Guest post by Anika Denise
Launching a new book into the world is worthy of a grand celebration. Whether it's your first book or your fiftieth — it's important to mark the occasion with fanfare. Throw a bash! Invite your friends! Revel in the moment! You earned it.
But successfully launching a book involves more than just party planning. The work of finding and connecting with readers who will be motivated and excited to buy YOUR book ideally begins months and months before publication. From building your website, to networking with educators, to creating extension activities, to printing swag, to blogging, to tweeting, to baking cupcakes and ordering balloons — managing the myriad tasks associated with book launches can be overwhelming, especially for debut authors.
After my first two books entered the world without much fanfare or support, it hit me that I had a marketing degree and experience in promotion. So, um…why wasn’t I putting those skills to work launching my books?
When my picture book Monster Trucks was acquired, I made a point to keep track of all my promotional tasks and when I’d completed them; as well as what worked, what didn’t, and what I’d learned from the process. My documented “from-book-deal-to-publication” experiment eventually became the basis for a marketing workshop: BEYOND THE BOOK LAUNCH PARTY, to help authors create and execute their own book launch strategies.
The response I hear most frequently from workshop attendees is: OH-MY-GOSH-I-SO-NEEDED-THIS! And I tell them: so did I. To stay organized (and sane), l needed a promotional checklist I could follow for each new book. And hopefully, in being more methodical and digging deeper into my book’s unique content, I’d engage more readers, generate greater awareness of my “brand” as an author, and boost book sales.
So… did it work?
YES! While there are many variables that affect how a book sells, and I don’t have scientific data tracking back each promotional activity’s effectiveness, I do have my royalty statements. And the titles I’ve launched with coordinated marketing attention have done better. Significantly. With all the hurdles to surmount on the path to publication, a published book is like a tiny miracle. That’s why I try to do my small part in giving my books their best chance at success. And why I’m happy to share what I’ve learned.
Here’s the plan I follow. It includes advice on how to reach readers and considerations to explore when allocating your precious promotional budget. Use it. Share it. And feel free to reach out with questions or suggestions.
ANIKA’S BOOK LAUNCH TIPS & TASKS TIMELINE
Before the book deal...
* Create an author website (include an e-mailing list sign up)
* Network with the children’s book community – in person and online
* Be active on social media, but give thought to AUDIENCE when choosing how and where to spend your time. Are you targeting parents? Librarians? Teens? Where does your audience spend the most time?
* Don’t just talk about YOU; use your channels to AMPLIFY OTHERS
Pro-tip: Focus this time on establishing a professional author presence and getting to know your tribe. Attend conferences. Introduce yourself to local librarians. Be visible and make friends. And YES, include a mailing list sign-up on your site, even if your book isn’t out yet. Your e-mail list will be the foundation upon which you build a direct relationship to readers who opted-in to learn more about YOU and your books!
Just after you've signed the contract...
* Make a list of 8-1o topics and/or themes that are in your book
* Research and identify blogs, websites, and organizations that ALSO care about the topics you listed
* Are there opportunities to get involved? Guest post? Volunteer?
* Take this time to introduce yourself and build relationships
* Always begin with what you can do for them – not what they can do for you
Pro-tip: Meaningful connections grow out of equitable partnerships. Begin any pitch with what you can bring to the table, rather than simply asking them to promote your book. Here's the list I made for Starring Carmen!
The goal of this exercise is to find readers based on commonality and shared interests. One great example of this for me, was Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands, in South Carolina. The tagline for their after-school performing arts program is: Be inspired! Be talented! Be creative! This could easily be the tagline for Starring Carmen!. By offering to do presentations at their locations, I connected with both the gatekeepers (arts educators at BGC) and young readers — who, because of our common interests and values, are likely to be interested in reading the book.
12 months prior to publication...
