when you make an appearance at a school/bookstore/library to promote your book
How can I do school/bookstore/library visits?
If you’re high on your publisher’s priority list, they might schedule some visits for you. Otherwise, you can schedule your own by contacting schools/bookstores/libraries and letting them know you are available for appearances. You can do this by email or with postcards (see also SWAG). You might start by contacting local places. If you want to travel to other states to do visits, you can try asking the venue to pay for your travel expenses. In general, you can ask schools and libraries to pay for you to visit them, as you will do a presentation for students/patrons. Bookstores will not pay you but will try to sell your books during the event (and after).
Are visits worth the time/energy/cost?
Yes? They can be fun, they promote your book, and they help you build relationships with booksellers, librarians, teachers, and readers who might continue to promote your book long after your visit has come and gone. You can make money from school/library visits. You might sell books at a bookstore visit. Plus, you can always just do one or two visits, see how you like them, and then decide whether you want to do more. And your visits can be sporadic, booked around your personal schedule.
No? Preparing for and traveling to these appearances takes a lot of time away from your writing (not to mention your personal life). They’re exhausting and sometimes not fun. Bookstore visits are a toss-up: few people will be motivated to come out to see an author they’ve never heard of–you might end up paying more for parking than you make from book sales.
You might try joining up with a group of authors to do your visits so that you’ll be more likely to draw attendees and/or so that you can share some of the travel costs. You can turn your visit into a panel, which might be more fun for you anyway (yay for writer friends!). You might also try doing visits at bookstores that already have teen reading clubs in place so that you are guaranteed some kind of turnout.
See also: Tour.