creations. And, if necessary, we can assist teachers in the editing process. Most of all, we can give students a product of which they can be proud. To me, that is the most important thing I am now doing–helping teachers honor the literary talents of their students.
I owe all this to the fire PMA University lit under me. I thank everyone who made my scholarship possible and I thank all the speakers, who filled me with so many tremendous ideas.
Will I return? You bet! I don’t want that fire to be extinguished. And I know that my publishing blood will run hot while I remain under the tutelage of the many astute people associated with PMA!
Swanee Ballman, a board member of the Florida Publishers Association, is the author of 12 published books. Through Jawbone Publishing Corporation, she has assisted authors in publishing over 50 titles. To learn more, visit www.JawbonePublishing.com.