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.
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!