“Without promotion, something terrible happens… nothing!” ~ P.T. Barnum
I’ve said it a million times: I’m a teacher. I went to college to be a teacher, I’m good at being a teacher, I’m comfortable with being a teacher. I have no business experience what-so-ever. None. Zip. When I decided to write a book, I remember thinking “I’ve always wanted to publish a book, so I’m going to.” I never thought about actually having to sell the book. I figured I would write it and that would be it. Boy, was I ever wrong.
Once I realized how much money it takes to publish a book, I started thinking less like an author and more like a businesswoman. I started learning about marketing. It does not come naturally to me. It is not easy for me. But I keep trying- because if you don’t ever experience failure, you’re not trying hard enough. Two years later, here is what I’ve learned about marketing.
Do: Post at least every other day on your social media.
Use relevant and varied hashtags on Instagram. Use Instagram and Facebook stories.
Don’t: Post things that your audience doesn’t care about.
Figure out your audience (teachers, moms, art teachers, dentists etc) and post things they care about so they will be interested in your feed and follow you. Would you follow yourself?
The average age of children’s books buyers is between 30 and 44. Females make up more than 70% of these buyers. –11 Powerful Ways to Market Children’s Books
Do: Find people to advertise your book for you.
Don’t: Pay a lot for it.
Search Instagram and blogs for people who belong to your audience. Contact those people and ask them if they’d like a free, autographed book in exchange for a post/review. I’ve been turned down plenty, but I would say about 20% of the people I’ve contacted have come through for me. All it takes is the cost of the book and postage and the courage to risk rejection.
Do: Find your audience.
Look for Facebook groups formed around your book’s topics (dogs, unicorns, dental hygiene etc). Make sure to ask for the admin’s permission to post your book as a comment. This can be a very powerful method, as every member of that group is potentially your target audience.
When visiting family and parenting pages, you as the author can engage parents and groups using the topics in your books to start or join relevant conversations (bullying, making friends, trying something new etc).
Don’t: Spam your audience.
I’ve been kicked out of teacher groups for posting my links without permission. Don’t just join FB groups and start posting your links- it’s annoying and it doesn’t work. Join groups, follow people, engage and interact with the people in the groups. Ask questions, comment on posts, offer advice- people are a lot more willing to support you after you’ve supported them!
There are a lot of talented authors out there, but the most successful ones don’t depend on the book to find readers. Instead, they find them. –11 Powerful Ways to Market Children’s Books
Do: Use Amazon.
Research Amazon ads and ways to sell on Amazon. It’s a lot of work, but there are articles out there and specific groups on FB that cover this area. Everyone I know shops on Amazon. Amazon is trusted, they provide free 2-day shipping and they sell everything.
Don’t: Put all your eggs in one basket.
Amazon isn’t the be all end all. Along with selling on Amazon, my books are available in about 15 local shops (some on consignment, some bought from me wholesale) and I do school visits and local events.
I’m not just an author. I’m a salesperson, a marketer, an accountant, a businesswoman, an editor, a website designer…
Do: Realize it takes money to make money. Be a risk taker.
Don’t: Bet the house.
Have a budget- how much can you afford to spend on marketing every day/week/month? Stick to your budget, but also realize that you need to spend a LOT to get going. You are starting a small business. If you don’t have the money to invest, run a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign. I ran two successful ones to raise money for my books. (I have blogs written about how I accomplished that.) One mistake I made when I first started selling on Amazon: I didn’t spend enough on ads upfront and they didn’t really get going until this past summer, when I pumped money into them. Yeah, it was a little nerve wracking- I’m not a risk taker and I’m frugal by nature, but it’s necessary .
“If you don’t ever experience failure, you’re not trying hard enough.”
Do: Find people to help you. Research research research!! Delegate jobs to people who are good (and fast) at them.
Don’t: Try to do it all yourself or expect support without giving it.
