I learned long ago that if I wanted to get noticed as an author, I'd need to offer more than my book. After all, what makes my book different than the tens of thousands of children's books out there? So, after a little research and a lot of chutzpah, I decided to create a school program that went along with my first book.
Naturally, it spoke to my book, but it also included quite a bit about the writing process, which can also set an author apart. The presentation then became a lesson. More than a show 'n tell from an author, kids learned a few things without realizing it, all from a different perspective. And from my experience, teachers love it.
Eight years ago, my program began as an overhead presentation (so much for technology). But it evolved, as the purchase of a projector gave birth to a PowerPoint, complete with cool graphics and fancy effects. A screen presentation is a 'must' if you visit schools, as assemblies are often held in gyms, auditoriums or cafeterias. Many schools do have Smart Boards with internet access and presentations can be shown from laptops. So it helps to have presentations on a memory stick as well--a little easier to tote and compatible with those schools that have the latest technology.
Presentations must fall in line with school schedules and teachers have to clear the space, the date and rearrange classes for the day, so while you might expect innumerable schools as your target market, my experience has shown the return on contacts to be quite low, thus my point about it not being for the faint of heart. Scoring school visits involves lots of time--lots and lots of time, perseverance and a budget--all necessary to create things like bookmarks, postcards, brochures--all must-haves in order to spread the word about you.
But perhaps the biggest question of all is how to market to schools? I wish I had a magic formula to share. To put it simply, it involves lots of contact. Emails, direct mailings, getting on school visitation websites. And while I have listed myself on 'authors who visit schools' sites, very little has come of it. For the most part, I do email blasts, and it does yield some results, but with the ever-growing number of protective filters out there, so many emails go unopened, which is why complimentary postcard mailings help. And don't underestimate the value of going to book fairs. I have sat at many, twiddling my thumbs and contemplating the universe, but some of the seemingly unending events have yielded school visits. All it takes is one contact to sell a few dozen books and perhaps lead to another school visit.
My advice? Start out locally. Hitting schools where you live is the best place to begin. They are often more open to authors who share their community. Discipline yourself with regular contact with them, and slowly, like a spider or world-wide web, cast your net larger and larger--as large as you care to or as long as you can stand being back in the classroom once again Good luck!
Author of the easy-reader series: The Adventures of the Poodle Posse and a new picture book, Once upon a Poodle, Chrysa Smith always likes to see the fun side of things, as she observes her miniature poodles during devious endeavors in her home. A long-time feature magazine writer and shorter term children's author, Chrysa has always been a fan of the written word. It's just that now, it comes in simple, concise sentences.
Connect with Chrysa:
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About the book
Once Upon a Poodle
Mom's Choice Award Silver Medalist for excellence in Juvenile Fiction
When miniature poodle Woody goes on a hunt for a new brother, all sorts of adventures are in store. Several attempts bring chaos into the house while trying to find a suitable creature to become the latest member of the family. Feathers fly, gardens are harvested and nuts are cracked in this full-color illustrated tale that embraces fun, problem-solving and learning what family and friendship are all about.
Available here: The Well Bred Book / Amazon
What questions do you have for Chrysa about booking and planning school visits?