Success…(Well, kinda)

Author: sybilnelson  //  Category: Marketing

So I started my brochure campaign on Nov. 30 sending out as many brochures as I could address and label while my six year old got ready for school. It was about 15 or so. I’ve been doing that every morning since. Anyway, on Friday, I got my first response! A teacher emailed me wanting to know how much I charged for a speech. Of course, I didn’t know the answer to that.  I mean, I’ve done speeches before but in the past, I’ve just let them pay me whatever they wanted, which turned out to be anything between free and $300. Yeah, I should have thought this through a little more.

Honestly, I would do it for free, but I don’t want to get in the habit of doing freebies. If I start that, it will be even harder to start charging later. So, I emailed an author I met at the Savannah Children’s Book Festival who does school visits regularly. After taking note of her prices, I decided to charge $200 for a speech and signing with an additional $50 per class to visit individual classes and present my writing workshop. Does that make sense? Now that I think about it, that kind of pricing would only work for small schools where they could fit most of the school in auditorium for one big speech and then split up into groups. I think I might need to tweak my pricing scheme. I really should have thought this through earlier. Any suggestions are welcome. Anyway, after I gave her my prices, she said she had to talk to her principal. So who knows if I’ll actually get a gig out of this.

I’ve also figured out an easier system to do these mailings. I found two packages of labels in my room and decided to print the addresses of these schools instead of handwriting them. This works for several reasons. First of all, it’s neater. Second of all, I’ll have an instant list of addresses for future mailings. I was already planning of sending an introductory email to all the schools I send my brochure to and now I think I’ll mail a postcard to every school I haven’t heard back from sometime in February.

I’ve already mailed my brochure to the local independent bookstores here in Charleston, but I need to figure out a way to mail them to the Barnes and Nobles here. When I go to the websites, there’s never a name for the manager or anything so I don’t know exactly who to address it to. I don’t want to put a generic “Store Manager” on there. That would probably guarantee it never getting opened. I guess I could go into the stores and hand them the brochure. Hey, that’s not a bad idea. It saves me a stamp and the added personal touch might motivate them to purchase my books. I’ll let you know how it works out.

10 Responses to “Success…(Well, kinda)”

  1. sybilnelson Says:


  2. Elysabeth Says:


    I charge by the hour, and that way I don’t have to worry about individual classes or anything. If they want to do a several classes, then that is fine with me. If I do individual classes or groups, it would be the same, although I prefer to work in smaller groups. The Live Oaks Library (the ones who schedule the school visits before the Savannah Children’s Book Festival) pay authors and illustrators a flat fee of $100 per hour – regardless if you are doing one class or 5 or 6 or 7 (this year with budget cuts, I ended up doing two separate hours for the same fee because it was one grade split into two groups).

    You can check out my website – – under the school visits page to see what my fees run. This was after checking several authors’ pages for school visits and what they were charging and knowing I’m an unknown and all. I did originally start a bit lower and then raised my prices and have stayed there for the last couple of years. I’ve not had any school visits per se other than the Savannah one, which I didn’t schedule.

    I may need to order some brochures from vistaprint and do a school campaign in the spring – maybe get some end of school year school visits set up, although that is my busy time of the year because I’m gearing up for homeschool conferences and other events to participate in – just have to see how things go after the holidays.

    One response out of about 15 sent out is a pretty good thing since it does take time to build up being seen by the right people.

    As for the bookstores go, address it to Event Coordinator – or Children’s (or Young Adult) book purchaser – the store manager doesn’t usually handle the buying of the books – or you can always just call the store and get a specific name of who would be in charge of buying children’s and young adult books for the store. That’s what I would do – if I were targeting bookstores. Good luck with it all – E :)

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author Finally Home, a YA paranormal mystery
    “The Proposal” (an April Fools Day story), a humorous romance ebook
    “The Tulip Kiss”, a paranormal romance

    Ma America, The Travelin’ Maven
    Author of the JGDS, 50-state, mystery, trivia series and
    “Train of Clues”, a mystery destination story (the predecessor to the 50-state series)
    Where will the adventure take you next?

