Today’s blog post is a guest post by Martin Cavannagh. Martin is a writer with Reedsy, the world’s largest marketplace for publishing freelancers. He is also the curator and editor of Reedsy Learning. As a children’s author myself, Martin shares with us How to Find the REAL Target Market for Your Children’s Book. Fingers crossed any aspiring children’s authors reading this guest post would find the tips here useful.
The basic strategy for marketing any book is pretty straightforward: find out who likes your book, discover where they “live” (not just geographically, but virtually), then sell your book there and make it irresistible! It follows that when you’re publishing a children’s book, these principles are the same… with one critical exception.
In the children’s book market, the target audience isn’t made up of actual children, but the “bigs” who purchase the books for them. This might be parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, teachers — whomever. If you understand what they’re looking for in a kid’s book, you’ll realize that you couldn’t ask for a better target consumer:
● They have a simple core desire — to get a book the child will love
● Children go through a LOT of titles, so they always need new books
● Once they find an author they like and trust, they will read everything they’ve written
● It’s easy to find out where parents, teachers, etc. “live” online
With these points in mind, we’re going to look at how children’s authors have effectively targeted these “bigs,” and how you can implement their tactics into your own marketing plan.
1. Hit up social media
These days, parents of young kids are almost always millennials. As a result, they depend mainly on Internet mediums for parenting recommendations. Blogs, Instagram, Facebook groups, Twitter, Reddit: you name it, it’ll have swarms of parents trading tips, tricks, and trends regarding what they do with their kids — which, naturally, includes reading books.
One easy way to take advantage of social media is to search each platform for your target market. For example, you might look through Facebook for children’s books or parenting groups, or groups that have a vested interest in the topic of your book. So if you’ve written a picture book about fire trucks, you can bet there’s a Facebook group of people with kids who love fire trucks — who’re probably burning through fire truck picture books at an alarming rate (no pun intended), and need more to fill up their shelves!
You can also let the people come to you. Try sharing pictures of your book using relevant hashtags that either deal with your book’s subject (#unicorns #firetrucks) or tap directly into your audience (#mommylifestyle #picturebooksaremyjam). Soon enough you’ll get followers and commenters who are fiending to get their hands on your book, and may even be interested in some social cross-promotion! Can you say “two birds, one stone”?
Finally, make sure you’ve registered your book on Goodreads. Even if you haven’t really started your marketing campaign yet, do it right now! Goodreads is by far the largest social network dedicated to sharing books, and merely being a part of it will give you a huge boost.
2. Get your book into libraries
Libraries are a fantastic opportunity for children’s book authors. Why? Because parents aren’t going to buy every single book their child wants, especially when they go through them so quickly! Consequently, many parents rely on borrowing titles from their local library, where they can find all the classics AND discover tons of new authors for free.
If you manage to get your book into the children’s section of your regional branch, then you’re practically guaranteed to get some borrows. And if those parents and their kids enjoy your book, they’ll want to read everything else you’ve written — and might even be willing to shell out the cash for your next title.
Needless to say, getting just one of your books into the library is a stellar investment. The borrows themselves won’t make you any money, but the recognition and popularity you’ll gain among parents and kids in your community will be worth your book’s weight in gold. (Unless it’s a picture book, in which case I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s worth even more.)
That said, to enter your book into a library system, you need to a) convince librarians of its value and b) make it easy for them to order multiple copies. To do that, you should:
● Ensure that your book has a consistent stream of good reviews;
● Make it available through major wholesalers; and
● Introduce yourself personally!
That last point might seem daunting, but it’s easier than you think. For example, plenty of libraries love hosting story hours with authors — offering to do a free story hour is a great icebreaker and the perfect way to curry favor if you want a library to stock your book(s). And meeting your readers face-to-face isn’t just limited to library visits…
3. Plan in-school visits
“Many children’s authors don’t realize that most schools set aside an annual budget for paid author visits,” says children’s author Yvonne Jones. So if you’ve written a children’s book, be sure to take advantage of this; it might even lead to you making a decent chunk of money!
The trick here is to be extremely organized. Make sure you have a plan in place before you contact any schools. Let them know the suitable age/grade range for your book, and email any relevant links, including a cover image, synopsis, and anything else they might want to know about your book. If you’ve written other kids’ books or done similar events, make sure to mention it — a little street cred goes a long way! Then, as soon as the school agrees to host you, send over a summary of your planned visit.
At this point, you should also try secure sales with the parents, if you can. (Remember who your target audience really is!) To do this, ask the school to send home permission slips in advance of your visit, requesting cash or a check to pay for a signed copy of your book. You may want to ask for this payment to be mediated through a teacher or other supervisor, to reassure parents (and to ensure you get paid — you never know if a kid will trade the cash for something shiny during recess). Then you simply bring a few books along with you to pass out, like a performer with a T-shirt cannon… only slightly more school-appropriate.
CONCLUSION on How to Find the REAL Target Market for Your Children’s Book:
These three simple-yet-essential tips will massively enhance your marketing campaign as you embark on your children’s book-promoting journey. And of course, there are plenty of other tricks you can try to reach the children’s gatekeepers! For instance, you might create a book trailer, or you can guest post for parenting blogs. But so long as you direct your efforts toward the actual buyers of children’s books, rather than the children themselves, you’ll be on track to nail down your market and turn a profit sooner than you think.
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