Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Preparing for Summer Library Visits by Katie Hines

Summer is right around the corner, and with it comes the opportunity to showcase your book in a summer library visit. Most libraries have a summer reading program for kids, so if you have written a kid book, you should definitely check this out.

When my middle grade book, “Guardian,” came out (it was a January release that year), I was thinking of all the marketing ideas I had heard about. Because my book came out at this time of year, it was a great time to think about a library program to promote it.

The first thing I did was contact the children’s librarian at our local county library, which sports four branches and a bookmobile. We played phone tag for awhile--don’t give up! When we did get in touch, she was thrilled to have a local author to add to her summer lineup. One thing that was in my favor is that I didn’t wait until May or June to talk to the librarian, because by then, most summer reading programs already have all their slots filled. Most of the time, they’re finished with scheduling around March or April.

We set up times to make a presentation in each of the area branches, about an hour per visit. Scheduling early also meant that the librarian had enough time to purchase copies of my book to be available for checkout after the presentation was finished.

After the thrill of knowing I was going to sharing in the libraries, I was faced with the (for me) daunting task of figuring out what my presentation should entail! I was able to pick up an article/form from a friend that talked about the creative process and how to write fiction. So, I took that info and expanded on it, and had a few examples to show about each section. I figured I’d end the session by reading a chapter from my book.

What I didn’t realize is that my guests weren’t going to be all middle grade kids! Even with my first visit, which did have a bunch of middle grade kids, I quickly realized I was going to have to do something immediately to get the kids involved or they were going to go to sleep on me.

Fortunately, I had paper and pencils with me. I passed them out to the kids, and had them finish a sentence: I was sitting in the library, minding my own business, when suddenly... There was a lot of giggling and erasing. When the kids turned their finished masterpieces in, I made sure I read aloud each and every one of them. I also almost immediately abandoned a lecture format. Instead, I would share a few things, then ask the kids questions relating to what I had shared and what they thought.

My other library visits had day care centers bringing their classes in with them. That meant the kids were a LOT younger - kindergarteners and 1st and 2nd graders. What a switch up. But I had learned from my first visit, and not only did I have pencil and paper ready, but bookmarks to hand out and a cardboard treasure chest (my book talks about a treasure) filled with goodies. All this at the end of the presentation, of course.

The fun thing was that the teachers were reading my book to their classes, so the kids were familiar with it. I was then able to ask them about their favorite parts in the book, why they liked it and so forth. For these youngsters, I had to pare down what I was going to say, ask a lot of questions, and get the kids even more involved.

A highlight of my last library visit was that one little girl came up to me after the presentation and asked me if I would look at her writing and tell her what to do to make it better. Touched, I said, “Of course,” and gave her my business card.

So, although I don’t know that I made any direct sales from my presentations, I do know that my book (all six copies) was checked out pretty steadily throughout the course of the summer. I had a great time, learned a lot, and am looking forward to more library visit with my next books.


  1. Hi Katie,
    Thanks for the post. I loved hearing about your library experience and the way you thought on your feet to get the kids involved!

    During a 5th grade classroom visit, a teacher had a microphone available for my presentation. I read a poem and asked the kids to create their own new stanza. Sharing their work over the mic made each one feel like a rock star.

  2. Katie, Great tips! Getting the kids involved from the get-go is important. Thanks for sharing.

    Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

  3. Somehow missed this post earlier, but great tips! I have tons of author events planned for the next several months with more in the works and this is full of good advice I know I can use!