There are pros and cons of being a ‘traditionally published’ vs ‘self published’ author. I won’t go into the discussion of working with publishers and agents, owning rights to your contact, royalties, etc. What I would like to tell you is how to ‘market’ your books.
As a self-published indie author, I am my own brand and marketing agency. My previous work at corporations, establishing my own nonprofit organization, and being a social media influencer has helped me in marketing myself as an author.
Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned author, you need to know a few basics of marketing to be successful in this business. Here are a some things I do regularly to market my books:
Social Media – I have seen so many children’s book authors who don’t have a separate account for their books/ author profiles, and many ignore those pages for long periods of time. The first thing I did when I started writing the series was to create separate accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for ‘Beato Goes To’ and ‘Sucheta Rawal’ that I update almost daily. You can also cross promote your different social media profiles.
Beato lounging in his bed at home
On the social media pages, you can post updates about upcoming signings, awards, new books, pages from the books, reviews from readers, and in my case, photos of my cat – Beato, who is the main character in my books.
Reading at Gwinnett All About Kids Expo
Newsletter – Pass out a sign-up sheet at events you are speaking at, such as book festivals, schools, conferences, so that you can keep in touch with your audience and fans. I use Constant Contact to send out the newsletter, which is generally monthly, unless there is an event coming up. The newsletter contains a personal message from me, which is usually about what I have been up to that month, or talking about a current event, and how it is relevant to my book. It may also have photos and reviews from events I did recently, any upcoming events, and a reminder of my services, as well as how to purchase the books. Remember, if someone signed up for your newsletter, they are already sold on your idea. Just be on top of their minds!
Table at Delta Museum
Blog – You blog gives readers and fans another way to interact with the author, outside the book. As you may have read, my blog mostly talks about ‘the story behind the story.’ Since my books are based on real characters I met during my travels, I enjoy sharing personal experiences that are not in the children’s book, and inspire my readers to learn more about the countries.
Additionally, I also blog about what I have learned as an author so I can help others who want to publish their own books.
Traditional Media – It is rather difficult to be your own PR Agent, but it’s doable. I recommend starting with making a list of local media outlets – radio, TV, newspaper, magazines, blogs – that you would like to be featured in. Then, identify who the writers/ editors are, look up their contact information (which can be found on the publication’s website or with few minutes of Google research), and send a well drafted email with your pitch. Your pitch should be relevant and compel the journalist to talk to you further.
Beato on NPR’s Closer Look with Rose Scott
Don’t be disappointed if they don’t respond right away. Follow up regularly by phone and email until you speak to the producer/ editors. It took me about 5 emails before someone from my local NPR station asked me to come on the show.
Another great way to connect with influencers is by utilizing your network. Ask your friends and family if they know anyone who works at the media outlet you are interested in, and you would be surprised who you can find through six degrees of separation.
Speaking at the children’s national library in Chișinău, Moldova
Book Launch – It is super important to have a book launch event for your new book. Starting creating the buzz a few months before the release, reaching out to influencers, organizations you are a part of, groups that would be interested in the subject matter, and local media.
I have hosted book launch parties at libraries, book stores and restaurants, always offering food and drink to the guests (a big attraction). During the event, talk about the inspiration for your book, read some of it, and have copies available for sale.
School visit at Oakwood Adventist Academy in Huntsville, Alabama
School Outreach – All children’s book authors want to do paid school visits, but it can be difficult to plan them with educators who are already pressed on time. Create a school visit packet that you can send to them with detailed information of your talk, fees, duration, etc.
The best way to reach out to schools is by getting to know teachers, librarians or media specialists. I hired an admin assistant through UpWork to create a database of schools in my area so I can contact them individually.
Presenting with SCBWI authors Heather Montgomery and Kim Osborn Sullivan at annual GMLA conference in Peachtree City, Georgia.
Organizations – Shared knowledge is much more powerful than starting from scratch. SCBWI is possibly the best one to connect with other authors, illustrators and educators. I have received many leads through them – including a trip to Romania last year! If you join an organization, make sure to be active by joining a committee, attending meetings, and interacting on social media. I try to attend conference events (see schedule) and speak at them whenever I can.
You may think that if a big name publishing house is attached to your book, you may not need to do a lot of the marketing yourself, which is not true. Most publishers are looking to authors to do their own marketing, and many won’t even offer a book deal until you have established a readership first.
Do you have another marketing tip to share? Please post a comment below…