Put your Book in Educator’s Classrooms
A friend and I recently sat down with two librarians to talk about what they like to hear in presentations. Their needs were different: one teaches in an elementary school and one in a high school. Yet, they agreed on several things. Educators are one market for most authors of children’s books, YA books and many adult books – here are 4 tips.
Recognize the differences in organizations.
There are many places a writer of children’s books might speak. In Arkansas, these include (but limited to) the Arkansas Library Association (ArLA), Arkansas Reading Association (ARA), and Arkansas Association of Instructional Media (AAIM).
Different members. It’s important to know the differences in their memberships. The ArLA is mostly public school librarians who are concerned about programming special events, balancing a collection and keeping funding when it relies on politics. The ARA has a large number of classroom teachers who are concerned about teaching reading to kids. The AAIM are librarians, who must follow the state standards for teaching library skills, as well as function as the technology expert for their school. Obviously, each will have special interests and you should know these differences when you develop a presentation.
For the ARA, classroom teachers appreciate take-home materials that they can instantly use in the classroom without any extra work: Make my life easy, please. For the ArLA, they want information to answer their patrons questions. For them, I did a session on “I Wrote a Book: Now What?” as a way to answer that question when a patron asked it. Here’s the free pdf handout of that session. For AAIM, go for technology: your website, a book trailer, Skype, etc. Anything that helps the technology-minded librarian help the classroom teacher with technology or library skills.
Tip: Join a couple organizations and hang out on their listservs to see their concerns; think about how to meet those needs.
Keep abreast of education terminology.
Have you heard of “Bell ringers”? These are short questions or prompt designed to make students think. They are designed to be written on a board, or posted somewhere, so that when the bell rings, students immediately start working on an answer to the question. This practice allows teachers to check roll, do other necessary daily paperwork, and spread writing tasks across the curriculum.
Write your Bell Ringers. So, have you updated your teacher handouts to include Bell Ringers? Are there questions that students can think about BEFORE a teacher reads your book aloud? Are there ideas in your novel that deserve thought and discussion? Look for these and develop a list of ten Bell Ringers and include them with your education materials.
Tip: Listen when teachers are talking and ask them to define education terminology and apply it to your marketing for you book.
Keep abreast of education standards.
It’s important to know what standards teachers must follow. Even with the new Common Core State Standards, only 80% of a state’s standards must follow the national standards. It’s always good to check the state standards. Also, check standards recommended by national teacher organizations: math teachers, social studies teachers, English teachers, etc.
For example, libraries now have to do more technology and are changing from research libraries (since students do most of that online) to libraries full of popular literature for kids to read what they love.
Tip: When you have a new book come out, do the grunt work and check the standards and make a list that your book meets. Yes, they’ll buy your book if it’s popular with the kids, if it’s great literature, if it wins an award. But they’ll be even more likely to buy it if you make it easy for them to use it in instruction.
Remember the audience.
Teachers and librarians are overworked, underpaid, compassionate and committed.
Tips: Make their life easy. Remember to make a personal connection by giving them a behind-the-scenes look at your life and work. Tell them thank you for your hard work and give a personal anecdote about your positive experiences with educators. Respect them and their hard work.