Ideas from Members for Promoting Your Own Book
Compiled by Rachel Eugster from ideas suggested on the SCBWI-Canada listserv
Add your book to (or create) your own website.
Write a press release and send it to local media outlets.
List your book on the SCBWI website.
Send ARCs to reviewers and others who can promote your book (your publisher may be sending them out, too.)
Take advantage of blogs.
At livejournal, other writers can “friend” you, which allows their friends to check out your books.
Take advantage of writers’ listservs, discussion groups, and boards. These are most effective if you already have a presence on them—people are more likely to buy your book if they’ve gotten to know you a little.
Join the YALSA list if your book is YA, but again don’t just fly by. It’s best if you can get a friend to mention your book rather than doing it yourself.
Place free articles in online databases where zines and newsletters will pick them up to place in their own content. Include your bio and link, so people can find and purchase your book. This can increase the number of visits to your website, which will place it higher in the search engines.
Donate a copy of your book to your local library.
Ask your local bookstore to stock your book. When friends and relatives want copies, send them there.
Leave copies in waiting rooms, for example at your doctor’s and dentist’s offices.
Make postcards of your book cover.
Make bookmarks, ditto.
Make pens with your book title, website address, and name on them. Leave them around town and in waiting rooms for people to pick up.
Visit librarians to talk up your book.
Offer to hold a book signing at your library. With your publisher’s permission, buy your books at your discount price, sell them at full price, and donate the difference to the library
Create worksheets for writing workshops to offer schools.
Bring bookmarks (especially good for kids who can’t purchase books on the spot).
Bring a few copies of your book.
Donate a copy or two for a draw.
Bring handouts related to the book that the kids can take home. (One SCBWI member gives each child a signed copy of her book, a bookmark, a rock, a pouch of glitter, and an index card with the chant that transports her characters to another world.)
Hold a kids’ writing contest to promote your book or series.
Organize book signings.
Organize a multiple-author book signing with a few colleagues. This might catch the attention of local media and could increase attendance.
Book Expo draws independent book sellers as well as staff from the big chains. Bring your business card and your book. Ask your publisher if you can sign there.
Promoting your Book on a Shoestring by Nancy Bentley & Donna Guthrie offers a solid overview of all the basics for developing promotional materials and author presentations, based on the authors’ experience as writers of children’s books.
An Author’s Guide to Children’s Book Promotion, a slim but substantial book by Susan Salzman Raab. Raab is a marketing and public relations consultant specializing in promoting children’s books. (As the marketing advisor for SCBWI, she contributes a column to the newsletter.) The book provides a good overview on a broader range of topics in marketing, publicity, and promotion, including book distribution, radio and television interviews, and the creation of specialized materials like teacher’s guides.
How to Promote Your Children’s Book: A Survival Guide for Published Writers is by Evelyn Gallardo, an author/wildlife photographer who has done a lot of public speaking and has served as a consultant to children’s authors. With its jungle-themed survival guide approach, it puts a different spin on the job of promoting your book (Field Prep, Survival Gear, Bush Tactics, etc.), and provides a more detailed view of the subject, including many samples from the author’s own materials, as well as covering a few topics that are not touched upon in the other books, such as the use of the internet as a promotional tool. Unfortunately, it appears to be out of print, and the author’s website, www.evegallardo.com, where it was once available for purchase, seems to have disappeared, but there may be used copies out there.
Jump Start Your Book Sales: A Money-Making Guide for Authors, Independent Publishers and Small Presses by Marilyn & Tom Ross (a Writer’s Digest Book), unlike the others, is not for children’s authors only, so not everything will apply. But if you want to stretch your thinking as well as your self-promotion comfort zone, this book is packed with exciting ideas that go well beyond the ordinary (although they provide plenty of detail on the basics, too) and offers a very thorough and detailed guide to making the most of promotional opportunities.
Frugal: What Your Publisher Won’t Tell You by Carolyn Howard Johnson (California Women’s Literary Award, Book of the Year) is packed with any type of promo you can think of. It’s available on amazon.com.