Another advantage to having an author packet

I had a couple of school visits during the past year where they didn’t sell any books. I don’t mean nobody wanted any…the school/organization that invited me didn’t offer any of my books for sale. I didn’t know they weren’t going to do that until I got there. Even though I’m paid to be there, it’s still disappointing when they don’t sell books, too. I suppose some schools don’t want the kids who can’t afford to buy a book to feel bad when they see other kids getting one. I do get that, but well…there are ways to do it quietly so it’s not a big deal for the kids who aren’t getting a book.

I’ve got three days of visits in October (same contact person, but three different schools within the same district). I got an e-mail earlier this week asking how much autographing I’d like to do. Um…as much as possible (assuming the autographing is taking place on books rather than scraps of paper, body parts or clothing)? Are there actually authors out there who don’t like to autograph their books? I guess I figure this is a book I wrote…somebody published it…and now somebody else (especially if that somebody else is a KID) has shelled out actual money so they can own the book rather than simply check the book out of the library…in what universe would I NOT want to sign the book??? I’ll sign as many books as there are to be signed. When I was at a young author conference in south central Missouri last year, I was planning on driving home after the conference, but when I finished speaking I had 200+ books to sign. I didn’t want to just sign my name and be done with it…again, if someone shells out actual money for one of my books, I will personalize it…even if I have a stack of 200 books to personalize and it means I won’t be able to drive home that night.

But this school I’m going to in October doesn’t really have a plan for selling my books…in the past they’ve had the author do a signing at the local bookstore after school and then kids who were interested could go to the bookstore and buy a book. I’m glad they didn’t ask me to do that. I just don’t find that bookstore signings go all that well…and it seems to me that a signing after school, when parents are at work, would be even worse than usual.

They don’t want to order a lot of books and have to return them if they’re not sold (can’t blame them there)…my contact person said my publishers want her to bulk order, but she really doesn’t have time for that. I don’t normally like to sell my own books anymore (and one of my publishers doesn’t allow me to sell them myself), but if it’s a choice between not having them available for sale at all vs. selling them myself, I’ll sell them myself. I offered to e-mail her an order form so she could send it home with the kids this week and then get back to me with orders next week. I should still have time to get books. But I never heard from her.

Another option is she may tell the kids to go to the bookstore and get books if they want them signed and/or maybe they’ll order 50 copies of one or two of my books (I wonder which one or two they’d order???)…if I’m “willing” to sign that many copies (as I said before, why WOULDN’T I want to sign that many???). School people are busy, too…I wonder if one reason I’m finding schools don’t want to sell books is it’s a HASSLE to contact 4-6 different publishers to get my books and then make up order forms etc.? So…maybe if I’d had an author packet, she (and those other schools) would’ve been happy to offer all of my books for sale? I can have pre-made order forms in my packet that they can use whether they want me to bring books or whether they want to get them themselves…plus a list of contact people and phone numbers at each of my publishers would be helpful, too.

I really, really need to make the time to put together my author packets (I’ve already got a couple of schools that I should send them to). Anything I can do to make things easier for the schools ultimately benefits ME, right????

6 thoughts on “Another advantage to having an author packet

  1. I haven’t even done any school visits. I don’t know where to start. I went to an SCBWI workshop about them and everyone used PowerPoint. HUH???????? LOL. I didn’t even know schools could “sell” books to the kids. Gads, I have so much to learn.

  2. A month before my school visits, I email the library media specialists copies of my preorder book forms and reminder order book forms. These forms specify the dates I’ll be at their schools and the due dates for the forms. I let the library media specialists know I’ll contact them on the due dates for the total number of books their schools need. And I always let them know I’ll bring additional copies with me for those who didn’t get their forms turned in on time and for the teachers who, after hearing my presentations, decide to order a book or two themselves.

    I know a lot of my author friends in the area have an indie take care of all of their orders. Perhaps you can make an arrangment with one near you.

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