  3. sybilnelson Says:

    That’s a good idea adding a school visits page to my website. I need to revamp my website anyway.
    If you do order brochures from Visitaprint, I wait until they have a sale so that I can get them for free. I can only get them 25 at a time when I do it that way, but that seems to be enough for me. I have 30 or so left and I have another 50 on the way in the mail. If you can’t wait until they have a sale, I’d check out other places because I think they’re cheaper elsewhere.

  4. Elysabeth Says:

    Funny – you know vistaprint has a sale every other day – lol. You can actually do several orders the same day on the freebie thing. I did that with both my banners. I ordered one for free, paid the $6.49 shipping, let that process and then turned around and ordered the second one for free and paid the $6.49 for shipping – got both my banners the same day.

    And you know once you order anything from vistaprint, you get emails every day with their freebie offers anyway. So I’m good. Just need to design my brochure. You will be very close to your 10,000 book sales goal by the end of the year – all that you are putting into the marketing aspect now. Hope you get lots of offers for school visits which should boost your sales too, but being that the year is almost over (at least 2011) and no one is planning to have authors in this late in the season, they will probably not be visible sales until next year.

    Keep us posted on how the marketing endeavor is going. E :)

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author Finally Home, a YA paranormal mystery
    “The Proposal” (an April Fools Day story), a humorous romance ebook
    “The Tulip Kiss”, a paranormal romance

    Ma America, The Travelin’ Maven
    Author of the JGDS, 50-state, mystery, trivia series and
    “Train of Clues”, a mystery destination story (the predecessor to the 50-state series)
    Where will the adventure take you next?

    (PS – I don’t like that one can’t follow the comments via email; it means I have to check back constantly to see if you have any comments after what I’ve left nor is the ability to follow your blog by email available to us – me I’m an email follower -if I can subscribe to get notifications in my email, I’m there – just saying – something to think about – E :) )

  5. sybilnelson Says:

    I do the same thing! I do like an order a day when there is an item I really want. I think I’ve gotten two banners in the same day as well. I used powerpoint to design my brochure. I think I’ll do a blog post with instructions. Yeah I have to get my follower thing going on my website. I don’t really like this blog. I would prefer blogger or something but thought it would be too much trouble to switch. I think I will look into switching though because following is so much easier that way.

  6. Phil South Says:

    The whole issue of how much to charge is a tricky one, especially for ego massaging gigs like public speaking. Now I have a public profile, I am known by people, but in a very limited way, I’m not famous but I run training course and write books about writing. But I’m not FAMOUS by any stretch of the imagination so, you know, if I charge too much will they think I have ideas above my station? And then there’s the whole artistic integrity thing. If I make them pay through the nose will they perceive me as a sell out? It’s a tough one, and letting the client decide can be hazardous as you point out. I think it comes down to how much is it worth to you to give the talk. And how much will make them take you seriously? Plus you need to figure out if doing the talk will in the long run be worth more than the fee. Will you, through the undoubted charm and lure of your personality, get yourself 100 true fans who will buy everything you write? It’s a tough choice but I think if you meditate on the subject and search your feelings about you will instinctively know the right price. It’s not about the money anyway it’s about human communication. And what is commmunication but marketing? Just my 2p.

    Phil South
    Creative Genius Programme

  7. J.L. Campbell Says:

    As usual, you are on the move, Sybil.
    I’m contemplating some local workshops and working on pricing too.

    From your comment above, I think you do a search and find out how to switch from wp to blogger.

  8. sybilnelson Says:

    I’d really like to do speaking engagements for free, but then I don’t want my time to be undervalued. It’s a thin line.

  9. Katrina Says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your journey. I’m really glad I found your blog.

  10. sybilnelson Says:

    Hi Katrina,

    Follow me at I’m listing one writing tip each day over there.

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