Sunday, November 9, 2008

RichWriters Book Promotion Article: The School Book Tour

I'm really excited about this course because this particular course is an incredible way of building your audience.  If you have written anything that can relate to your people whatsoever, a school book tour is an amazing way of building your audience and selling a lot of books.  Schools are an excellent opportunity to reach kids and teens and, of course, teachers as well where they have career days or just invited you as a guest to speak in their classroom or their auditorium.  I've spoken to thousands of kids and it's just incredible because not only am I selling more books, not only am I building a larger audience, but I get to inspire young people, and that feel so good.  You get so much back because I just love working with young people, and it has been an incredible way of building my fan base in helping me sell a lot of books in return.  The teachers are always looking for opportunity to get kids excited about learning and about reading whether they are teenagers or they are actual kids, or maybe they are just looking for somebody to baby sit their kids for the day.  Whatever the case is, they would love to have authors come and visit them.  It's a great opportunity to do something great for the community to build awareness about you and about your book and, of course, like I said to sell more books.


The great thing about it also is by visiting the school, there's a possibility that teachers will make your book required reading for their class or even required reading for their entire school.  I once had a library and who wanted to make my book, they require reading for the entire freshmen class, that's over a thousand kids at that particular school.  So, it's a great opportunity to sell more books.


Now, make sure that your book, although, it can be edgy is appropriate for the age group.  You don't want to end up offending anybody especially when you're dealing with young people and their parents.  You want to make sure that number 1, your book is entertaining, and secondly it's educational.  The kids really love to meet authors.  It makes them feel special, so you're really sort of a celebrity in their own world.  Really, what you need to do in order to do successful school book tour is start locally with the schools in your area.  Now, you can do the Google search if you want to, you can look in the phonebook, and so many different ways to actually find out what these schools are and their phone numbers.  It's very easy in fact and there are databases on line, which you can order the information as well.


You want to make sure your book is ready, though.  You want to make sure its 100% professional.  Now, what you can do in order to approach the right people is you want to approach teachers and you want to approach principals.  You are going to approach either one of them.  If you approach a principal, what they'll often do is they'll forward the information onto the right teacher.  It can be a reading group or a specialist; it could be the media specialist of the head librarian, it could be any number of teachers depending what type of book you have written and they will contact you.  Now, you can initially e-mail them, which work effectively but more effectively is to contact them via phone.  Now, you can do this and call them yourself, but a better way is to have somebody else contact them.  The best time to contact the teacher is going to be before class, which is usually early in the morning or after class because during class, obviously they're going to be teaching, so they can be a little be busy.  Now, don't be afraid to leave a message and let them know who you are then followup that by your phone number, tell them that you are an author that you would love to speak to them at their schools.  Nine out 10 they going to call you back.  You don't have to call them back and make a followup phone call because they are like, "Wow, an author wants to speak to my kids."  I mean that's a great opportunity for them.  But sometimes, it takes a little bit of diligence and a little bit of persistence because they're very, very busy.  They're teaching kids, hundreds of kids a day, in several periods and they've got a lot of work to do, and besides their own personal life.


Now, it's also possible that you can actually get paid to speak at the school, so in addition to having a book, you can actually get paid.  Now, that could be anything from 50 bucks to $500 or even more, so don't be afraid to speak but at the same time, don't be afraid to speak for free because what you're really doing is you're really there to spread the word about your book.  You're building your audience.


Now, if you do charge, let them know that you normally charge let's say $600 for them and you'll do it for a percentage of the price or for them, you do it for free.  So, they really see the value of your visit.  You want to start approaching them at least three to four weeks in advance, and sometimes, even longer because sometimes the book takes months and months ahead.


They'll also do a background check on you at times, which is great.  Obviously you don't have anything in your records and they have nothing to worry about.  It really is rare.  It doesn't happen very often.  So don't get turned off if they ask for your private information or they do a background check on you.  It's only for the safety and concern of the kids.


