***Last week I talked about how long it takes a book to go from concept to publication and with picture books you have to add time in for illustrations to be included. If you didn't get a chance to read last week's post, you can check it out by clicking here.***
Once you know your book's release date you can start working on what you will do as an author promoting your own work. In my case I started improving my connections and planning for the day I will have a book in hand to promote. I wanted to start gathering information on what to do, when to do it, and most importantly...how to do it well.
I started by watching my writing heros and mentors to see how they promoted their own books. Studying powerhouse authors like Susanna Leonard Hill, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, and Tammi Sauer gave me the chance to get some ideas on what might work for me. Newer authors like Tara Lazar, Corey Rosen Schwartz, and Elizabeth Rose Stanton are trying new things I might use as well. I'm so proud to call these authors and many others my friends as they always inspire me to do my best in this challenging writing community.
Book marketing is all about getting information out to potential readers. I don't profess to be an expert but I am smart so the first place I went was my local bookstore to pick up some books on successful marketing. Here are some titles which have found a permanent spot on my reference shelf at home.
GUERRILLA PUBLICITY by Jay Conrad Levinso, Rick Frishman, and Jill Lublin
CAUSE MARKETING FOR DUMMIES by Joe Waters and Joanna MacDonald
GUERRILLA MAREKTING FOR WRITERS by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman, Michael Larsen, and Davie L Hancock
There are other ways to pick up ideas for marketing you books. Over the years I've had different subscriptions to publications aimed at writers and all of them have focussed on marketing at one time or another.
SOCIETY OF CHILDREN'S BOOK WRITERS & ILLUSTRATORS (www.scbwi.org)...probably THE best organization to join if you are serious about your writing career. They have an extensive library of articles on their website and members also receive bi-monthly magazines crammed full of the latest industry news.
THE WRITER (www.writermag.com) ...stuffed full of writing articles, market news, agent updates and more.
WRITERS DIGEST (www.writersdigest.com) ...much like THE WRITER with lots of great articles, interviews, industry news, conferences & contests and access to their craft books from their online bookstore.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (www.publishersweekly.com) ...this celebrated publication shines the light on all areas of writing and includes extensive reviews on all genres of books.
There are also many, many marketing blogs and twitter accounts out there offering tips on how to be the best marketer out there. I have a folder on my desktop crammed full of free ebooks offered by some of those blogs just by becoming a follower of their blogs and twitter accounts. Some tips may not work for my picture book but I am alway open to any ideas to support my efforts to tell potential readers about my book, THE STORY CATCHER.
Sometimes, however, the BEST way to generate some marketing plans is to simply "hit the bricks" and visit some of the people who might be willing to support your marketing efforts. I did that very thing three weeks ago during my mini vacation and the feedback was nothing short of amazing to me.
Crossing my fingers, I now have a number of potential upcoming events being worked on including...
1) Possible author visit in early December at a local Barnes & Noble to tie in with local elementary school library's annual fundraiser event. I have donated craft items and worked their booth for the past three years so now the librarian is speaking to the B & N event coordinator to arrange it.
2) Launch party and book signing at Books A Million. I just walked into a BAM store during my vacation and got a chance to talk to the manager. I told her about THE STORY CATCHER and was lucky enough to discover my CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: ANGELS AMONG US edition was on their shelf. She put me in touch with their event co-ordinator who was VERY receptive when I pitched the launch party idea. He immediately sent me the paperwork for my publisher, Anaiah Press, to become a distributor and then we can work on the party details.
3.) My contact at the Children's Festival of Reading was excited to learn about my debut picture book as well, and immediately did two things for me. Not only did she talk about adding me to their local author panel at next year's festival, she also wrote a wonderful letter of introduction on my behalf to the head of the Children's Book Acquisitions Committee suggesting they seriously consider adding THE STORY CATCHER to their collection catalog which covers 18 branches in the Knoxville area alone. This individual can also put me in contact with all the branch librarians for possible author visits.
It truly does take a village to publish a picture book and right now I feel mighty blessed to have so many wonderful people pulling for my book.
What marketing ideas have worked for you in the past? If you are a debut author, what are you planning to do to help promote your own book? Please share your ideas and success stories in the comments below...