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Agony Editor: Take me to the librarians

Dear Agony Editor,

I have a middle-grade novel coming out and would love to raise awareness about the book, as well as my profile as an author, among school librarians. Do you have any suggestions for how I should go about doing that?



Dear Schooled,

It’s smart that you’re thinking about your potential audience in advance. 

Having said that, cracking into the education system can be complicated. I connected with a public-school teacher librarian for her thoughts. Her first recommendation was to not directly reach out to librarians. You’ll likely be ignored. That’s not from a lack of interest, but one of credibility. It’s better to get on their radar through trusted industry sources and organizations like the Ontario Library Association, literary festivals, and services like Authors Booking Service

Having a solid online presence goes a long way, too. If possible, include a school-visits page as part of your author site. Provide as much specific information as possible, such as fee structure, presentation content, and a discussion guide. 

Consider how you’re packaging your book. Identify the themes and subject matter that might interest educators. Word-of-mouth is key, too. Educators will recommend authors who put thought and care into their class visits. (Don’t expect that reading excerpts and taking questions will be enough.) 

Lastly, reach out to other writers who regularly do school visits for their advice. As my contact pointed out, you and your publisher need to decide if connecting with educators and students is a priority. There’s much to gain by getting on their radar. You can make lasting impressions with young readers, encourage sales of your book, and earn additional income through speaking fees. But getting to that point takes a lot of focus and planning on the author’s part. As my contact said, “Each board has different processes and policies. I wish there were better systems in place to make it easier for authors. I have a lot of empathy for them.” 

While making those connections will no doubt take time and effort on your part, Schooled, the work you put into it will hopefully pay off in the long run – not unlike the act of writing itself. Good luck.

By: Brian Francis

March 13th, 2024

9:08 am

Category: Industry News, Opinion

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