Children’s books may just be the purest distillation of self-publishing perfection: they’re beautiful, they have universal appeal to readers of all ages, and they pack an emotional punch which leaves readers hungry for more. But if you’ve recently self-published a children’s book, you’ll already know that marketing your book successfully can still pose some unique challenges, regardless of these qualities. It’s time to put your creative gifts back to work, and to take advantage of your book’s unique place in the self-publishing marketplace. But how? Here are three simple suggestions to get you started.
ONE: Think of your book as an event, not an object.
Children’s books are best enjoyed collectively, aren’t they? Whether we’re talking about a grandparent reading aloud to a pack of children on the couch or a librarian holding forth to a cluster of kids during Story Hour or an educator teaching sight words to a roomful of second graders, children’s books are events, not just physical objects that one can hold in the hand. When it comes to marketing, spend some time early on brainstorming all of the various contexts in which you see your book being enjoyed … and then start planning how you yourself can center an event in each context. And don’t just think analog … digital context matter, too! Think of all those book reviewers on YouTube and those book bloggers on Goodreads who might just love reading your book as part of a book tour.
And look, just holding a book reading isn’t enough to move most parents to open their pocketbooks and deal out the hard cash; they really want to know and be convinced that there’s more to your book than what can be heard or seen in a single reading. Many children’s books out there are, after all, easy to pick up once and never again. So when you think about hosting or running an event, think about how to ensure it’s an engaging one, and find ways to make clear connections to ancillary materials like your book’s back matter, related activities, website material, and educator-friendly resources. The point is to communicate that your book is one worth coming back to, time and time again, and therefore worth investing money in.
TWO: Schools are key, and schools are hard.
If you really want your children’s book to move, you need to find a way to crack open access to the biggest movers and shakers of children’s books in the world: schools. And since the teachers in these schools for the most part rely on units and resources which have been approved or listed by or perhaps even provided by the systems which developed alongside them … which is to say, traditional publishing houses and their marketing teams. So yes, schools are a difficult nut to crack. But the sheer quantity of readers they sustain and cultivate make the effort worthwhile.
How to make a start? If you haven’t already, develop a unit’s worth of materials around your books. Collect activities and further readings, media, and so forth that relates to your children’s book and line it all up, ready to go. That way, when you arrange to visit a classroom or run a workshop for local teachers, you have both credibility as a resource and have made it easy for the teachers to meet state and federal core requirements. Work in some facetime with the school administrators as well; such relationships can establish you as a long-term presence in the area.
THREE: Make hay while the sun shines … and the sun shines around the world!
One of the most underutilized opportunities out there for children’s book authors is the book fair, and there are so many wonderful ones, globally, to choose from! These days, it’s easy to take part, too, as self-publishing companies like Outskirts Press offer global book tour packages designed to get your book in front of and into the hands of untold numbers, or individual book fair submission applications such as that to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, which is the highest class event a children’s book author could wish for.
If you’re looking to market your children’s book, there’s never a better time than now to inquire. Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com and check out our Marketing Solutions menu. You can also access our wonderful Free Marketing Resource Center where you’ll find countless further recommendations to suit your marketing needs!
To see our staff picks of amazing children’s books from many of our authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.