I’m not a big-name author, so securing school visits can be work. In my part of the world, there are groups I belong to that promote and organize author visits. I strongly suggest joining such groups if you are eligible. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to organize your own visits. Last fall (2011) I decided to go on my own tour using my publisher-sponsored book launch as a beginning point. Here are a few things I learned from that trip that might help you go touring:
- Plan ahead. Give yourself several months lead-time if you can. If you know you’ll be travelling, consider the city where you’re going but also the places between there and your home if you’re driving.
- Gather information. Compile a database of schools/libraries in the city you’re targeting. Find out who the librarian is. If it’s not listed, second choice is the principal. Most schools have a website and at least a general email, and often individual ones, and most schools are listed on school division websites.
- Craft your letter. With my tour I organized everything by email, but a professional letter is still necessary.
- The subject heading was explanatory (include “attention” and who the letter is for if you’re dealing with a general email)
- I personalized the letter (Dear Mr./Ms _____).
- In the first sentence I stated who I am, what I write and that I have a traditional publisher. (That’s still important to many libraries and schools, but not a deal-breaker.) I also mentioned the school by name. The less generic a letter is, the better.
- I briefly described my books, but mostly focused on age suitability, type of presentation and what topics I cover. (If your book covers a certain aspect of the curriculum, mention it.)
- I offered a discount on my regular presentation fees. (Yes, I think authors should be paid.) And I noted that the school/library would incur no travel costs because I was going to be in the area.
- Multiple submissions. Send your letter to more than one school, plus the public library in each place you’re targeting. Some won’t reply. Some will say, “No thanks.” If you get more than one yes in a town, rejoice.
A lot of work? Yes. Fun? Absolutely! Worth it? You bet.
Have you toured around to schools? What suggestions do you have?