* Set your promotional budget
* Identify book festivals and speaking opportunities that line up with your pub date; make note of deadlines for applications
* Consider partnering on promotion with other authors who have books in your genre or release year like the Electric Eighteens
* Look for HIVE MARKETING opportunities and book discovery platforms, such as Curious City's Bunk Reads & Trick or Reaters
Pro-tip: You can find yourself down a rabbit hole, spending large sums of money on book promotion. Deciding how much you are willing to spend and prioritizing which strategies are most worthwhile for your book is important. Ask yourself, am I going to enjoy doing this? And is this likely to move the needle on books sales?
9 months prior to publication...
* Outline your reading guide or activity kit
* Plan and draft blog posts related to the themes in your book (Check out Sarah Albee's and Betsy Devany's blog for examples of fun, engaging content-related blogging.)
* Check in with the in-house publicist to review the marketing plan for your book
Pro-tip: Publicists are BUSY. Each new season brings a fresh crop of books to promote, and the window for promoting an individual title can be limited. What you can expect varies from house to house, and book to book. So it's important to ask (kindly) what they have planned, in order to determine what you'll need to do yourself. In my experience, the more willingness I show to roll up my sleeves on publicity, the more support and attention they will jump in and give.
6 months prior to publication...
* Design and print book swag (if the cover is final)
* Schedule a cover reveal
* Reach out to bloggers to arrange a blog tour
* Contact stores to schedule signings
* Connect with schools and offer presentations
* If you are considering a book trailer, make notes on a treatment and hire your vendors
Pro-tip: Creating a high quality book trailer can easily blow your promotion budget, and won't (necessarily) sell more books. My strategy has been to find creative ways to produce them, at low cost. For Baking Day at Grandma's, we kept costs down by working partially in barter, and shooting it all in one day. For Monster Trucks, my local school librarian asked one of her students to create the book trailer as a part of a school library project. Consider getting local schools involved and/ or hosting a reader-produced trailer contest. Author (and book promotion wizard) Josh Funk creates his own book trailers. I love Josh’s trailers because they showcase his humor and brand personality, and really make you want to run out and read the book. If you have mad iMovie skills (or know someone who does) try putting together a trailer yourself.
3-4 months prior to publication...
* Send Advance Release Copies (ARCS) to colleagues, friends, and family, and ask them to consider reviewing and sharing your book online
* Create a “press kit” section on your website with your blurb bio, high-res book cover, author photo, and event poster template
* Send a draft of your reading guide/ activity kit to your publisher for review and approval
Pro-tip: As with trailers, a great deal goes into drafting and designing a quality classroom guide. Your publisher may create one for you, but if not, you can outsource to an expert. Not sure where to begin or what a discussion guide looks like? Scholastic.com has guides readily available for download. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the format.
1 month prior to publication...
* Finalize contests and giveaways (Goodreads requires 7 days in advance)
* Design a graphic for both your blog tour and store appearances, with dates and locations
* Share positive reviews on social media and add them to your website
* Finalize details and send reminders about your LAUNCH PARTY!
* Pop the Champagne (or sparkling cider) and enjoy!
Pro-tip: Consider going LIVE on Facebook during a portion of your book talk or reading, to amplify your launch party's reach.
And my final pro-tip? Don't get so caught up in promotional tasks that it keeps you from doing your first job, which is to write amazing books. Strike a balance. Set a few hours aside each week for book launch planning. Use this timeline as a guide, but do what works best for you.
Curious City facilitates children's literature discovery by creating marketing tools that engage readers with story. They create activity kits, write and produce book trailers, host book discovery platforms — they've even planned tours for fictional bands! — all for the noble purpose of helping kids and books "meet." Find out more at http://www.curiouscity.net and this post which includes a link to Curious City's "Creating Discovery" worksheet, which I highly recommend downloading and completing.
Author Gaia Cornwall also designs and creates super-cute (affordable!) author swag and book trailers.
Check out Marcie Colleen's awesome Teacher’s Guides.
