Getting your Children’s Book into Schools
One of the most overlooked sources for distribution of your children’s book is the school library. In the U.S. alone, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, there were 90,000 elementary school libraries in 2014. Consider your sales if even a small percentage of them purchased your book? You can’t just go up to each and every school librarian and ask them to carry your book, however. For one thing, you would constantly be traveling constantly, and secondly, it would be a wasted trip because school librarians must purchase books according to their district’s policies and budgets. Use the following information to learn how to reach librarians when they are setting the budgets for the year, where the cool school librarians hang out, and which publications, events, and activities nearly guarantee that a certain amount of your books will make their way into eager young readers’ hands.
Sell Your Children’s Book Near Home, First
Begin by making a list of schools that are all within at least a one to two hours’ drive from your home. There are a vast number of schools that you will most likely find within just that concentric circle. Make particular note of the contact information for the district school office. If they list them, you will be looking specifically for the curriculum director, or textbook director. This person is responsible for adopting new material and releasing funds for the new materials. The district’s school website will list events and activities for the area. Schedule your marketing plan around those events and plan to reach out to the coordinators to see how you can be included.
Offer to Speak for Free
A great way to introduce yourself and your books to the schools is to offer to speak for free to classrooms and teachers’ groups. Most students in all states will undergo some type of a writing assessment and an author that can come in and address any of the elements of the writing process, processes that may help young writers, will be most welcome. Most schools have strict policies about you selling anything directly to the kids; however, you can invite them to a book signing that you will hold (conveniently) the following day or within that week. If you have promotional items, this is a great time to give them away. You can easily and inexpensively create stickers that say “I met an author, today!” and have children wear them around proudly. Teachers groups will want to know what they can use your books for, so if your topic ties into any of the Common Core standards, then use that as the “hook” to make teachers in-service meetings interesting and profitable. You will be able to sell directly to the teachers before and after the meetings, but make sure to check with the principal first before assuming this policy.
You are not the only one to want to write a children’s book. The difference is that you have actually done it! Many wish they were you right now. Share the knowledge you have gained with the publication of your book, as well as the writing process. Work through a community education group and charge a nominal fee for a 4-6 week workshop. Sharing your experiences and assisting others in making their dreams come true is not only good karma, it also extends your networking channels.
School Book Fairs
Most schools have book fairs twice a year (Spring and Fall), usually during open house. Most school book fairs are fundraisers for the library, so it is not uncommon for the librarian to want a percentage of your sales. You will be required to set up your own presentation booth and display so, if you don’t already have those, you should begin preparation. Make them look as professional as possible.
Many parents have begun homeschooling their children and are ardent supporters of reading. Most states list homeschool co-ops, so you can locate where the chapters are and reach out to them. Unlike public schools, you can offer your books for sale, and there are annual conferences that you can plan to attend.
The American Library Association
The American Library Association (ALA) has over 58,000 members and is THE association for all libraries in the U.S….not just school libraries. The yearly ALA tradeshow will see booths set up by publishers to promote their titles to the attendees, and to hand out free samples with information on how to order more. The ALA schedules its conference to take advantage of the school district’s budget release period, which is usually in the summer (typically June/July). The ALA states that at least 92% of those who attend the conference have buying influence over the types of books purchased for their libraries. If you’ve never been to one, you should first attend without displaying so that you can see what is involved and can plan to create a booth that is on par with others on display.