Monday, October 4, 2010

THE HONORARIUM QUESTION #4: School/Library Appearances & Bookstores

Okay, let's admit it, not every bookstore signing makes you feel like a rock star. Weak turnout can happen for a variety of reasons and you've all heard the stories so I'm not going to enumerate them here. BUT school and library appearances can be a BIG HELP in making bookstore appearances more successful.

If you've got a bookstore signing lined up, on your own or with help from your publisher, offer to visit nearby schools and libraries so that, when you arrive at the bookstore in the evening, you've built buzz amongst area readers and educators. When you're at the schools, tell them about something special that'll be happening at the bookstore (give-away, secret, food) to give them incentive to come back for more.

HOW do you get school gigs near a local bookstore? Check with the bookstore to see if they have relationships with local schools (clear with your publicity department first, if applicable). Be aware that if your book signing has been planned and funded by your publisher, it's generally considered proper etiquette to comp stops at nearby schools. If you are coordinating bookstore visits on your own (and paying on your own dime) it's a bit of a different story but, since you'll be in town anyway, I'd advise a reduced, flat fee without travel or expense charges.

In general, when you've got to travel to an appearance, it's great to try to maximize the marketing value of all that time and trouble. I know authors who aggressively pursue school visits to coincide with book signings, and authors who always ask host schools if they know another school that might be interested in a second day (especially if the visit requires notable travel). As with all marketing, it's best to keep your publisher in the loop and to be sensitive to your own limits in terms of how much marketing you can manage (or stomach) and still be doing your best writing.

I hope these honorarium posts have been helpful. Now I'm back to my own ms :)


Pam Harris said...

This is a great tip for once I get my books on shelves. Any day now... :)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Yes, very helpful. Thanks!