Go Back to School to Sell Your Story By Eric D. Goodman

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Are you an author whose book has been picked up by a small, independent press? Or was it picked up by a large press, but you’re not the “flavor of the month” attracting all the imprint’s marketing dollars? Perhaps your book is self-published?

In any of these cases, as most published authors will tell you, getting your book into print is akin to elementary school, when compared to the high-school hard knocks of trying to market and sell your book. Your book, if you’re fortunate enough to get it in the bookstores at all, is competing with hundreds of thousands of others.

As the author of a children’s book published by a small, independent press, I spend a bit of time looking for ways to draw attention to my work.

In a recent issue of a local newspaper, the Towson Times, the editor wrote that my book, Flightless Goose, “has lessons to teach.”

Lessons to teach? Hmmm. That gave me an idea… an idea that was realized earlier this month with a day full of lessons for elementary school kids.

The school invited me and my wife Nataliya (the illustrator) to do a full day of assemblies for the students, grades K through five. When we arrived in the morning, we found our names in lights on the marquee in front of the school, a prime parking spot reserved for us, and a warm welcome from the principal, secretary, reading specialist, and teachers. Then, we got to work – having fun and sharing our book and message.

Want to share your book with children? If you have lessons to teach, you’re likely to find a school interested in having you. They may even pay a fee. Even if it’s charity work, what better way to promote your book to a captive audience? (Although in our experience, we found the audience to be more captivated than captive.)

Begin by reading your book (or an excerpt) aloud to the students. In our situation, we had the story book’s illustrations illuminated on a large projector screen. The children were captivated by the story. Follow your reading with a discussion about the book.

Here’s how we went about the lessons for Flightless Goose. With the younger children, the discussion focused on the lessons in the book: everyone has value, don’t make fun of those who are different from you, focus on positive strengths and the likes. For the older students, we talked about the craft of writing and how these lessons were shown without being said. We also shared what it was like to work as an author and artist.

The children were enthusiastic, attentive, and latched onto the book and the messages. They were mesmerized by the pictures and fervently talked about the book and what they liked about it and learned from it. To our surprise, we even got a taste of stardom when we were rushed by students asking for our autographs!

The principal, reading specialist, librarian, and teachers may not have required our autographs, but they were thrilled to have the author and artist of a published book there to teach the children. It was promoted in the school newsletter, and by the PTA.

The result of this one-day school event was greater than most book signings or bookstore readings I’ve been involved with – whether as a reader or as a member of the audience. Sales were high. And we have a bunch of new fans – some of whom have already asked when our next book will be out.

Next book? Hmmm. That gives me an idea…

The lesson for you? If you’d like to share your book with a young audience of enthusiastic readers who may turn out to be a future fan base, go back to school!

Eric D. Goodman is a full-time writer and editor and has been published in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Review, The Potomac, Arabesques Review, The Baltimore Sun, Slow Trains, JMWW, Freshly Squeezed, and New Lines from the Old Line State: An Anthology of Maryland Writers, among others. He regularly reads his fiction on WYPR, Baltimore’s National Public Radio station. His first children’s book, Flightless Goose, is available in bookstores and at . Fulfill your literary longings at his popular blog, http://www.Writeful.blogspot.com.