Marketing Tips for Children's Authors
Once your book is on the path to publication, pivoting from writer to marketer can be overwhelming. If that’s how you’re feeling, look over the suggestions below and focus on what best fits your interests and personality. Or perhaps you can’t wait to start promoting. Great! Either way, remember that marketing a children’s book is a marathon, not a sprint. It can take time for a book to build its audience, which means pace yourself! And have some fun!
Connect with Educators and Parents
Although your ideal reader might be a toddler or tween, your buyer is likely an adult. So, you’ll want to begin by reaching out to them...
Once you’ve networked with family and friends, approach local librarians and teachers. Author of 38 children's books and a retired school librarian, Marci Peschke, highly recommends school visits.
"Librarians are a tight-knit group and they share ideas. If you visit one school in a district you may get more bookings. Always take your business cards and leave some. Specifically, ask the librarian to share them with other librarians and recommend you. It sounds simple, but they are busy so they might not think of promoting you," Marci says.
If you're looking for an introduction, middle-grade author Murray Richter suggests offering a book as a donation to the school library, and then using that as an opportunity to schedule an author visit. "This has helped create sales before and during the visit. I also always ask for referrals after the author visit, those librarians really know each other!” Murray says. As you build your reputation among educators, more doors will open. Reviews and awards help open those doors too!
One way to appeal to educators is to make connections between your book and the school’s curriculum. Take a look at your state’s standards and see how to position your book to address their learning objectives. The more value you can add during an author’s visit, the better.
Author Muffet Frische recommends reaching out to organizations, schools, and libraries that have an interest in the subject matter of your book. “Send them a summary, and request a time to speak to the group. If you do this, and most importantly, provide an engaging, informative, and interesting presentation, word-of-mouth will begin its journey to other bookings.”
From library association conferences to teacher workshops, position yourself where educators can find you. If you’re traditionally published, see if your publisher will set up a book signing, or perhaps, you want to propose a presentation or participate in a panel discussion.
For all authors, check out NerdCamps to see if there’s an upcoming event in your area. Here teachers, librarians, authors, and illustrators come together to share their love of reading, writing, and books.
According to the MDR marketing team, 74% of the teachers they surveyed prefer Pinterest for work. This is followed by Facebook (39%), Twitter (30%), and Instagram (17%). What are teachers looking for on these platforms? New teaching ideas and resources for their classrooms.
So, when you post on social media, highlight ways your book can be used in the classroom. And if you’re offering a giveaway, don’t forget to hashtag it.
Your website is another great way to introduce yourself to educators. Here, you have an opportunity to provide curriculum-aligned, downloadable, educational materials.
When I worked with author Polly Holyoke over a decade ago to develop a guide for The Neptune Project, we had no idea how often it would be used, but ten years later, it’s still downloaded several times a week. Polly says, “There’s no question in my mind that my Neptune books are still selling well in part because teachers are using Laney’s guides in their classrooms around the United States and around the world.”
Author Lindsey Rowe Parker’s website for her book: Wiggles, Stomps and Squeezes Calms My Jitters Down is another excellent example of how offering resources makes your book more accessible.
“One of my priorities is to remove as many barriers to my content as possible. Whether that is language, price point, distribution, or otherwise. I am constantly looking for ways to remove those barriers for my audience, I provide free read-alouds of the full book on my website, in English, Spanish, and ASL. I promote other authors with similar content through the Sensory Stories Campaign, working directly with as many authors of sensory-related books as I can! I offer free downloadables on my website, and do speaking engagements for free for education and advocacy,” Lindsey says.
Go to your Readers
From reading at a bookstore’s preschool story time to meeting young adults at a teen book festival, seek opportunities to directly connect with your target audience.
Author Beth Bowland found great success doing pop-up shops at the mall. After paying a fee and making the arrangements through the mall management, Beth would set up a colorful display with a floor banner near an area where kids hung out. Not only did she sell a lot of books, but kids wanted to take their photos with her, which helped build her brand. Beth also suggests contacting the community business development manager at your local Barnes and Noble to create a pop-up shop there.
If you have a launch party or another promotional event, think about how you can make it friendly to your target reader, not just your adult friends. Consider time and place, and how you might make the event interactive.
When I launched Peppermint Cocoa Crushes at Interabang in Dallas, my goal was to make it fun. We served hot chocolate. I gave away prizes. I had reached out to a local theater teacher who helped me recruit young actors to act out the opening scene at the launch party. This kept the event kid-centered. The lighthearted feeling of the event reflected the book’s tone.
Support Other Authors
Whether you’re leaving a review on Amazon or wishing a writer friend a happy book birthday on Instagram, supporting other creators is one of the best things you can do!
“One of the most impactful things I have done as an author is to view other authors as community, not competition. Collaborating, sharing resources, and promoting books and creators that share a passion for storytelling is a privilege, and only makes us all better,” says Lindsey Rowe Parker.
I wholeheartedly agree! Thank you to Lindsey, Beth, Polly, Muffet, Murray, and Marci for sharing your author-tested ideas. If you're still looking for more marketing tips, check out these suggestions.
Launching Peppermint Cocoa Crushes
at Interabang Books
Do you have a favorite marketing tip?
Did the pandemic change how you market?
Let me know.
I'd love to hear from you!