Marketing Your School Visits… WHO to contact

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Marketing Your School Visits… WHO to Contact

Today I’m continuing my block of posts on…

SCHOOL TIME + AUTHOR VISITS = LEARNING STUDENTS

So you  are a published author. You have several presentations ready.You want to get the word out that you are available for visits. Now you have the daunting task of trying to determine who to contact.

Here are some things I learned by trial and error:

START LOCAL / BUILD A COMMUNITY

Most of the people in your local community will probably already know you are a writer… especially your local librarian.  🙂
Contact the public libraries in your area and see if you can come in for story hour. Or maybe the would be interested in starting a story hour and you would love to help kick it off.

Contact your local schools. I call the front desk and speak with the receptionist. I tell them several things:

  1. Who I was.
  2. What I did.
  3. Where I lived.
  4. What I wanted to achieve.

Hi! I’m Tracey M. Cox, a children’s author. I live here in Georgia. I would like to send your contact person some information about my presentations I offer for school visits. Can you help me with that information?

By using those keywords of “author”, “school visit” “contact person”, I usually don’t have a very hard time finding out who I should contact.

CHARGING A FEE

Ahh, The sticky question of money. I will confess this. The first year I did not charge a fee. I went around locally and didn’t ask for mileage reimbursement either. I DID require them to allow me to sell my books. I wanted to get my ‘sailor legs’ under me. They were my guinea pigs *heehee* and I learned more than they could ever pay me for.

Now? Now I charge a fee, I charge for mileage (outside a 30 mile radius), and I require them to allow me to sell my books. Sometimes I can get them to pre-sell my books too, which is wonderful! Because I hate to run out of a particular book.

I think you should base your fees on three major things:

  1. WHERE are you located?
    Think honestly about this. I live in a rural community, 1 1/2 hours from a big city, 2+ hours from any major city. They will not have the funds a major city will have. They will not have the resources (unless they have an amazing volunteer-parent program) to do research on funding, grants, donation out reach. Because of these factors, I do not charge as much as someone in Atlanta or New York City.
  2. WHAT can you offer?
    How much knowledge do you have?  Experience is key. The more you know, the more you can offer.
    What all do you have to offer? Presentations are key here. Are you going to read a story? The writing process? Ideas session? How to become submission ready? Writing workshop? Specialty program? All this can lead to different types of presentations.
  3. AWARD-WINNING
    Well-known awards speak volumes. Lesser known awards may or may not help with the rate you charge. So take into account of this.
SPREADING YOUR WINGS

Once you’ve gotten some great contacts locally, spread out. I radiated out of my local area and eventually put together a list of contact people in my whole state. After a few phone calls, you will begin to notice a pattern of who your contact person will be. I switch over from phone calls to websites. Most school’s websites list an email for you to contact.

I have found that your contact people can change from state to state…

  • Principal / Head Master
  • Media Specialist
  • PTO/PTA
  • Superintendent / Chief School Administrator

These are the main titles I have found for the contact people.

INFORMATION OVERLOAD!

To keep all my information straight, I store everything on a spreadsheet. This helps keep everything in one spot. I include the school’s name, address, and phone number, and the contact person’s name and email. This way when I do a follow up OR begin again in the next school year, all my work has been done. All I will need to do is update any information as needed.

This is my School Visit Information spreadsheet. Feel free to use or modify to suit your needs.

GET YOUR NAME OUT THERE…

Now that you have a contact person, start sending out your introductory email. Keep it brief, but informative. Get them hooked into wanting to book you. Kind of like all those queries we’ve been writing.  😉

Don’t forget to do a follow-up email 2-4 weeks later. This is a great ‘reminder’ that you had contacted them already and know they have busy schedules.

Contact them at least twice a year (this doesn’t include follow-up emails) I will do one at the beginning of the school year and then another one after winter break. You want to remind them about you and your presentations, but not seem too pushy.

I hope this helps break the ice on you getting your name out there. It’s another scary place us writers/illustrators put ourselves in. First with our stories and editors/agents. Now with our books and schools. Good luck!

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::
Let me know what you think about this post.
Do you have other tricks on finding out who your contact person is?
Have a suggestion on something you would like to see covered?
Let me know!

Until next time…

Happy Writing!
~t

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8 thoughts on “Marketing Your School Visits… WHO to contact

  1. Never lose the opportunity to network. I’ve booked two author visits because I mentioned I was an author/illustrator to people in my gym classes and the moms went back to their schools and told their PTA Board members. I ALWAYS carry my business cards, always. I also have a neighbor who home schools and she got several home school groups together so I could do a presentation. Keep a lookout for opportunities.

  2. Thanks Genevieve. I’mm glad you liked the spreadsheet. It is the only way I can keep all those names straight. I have 1399 contacts in Georgia and have to update at least once a year on some of them. It’s so handy to have though.

  3. Business cards are definitely important and the casual mention of being a children’s author in conversation helps spark interest. You never know who someone else knows. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Tracey: Excellent tips. As an educator and a former Title I Bilingual ELL Coordinator, I always made sure that monies were appropriated for author/illustrator visits throughout the school district. Authors and illustrators were treated with respect and given a warm welcome. Students and teachers appreciated and looked forward to the very important guests. Thank you, Tracey. ~Suzy

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