Getting Your Book into Schools

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

So you’ve self-published your book, and it’s available to order online, in bookstores, and even libraries. It’s a fantastic feeling to see your hard work pay off, but if the sales aren’t coming in as quickly as you hoped, it's time to look at other places to sell your book. Schools offer a variety of opportunities, including volume sales, if you have the cash flow and patience to make it past the initial hurdle.

Understanding the Process

First, let's talk about the hurdle in this worthwhile endeavor. Because public schools are government funded, they will not hand you a check as you give them the books, and they won’t order directly from IngramSpark (or any distributor) the way a bookstore would.

  • If they agree to buy a certain number of books, they'll give you a purchase order for them, and you give them the books and an invoice stating the amount they owe. You’ll receive payment in 1-3 months.
  • Once you have the purchase order, you then order your book from IngramSpark and have the books shipped to the school, or to you if you are working with local schools.
  • You must have the cash outlay to print the book and then wait a while for payment. One option is to get a loan with the purchase order as collateral since a government purchase order is a sure thing.

Despite this issue, it is worthwhile to sell to schools because of the sheer volume of sales you could make, and you’re introducing a whole new audience to your work who could become lifetime readers. If you’ve got a series, this is especially valuable. Plus, it’s gratifying to know you’re educating and entertaining the next generation.


Promoting Your Book to Schools

Now let's get to the process of promoting your book, which starts before you even contact anyone.

Set Up a Website: If you haven’t already, create a website as a publishing company with a name that’s not just your first and last name. It gives a more professional impression, and many people still feel a little biased against indie authors. Another consideration is that many teachers will get a grant to purchase books, and payment must be made to a company, not a person.

Create a Sell Sheet: After your website is set up, you’ll need to create a flyer or sell sheet about your book:  who it’s for, what it teaches, how it helps teachers, etc.

    • Make it attention-grabbing and use colors that'll stand out from other solicitations.
    • The best time to send your sell sheet is in the fall after teachers are settled into the year, but before exams, holidays, and extracurriculars fill their minds. They’ll need time to read the book and go through the approval processes that schools require.

Contacting Schools: 

  • Direct mail: Though direct mail is not always the most efficient way to promote your book, it is pretty low-cost and does get you in the door. 
  • Email: Teachers get so many emails a day, your message could slip through the cracks or be seen as spam. Still, with such a low cost, sending your sell sheet in digital format is worth it.
  • Calling: With calling, you'll have to get past the front office first. Ask them who would be the best person to send materials to and offer to give a presentation about your book virtually or in person. Don’t ask about pay at this point, but if they're interested, they'll often have funds set up for these author events and will let you know their payment schedule.

If you do get to do a presentation, make sure the school will send a pre-order flyer about the book home with the children so they can have money ready to buy your book, and you can know how many books to bring with you.

Print Your Books with IngramSpark

If you get a couple of high schools to buy your book, that could be hundreds of copies, and even though IngramSpark doesn’t distribute directly to schools, there is a great benefit to using IngramSpark, because you'll get a great discount for printing large orders at one time.

Remember that even if you don’t get the sale, they might put your book on a recommended reading list, and that gets your name out there to hundreds or thousands of students and parents. So any way you look at it, selling to schools is a great idea!

IngramSpark Staff

IngramSpark® is an award-winning independent publishing platform, offering indie authors and publishers the ability to create, manage, and globally distribute print and ebooks.