And finally, here's a list of upcoming book festivals from Book Reporter.
Anika Denise a former marketing and public relations executive. She’s also the celebrated author of many books for young readers including Lights, Camera Carmen!, Starring Carmen!, Monster Trucks, Baking Day at Grandma’s, Bella and Stella Come Home, and Pigs Love Potatoes. In 2019, to coincide with Women’s History Month, HarperCollins will publish her forthcoming picture book, Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, illustrated by Paola Escobar. Other titles coming in 2019 include The Best Part of Middle, illustrated by Christopher Denise, and The Love Letter, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins. To learn more about Anika’s books and workshops, visit her website at anikadenise.com.
We are pleased to welcome Deb Shapiro, the president and founder of Deb Shapiro & Company, a public relations, marketing and media services and consulting business focusing on authors and books. A former journalist and bookseller with an MA in children’s literature, Deb worked for nearly 15 years in book publishing, creating and executing publicity and marketing campaigns for publishing houses large and small before launching her own company. She is also an instructor at the Columbia School of Journalism’s graduate publishing course and an active volunteer with several literacy organizations. She lives in Washington, DC with her daughter. We are pleased to have her here at 24 Carrot Writing to share her marketing experience and knowledge with us.
What sparked your interest in working in publishing?
I’ve always believed that if you can read well and write well, you have the tools to succeed in life. I knew teaching wasn’t the right fit for me, so I thought that if I were involved in the process of creating good books to put into the hands of young readers, I could help level the playing field for all kids and help spark a life-long love of story and learning.
At 24 Carrot Writing, we focus on children’s literature. What is the biggest challenge children's debut authors face in marketing their books?
There is a lot of white noise out there, especially online, and trying to break through it is a challenge. But most of that white noise is created because people are doing what they “think” they should do, either because it’s what others are doing and they believe that’s what they should do too, or because they just don’t know what to do. Thinking about who your audience is, and what your strengths and interests are in relation to the book, will help you craft a plan that will be more relevant and effective, and that in and of itself can help break through. It’s also important to realistically think about who your audience is. Some books are going to gain more traction in the educational marketplace than the consumer marketplace and visa versa, and you need to be open and accepting of that because if you are, then you can better assess how best to position the book and yourself to reach that audience.
Many debut authors do not know where to begin in marketing their upcoming books. What are some essential first steps debut authors should take in preparing for their book’s release?
Patience. Patience. Patience. Rarely do books take off within the first few weeks of publication. It’s a slow build as reviews come in and are shared and the books are put into hands, read, and talked about. There is a wide and varied window of opportunity for a book to find its way. Authors need to look at the process (or the adventure) as a marathon not a sprint; they need to be strategic, thoughtful, creative and realistic in how they consider what will help readers—or the people who put the books into these readers’ hands—understand the book.
What can a pre-published author do to prepare themselves for book marketing?
Much the same as what a debut should do: be mindful of your audience and what is in your comfort zone as you consider any promotions. Your audience can see through the efforts if they are not authentic, so be true to yourself, and hard as it may be, try not to compare what’s being done for other books to what is or isn’t being done for yours. In the age of social media it can be difficult and disheartening at times, but try and remember just because you may see a lot of activity it doesn’t mean that it’s effective, that readers are responding, or that any of it is translating to sales. Focus on yourself and your book.
When you approach marketing a children’s book, be it picture book, MG, or YA, are there certain aspects or features you look for (i.e., timely theme, target audience) that shape your marketing approach?
All of the above. One of the things I love about marketing and promoting books for kids and teens is that there is no one right way to do it. What’s key is looking at each book and author and understanding what they separately and together bring to the table, and then assess how those attributes fit into any trends, timely events, etc. and then position the book and author accordingly.
What are the differences in the strategies employed to market a PB vs. a MG or YA?
