When my first book, If Sharks Disappeared, was published in May of 2017 I felt a little overwhelmed. What no one tells you is, being a newly published author is scary! There is no office you can go in to and get feedback from your peers, no one who’s ever had a book just like yours, and it takes a lot of solitary self-promotion to get your book and name out there to your local community. That is not to say newly published authors are not grateful, excited, totally thrilled to have their book in the world — they all are! It is just a very surreal feeling that comes with a lot of exposure.
During the last year that If Sharks Disappeared has been on bookshelves, I learned a lot about promoting a children’s book. Yes, my publisher also promoted my book, but I felt it was in my own best interest to help promote my book as well. This is a decision that is personal and one that not everyone makes, which is fine. But if you read on you will see the things I learned over the last year through research, reading, gathered information from my agents, fellow authors, booksellers, and friends.
– The two weeks before a book comes out and the two weeks after are the ideal times to promote your new book for max sales.
Get involved with local book organizations
– SCBWI: They love knowing about local authors. I would see if they can share your good news with their local chapter member newsletter. You have to be a member for this.
– You might have a local bookseller organization near you (NCIBA is the NorCal one) and they could have authors come talk at their meetings — I recommend seeing if you can do that so you can present the book to your local bookseller community at a meeting and get in with the indie bookstores.
Get to know your local indie community
– Set up a book launch with a local bookstore and get everyone you know to show up! Find your local bookstores on Indiebound.
– Go in and sign stock whenever you can! The signed stock sells more.
– Email stores and see if they have a kid storytime that you can host.
– Each bookstore has sort of an area of schools they work with. Your local indies (and sometimes B&N) can put you in schools for talks which helps sells books and can be a small income.
Set up your network
– Newsletters and blog posts are a great way to get the word out too! You can get free services from websites like MailChimp.
– Get online and get connecting — there are great networks of bookstores, bloggers, and creators out there. Use hashtags like #kidlit and #kidlitart. Join in the conversations on local SCBWI chapter’s Facebook group or the Kidlit411 group.
– Goodreads and Amazon reviews are important. Ask for them from your network!
Festivals and fairs
– Local book festivals, fairs, and things of that nature are great if you can connect with bookstores who host them and get invited to sign at them.
Good luck promoting your book! I am going to apply all of these things to when I promote If Polar Bears Disappeared (on bookshelves August 28th)!