Now, if they often ask for more information about what you're talking about.  They're going to want you to e-mail something concrete that they can show whomever else they approve to visit, you know.  As you going to ask them for their e-mail address, e-mail them at one sheet, which is going to be sort of like an e-version of a flyer, and it's going to have your picture, it's going to have a couple of sentences about what your visit is about, specifically what you're going to be talking to them about not just talking about your book but something more educational, and you want to let them know that you're interested in helping them improve the student behavior, how your book can do that, how it can help increase test scores because really most teachers and educators really do care about the kids, but they also know that they need to look good, so you want to do whatever they can in order to make them look good.  And by letting them know that your visit is going to help improve the student behavior or increase test scores is an excellent way to really get invited to the class.  Let them know upfront if you prefer to speak in classrooms or in the auditorium's dome.  I know for sure, for example, at first I thought I can only do it in classrooms, but then I found after I could speak to at least 200 kids, and still hold their attention.  And also let them know that if you have rider, for example, you know if you want something in particular if you want a meal or if you want a special kind of drink or if you have certain food allergies and you can't eat sort of things or any type of food for them or any type of [Inaudible 05:11] let them know that as well.  And a lot of times they'll ask you what that is, but don't be afraid to mention as well.  You can also invite them to have the school newspaper or TV station cover you and your visit in their newspaper or their TV show or the morning TV shows, a lot of schools have morning TV shows.  So, don't bother faxing them because you're not likely they ever get it.  And if they do get it, they really going to respond, so unless they specifically ask you the facts and information, you're going to want to follow up with a phone call or follow up with an e-mail.  You're going to set the date, you're going to confirm with them at least a week before, and then once again, a day before to remind them of the visit.  A lot of times, they're going to contact you to confirm it, but don't be afraid to do that as well.  You're going to arrive at least 20 early because it takes a while to park to get your special school ID that you're going to need in order to walk around in the building, to contact the teacher who invited you, for them to track her down, for her to meet you, or to have one of the students escort you directly to where you need to be.  Never ever flake out.  If you can't make it, you can't make it, but you want to let them know well in advance.  If it normally takes about 30 minutes to get to that school, add at least another 30 minutes on top of that just in case of a accident on the road or just in case something, you're running a bit late, you want to get there early.  Have your speech prepared.  Now, you don't want to sound you're talking, you know giving a speech.  You don't want to sound like you're reading cards, you know.  You really want to talk to young people, you really want to talk at them, you want to them.  Now, keep your presentation about 20 to 40 minutes and a lot of times the teacher will ask you ahead of time, okay how long is this?  Sometimes, they want you to stay the entire period they really want something for their kids to do, so you want to really make room for that.  Make it interactive your visit so that you're not just talking or reading to the kids but actually asking them questions.  You can even think about fun game.  Now, if you're dealing with teenagers, you don't' want create some kind of game that's kind of childish and they'll roll they're eyes at you.  Make it exciting.  Ask them questions and learn about them.  If they are your target market you're going to want to really learn about them anyway.  Don't be afraid to raffle of a free book for the class, and while you're there after you visited the class or even before your time, you know ask them if you can meet the head librarian or the head media specialist and introduce you to them and give them your contact information so that they know where they can buy your book.  And while you're there in the library, leave some bookmarks for the students so they can use them.  And also feel free to walk around the library and look at the books.  Don't be afraid to stick some of your bookmarks in the center of the books.  Remember to ask the librarian for their card and of course the teacher too and e-mail them afterward and thank them for your visit.  Thank them for allowing you to visit them.   A lot of times the teachers will thank you instead but you really want to keep in touch with them at least once a month.  You can suggest to them that they make your book required reading.  You can put together discussion group questions or essay ideas or contest for them.  You could even leave a poster of you in the class for them to put up or in the library, a lot of times the librarians will have posters framed with celebrities that say the word read and you can get a picture done like that and go to [Inaudible 08:06] and get a poster made and have the same thing done and they can put that up in their class, so that's great advertising for you and for your book.


Another wonderful thing you can do is you're going to leave school supplies for them because oftentimes schools really are missing supplies and the kids they can't afford pencils and pens and notepads and that sort of thing, so why not leave school supplies with students that they can use that advertises your book.  And also, remember to have your My Space address because kids are really into My Space, and once your there and once they found out you have a My Space address, they're eyes light up.  Now, if the students My Space you or to e-mail you in any way, be professional, don't get too friendly with them, really keep professional, and keep in touch with the kids, you know every two to three weeks.  Let them know what's going on, or if you have a blog, let them know about that so they can keep in touch.  And if they e-mail you back or they My Space you back and tell you that they really loved your book, give them a direct link to post their review on and ask them to post a review.


Another great thing you can do and a great opportunity while your in the school is to advertise in the school newspaper they're always looking for ways to fund that, so it's a great way of really getting and lending your support in the community, and a great advertisement for your target market, and it's also a great incentive for them to interview you.


Another thing you can do is after you visited the school, you can suggest another assignment, a school assignment that the teacher can use based around your presentation or based around your books such as asking the kids to write a professional letter to you.  Teachers are trying to teach their kids how to write a professional letter, so why not write a professional letter to you as the author.  You can ask them to maybe do a book report about your book and maybe make it an essay contest or a book report contest or otherwise create the best book or something significant.  What I would do is put together about two or three pages of suggestions for them that they can use in order to really make it sort of a classroom project, and what's great about that is not only does it gets the kids involved but it is also, of course, advertising your book.  If the kids have to read your book report about your book to the whole class, it's advertising your book to the class, so while you're in class you can raffle of a book, you can collect their name and their My Space address.  I wouldn't ask the phone number for obvious reasons, and it kind of an uncomfortable situation.  You really have to respect their privacy of, you know the students and the teachers are there to really protect their students as well.


What's great about visiting a school also is that a lot of times, the teachers will ask the students to read the book ahead before you even get to the visit, so that they've read your book and they're going to have questions specifically about the book.  When you're there remember to read an excerpt of the book that's something about a minute or two long that's really going to captivate them even if you kind of have to skip around in the book in order to make it really flow.  And when you're finished reading, ask them what they think is going to happen next.  Ask them what they think the character should do, what they would do in the situation, and afterward ask them if they have any questions.  Some of them are going to be kind of quiet, others of them are going to have lots and lots of questions and if for whatever reason you find the students are very unruly and maybe even the teachers can't control them, just stand there and at complete silence, until every single person is quiet, and I tell you what I did one time.  It's very rare that kids are terribly rude to visitors but sometimes they are in terms of just not knowing when to be quiet.  So, what I did one day in one particular class is I told them all that I was going to give them a copy of the book.  I split the class into two groups and I told them that every single group, each group has 100 points.  Now, if anyone talks without raising their hands, they're going lose a point.  Whoever had the most points at the end of my presentation is going to win a copy of the book and that really works really well.  Teachers really love having authors, you know.  A lot of teachers are aspiring writers themselves, so they're more than willing to help you.  They really want to keep track of how many students you're talking to, so statistically you'll know how many books you're probably going sell, how effective your presentation is, and feel free to take pictures of the class, you know and later on, put on My Space.  Now, some of the classes or some of the students [Inaudible 11:56] about that whole situation but if they are, then invite students to take a picture with their camera phone with you and ask them to put it on their My Space page.


Speaking to young people at school is an excellent way to inspire young people but also an excellent way to build a fan base and excellent way to sell more books.