(That teachers will actually use...)
by Diana Murrell
Marketing your book is a big undertaking for an author. When you’re creating a marketing plan, don’t forget about the biggest market in North America: teachers and schools. When teachers use your book in the classroom, they’re looking for ways to connect your book with what they’re teaching. The best way to help them do that is to create an educator guide. Not sure where to begin? Here are some ideas to get you started.
Read the Curriculum
If you want to connect your book to the classroom, you need to know what teachers teach and where your book fits in. In Canada, each province has its own curriculum (although there are some similarities between jurisdictions) which is available online. If possible, zero in on a grade level or division.
For the United States, search the Common Core Curriculum for language and math expectations. Other curriculum documents include TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills Guideline), NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards), and state curriculum guides.
You may be tempted to just check the language curriculum, but chances are your book has connections to more subject areas. Ask yourself: how could your book be used to teach math, social studies, science, health, or the arts?
Find Out What Else Teachers are Talking About
The curriculum is the main focus for teaching, but there are some other important topics to consider as well. How might your book fit into equity, social justice, environmental stewardship, SEL (social-emotional learning), or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, math)?
Don’t Worry about Buzzwords
Every few years lesson plan templates change and so does the vocabulary teachers use to talk about each section of a lesson plan. Right now you’ll see words like Learning Goals, Success Criteria, Minds On, and Consolidation. But you don’t need to get hung up on the jargon. Use generic headings like before reading, during reading, after reading, connections and extensions.
Printables and Worksheets
If you are planning to create printables, remember they should provide some learning or assessment. A fun colouring sheet or word search is great for families, but teachers are looking for something that demonstrates learning. Exit tickets, research templates, and reading or writing activities will be popular. Hands-on science or art instructions are always welcome.
Remember Teachers are Teaching Online and in Person
PDF downloads are great. But, other formats, such as slides (Google Slides or PowerPoint), short YouTube videos, and audio files will be popular both online and in person. Could you make a video about active verbs, a pronunciation guide, instructions for an art or science experiment, or even a book trailer?
Make Connections with Other Information
Your book might be used as a read-aloud, a mentor text for writing, the beginning of a math or science lesson, or inspiration for students’ research or art. So, think about other information and media that connect with your book. This might include:
● a digitized version of your Back Matter;
● comp titles that further explore a theme or idea in your book;
● child-friendly research sources you used;
● online interviews that will help students get to know you and your books;
● images, music, or videos that further explore a theme or idea in your book.
These supports help teachers develop more lessons, which gives your book added value in the classroom. Providing teachers with links to this content in your educator guide is a simple way to add something extra using work you’ve already done. It also saves teachers time so they don’t have to try and find these links on their own.
Need More Inspiration?
If you are not sure where to begin, find out how teachers and librarians are using your book when you join them for author visits. Watch for social media posts that demonstrate how your book is being used in the classroom. Educators can help you focus on those teachable moments that your book inspires.