Friday, April 30, 2010


Happy Friday! Like the new look of the blog? Despite the new background colors, I'm going to continue postings on the School & Library Appearance topic. Then, next week, I've got some cool book reviews and new stuff! So, to continue...

One of the best ways to get and/or increase appearance opportunities (volume) is to BE ACCESSIBLE AND RESPONSIVE. Schools and libraries often contact me requesting one of their top three author/illustrator choices. I reach out to these folks in order of the host's preference but, even so, the appearance frequently goes to the author who responds to my inquiry promptly and professionally.

Why is this? When schools and libraries begin to plan an author visit, they often have to consider grant application time lines or PTA budget deadlines for spending funds. They also have limited time windows for special events as their calendars are filled with testing dates, grade-wide field trips, etc. So, they cannot wait indefinitely to find out if an author is available.

For authors who are fielding appearance requests directly, it is also important to realize that it can be difficult for PTA parents, library assistants and classroom teachers to make that first contact with an author. So, if you can be accessible and responsive from start, you generate great goodwill and create an opportunity for positive and possibly ongoing relationship with that host and his or her community.

Another great way to be accessible is to provide information about yourself and your appearances that potential hosts don't have to surf the web to find (especially given the randomness of Internet searches). Don't wait for educators to seek you out. Develop a mailing list for a newsletter. This doesn't have to be fancy or high-tech--just a quarterly one-pager with information about yourself, books, recent praise for your writing or appearances, and a recap of your upcoming travels and availability. Author Deb Lund does a delightful job of this at her website, providing all sorts of ways educators and librarians can connect with her. And I so look forward to receiving her occasional, lovely newsletter updates.

Being responsive can be tricky when you're also juggling writing deadlines and perhaps work and family commitments. So, it is worthwhile to take a few minutes to create an "Accessibility Plan." If you provide a link so folks can contact you via email, set up an auto-reply letting them know when they can expect to hear back. Put basic appearance FAQ answers on your website to help folks along. Mark your calendar with weekly blog-check and email-follow-up dates to be sure you're keeping up with correspondence. And start building that mailing list!


Deb Lund said...

I am humbled. Thank you, Stasia!

Dawn Simon said...

That totally makes sense! These tips you're giving us are awesome, Stasia.

I love the new look! I've been thinking of tidying things up at my blog, but it'll have to wait a bit.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Molly Hall said...

This is great advice. It's nice to know that being a responsive, communicative person will help you in your career. It makes sense, but it's still comforting! I like the new look too!