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Archive for August, 2013

SCHOOL VISITS — Part 1

copyright 2013 by Sherry GarlandIMG_0145

It’s that time of the year again — yellow buses are on the road, children are jumping up and down with excitement and parents are jumping up and down with relief that the long summer is over. Children’s authors should be happy, too. Of all the various writing genres, it is the children’s authors who are able to earn extra income as visiting authors at schools and to generate income from selling books to students. Besides that, speaking to students and meeting your readers is very rewarding and fun.

So how does an author get on this lucrative circuit? For most schools, it is the librarian who sets up the author visits. Occasionally it is a PTA parent or even a principal. Budgets are very tight right now, so the school wants to get the best bang for the buck. Here are a few tips for getting your name out there:

1) First you write a really good book and get it published. Self-published books can be fine, but it is more difficult to convince schools to spend big bucks on an unknown book.

2) Get your book reviewed in major review sources. Librarians have to know you exist to contact you. They read the reviews and if they buy your book they are more likely to contact you. Also, make sure your publisher enters your book in various contests. If you can get on a state reading list, you can write your own ticket and schools will jump through hoops to hire you.

3) Promote/advertise yourself to librarians and teachers. Here are a few examples:

a) Set up an attractive, appealing website (or blog) that shows your books and school presentations. Include your website address on all your business cards, flyers, bookmarks, postcards and letterheads.

b) Attend librarian and teacher conferences (rent a booth if you can afford it) and hand out brochures about your books and author visits. Schmooze  with the librarians and let them know you are available to make visits.

c) Attend book festivals (rent a booth or become a speaker) and meet teachers and librarians.

d) Do a few free or deeply discounted school visits to get the word out. You may want to start with the school nearest you, for example.

e) Create a social media presence — Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads, etc. and join listservs that librarians and teachers visit.

f) Check the websites and blogs of other authors to see what they do to promote themselves to schools.

g) Some authors use direct mailings of flyers, postcards, etc. to promote author visits. This method is more likely to work if you start with local schools or schools in towns where you are visiting. For example, I was attending a writer’s conference in another town so I sent e-mails to all the local school librarians telling them I would not charge a travel fee since I was already in town. This generated four school visits.

School Visits–Part II will discuss some of the topics that authors present during their school visits and what fees to charge.

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