I’m a firstborn, independent “doer”. I don’t like asking for help. I don’t trust people easily, especially with my money, but I’m learning that what takes me five hours to do, someone else might be able to do in five minutes and if I need to pay them to do it, it’s worth my time and sanity! My logo, illustrations, editing, layout, table cloth runner, stickers, bookmarks, activity book, stuffed animals…are all things that other people helped me with. Don’t be afraid to seek out help.
Common mistakes self-published children’s authors make:
*Underestimating the power of a good book cover. People do judge books by their covers. While looking for children’s books at the library or on Amazon, I choose ones that have book covers that capture my attention. You could have an amazing story, but if you have a poorly made book cover, you’re going to have trouble selling it. Is it clear and easy to read as a thumbnail on Amazon? Does it engage your audience and make a good first impression? Can people read your book cover from across the room? Does it make people want to pick up your book? How does it hold up next to other books it’s similar to? Someone in a FB author group suggested putting your book cover next to 4-5 other book covers to see how it compares.
*Trying to save money on illustrations. Guys- illustrations can make or break your book! You get what you pay for and your buyers can tell.
*Not getting out there to sell their books. So many authors have said to me: “I’m an introvert. I just can’t sell my book to people. I don’t want to bother people. I don’t know how.” Okay…guess what? I’m an introvert! I didn’t want to sell my book to people or bother people and I didn’t know how either. Now I do! I’m still an introvert, but I’ve realized that no one else is going to sell my book for me, so I put on yet another hat: saleswoman! I started by telling everyone I knew about my book and was pleasantly surprised by how excited and supportive people were! I had magnets made that I handed out to people announcing my kickstarter campaigns. Then I found my audience and starting telling them about my book. Yeah, I got (get) shot down. A lot. But again, if you don’t experience failure, you’re not trying hard enough. Each time I got shot down, I became just a little bit tougher. I learned. I became more determined. These days, I keep my business cards in my purse and my books in my trunk. I’m always on the lookout for a sale; I sell in the oddest places: the post office, the library parking lot, the playground…you just never know! The more you talk about your book to strangers, the easier it gets. What have you got to lose?
Each time I got shot down, I became just a little bit tougher.
*Not getting enough of the “right” kind of eyes on their books before publishing. Your mom’s eyes don’t count. Your friend’s eyes don’t count. You need to find people who will be honest with you. Find beta readers (there are some great FB pages for this, which I listed further down this page), get more than one editor to read through it, read through it yourself at different times and on different days. There was a spelling mistake on my second book that I caught the SAME day it went to the printer! I missed it, my three editors missed it, my ten beta readers missed it and my illustrator missed it! A great tip that one author suggested is to read your book backward to catch mistakes.
https://kindlepreneur.com (webinars about running ads on Amazon)
https://www.thelittlelabradoodle.com/event (videos from authors about marketing)
My facebook (I follow other authors for research and support): www.facebook.com/stacycbauer
My instagram: www.instagram.com/stacycbauer
My youtube channel (has read alouds of my books and videos of me talking about my author journey).
Author facebook groups: type in the search bar: children’s book. A whole bunch of groups will come up. There are groups that focus on helping with writing, groups that focus on marketing, groups all about Amazon ads, groups about creating school visits and more!
Beta readers: Kid Lit 411 Manuscript Swap
Scribophile.com for critiques. It’s a great community of authors who read each others work and earn Karma Points so they too can publish their own writing for critique.
For grammar help: Grammarly.com
An easy site to create graphics: https://www.canva.com/
KingSumo giveaway software manages the process of allowing people to enter your giveaway, collects their email addresses and allows you to determine what additional entries they get for various activities. It will also pick a winner for you randomly: https://kingsumo.com/
Video of me talking about marketing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcqe_maMPks&t=2862s
Hootsuite app lets you post and review posts across FB, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest from one location, including pre-scheduling. The free plan allows up to 3 social media accounts.
KDP Rocket Home
Kindle Keywords Article
Book Idea Validation Article
Fiction Keyword Strategy Article
Book Description Generator
Add more categories video
Social Media for writers
Get out there. Be confident! Sell your book. Believe in your book. Don’t give up. You can do it!