You have written a book. It’s great book, a stellar book, a magnificent book. Yet, it sits on the shelf unsold.
If your intended audience is between the ages of 6 and 18, unless your book is listed in the Accelerated Reader (AR) catalog, it’s unlikely to be purchased by anyone. Teachers cannot possibly be familiar with the plot, storyline, and characters of every book available to school-age children. Because of this, many schools turn to Renaissance Learning’s Accelerated Reader (AR) program. The AR software provides assessments that measure comprehension and reading level. Consequently, school and library purchasing decisions are often dependent on AR catalog listing.
Authors hoping to bypass schools and libraries, marketing directly to kids (and their parents) are out of luck. Summer used to be a time for kids to catch-up on ‘fun’ reading. Now, even it has fallen victim to the AR Catalog. Racking-up AR points is highly competitive. Pizza parties and tickets to amusement parks on the line. Many schools allow students to log points for books read during summer break, so most school-aged children simply will not read a book that does not appear in the AR catalog.
In order to be successful with the school-age demographic, authors need their books listed in the AR catalog. But, how does one do that?
First, understand that not all books are suitable for inclusion in the AR catalog. AR quiz developers create questions that represent the book in a way that covers the main topics presented between the pages. Not all books are quizzable.
Before attempting to submit your book for consideration, take a moment to evaluate your book’s quizzability. Common reasons books are rejected include: illustrations, insufficient text, lack of plausible distracters, poetry, poor formatting or style, reference material, how-to books, and undefined foreign words. For more information, review Renaissance Learning’s publication # R33241, “How Renaissance Determines a Book’s Quizzability.”
If your book is quizzable, the good news is that Renaissance Learning welcomes author and publisher book submissions for consideration in the Accelerated Reader program. Their catalog includes titles from across all grade levels and has an equal distribution of fiction and nonfiction. When evaluating a book for inclusion they consider the following items:
- Books by popular authors
- Books with favorable reviews
- Books with a strong curriculum tie-in
- Publishers with high quiz usage
- Suggestions from schools, students, and parents
If your book is quizable and you want to submit for listing in the AR catalog, start by actively seeking reviews. When making book selections, Renaissance Learning consults the following recommended reading lists and review sources:
- School Library Journal including Curriculum Connections
- State Lists
- School Library Connection
- Junior Library Guild selections
- NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies
- NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science
- ALA Outstanding Books for the College Bound
- Horn Book
A number of the aforementioned review sources are open to submission from authors who are self-published or published by small presses. If you cannot get a review from one of these top tier sources do not despair. Just get reviews from the best sources you can. For more information on acquiring reviews click here.
The book review process takes 3 to 6 months. Use that time to check on your book’s distribution. In order for the book to be added to the AR catalog it needs to be available through major school library suppliers. Reedsy has a list of distributors on their website.
If your book is quizzable, has good reviews, and is widely available, submit it for consideration. The consideration process takes 4 to 6 months, so the time to be thinking about catalog inclusion is roughly one year prior to publication. That gives you 6 months to gather reviews and another 6 months for evaluation by Renaissance Learning. For more information on how to submit, review the AR Submitting Rules
Even if you receive an initial rejection, there is still hope. The final way to get your book listed in the AR catalog is through customer suggestions. Renaissance Learning continually monitors customer quiz suggestions and encourages the use of their ‘Suggest Quiz’ function through the Accelerated Reader BookFinder™. Suggestions help drive title selection and prioritize quiz production. Ask your readers to suggest the book for the AR catalog and then hope for the best.