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A podcast dedicated to demystifying the art and business of school author visits for authors, illustrators, educators, librarians, parents, and booksellers.

Hosts: Author, Bonnie Clark and Author-illustrator, Shanda McCloskey

Produced by Ben McCloskey • Sponsored by AuthorVisitCentral.com

Aug 25, 2020

Bonnie and Shanda countdown 4 of their favorite ways to sell books at in-person or virtual author visits for "traditionally published" books. Below, you will find our discussion along with each book sale method mentioned listed with pros, cons, and sample sale fliers to model your own after if you like.

#4 - Bookshop.org

#3 - School's local bookstore

#2 - Author's local bookstore

#1 - AuthorVisitCentral.com

 

Resources and books mentioned in this episode (with some affiliate links that help support this podcast):

 

If you’ve ever performed a school visit or hosted one at your school, you know that selling books can be a complicated ordeal when the author is traditionally published and we are going to try to explain why…

First off, let’s compare traditional publishing, self publishing and everything in between...

  • Writer’s Digest says: “Traditional book publishing is when a publisher offers the author a contract and, in turn, prints, publishes, and sells your book through booksellers and other retailers. The publisher essentially buys the right to publish your book and pays you royalties from the sales.”

  • Self-publishing, hybrid publishing, vanity publishing all have completely different business models and profit margins compared to traditional. Different rules. Different perks. We are not talking to these types of authors today.

Now, let’s talk about book sales at school visits for traditionally published authors. These authors are not book sellers (or are not supposed to be), and from what I understand, publishers don’t even want their authors selling books regularly (it’s in a lot of our publisher contracts) for a few reasons…

  • Nielsen Bookscan numbers - When we purchase discounted copies of our books from our publisher or Author-Author.net and resell them, those sales are not being “counted”. 

    Traditionally published authors NEED every book sale to be counted, not only for our royalties so we get paid, but for the future of our careers! The counts from our previous books can determine if a publisher will take a chance on us for another book. So it’s not something to take lightly if this is a career choice for you. And most likely it is if you’ve gone through the obstacle course of getting traditionally published in the first place.

    And then there’s the NYTimes best selling list numbers. It won’t matter if you sell a million books on your own if they are not officially counted in the Neilsen book scan.

  • There is also a lovely codependency built into the publisher/bookseller/author business model and relationship. We all need each other for a rich existence. We look out for each other.

    If I take the sales from the bookstores around me for all my school visits, I would be missing many opportunities for making various booksellers aware of me. They are buying and hand-selling books to their communities. They can’t order all the books in the world, but after a connection with you (even thru a third party) they are much more likely to carry YOUR books on their shelves and for telling others about your books, school visits, and possibly suggest inviting you to conferences, festivals, etc. in their area.

  • And I DO NOT want to keep and manage a stock of books or front the money to do so!

Seems kinda silly though for authors not to be encouraged to sell their own books, after all, a sale is a sale and there’s not an indie bookstore in every town. And then it gets really hairy when you talk with the comics world! As the comics’ world (which is driven hugely by authors selling their own work at conventions) collides more and more with the literary world in the form of graphic novels, things get more complicated. Each of these worlds use to operate separately for along time, but as they overlap more and more - things get messy. Anyway, I digress... 

 

So here's the countdown! Our 4 favorite ways to sell books at school visits, so here we go...

#4 - Bookshop.org:

Use Bookshop.org to place one bulk book order for in-person or virtual visits...

This method would require the school to send out the order form and have families turn it back in to the coordinator with cash or check, then the author would place the order on Bookshop.org with their own account and money, shipping to the school. The author would collect the money from the school after the visit.

Pros: 

  • Author can know the status/track order
  • Ships straight to school
  • Easily understood process
  • Supports indies … somewhere 

Cons:

  • Author has to pay up front for the books to be reimbursed weeks later
  • Not much discount, if any
  • Librarians must collect forms, money and do accounting
  • Author has to do accounting too

Sample flier:

#3 - School's local bookstore:

Use the school’s local bookstore to place one bulk book order for an in-person or virtual visit for students learning at school...

This method requires the school to coordinate with their nearest bookstore, send home an order form to be returned with cash or check (unless the bookstore could set up a special ordering link), and then pick up the books from the store or pay for shipping to the school. 

Pros: 

  • Sometimes savings of up to 20% off, so books are cheaper for families or can earn nice money for school
  • Author doesn’t have to lug a bunch of books to school, easy travel
  • Supports local bookstore

Cons:

  • Someone Has to create flier 
  • Librarian has to coordinate with the bookstore
  • Librarian has to collect money and forms, and do accounting
  • Librarians may have to physically pick up the books from the bookstore or pay shipping
  • Author may have to mail book plates for virtual visits

Sample flier:

#2 - Author's local bookstore:

Use the author’s local bookstore for virtual visits when students are learning remotely from their homes:

This method is perfect for getting signed books sent to individual students’ homes because some or all the students attend school remotely. It basically gives families a link to the author’s bookstore that the author can easily drive to to sign purchased books before they ship out.

Pros: 

  • Supports local bookstore
  • Easy on Librarian- doesn’t have to collect forms and money, do accounting, or distribute books (because books ship to homes)
  • Better not to deal with cash during pandemic, kids can't lose the money, easy purchasing online
  • No minimums required
  • Author doesn’t have to ship out orders
  • Can be used in combination with any of the other methods if you have a mix of learning types

Cons:

  • Someone Has to create flier 
  • Author has to coordinate with the bookstore about the sale and signing before the books ship out
  • Expensive for families- My bookstore offers no discount this way, retail plus shipping

Sample flier:

#1  - AuthorVisitCentral.com:

Use AuthorVisitCentral.com for a virtual or in-person visit when students are learning at school...

This method is one we invented! (So we may be a bit biased.) It’s designed to be easy on everyone involved - it takes the accounting out of the school, has a built-in buying incentive that gives back to school, and supports a local indie in the school’s area. It also represents the author in a professional way!

Pros: 

  • Easy on Librarian- doesn’t have to collect forms, money, and do accounting
  • Easy to set up by author (very little leaning on librarian)
  • Supports indie bookstores
  • Nice flier generated for you
  • Better not to deal with cash during pandemic, kids can't lose the money, easy purchasing online
  • Earns a little money for the school (up to $1 per book, ordering incentive)
  • No book returns or pickups needed. Books ship to schools.
  • Assured Professional appearance
  • Author doesn’t have to lug a bunch of books to school
  • No minimums required

Cons:

  • Small discount compared to other methods
  • Students have to be at school for this method to work for delivery of books
  • Author may have to mail book plates for virtual visits
  • Author may be on the line for paying shipping if not enough books are sold to qualify for free shipping. (Every publisher has a different threshold for this, so it's hard to put a blanket number on it.)

Sample flier:

 

You can find us individually at:

  • BONNIE: BonnieClarkBooks.com
  • Facebook and instagram: @bonnieclarkbooks
  • Twitter: @bonclark

  • SHANDA: ShandaMc.com
  • Facebook & Twitter: @ShandaMcCloske
  • Instagram: @shandamccloskeydraws

Find us both at AuthorVisitPodcast.com where we love to hear directly from our listeners! Feel free to leave comments or even ideas for future topics you’d like us to cover.

This podcast is sponsored by AuthorVisitCentral.com and produced by Ben McCloskey of EngineIndustries.com. And if you enjoyed this episode, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts and share it with others who might dig it!

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Author Visit Podcast!