In light of the tough market and the need to put up good sales numbers, what have you been doing to market your books? Have any of the strategies worked better than others?
Marketing, for me, is one of the toughest parts of the job. I have no training in marketing. In real life (as opposed to online :)) I’m on the shy side – definitely not an outgoing saleswoman type. I don’t feel comfortable tooting my own horn – I’d much rather toot someone else’s! But these days there’s no money to market mid-list books, and publishers expect you to do it yourself. They assume you have a website, a Facebook page, a blog, and a twitter account and that you’ll be active in social media. I do not have a twitter account, but I have slowly added everything else over time, learning as I go. I have painstakingly constructed a mailing list of schools and libraries within a radius I feel comfortable driving for visits, a VERY time-consuming job, and one that constantly needs updating. Whenever I have a new book out I make a postcard on Vistaprint or gotprint and mail to my list. I also mail a flyer or postcard at the beginning of the school year to let people know I do school and library visits, book fairs, festivals, anything where books are sold, and I do all my own scheduling for these. I search out opportunities to be interviewed on blogs, local and online magazines, radio etc. I do giveaways on GoodReads and on my own blog and other people’s blogs to increase awareness of my books, and I donate signed books to charitable organizations and causes – Reach Out And Read, Light Up The Library, fight against Parkinsons, and many others. I have bookmarks with my characters on them that detail my contact info and pencils with the names of my books on them which I give away at book fairs and school visits. With help from my daughter, I have made book trailers for 5 of my books and posted them on YouTube. I attend as many conferences for teachers and librarians as I can. And I spend what time I can reading up on how to do all of these things better and looking for new ways I can get the word out. I don’t really know if any of these ways have worked better than others – it’s very hard to measure the effect of any of them 🙂 The tough part, aside from the fact that I’m figuring it out as I go along, is that all these things take a lot of time – time away from writing which is what we all really want to be doing.
For the record, I think you are doing a fabulous job! I’ve only “met” you through your blog, but because I’ve come to know and love you through that venue, I’ve bought two of your books. Marketing can be a morass, but it’s good to know what published authors are doing, so thanks for sharing and being so honest about what it’s really like.
If you are a picture book writer with an agent or an agent with picture book writer clients and would like to be featured in this series, please email me at jhedlund33 (at) yahoo (dot) com.