Thanks to all who have asked for information from my April 11 presentation at SCBWI Western Washington. As I began editing my notes into manageable form, I came to the conclusion that the easiest way to convey this information is by posting it here at the blog in a few parts. So, let's begin with two ways to consider school & library appearances:
1. From a book promotion perspective, school & library appearances should satisfy one primary goal: To drive readers to your current books, past and future books, and to you as an author.
2. However, many authors have another important goal for School & Library Appearances: Income. For some authors, school visit honoraria payments make a significant impact on their balance sheets.
This is an important difference to realize as you make decisions about many elements of your promotional platform, including School & Library appearances. While not mutually exclusive, it may be useful to decide whether you are doing appearances primarily to generate maximum income OR for optimal book promotion and to lay groundwork for future books. Though the nuances can be different, for both of these objectives, most authors and illustrators with whom I discuss this question have 3 concerns:
1. VOLUME: Scheduling more appearances and/or getting the right type of appearances (more, better "gigs").
2. QUALITY: Making scheduled appearances worthwhile for school or library host, students, and themselves and moving books and/or generating interest in future appearances (e.g., an enjoyable, mutually beneficial experience that does not end when the author leaves the assembly hall).
3. BALANCE: Maintaining a balance between handling self-promotion efforts, maintaining publicity commitments for your publisher, and managing editorial deadlines & new writing projects (having a writing life--and a life!).
These concerns are inter-related. By optimizing quality, for example, you can increase volume. By setting some parameters to create balance in your promotion-writing-living life, you are able to narrow marketing targets and more efficiently increase volume. And, an established, quality appearance program tends to organically generate interest and additional requests, diminishing the need to work on the issue of volume and helping the writer maintain balance.
Friday's post will cover concern #1: VOLUME.