Tips for Authors Working in Public and School Libraries – Part Two

In this second of our two-part library workshop feature, writer K. M. Lockwood outlines how authors can maximise sales and publicity at library events. 

How do I sell my books at library events?

  • Ask the library if they have a bookseller they like to use. 
  • If possible, bring/organise someone else to help with sales - people buy more if you don’t touch the filthy lucre and you can sign quicker. 
  • Maybe leave a few signed copies to be sold after the event and go back to collect the money at a later date. If you are able to sell direct through the school, offer a discount to parents. 
  • In a large secondary, you can expect to sell around 30 or 40 copies. 100 copies is exceptional. 

How can I maximise my publicity? 

  • Provide a ready-made letter about you so that teachers can give this to parents/carers. 
  • Supply a pro-forma for book sales – with details of costs for each book . 
  • Design preparatory activity sheets or ideas for teachers to use if possible. 
  • Spell out what you are going to do – especially for workshops. 

  • Send whatever you can in advance: Posters, bookmarks, postcards, biographical information (especially for older children), anything that can be used in displays will be very much appreciated.
  • Get a piece in the local newspaper. 
  • Talk on local radio. 
  • Tweet to people who know you’re coming. 
  • Promote the event yourself on Facebook. 
  • NOTE If the Local Authority is handling publicity, give early permission for artwork to be used in publicity as due to past threats of legal action, local authorities can be a bit wary. 

What SHOULDN’T I do when visiting libraries? 

On the day 
  • Don’t turn up late – try to be there at least half an hour in advance. 
  • Avoid talking down – especially to secondary school children. 
  • Don’t swear – especially in primary schools. 
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. 
  • Try not to be dull, grumpy or inflexible! 
  • Speak up and don’t be shy! 
  • Please don’t leave early. 

Before and after the event 
  • Don’t ignore emails – respond promptly. 
  • Don’t push for a return visit. 

Additional tips 

  • Offer free bookmarks/bookplates/postcards on the day so everyone gets something. 
  • Consider being a Reading Patron or a writer/artist in residence. 
  • Get to know your local librarians, stay in contact with the Youth Libraries Group – you may get invited to speak at a conference. 
  • Librarians speak to one another - they are always on the lookout for workshop and book talk people. Social networking is good for this. 
  • Never be backwards in coming forwards - unless you shout about your availability for workshops etc. no one will know. 
  • Plan your day carefully. In schools, it will generally be in the same building but for public libraries, you might have one library in the morning, one midday and one in the afternoon. Ensure you know the routes well or ask if a librarian can help. 
  • Don’t worry about over-exposure - if someone enjoys you, they will come back, and bring others. Remember that in schools, you get a fresh new audience every September. 
  • Sending follow-up activities may make teachers more likely to choose you again. 
  • Following up what the children did can make a real difference to them. 

Collated with help from these wonderful and generous people: Anna James, Dawn Finch, Kristy Rabbitt, Jayne Truran, Matt Imrie, Mélanie McGilloway 

K. M. Lockwood is a writing name of Philippa R. Francis. Once a primary school teacher, she became a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at West Dean College in 2011. Her story The Selkies of Scoresby Nab was short-listed for the Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition and long-listed for the Times Chicken House in 2012/13. She was born in Yorkshire but now lives by the coast in Sussex. Her writing shows her deep fascination with British folklore and the sea. Her interests include reading, scuba diving and belly dancing, though not at the same time. She also blogs at


  1. Brilliant action list here! I've also taken to adding a friendly paragraph about author care to the flyer about my visits that I send to schools. Things like: making sure I get a break between talks and please remind me to visit the bathroom because I get so busy that I do forget. Nice one, Philippa!

  2. Thanks for collating such a great set of tips, Philippa!


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