Write Back! Fan Mail is Good Business.

I usually don’t respond to student telephone calls, texts, or Facebook posts. As a parent myself, I feel kids communicating with adults should happen with parent supervision. So, I avoided numerous calls from Isabella, until I received a letter from her parents.

She was working on a library book report about her favorite author. After purchasing King for a Day, the Story of Stories during the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort, Kentucky, she’d chosen me for her report.

“My librarian says authors are better than movie stars, because they write the story.” Isabella said in her letter.

Being a fan of librarians, I replied “I think librarians are better than movie stars, because they choose the books that fill the library.” Isabella shared the letter with her class and school librarian. Within a week, I’d been asked to visit two schools in her district.

As an author and illustrator, answer fan mail—schools are a niche market.

Best Times to Schedule School Visits

“When is the best time to schedule a school visit?” A very popular question from authors planning who plan to speak in schools. I book school visits from one month to a year in advance. The reason for a wide range is that most schools have limited budgets and a variety of time frames for scheduling. The best time for me to schedule is six months ahead.  

When planning spring visits, send contact emails starting December 1st. The holidays are a rushed time. Many educators are planners and respond immediately. Follow up emails can start after January 15th. This gives the staff time to settle in after the new year. Non planners will find an urgent need to book an author visit.  

If planning fall visits, send contact emails before May 1st. Emails after this date educators are in holiday mode mindset and ignore the email.  I don’t start emailing educators until a week before school starts in the fall. 

Booking schools means planning life one year in advance. Middle and high schools may be different. No matter what age group, get your official fingerprint ID done. You can register at the county courthouse.

A great resource for scheduling is Jane R. Wood’s Schools: A Niche Market for Authors.

— Mark Wayne Adams, Illustrator of Jilli, That’s Silly!: A Story About Being a Girl

Must Read List: Schools: A Niche Market for Authors

This month’s MWA, Inc. Must Read List selection is also a repeat favorite. I stumbled into public speaking through a teacher invitation. Elementary school visits are so much fun! I visit between 45 and 90 schools each year.

Jane R. Wood author of Schools: A Niche Market for Authors, finds that schools are a unique market for authors. Whether an author writes children’s picture books, young adult books, or even adult fiction or nonfiction books, the goal for most authors is the same – to sell books!

As the author of four juvenile fiction books, Jane Wood has been selling her books to schools since 2004. More than 50 percent of her annual revenue comes from book sales to schools, speaking fees to schools, and book sales to students at those schools. For Jane this is a win-win.

Jane’s visits are a valuable benefit to the schools she visits. As a former teacher, her goal is to inspire reading in students. By creating characters that children can relate to, and scenes that engage their interests and imaginations, she promotes literacy. When she participates in an author visit at a school, she makes a connection with her readers, which is beneficial to both of parties. And when she talks about the writing process, she reinforces what their teachers teach them in language arts lessons.

There are many things to consider when targeting schools as a market for book sales. In her book she shares many strategies: how to make books attractive to educators; how to promote books to schools; how to develop presentations; and ways to generate revenue from this niche market.

Jane R. Wood can be reached at her website:  www.janewoodbooks.com