A few months ago, I wrote a post called Marketing on No Budget. I was looking for cheap ways to promote my books. I came up with a few ideas, most of which were local events or options. By far, the most successful marketing idea was the Author Day. The author day is not a new idea, but a relatively new idea for me. Since I write children's and YA, author days are a natural fit. I contacted a few local elementary schools and asked if they were interested in hosting me for the day to talk to the students about being an author. I booked two schools for author days in May.
For one school, I spent the day with second graders. I met with six classes for 45 minutes each. I read from The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Tale, led a discussion about reading and pugs, and talked about the "author life." I had a blast.
For the other school, I spent the day with fifth graders. I met with five classes for 45 minutes each. I read from the Zelda book and also led a discussion about the origin of my stories and the writing process. Since the students were older, I left more time for Q&A. I was asked great questions. My favorite was "what is your world view as an author?"
Here are my takeaways from the experience.
1. Author days are fun.
I had a blast at the author days. I loved sharing my experience with the students and teaching them about writing. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I do realize some authors may not enjoy public speaking or teaching kids, but I have a background in education and working with kids and teenagers, so it fits me well.
2. Author days are exhausting.
I came home both days wiped. Although I enjoyed the days, all the time up front is exhausting for me. The preparation for the days wasn't bad, but it wouldn't be great to schedule days back to back.
3. Author days sell books.
For both schools, students in the classes associated with the visit took home fliers about my books to pre-order signed copies. For one school, they simply brought in the order slip with the cash or check. The other school didn't do any cash transactions at school (interesting), so I set up an online ordering and payment option. I set a preorder deadline for a week before the scheduled author date, so I had time to get the books signed. The second grade classes sold more books, but it's hard to say whether it was the grade level, school, or teacher promotion. But the fifth grade still sold enough books to make the visit worthwhile. Both were successful mechanisms to sell books.
4. Author days are a great way to build your platform.
I sent all the students home with a Zelda bookmark with my website information. In addition, my name is more familiar with the teachers. I'm sure some students will read Zelda and enjoy the books. They may even tell their friends, and more kids and adults will know of a little pug named Zelda.
With school out for the summer, author days are on the back burner. I look forward to scheduling one to two author days a month next school year. If you are connected to a school in the greater Cincinnati or Cleveland area, I'd love to come visit!
I'm always looking for more marketing ideas, especially lower cost options.