Sunday, January 13, 2013

Reaching my Audience (January Theme) by Tracy Barrett



Since I mostly write historical fiction, I go about marketing in a somewhat different way from authors of more mainstream fiction. While there are lots of geeky kids who love historical fiction, they're not in the majority, and these books tend to get less of a splash than others. So I really depend on teachers and librarians to spread the word about my books, meaning that my marketing efforts are aimed at them more than at actual readers. One important consideration I keep in mind is that these professionals are overworked and underpaid, and the easier I make it for them to booktalk my books, use them in class, and invite me to speak, the more success I'm likely to have.

I make a point of telling teachers that my books are designated as AR books (despite my dislike of the AR program, I know that teachers need to implement it). I’ve worked up classroom exercises for most of them (note to self: write exercises for all of them!). I’ve put these worksheets and classroom activities on my web site for teachers to download and use in class. I don’t have the answers to the activities there, but I let teachers know that they can write to me for an answer key. I was a teacher for a long time and I know that the students will certainly unearth this page, and if they find the answers, there won’t be much point in the teacher using the exercises for quizzes!

I try to speak as much as I can at teachers’ conferences, librarians’ workshops, etc., always making sure that the audience will take something concrete and usable away from my presentation. 

Since it’s expensive to appear at the larger conferences unless you’re an invited speaker, I have to pick and choose which ones I attend pretty carefully. And just as with almost any other kind of promotion, I really don't know how much of what I do translates into increased sales. But I do like getting to know the dedicated people who spend so much time getting just the right book into a young reader’s hands, so even if I can’t trace a direct line from my activity to higher sales and more speaking engagements, I’ll keep on looking for opportunities to talk to these specialists.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post. My WIP is historical and I hope I can use this information some day. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so too, Barb! Good luck with your WIP!

      Delete
  2. Great article with lots of great reminders about connecting with teachers and librarians.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love the idea of putting up ideas for classroom activities on your author site!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Holly! I really need to do some for King of Ithaka and Dark of the Moon, too.

      Delete
  4. Good thinking about keeping the answers to yourself :0).

    I'd like to hear more about the conferences you attend as a presenter but not as a main speaker which I think translates to paying your own way or being paid. Benefits can't be measured but both have value. Do you have a strategy for choosing the ones that don't pay you in dollars?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right, Joan--you have to pay your own way if you're not invited, which means travel, hotel, meals, AND conference registration. So I find places that are cheap to get to or that I wanted to visit anyway. I try to find conferences that focus on my particular kind of book, when possible. But it's very much hit or miss, and I wish there were some way to find out if it's doing any good!

      Delete