Book Marketing, Author Publicity, Branding

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Guest Post: Selling Books to Schools

Selling Books to Schools

Selling Books to Schools

By Barbara Techel

As authors, part of our goal is to sell books, and as children's book authors, selling books through school visits is a wonderful way to do this, though it can have its challenges.

Some schools for various reasons, will not sell books. Period. Some reasons are that it is not fair to those kids whose parents can't afford to buy them or they may just not know how to organize a sale.

So how do authors make it easier for schools to sell their books? Because as we know, we feel an autographed copy a child receives inspires them to be a reader, as well as helps them to grow.

Some schools may feel it is a hassle, so it is up to authors to eliminate that hassle. As an author, as well as independent publisher, I've designed a custom order form to make it easier, which any author can do whether self-published or published through a publishing house.

I instruct the organizer, which is typically a parent, teacher or librarian that the book order form should be sent home two weeks before my visit. They handle taking care of collecting the money and order forms. Three to four days before my visit I call or email to see how the book sale is going so I have an idea of how many books to have with me the day of my visit. This also helps if a large quantity is pre-sold that I can inscribe my personal message inside each book before my actual visit, which helps save on time.

After my presentation, I handle signing sold books. I place the order slip in with each corresponding book sold to make it easier for the organizer to distribute. I always carry 100 books of each of my titles in the back of my car. If a school sells more than 100 copies of my books they know beforehand from my information I share with them that those will be drop shipped to the school and name plates will be forwarded within 5-10 days.

Some schools may want to arrange an actual book signing with kids lining up to get their copy personally signed by you. This is a wonderful way to connect with kids during that autographing session. But if this is not possible, or selling books two weeks before your visit is something the school is against doing, encourage consideration of having your books in the library as well as a copy or set in each classroom.
Often times, especially given the tough economic times, I don't pre-sell many books even with the help and enthusiasm of the school and organizer. So to encourage more book sales, I ask if the school is willing to send out another notice after my visit and I will pay for shipping of books to the school. Quite often I have been pleasantly surprised with many more orders.

If you don't carry inventory of your books, you can still help the organizer's task easier in helping sell your books. When you send out your contract you can send a list of booksellers in their area. Supply them with the title of your book, the ISBN, the price and a brief synopsis. If they choose this route, offer them a copy of your book order form so that they can customize to their needs for collecting orders in this way.
Books can also be ordered through the publisher which offers schools the best discount. All you will need to do is provide the organizer with your publisher's name, phone, and or email to make it easy for them to contact the publisher.

So the key is being proactive in helping make the job of the organizer's as easy as possible to help sell your books. By doing so, your books will have a great chance of becoming a permanent part of a young child's library and life.

For a sample of a book order form send an email request to

Barbara Techel is the award-winning author of the Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog book series. She has shared her story of hope and inspiration about her dachshund, Frankie, who is in a wheelchair, with thousands of children and adults since 2007. Barbara is also a speaker and publisher. Barbara and Frankie are also avid volunteers as a therapy dog team and routinely visit a local hospice community, hospital, and senior assisted living facility. To learn more how to sell more books through author visits visit

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Corey Green said...

You're so on target, Barbara! I am a teacher and an author, so I see both sides of author visits. I give the organizer at least one copy of my book before the visit and during my presentation, I make a ceremony of giving the school signed copies for the library. After visit sales often are better than before visit sales for me, too.

I have a complete author visit kit that I send the school about two weeks ahead. It includes order forms and suggested activities for the students before and after my visit. I also mail the school several posters I had made to publicize my visit. Here's a link:

I have specialty wrist bands that kids love to wear: I offer them for sale at a nominal price (some kids only have a dollar, but they want to buy something) and I give the wristbands away with purchases during my visit.

Author visits don't always sell a lot of books, but the feedback I get from the schools and their students sparks new ideas for me. The biggest benefit, though, is building professional credibility.

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