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Are there any school librarians or history teachers here? I need advice....

(18 Posts)
TheCountessofFitzdotterel Fri 21-Nov-14 14:25:04

....on what the best way might be to promote a book to school librarians.

I have a Young Adult historical novel coming out in a couple of months. It's set during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, about a teenage girl who gets caught up in the bloody aftermath of the Pilgrimage of Grace. It's properly researched but it has lots of action, is influenced by dystopians, and despite having a girl main character I've found it is going down well with boy readers as well as girls.

It was the book that got me an agent and it nearly got taken on by a big publisher - it got as far as a lovely meeting with the editorial team - which I just mention to make the point that it is a 'proper' book, not amateurish or wrongly targeted for the age range. But when they had to turn it down because of sales projections, they suggested I self-publish.

Now, if the book had been trade published, school libraries would have been an important market, because of the link to the history curriculum, and it would have been easy to make them aware of it - school library journals would have reviewed it, it would have been featured in the publishers' catalogue, etc. As things stand, however, I can't rely on any of that, because for understandable reasons journals don't tend to review self-pubbed books (ie because they'd get deluged).

Hence I need to do something myself. My question is, what's the best way to approach busy teachers and librarians with limited time and a limited budget to spend?

In your experience, would you be likely to look at a flyer or do they go straight in the bin? Might teachers be interested in offers of free e-copies so you can look at it yourselves? Are there forums where I could post links or would I just get deleted for spamming?

And a final question - are schools very price-sensitive when ordering books or do they tend to have decent enough budgets that a discount of a couple of pounds doesn't make much difference?

I don't honestly expect to make much money this way but it would be nice to get some copies into schools!

Sorry about the essay, many thanks for your time! smile

Mostlyjustaluker Fri 21-Nov-14 17:05:49

I can't imagine a history teacher would be buying a fiction book as I don't see how it would be used in class. It would be best to promote it to librarians.

Mostlyjustaluker Fri 21-Nov-14 17:06:55

Sorry did to read all of your post.

School funding has been cut over the last few years so yes school are very price sensitive.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Fri 21-Nov-14 17:11:35

Thanks, Mostlyjustaluker.

Is it generally only librarians who have input into what goes into the school library then? I can remember eg our Latin teachers recommending fiction set in ancient Rome, but I don't know who would have ordered those books IYSWIM.

Mostlyjustaluker Fri 21-Nov-14 17:22:03

Certainly in the schools I have worked in it would be always be the librarian who ordered books for the library.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Fri 21-Nov-14 17:24:13

Thank you!
Do librarians listen to recommendations or requests from the students, in your experience?

superram Fri 21-Nov-14 17:26:19

Can you not go in and offer to runs writing workshop? Get know and the start asking.

lemonpoppyseed Fri 21-Nov-14 18:04:45

I'm a school librarian (in Canada). I don't buy self-published material. I don't have time to read everything I purchase so rely on reviews, trusted kidlit blogs and fellow librarians for recommendations; these rarely include self-published works. The only way I would consider it for purchase is if a teacher or student raved about it. I would then read it in its entirety before deciding whether or not to buy (but probably still wouldn't. I have very few self-published works in my collection).

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Fri 21-Nov-14 18:09:50

Thanks for your honesty, Lemonpoppyseed! I totally understand why individuals as well as journals etc have that policy.

lemonpoppyseed Fri 21-Nov-14 18:10:10

All that said, you did ask for the best way to promote. Not everyone is as picky as me grin. Most school librarians are in some kind of local association and get together every now and then for PD and networking. Contacting them and asking for a short time to present would be a good way to get straight to the librarians. There is definitely a market for historical fiction which supports the curriculum, especially in the middle grades where context is often lacking...

MrsPepperMintonCandyCane Fri 21-Nov-14 18:20:58

If you can get your book to be stocked by a school book suppliers that may help. Leaflets go in the bin, there is a very limited budget and even less time.
I agree with trying to promote it, going into schools and talking to classes about either history or being a writer. You would need to consider a DBS check to go into them.

I'm interested in it though personally! I love a historical fiction read.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Fri 21-Nov-14 18:21:59

Now you're talking grin

It gets frustrating when all the doors appear to be firmly screwed shut, but there are often little cracks you can get in through.
A lot of the main kidlit blogs have blanket 'no self-pubbed' policies but I've noticed there tends to be a cycle where people blog for a few years and then go quiet, with new ones springing up in their place, so if I can target them early on before they're overwhelmed with free books I have a better chance of them saying yes!

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Fri 21-Nov-14 18:27:49

DBS check is CRB check? I had a CRB check for when I ran a club at my kids' old primary so I can be confident I'd pass!

Doing sessions in schools is a little delicate in my position - it's something I would love to do and almost certainly will eventually, but a lot of writers rely on paid school visits as a way to supplement their earnings, and they can get very unhappy about people doing it for free as it makes it harder for them to charge. Once I'm sufficiently established to be able to charge the going rate and thus not put any noses out of joint, I hope I'll get involved in it - I have a background in archaeological and museum education too and there's nothing I like more than talking to kids about history (well, apart from writing).

School book suppliers - yes, it would be with a distributor so they can order it in the standard way.

Shallishanti Fri 21-Nov-14 18:36:18

what about public libraries?
also, have you checked history syllabusses? (syllabii??)to find out which cover that period?

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Fri 21-Nov-14 18:44:00

Yes, Nat Curriculum changes work in my favour. If I DID do a flyer (though so far no-one here would recommend that?) I would be very specific on it about exactly what area it would relate to, though it would be extension reading rather than anything I'd expect them to use in the classroom.

Public libraries are a whole other area and one I will need to approach separately.

Mostlyjustaluker Fri 21-Nov-14 20:52:08

You might find this interesting

www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/newcastle-childrens-author-dan-smith-8150783

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sat 22-Nov-14 08:39:40

Thanks Mostly! Most interesting thing there for me is that a supply agency involved in arranging the visit - all the writers I know of do it themselves, some of them cold-calling schools to get them to book a visit.

Mostlyjustaluker Sun 23-Nov-14 20:16:53

I believe that particular teaching agency use methods like as that as a way to get into schools.

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