Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 26, 2012

Presentation Power and Self Promotion

Maximize your presentation power with solid self promotion, and see the school bookings come rolling in …

How many schools do you want to visit in a year’s time? How many schools do you actually visit? If those numbers aren’t the same you might need to put more effort into sales or marketing. Do you know the difference between the two?

Marketing comes first. It is:

1. Defining your product or service

2. Setting a price for your product or service

3. Identifying a market for your product or service

4. Promoting your product or service

Sales is the act of closing the deal—selling and delivering the product or service. Marketing a school program is a lot more difficult than selling a product that people can see, hold, and try. Author school programs are generally big-ticket items that are purchased based on the recommendation of others or based on your marketing materials. This is risky.

How can you help your prospective customers know that you are a risk worth taking? You can start by offering a professional program at a competitive and fair price. You should understand your customers and their needs. And you should make it easy for your customers to find you if you don’t find them first. This is all part of good marketing.

Let’s look at the tasks at hand:


a. First and foremost, brand yourself.  You are a business person with a product to sell. Wear your book cover, title, logo or imprint on your clothes, hat, or coat. Dress in costume of your characters. Branding sets you apart from others and makes you memorable. Ask your publisher for branding ideas.

b. Define your program. Will you do an informal talk with a small group, a workshop or demonstration on writing or illustrating, or a multi-media program for a large assembly? Whatever the case, schools need to know how long your program is, how many times you can deliver it in one day and what you will do (if anything) for the rest of the school day.  They need you to stick to your program to the very minute. There is no “running over” on school time.  In planning, leave sufficient time for students to move to the gym, other classrooms, or wherever you are speaking.

c.  Be generous in your offering. If you can only give two talks, workshops, or assembly programs during the day, consider visiting classrooms in between times for question and answer sessions or shorter talks (10 minutes), or even offering to have lunch with special interest groups such as young writers or artists.

d.  Be sure to include book sales as part of your “service.”  If you can, offer the books at a discount to school students on the day of your visit. Send home order forms ahead of time.


When setting your price, research what other authors are charging for similar programs and consider your book sales.

a.  Don’t put yourself in the same price category as a best-selling author if you are just starting out with your first book. Be sure to look at fiction vs. nonfiction, too. It’s my general impression that fiction authors can charge more (I guess because they generally sell more books?)

b.  Don’t forget to quote “Plus expenses” and put in writing what you are including in expenses. I rarely charge for meals. I always charge for airfare, train, cab, gas, tolls, parking, and hotel.

c.  When will you return?  Authors dream about visiting the same schools year after year but that rarely happens. If you offer a full school assembly program you can probably charge more money (for reaching more students) but you will likely not be asked back again for several years. On the other hand, teachers often like to “mix it up” year after year so even if you do a small workshop, they might not ask you back for several years. Once you visit a school, put your efforts into new schools.

3. IDENIFYING A MARKET.  This part is pretty easy. You want to sell your school program to schools, right? All you need to do is find them.

a. Finding schools. Finding schools is easy-you can find them by area code, zip code, county, state, and school district just to name a few. And you can find public, parochial, private, and charter schools within those parameters.  Identifying schools in your area is easy—reaching them is not always easy (see item 4 below).

b.  Other markets. Keep an eye out (by Googling) for local teacher and PTA conferences. There might be appropriate opportunities for you to give all or part of your program at these events.


School programs are difficult to sell because you are selling yourself. The general perception about self promotion is if someone is that good then they’d have other people representing them. Advertising is a great way to get out the word about your programs, but it is generally expensive and, for some, prohibitively so. So let’s look at some less expensive ways for you to promote yourself.

a.  A brochure. If necessary, hire a marketing person or experienced brochure writer to help you.  Or find several brochures you like and model yours after them. Remember that a brochure is not a book.  Don’t print your brochures on your color inkjet printer. Again, there is perceived value. Online places like will print beautiful two sided full color glossy sell sheets and brochures (don’t fold them — use single flat sheets) for a very affordable price.

b.  A Web site. You can get free Web sites today. You can build them yourself with just a little experience, using templates offered by the hosting companies. There are author sites dedicated to helping you to sell your program. To be successful, you must have a Web presence. See my Web site at .

c.  More Web presence: 

iDo an author page at If your book is sold there, your author page is free. Link to your other Web sites  

ii. Social networking. Create a Facebook Fan page. Not a regular page but a fan page (see mine at Open a Twitter account ( and tweet your useful thoughts and teachings daily. 

d.  Write a blog (mine is at my Web site) where you can also share your experiences and stories 

e. Write for other publications. Just as I am writing this article for Sprouts, the more you write, the more people see your name. It’s all about exposure. 

f.  Get recommendations from your customers. Follow up your school visit with a short thank-you email to the people who contracted you. Ask them to answer a few short questions like “what did they like most about the program?” or “would they recommend it?” And use your favorable comments in your marketing materials.

g.  Get free press.  At every opportunity do interviews, write quotes or reviews for other books, get media attention. Publicity is good marketing.  I’ve been published for about fifteen years now.  Google my name and you’ll see what fifteen years of your marketing and promotion can do for your Web presence.

About Jane Kirkland:

Jane Kirkland is an award-winning author of more than 50 books and a keynote, photographer, and publisher. She’s appeared on Animal Planet TV, PBS, NPR and Air America and conducts educator workshops throughout the US. Learn more at  and

You can attend Jane Kirkland’s Workshop, Use Academic Standards as Key Marketing Tool at the NJSCBWI June Conference.  It’s jammed packed with great ideas.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I have to say, this is one of the best articles I’ve read on school visits and self-promotion. I’m really glad you posted it, Kathy. I happen to be attending Jane’s workshop at our upcoming conference. I was looking forward to it, but now, having read this VERY informative article, I’m looking forward to it even more because I’m positive I’m going to come away with some really useful info.

    It’s actually one of my dreams to be in a position in which I’ll do an author’s visit to the school where my future daughter-in-law teaches. What a happy day that would be 🙂


  2. As a marketing instructor, I couldn’t agree more with Jane. In marketing, we talk about the 4Ps: Product, price, place and promotion. Writers also can talk about more than just writing during classroom visits. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you’ve doubtlessly done a lot of research, which can make you a subject matter expert. You may be able to peddle this expertise beyond classrooms and libraries as well.


    • Even MORE excellent points! Thank you, Kirsten 🙂


      • Every now and then my marketing background comes in handy. 🙂


  3. This is an excellent article, Kathy. Thank you for posting this information. 🙂


  4. great article, Jane. Thanks for hosting her Kathy!


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