Last time, on Publishing Tips, we talked about ways to market your children’s book, including school visits and other tried and true methods. This week, we wanted to dive a little deeper, not just into writing, but the digital side of things.
Before diving deeper, we can’t stress enough how important it is to make your manuscript solid. Basically, write a fantastic book. Sounds simple, right? The truth is, no matter how much time or money you invest in marketing, it won’t mean zilch unless your book is the best product it can be. If your book is riddled with typos and inconsistencies, readers will notice.
Children’s books, especially picture books, require fewer words. Every sentence counts and must carry your story forward. Each page should make the child eager to discover what happens next. Triple check your book before publishing. As the author, you’re too close to your work. We recommend running your manuscript by as many beta and ARC readers as you can before sending to your editors.
If you’re publishing a picture book, finding an affordable illustrator can be a challenge outside a publishing house. The illustrations set the tone of your story. Depending on the age of your target audience, often the pictures are what must tell the story. Luckily, if you’re reading this, then you’ve already come to the right place. 😉
So you wrote the best book you possibly could, triple checked it and have amazing illustrations. What happens next? Should you throw your book out into the world or make a marketing plan? Whether you’ve already published your children’s book, or plan to soon, one thing you can’t shirk is building your digital platform.
Building Your Platform
What do we mean by building your platform? Everything, from your book branding (covers, etc.) to your website and online presence. Most readers are going to be drawn in by a fantastic story. But what happens after they finish the book? They go to your website. They follow your page on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest or Instagram. There are so many opportunities to connect with your readership. Take advantage, but never take advantage of people. Far too often we see authors abuse their social media platforms by talking only about their books, which makes sense in theory. But today’s reader wants to know about you as a person as well, as much as you’re comfortable sharing. Think like a reader. If you follow an author online, but all you see from them is a constant sludge of “buy my book!” you’ll probably unfollow them, right? So how do you manage your platform the right way?
Self-published children’s author of My Yellow Balloon, Tiffany Papageorge shares a great mindset to emulate: “You must market to both the child who will be at the library picking out his or her book and the adult who will ultimately be the one to buy the book for the child. Marketing an adult book is not nearly as complicated.”
As a children’s book author, you have a great opportunity to connect with other parents, teachers, and caregivers who work with children. Think from their perspective and the things they care about. Many children’s authors are current or former teachers and parents. Share what you know, from advice to lesson plans. Share things that connect with the subject matter in your story. Offer free coloring book pages to your audience, or craft projects, via your newsletter. Parents and caregivers are the gatekeepers to your target audience, so they’re the ones you’ll bridge connections with.
Most authors today are aware of how difficult it is to be “seen” on Facebook, unless you’re willing to pay for it. The truth is, unless people make your page a priority, they may not see your posts on their timeline. You can boost your posts and pay the fees, a great option if you’re announcing a book release or event. But it’s often easier to establish a Facebook group where you can gather your “tribe” of fellow authors, illustrators, or readers. This is your opportunity to be part of the larger community. A fantastic way to network on Facebook is to join other author groups. Here’s a list of some great ones we recommend:
Children’s Book Club – This one has some great resources and fairly strict rules for joining, geared toward serious entrepreneurs.
Independent Authors – Great for Indie networking.
Children’s Book Writers (USA) – Obviously, if you’re living outside the US, you’ll want to look up a local chapter of this fantastic association. 🙂 This link is good however for our USA-based authors.
Happy Children Rhyming Books – A fun group for authors of rhyming picture books.
We said it before, but we’ll say it again. Do not spam your followers. Twitter obviously isn’t for everyone. But if you’re only there to promote your books, and if you aren’t there to make connections like you should be, maybe this platform isn’t for you. Just because most authors seem to have a Twitter, doesn’t mean you should too. Honestly, it’s better for you in the long run if you concentrate on one or two social media platforms. If you stretch yourself too thin, it’s too easy to get lazy with posting tweets like “Check out my new MG Fantasy today! [link] #childrensbook”
Don’t be that person, okay? It’s okay to share important info now and then, like book releases, activities and sales. It’s okay to tweet #amwriting, or to share a teaser sketch for your upcoming release. But if you’re trying to market your kids book, tweet about things you love. Share parenting articles or kids craft links. Share what you and the kids in your life are doing, make it fun. Make it personal but not too personal. There is such a thing as oversharing. Keep in mind, you as the author are a brand. And you don’t want to alienate your readership. So again, don’t be the person who only tweets about their book and nothing else. If it feels like a chore to you, delete your account and focus on your Facebook or Instagram pages instead.
Twitter can be a great tool when you get the hang of it. Here are some great hashtags you can use for your bookish tweets:
We hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about the do’s and don’t’s of digital marketing. In part two we’ll talk about Pinterest and Instagram. Stay tuned for future tips on publishing, authors, and illustrators by following our blog or Facebook page. Happy reading, writing and creating!