This is something I’m sure every Picture Book writer or illustrator has grappled with at some time. Here we are, brimming over with amazing stories, poised to make a difference in our world, expectant to bring wonder and joy into the lives of every child that opens our book. That’s all wonderful, expect that it’s almost impossible to reach the audience our stories are intended for, directly. They are children ages 4-8, sometimes a little younger or older.
So how do we reach them?
They don’t have social media, they have homework. They don’t decide to take themselves to the bookstore, they have very little power to do what they want…their decisions about which books to buy or read are made mostly, in part, by their parents or teachers.
We will have to reach their teachers or their parents. So how do we do this?
- Parade at the school gate as parents bring their kids to school, with a large white board advertising our book? NO.
- Hack into school database to get parents’ mailing adresses and send postcards with book purchase information? NO.
- Bribe school librarians to recommend our books to teachers to read to their classes? NO.
- Better, hire a teckie to directly attach the feed of information from those background-listening-Apps like Siri or Amazon’s Alexa to stream all email addresses of parents with kids ages 4-8 directly to us (actually directly to our mailchimp accounts for email book blasts). NO.
- Fly banners over schools during recess, advertising our book? NO.
- Create our own search engine, like “Google”, so that we can create web-based-information-pilfering-lists of parents with kids ages 4-8. NO.
- Become famous so that people will want to publish our books and it won’t be difficult to advertise our books either. Um, NO.
Does this all seem impossible to accomplish, or is it just me?
Well, good thing I joined Hope*Writers last week because I got to hear Tim Grahl speak about how to launch your book. He used ugly words like “marketing”, “platform” and “email lists”. By the end of the session, however, the monster had been tamed. I’m still working on how to reach teachers and parents, but this is what he suggested as first steps towards getting yourself ready for a book launch (his ideas seem a lot better than mine):
- Email lists are still the best way to market your book. Tim suggested calling or texting your friends and family, the first 100 people for your email list, asking them if they would sign up for your newsletter to help you promote your book.
- Next, connect with others in your field, whether you’re a writer or illustrator. He called it “hanging out with people who ‘nerd out’ on the same things as you”.
- Next, connect with those who are one tier above you in your field, and reach out to them to ask for advice.
- Most important, follow their advice and report back to them. And please, don’t ask them to do anything for you unless you have first done something for them, to promote them in some way.
- Ultimately the goal is to create relationships with people, and be as helpful as you can to those around you. When you do ever reach out, send a newsletter, you will be connecting with people who know you and who are happy to help you along your path.
Besides the tips above, there is an array of illuminating information (all of which can be found for FREE in his numerous posts, pod-casts and a fantastic spreadsheet on his website: www.booklaunch.com)
Above all, my biggest take-away was what Tim explained: “If you believe that your book is of true benefit to those who will read it, then you won’t ever have a problem talking about your book, or asking people to buy it.” Genuine belief that your book is ‘of worth’ to others will take you from ‘car salesman pitching’ to ‘genuine you-need-my-book picthing’.
I liked the way I felt after listing to Tim Grahl. I felt like promoting, or launching my book (which has yet to be published) is something that I can actually do.
(excuse me while I go to prepare for my ‘trillion sticky-note-air-drop’ over New York from a hot air balloon – each sticky note has a microchip attached to specifically target parents of children aged between 4-8 – I’m hoping it will work…or I might just take Tim’s advice…)