In some ways not much. At the heart of the process, it’s about having a good book to work with. That being said, with YA you’re marketing more directly to the book’s core audience--the teens; with picture book and MG you’re marketing more to the people who will put the book into the readers’ hands—parents, booksellers, teachers, librarians, grandparents, aunts, uncles… Each of these adults looks at a book differently so you need to adjust how you position the book to them accordingly. For example, an educator may want to know how this book could be relevant in the classroom, and a bookseller would want to know what kind of reader it will appeal to.
In your experience with marketing books, what are some of the most effective publicity approaches you have seen?
It all comes down to my mantra about being true to the book and author and understanding the audience. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart I think is a great example of checking all of these boxes—and it started with a fabulous read. The concept of the book became the campaign—every element wove in the intrigue of the mystery involved as to who was or wasn’t telling the truth. Another example would be Little Elliot and the Big City by Mike Curato; Little Elliot is such a delightful, endearing character and he was branded through a strategic bookseller, educator campaign so by the time the book hit shelves, he was loved and recognized by the people putting the book into readers hands and they couldn’t wait to introduce him to their customers. I often see other campaigns try to mimic those that are most successful but they always fall short. Books--like authors, like people--are their own unique entity and should be treated as such. It’s helpful to look at past campaigns to see what worked, but then look to see how that element might translate and be appropriate for you.
Social media plays a large part in many authors' publicity efforts. In your experience, have you found social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, helpful in promoting a new children’s book release? Are some social media platforms more successful than others in increasing a book’s visibility and, ultimately, sales?
For the most part, effectiveness comes down to the person, their approach and their authenticity more than the platform. Authors should not be made to feel that they have to be on social media; they should only do it if it’s in their comfort zone and they feel they have something to say and something to contribute to the conversation. I will say though that when thinking about platform, think about the audience of your book(s) and see where that audience may be spending more of its time.
What are some of the biggest pitfalls you see authors experience in marketing their work? Is there anything you consistently recommend they don’t do?
Don’t Google yourself, don’t monitor your Amazon rankings, don’t compare yourself to others or compare your efforts to other’s efforts. Do communicate with your publisher, even if they don’t appear to be listening, keep them posted on what you have going on, and your ideas. Be patient with yourself and the process. Be true to yourself and your book.
Many authors team up for book events. What are the pros and cons of being part of a multi-author event?
Pros: you can be introduced to new readers through the other author’s fan bases; it can be more fun and less daunting to be with others, too. Cons: disparate or clashing personalities. It’s important to make sure that the participating authors are all tapping into a similar age-range and that each of the participating authors plays nicely in the sand box with others.
Many authors spend much time and expense having “swag” printed for their book launches and events. Do you feel that swag, such as bookmarks, magnets, postcards, etc., is worth the effort and expense, or do you feel the book can stand on its own?
It all depends on the book, the author, the swag and the means of getting it out there. If you’re creating swag, make sure it’s something useful, it represents the concept of the book in some way, is a helpful reminder to the person who receives it of what the book is about, is age appropriate for the book/audience, and that you have a plan to distribute it. If you do a lot of school visits, for example, book marks or postcards can be useful because not every student is able to buy a book, and this way you have something to hand out so that each child can get something.
A recent trend in marketing books is the book trailer. Do you believe that book trailers have a positive impact on a book’s success? Are they more effective based on the target audience, such as picture book vs. middle grade vs. YA?
Trailers have become one of the contributors of the white noise out there.
What can backlist authors do once the fervor of the launch has settled to continue to market and maintain interest in their books?
There is no general, one right answer for this one. It’s all about looking at the book, the audience, and the author to assess what will keep momentum going.
Any other final thoughts you’d like to share with regards to the marketing and publicity of children’s books?
