Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Blogging from A to Z: Homeschoolers

Blogging from A to Z is a month long challenge to post every day of the month (excluding Sunday) using a different letter of alphabet. This month I'm sharing unusual book marketing tips as part of my Marketing From The Edge Series.
Homeschoolers


I realize I'm starting to get pretty close to the dangerous edge here, but stick with me. Anyone who writes for kids (by this I mean any age category that is not adult) knows that getting together with a school is a great opportunity. Whether that is an introduction to the school librarian, a friendly chat with the English teacher, a video chat with a classroom or an hour long all school assembly with you on the mike. School visits are a direct line to your target audience.

According to a 2012 report, the number of children in homeschool has increased 75% since 1999. Now, we're still talking about a low percentage of all school-aged children, however, the same report suggests these number will continue to grow by as much as 15% each year.

So why should you target homeschoolers?

Well, first off, keep in mind that this is an underserved group. These children don't get to participate in school assemblies or attend the Scholastic book fair. They are primed for you. Additionally, because the curriculum is determined by the parents, the schedule is flexible to allow for all kinds of opportunities such as writing workshops or talk about the business model for publishing. Additionally, the open curriculum means they can include your book in their workload, regardless of it's a children's book.

Did you catch that? You don't have to write children's books. Now, obviously, your dinosaur erotica book is not going to be appropriate. But a mystery novel or crime thriller could work for high school aged students.

You don't have to just work with one family. I realize most people imagine ten kids crowded around a kitchen table in matching polyester dresses when they think of homeschool. Not anymore. These parents are organized, building communities and constantly on the look-out for new learning opportunities. I live in a small town and the local homeschool group is made up of 52 families. And those are just the ones involved. If just half of those are interested, you've got your average classroom visit.

Consider doing a little research in your area and see if you can find a local homeschool group interesting in having a published author come talk to their students. The worst that happens is they say no. The best case scenario is they say yes, buy dozens of copies of your book and tell everyone else they know about how great it is. Yeah, that scenario sounds good.

7 comments:

  1. We've homeschooled for sixteen years now and have four more years before our youngest graduates. Our favorite curriculum is literature-based, and we try very hard to only use traditional-style textbooks when we absolutely have to (math). We've done our language arts by dissecting paragraphs from Newberry winners, our science by reading biographies and autobiographies, and have simply enjoyed reading good books for the sake of reading.

    Fiction or non-fiction, if your book is written well and has something interesting to present, a homeschool parent will probably pick it up at a book fair or convention.

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    1. Wow, 16 years! You're a superstar. Thank you so much for chiming in. You bring up a good point that I completely left out: conventions. Even our tiny town has a few curriculum fairs every year. Authors would benefit from getting their book included.

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  3. I was a classroom teacher for years before I became a mother. Even back then I wanted to homeschool. The hands on approach and the ability to take our time were a huge pull.

    My daughter is now eleven and we are still going strong. Fiction and non-fiction play a huge role in our daily lives. We eat. breathe and dream books.

    The funny thing is that I never considered bringing MY writing to our homeschooling community. Groups of us have gone to see authors like Patricia Polacco and Gail Carson Levine speak at bookstores, with the result being that our kids devoured every single title. Until I read your post though, I failed to see the treasure right before my own eyes.

    Thank you for that.

    Also, I thought I would mention that Yahoo Groups are a great source for finding local homeschooling communities. That's how we started.

    Leanne Ross ( readfaced.wordpress.com & @LeanneRossRF )

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    1. Thanks for the Yahoo Groups tip. I found our local group on Facebook. You should absolutely bring your writing into the mix. Talk about a first degree connection!

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  4. I am a homeschooling mother in NY, and a good resource for anyone out this way would be LEAH- they have an annual conference in Rochester, NY with venders and break-out sessions. Here is the link to their website
    http://www.leah.org/

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  5. Never would have thought to do this! I love the idea.

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