Have you ever considered you can set up a story time for your book at a local library? Well, there’s no time like the present—especially since today is national Take Your Child to the Library Day! That’s right… who knew the calendar was so full of celebrations for writers and readers? Well, as it turns out, you can celebrate as a writer and as a reader, and maybe get your books selling in the process!
But… how do you even go about setting up a story time at your local library?
Got questions? Be prepared to call around.
If you have specific questions or if your local library system lacks an online form, the first librarian you contact might not have the answers for you. When I began searching for how to set up a story time for local authors, I started with the ask-a-librarian chat room. They gave me the number of my local library, who sent me to the kids’ department, who called their supervisor, who recommended the marketing and publicity person, whose number was answered by a subordinate librarian, who told me the actual person to speak with would be the director for children’s and youth services.
You’re probably the first local author to try this, and the process might not exist yet. That’s ok! Someone has to be first, and chances are, all of the librarians you speak to along the way are going to be so excited about this idea! In fact, the librarians and staff I spoke with today were so enthused, one even asked for the name of our blog so she could read the article! It was altogether very encouraging—and, even with all those phone numbers I called, it all took only about twenty minutes. Librarians are efficient!
That being said, what took many phone calls for me might take you only one. According to one of the librarians I spoke with, there’s an online application for creating events that I could have started with (if I wanted to actually set up an event). I didn’t want to put through a form when I’m only trying to write about setting up an event. So, if you don’t have any specific questions, you can just cut to the chase.
What questions should I ask to set up a story time?
First, ask what the process of setting up your event looks like—an overview. Also, how much time are you expected to fill? Ask about average attendance for such events so you can prepare whatever you choose to bring (more on that in a sec). Ask about any specific restrictions or requirements, and ask for recommendations for the kinds of activities and programs that might go over well in the librarian’s experience. After all, it would be fun to supplement your story with a special craft, game, sing-a-long, or other activity.
You may also want to get an idea of what the space looks like where you’ll be presenting your story. Can you bring signage? Can you set up signage in advance to advertise the event?
Also, don’t forget to ask if you’re allowed to bring extra copies for either a giveaway or a sale.
Come ready to market.
Storytime should be fun. It should focus on the kids and focused on the story. That doesn’t mean, however, you can’t get anything out of it. In fact, you might be robbing your attendees if you don’t come prepared. What a shame it would be if the parents at your event wanted to learn more about your books, and you didn’t bring some for them to take!
First of all, make sure you have a newsletter signup form that includes space for first names, birth dates, and email addresses. You can bring business cards that include your pen name, your socials, and especially your author website (if there’s space, you can plug where your books are commonly sold). I highly recommend bringing bookmarks to give away: they go over like gifts, but they are a great reminder of the books you offer and can include all the same info as the business cards. Better, you can print the bookmarks with a QR code that will send the reader right to your sales funnel!
Don’t forget to bring a permanent marker or pen for signing copies, if that’s an option. You can also use sites like Canva to create fun printable activities like word searches, mazes, or even scavenger hunts.
Have a schedule.
Practice reading your story and figure out roughly how much time that will occupy. Create a short agenda to keep yourself out of awkward silences once it’s over—just a simple list of the order of activities you want to do with the kids. I like to have a bonus activity in mind in case the rest goes quicker than expected; it can be sent home with the children or nixed entirely if necessary. If you feel like you’re running low on time, you should also have an idea of what to cut or simplify.
Remember, the more fun the kids have, the more they’ll remember your story! If they remember it, maybe they’ll talk about it… and then other kids might go looking for it!
Consider your timing.
Seasons matter. Whether you schedule story time in a gift-buying holiday season or in the midst of the summer reading push, find a way to incorporate a quick mention of it. This not only functions to get butts in seats. It also has the potential to motivate sales after the fact. Always be ready to pitch!
Don’t stop there. Set up a story time somewhere else!
Did it go well? Do it again! Did it not go well? Get in some more experience!
Schedule a similar event at another library or even a local bookstore. Contact local elementary schools and offer to read your book and discuss the process of authoring. There are endless places for you to get your story to the masses who want to hear it!
About the Writer: Kathryn Tamburri (@KathrynTamburriAuthor) writes clean YA epic fantasy novels which seethe with slow-burn romance. You can find more of her writing tips on The Devo Blog at KathrynTamburri.com, and learn from her publishing journey by subscribing to her fun author newsletter!