I am asked time and again about doing cover reveals (sort of the new book trailer), and while it used to be an opportunity that could raise awareness in advance of publication, they have now been done so much that people really don’t take notice and it’s really not worth the effort to put one into place. Timing is key with so much of online efforts, and doing too much too far in advance of publication can be detrimental—by the time your book is out it seems old hat. With cover reveals and with book promotions in general, time and effort is better spent finding opportunities that will make sense for you and your book rather than looking to do something just because you’ve seen it done.
Thank you, Deb, for sharing your book marketing expertise and insights with us!
Guest Blog by Trisha J. Wooldridge
It’s a busy day, the small staff is trying to help more customers and do more projects than is humanly possible, and New Author flags someone down.
“I just published my new book and I’d like a signing next Saturday. How many copies do you want to buy? I’ll give you ten per cent off the cover price.”
Insert screeching record-needle scrape.
Bookseller gingerly takes the book that’s been thrust in their face. The cover art is... “interesting”, the title font looks hand drawn, and at first glance the bookseller has already found three grammar errors on the jacket copy. There is no barcode nor a price, and the spine isn’t centered.
“So how many copies do you want to buy? I’m a local author!”
Some version of this happens frequently at the store where I work. We have a fairly large local author selection, because we try to support our community. A fair number of those books hurt the appearance of the section because of bad covers; many cause confusion with staff when hand-written price stickers fall off in humidity; and some customers walk away from the entire section when they find books riddled with errors.
This makes most bookstores wary about working with “local authors” or “indie authors.” Most traditional authors don’t contact us; we get their information from publishers. Some newer authors with traditional publishing houses do contact us—usually after first contacting us via email or on the phone, as our website suggests (ALWAYS check bookstore websites for preferred communication about selling books or doing events)—and that interaction is usually simple:
“Hi, I’m a New Author, and I’ve got a book coming out in a few months with Publisher, would you be interested in hosting an event? Here’s the information on the book.”
New Author hands Bookseller a bookmark, sell sheet, card, or Advanced Reader Copy. Bookseller can easily order books from a distributor or publisher at their usual discount of 45-55% off cover. There is plenty of time for the bookseller to promote the event.
You’ll notice I’ve tied my examples with events. An event sells books. While most people who go into bookselling love books, they can’t be a bookseller without making money. Bookstores have limited space. A book on a shelf needs a reason for people to get engaged. An event is meant to get readers engaged. So, if you want a bookstore to consider carrying your book, see if they’ll consider hosting an event for your book.
Here are the most basic things a book store needs to consider your book event:
Boiled down to a “simple” answer, if you want a bookstore to carry your book, be a professional the bookstore wants to work with. Success of your book and book event is a success for the bookstore. When thinking about approaching a book store, have in mind what will make this partnership fun and profitable for all parties involved.
Trisha J. Wooldridge is the events coordinator for Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester in Worcester, Massachusetts. When not wrangling authors, publicists, electronic media outlets, and newsletters, she also writes and freelance edits. She’s edited over fifty novels; written non-fiction articles, poetry, and short stories for a variety of publications; and under her child-friendly name of T.J. Wooldridge, published poetry and three middle-grade novels.
Find out more about Trisha at www.anovelfriend.com.
NOTE: Trisha is currently working on Annie's Book Stop's Annual Small Business Saturday event. They host a group of authors for a day of readings the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday is an event created by American Express where cardholders get extra bonuses for shopping local at participating stores. Annie's Book Stop shares that extra promotion by inviting local authors in to spotlight their work, and this year they are focusing on children's book authors.
Annie's Book Stop of Worcester is at 65 James Street, Worcester, MA, and will host authors from 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM with scheduled readings, Q&As, and snacks through the day.
If anyone is interested, shoot Trisha an email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org (both come to the same place; one is easier to misspell than the other).
Guest Post By Alison Goldberg
As I started thinking about this post, I asked critique partners and friends for their questions about promoting a debut picture book. In addition to nuts and bolts questions about swag and event planning and blogs, one person asked: What if you (secretly) don’t want to promote?
And I kept thinking about this question, since it underlies a lot of conversations I’ve had with writers on this topic.
