One of the best ways to sell children’s books is at schools. Contacting schools can seem like a daunting task, and in some ways it is, but if you’re prepared it shouldn’t be too bad. Make a list of your fees (if you have any) the time you’ll allow for each session (keep it short, especially if you’ve got younger audiences) and any requirements you have/ things the school will need to do before your visit (see my list below for ideas)
I’m painfully shy in a lot of ways. Despite my years of story telling experience I still feel ill at the thought of pestering or badgering anyone, and talking to a stranger -especially to ask them a favor – makes me feel very unwell indeed. But modern technology helps us to communicate in what ever way we feel most comfortable. A phone call to the school to find out who to speak to is always the best way to go, but an email to the receptionist should be able to get you the same information. Then call or email the person you need to talk to and tell them what you are offering. Have your list on hand so that you can answer any questions as quickly and professionally as possible.
The problem with emails is that people can easily ignore them or forget about them. I do use email, (as does a very dear friend of mine who contacts people on my behalf for story telling/ book readings) and it means that I’m not as efficient as I could be in getting schools onside. I do OK, though. You just have to be a little more patient. If you’re offering readings for a specific event/day (eg book week) you’ll need to leave more time than you might with a phone call. You also need to remember that you’re essentially emailing a job interview, keep it friendly but professional. I tend to be informal but not casual, that’s a fine line to walk but they want to get a feel from you, they want to think of you as warm and easy going – children’ respond to that and so do schools. The most important thing to remember when you’re emailing a school is that they’ll be reading it. SPELL CHECK everything you send out. A couple of times if need be. I’m so dyslexic that it’s almost a joke, but schools don’t want illiterates selling books to their pupils.
A number of the schools I’ve contacted have asked for more information about what I do and price structures etc. I advise all self published, indie published and probably trad published writers to have a website/ blog with this information on it.
On mine I have:
My fee- £0-£50 depending on type of visit (£0 for a reading, £50 for a full morning/ afternoon workshop)
My time limits – 15 mins reading 5-10 mins questions. I usually stay all day, I need 5 mins between sessions to compose myself/ find the next class room!
My requirements – The school must send home postcards (which I provide) the week before I come in and must display a poster (which I provide) in the week leading up to my visit.
The most important thing you can do, though, is be warm and engaging when it comes to your visit, as this image shows the most important thing for me is the story, I clearly was not giving any monkeys about the way I looked when this was taken! (this may well be Pond Day, the day I fell in the pond)