I've had fun writing the posts for this series and hope it has helped some of my readers who might have needed some fresh ideas on the ins and outs of marketing their work. In the last post of this series, I look at some of the other creative options childrens book authors have in getting their books in front of their targeted audience. Some of these might work for you and some won't. It takes a little bit of moxie or gumption or assertiveness or whatever you might want to call it to approach some of these venues about doing a book event...i.e. reading, book signing, party, etc. You might have to help educate individuals on the benefits of allowing you to come into their establishment. Remember, it's not about YOU and YOUR BOOK. It's about THEM and WHAT'S IN IT FOR THEM. The easier you make it for them to say YES, the more eager they will be to help you make your event a success. I like to call this my:
THINKING OUTSIDE THE CRAYON BOX MARKETING LIST
Teacher's guides...Create your own set to post on your website and bring on school visits or hire someone like the talented Marcie Colleen (http://www.thisismarciecolleen.com/) to do it for you.
- Hallmark stores...Why not offer to do a reading during the holiday season for free in exchange for being able to hand out bookmarks?
- Street fairs...Check your city's website for upcoming events and see if you can participate in any of them.
- Farmers markets...Maybe they will allow you to set up a booth or hand out flyers
- Gyms...Some facilities have a children's room and some have monthly promotions for their members. Maybe you can work out a deal to do a children's activity during a monthly membership drive?
- Airports...Many airports have retail stores in them. Why not see if there is one carrying books and set up a time when you can be available for impulse buys and a book signing?
- Art stores...Your book will have illustrations. Why not offer to do a reading and maybe even a coloring contest where you provide your book cover as the pages?
Art museums...Same as above or even have a contest where kids can interpret your book in some other art form? Have a contest, offer some small prizes and then do a reading/book signing afterwards.
Craft stores...Like the art stores or art museums, you could have a craft party where you tie in some simple craft with some aspect of your book. Make simple puppets, make a cool picture frame and color a copy of your book cover to place inside. Do a reading/book signing afterwards.
- Church bazaars...Make up a basket for the silent auction, ask for a booth space, offer to provide a simple craft in exchange for handing out your book's swag items
Community youth sporting events...Ask if you can hand out flyers, offer to volunteer a couple hours in exchange for being able to hand out bookmarks at the concession stand.
- Coffee shops...If the coffee shop is inside a bookstore or places like Walmart, maybe you can create a giveaway like for every cup sold the customer gets their name added to the drawing. Hand out a two part entry form where they fill out the bottom but keep the top with your book information on it.
Special interests groups...My book resonates with both beginner readers as well as children struggling with learning disabilities like dyslexia. Find professional groups in your city that might allow you to leave information about your book for their clientele.
- Radio stations...Offer a coloring prize pack to the first ten people to call in. Oriental Trading (www.orientaltrading.com) has a great selection of inexpensive items for prize packs. Don't forget to include your bookmark and business card.
You Tube online video contest...Have a contest where kids act out your story or tell why they like your book. Post the top five on your website and promote others through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. to vote on their favorite. Winner gets a prize pack including an autographed book.
- Book pairing on website or Amazon...If you have more than one book, see if you can bundle them together and offer a discount for the package. Create a collection of 3 or 4 short stories or maybe a short Ebook on how kids can become writers and offer as a freebie with every purchase through your website.
Mail Chimp Newsletter...If you haven't set up a link for visitors to subscribe to your blog, do it now! I use Mail Chimp (www.mailchimp.com). Not only is it simple to use, it offers an easy newsletter template where you can keep in touch with your subscribers.
- Fast food restaurants...Where do you see a lot of kids? McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys! Why not chat with the manager and offer to host a little party at their place? It can be a tea party, an ice cream party, a coloring party, etc. They supply the food and maybe offer something like a free cone or drink to the first 50 kids to come in on that day.
Local kids events...Check your city's online website for local kids events. Make contact with whoever is in charge and see if you can participate. Some of them will allow you to join for free if you offer some kind of door prize or incentive they can give away. It's how I've gotten into the Children's Festival of Reading for the past three years for FREE and been in front of 15,000 people each year!
- Daycares...Think of the number one place you will find kids outside of school? Daycare and afterschool visits can really boost the opportunities to get your books in front of your targeted audience. Suggest acting out your story, coloring contest, and don't forget the flyers going home to parents announcing your upcoming visit. Offer a way to preorder your book so you can sign them the day of your event.
Cub Scouts...Look online for the different badges cub scouts can earn. Create a 90 minute "lesson" where scouts can participate to earn their badge. Call your local organizational leader and offer to visit any pack in the area who would like a free author visit. Break up your "lesson" into three parts...part one is where you read your book to them and answer questions, part two is where you do your main activity (scouts could have completed other parts of the badge requirements prior to your arrival) and part three is where YOU present the scouts who have completed all the requirements with their activity badge (provided by the den leader). Send flyers home prior with pre-order info and hand out bookmarks, autograph sold books, etc. after the event.
- Girl Scouts...Same as the Cub Scout lesson details listed above.
Festivals...Neighboring towns might have festivals where the cost of gas might put you in front of hundreds of potential readers of your book.
- Civic organizations...Think of how your book might tie into their interests. Since my book is about learning disabilities like dyslexia or struggling beginner readers, I will look for those groups and see how I might be able to participate in some of their events. Maybe they will allow my bookmarks to be handed out at their meetings. Maybe they will promote my book on their company blog or website. The worst they can say is no.
School carnivals...Don't forget the annual school carnivals, health fairs, book fairs, etc. where you can possibly have a booth or at least hand out flyers about your book.
There are literally thousands of opportunities out there to market your book. If you can be creative in your stories, then surely you can be creative in the ways you promote them?
Let me know if you have tried any of these ideas before? What worked? What didn't? What do I need to add to this list? Comment below...