For many of us, creating a promotion plan for a first picture book can feel intimidating, at times overwhelming. It requires diverting precious time away from writing and/or illustrating. The activities involved may demand a different set of skills from the ones honed to polish a manuscript for publication. Just the idea of marketing ourselves can be challenging, and for the introverts among us, particularly exhausting.
My first picture book, I Love You for Miles and Miles, released from Farrar, Straus and Giroux on December 26, 2017. During the past year I’ve tried several different strategies to promote my book. I have also not tried several different strategies to promote my book.
There are countless ways to tackle book promotion. As I reflected on this question, I realized that a big part of making this process feel manageable, accessible, and worthwhile—something that I actually wanted to do--was to come up with my own goals for success.
Book promotion isn’t just about trying to sell more books, but I think sometimes the resistance to promotion is the feeling that’s the only thing we’re supposed to be doing. But there are so many other reasons to leverage the opportunity of a book launch to promote--especially as a debut. It can be empowering to redirect our focus to goals that support our ongoing careers as published authors, help us develop new skills, strengthen our communities, and connect us to kids, families, librarians, booksellers, and teachers.
Just like each of our writing journeys will vary, each of our book promotion paths will vary. What do you hope will happen when you send your new book out into the world? Who do you want to share it with? Who do you want to connect with? What skills do you want to develop? What steps can you take with your debut that will help you launch your next book? How can you use the opportunity of this book launch to support your community?
When launching a picture book debut, I think it’s worth taking the time to step back and come up with book promotion goals that feel true to you. As an example, I share my book promotion goals below. Your plan can be as big or as small as you want it to be. It can involve a whole team of people or just a few. It can involve lots of cookies or no cookies at all. The important part is that it includes what you want to do.
My Book Promotion Goals:
1) Develop infrastructure for my writing business
As a new children’s writer, I had invested a lot of time and resources in developing my craft, far less in developing my writing business. One goal was to use the opportunity of my launch to create more business infrastructure. What did this look like for me? I overhauled my website, and created contact lists for email outreach to friends and family and a postcard mailing to bookstores and libraries. All of this was pretty time consuming, and the website was resource intensive, but these things will be in place for my next book launch too.
2) Tell my story as a debut
At every step in my writing journey I have read the profiles of writers, often in the form of blog posts hosted by other writers. Another goal I had was to tell my story as a debut in order to give back to this supportive children’s writing community with content of my own. This was easy to do, free, and great preparation for a media interview request when it came along. (Here are those posts and interviews.)
And telling my story as a debut connected back to my goal of developing business infrastructure. I wanted to establish a greater presence online to make it easy for potential readers, reviewers, and editors to learn more about me as a writer.
3) Connect with my local bookstores and libraries.
I love my local indies. I love my local library. A big part of my excitement for launching my book was the chance to connect with and support bookstores and libraries in this new role. I prioritized events in these venues and this has been a highlight for me--a chance to get to know more bookstores in my area and share my book (and crafts and cookies) with kids and families.
4) Expand my writing community
I found that launching a debut was a terrific opportunity to meet more children’s writers. I joined an amazing debut group, Picture the Books, and connected with other writers and illustrators with 2017 picture book debuts. We shared information and strategies, circulated advance copies, and supported each other throughout our debut year. I also connected with agent-mates with 2017 release dates and a broader community of writers on social media.
I knew that my events would be more fun for me if I planned them with other picture book creators. Expanding these networks helped me to find authors and illustrators to team up with.
5) Support an issue
I’ve been involved in the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger for decades and saw the opportunity of my picture book launch as a chance to raise some money and exposure for this work. I included this information in my book trailer and on my website, and I’m exploring ways to build this support into future events.
Finally, I had a goal to experiment with strategies throughout the year, to stretch myself and learn about a variety of tactics for my next book launch. For example, even though I decided I wouldn’t plan school visits for this release, I volunteered to lead a storytime at my children’s former preschool to learn more. Since I was curious about the potential reach of a book trailer, I went to conference workshops for advice and ended up working with an animator to make one. I’ve never participated in a book festival before so I recently sent in some applications.
Alison Goldberg is the author of the picture book I Love You for Miles and Miles, illustrated by Mike Yamada (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017). Before becoming a children’s writer, she worked for economic justice organizations and co-wrote the resource guide, Creating Change Through Family Philanthropy: The Next Generation (Soft Skull Press, 2007). To learn more about Alison visit her website at alisongoldberg.com/
To purchase I Love You for Miles and Miles go to:
Signed copies are available through www.portersquarebooks.com/alison-goldberg
Guest Post by Lisa Rogers
Please welcome author and librarian Lisa Rogers to 24 Carrot Writing.
Lisa is an elementary library teacher in a K-5 school in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Her debut picture book, 16 WORDS: WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS AND THE RED WHEELBARROW (Random House/Schwartz & Wade Books) will hit shelves in the spring of 2019.
From her unique seat as both an author and a librarian, we asked Lisa to share her thoughts on how books are selected for classroom and school library shelves.
Thank you so much for joining us Lisa!
How do librarians and teachers choose their books? And how can you get your book in front of them?
Here’s how I choose: Readers, teachers, budget and time. Ideally, I would know and be able to read all of the new books and order the ones I think my readers would most enjoy. I preview as many books as possible before ordering and I've been focusing on books that offer characters and perspectives that reflect our diverse world. It all comes down to choices.
First, my readers. What do students want? What do they like, and what might I present to them? Sometimes, choices are simple: yes, that new Fenway and Hattie; Jasmine Toguchi, definitely. When School Library Journal advises grades 5-8 for a middle grade book that sounds amazing, I request it from the public library and read it before buying. And, I must think about readers like the first-grader who desperately sought nonfiction truck and tank books. For that, I dug into my book distributors, Mackin and Follett, and used their filters and previewing tools to make sure the books I chose were age-appropriate and had enough information to satisfy my student.
Next, teachers. What can I buy that might help them fill a hole, refresh an old reading list or invigorate a lesson? That takes curricular familiarity as well as a deep knowledge of my own library’s strengths and shortcomings. When Carolyn Crimi’s The Louds Move In came out, I knew it would be perfect for the third-grade teacher looking for onomatopoeia-based picture books. Miranda Paul’s Water is Water, I knew, would fit in two places: kindergarten study of the water cycle and third-grade nonfiction genre study.
Budget. It’s tight, and books are expensive. If the review journals flag a book for “a larger collection” or suggest giving it a pass (rare, but it happens), it’s unlikely to make it onto my order.
Time. School districts committed to having librarians might not have assistants to circulate books, shelve them and inventory them. Librarians often serve multiple schools—with a different collection of books in each, making it even more difficult to make choices. Teachers have constant pressure to learn new curriculum and ever-tighter time frames to deliver it to their students. They depend on my knowledge of our library’s books as well as lists that come with their curriculum—but those lists often include outdated, out of print materials.
That provides an opportunity for authors to get teachers’ and librarians’ attention. Teachers love lists organized in ways that support their curriculum. Teachers love Pinterest, so if you have a board or are blogging, create lists of books (including yours, of course!) around a teaching point: voice, point of view, theme, author’s purpose. They’ll ask their librarians for these books or order them on their own, and once they find a winner, it’s likely to be shared at grade-level meetings, and might find a place in the curriculum.
Educators care deeply about the quality of what they introduce to their students. If you’ve written a book that will connect to the curriculum or have enormous reader appeal, you can be sure they want to hear about it.
Work your connections to befriend your school librarian and local bookseller. Find a teacher who can spread the word. And write the best book you can.
To learn more about Lisa, please visit her website www.lisarogerswrites.com/
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