What I love about Katie Davis is how she can make even hard work fun. This attitude is on full display in her new eBook How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Create a Bestseller, 30 chapters of practical advice about things like plotting your strategy, using social media, growing your mailing list, and using videos in ways beyond book trailers. I edited the book (disclaimer!), so I know there’s great info in it, from Katie as well as the 60 authors she interviewed for the book. Katie visited DearEditor.com as a Guest Editor last year to sort out the benefits of podcasting versus adding video to your website. Today she answers readers’ questions (and my own) about promoting books. At the end of the Q&A are instructions for entering a drawing for A FREE PDF DOWNLOAD OF HER BOOK.
Katie, you’ve got a lot of on-going promo tools such as your weekly podcasts. When you have a new book coming out, how far ahead of your pub date do you start book-specific promoting?
My mind can wander, imagine, plan and think of specifics while I’m finishing up the art (not the writing—I can only think of the story when I’m writing). With Little Chicken’s Big Day, every time I had a new idea, I added it to The List. Then once I turn in the art I can pay attention to that list, anywhere between 18 months to a year before the book comes out.
How do you balance your writing and promoting time?
Last year I did not do well on the balance thing! So far this year I am getting up early, doing a little social media action over coffee, and then I turn everything off and write in the mornings until lunch. After lunch I do other kinds of things, like my podcast or email answering, blog writing, etc.
Will the promotional strategies in your book work for novels, too?
Actually, it would work for any kind of book—including adult books. And in fact, the basic principles would work for any kind of promotion, though the examples are specific to children’s books.
And now a few questions from DearEditor.com readers…
I love your trailer for Little Chicken’s Big Day! What’s one effective way to use a trailer? —Anonymous picture book writer
One? Just one? Sorry. Can’t do that! Here are many things to do with your great book trailer:
- Upload it to YouTube (you can use up to four different titles in order to upload four times, broadening your reach)
- embed on your site
- upload to other video sites like teachertube.com, booktrailersforall.com, and kidlitbooktrailers.ning.com/video
- include the YouTube URL in your signature
- create a QR code and include it on your business card
- enter it in trailer competitions like the Moby or SLJ Trailee Award contests
Does it make sense to send free promo copies directly to teachers, as a contribution to their classroom libraries? —BrickToyNut, MG fantasy writer
It would certainly be nice of you! It makes sense if you want to thank a particularly supportive or helpful teacher. However, if your goal is to generate word of mouth in the teaching community, I’d recommend holding a giveaway. Then tweet, blog, and Facebooking it to teachers would be far more effective. If your goal is to generate sales, it might be better to send support materials to tempt them to use the book in the classroom. You could do other things to be helpful, like offer “value added” services to make it worthwhile to purchase your book. Offering a free Skype Q&A to the class after they do an author study would be a great example of that. To connect with teachers for this kind of promotion, check out http://skypeanauthor.wetpaint.com/ or http://www.katemessner.com/authors-who-skype-with-classes-book-clubs-for-free/.
How important is it to create a teacher’s resource guide to go along with the book? —BrickToyNut
It depends on the target age of your reader. Picture books should have activities or puzzles, or anything that extends the impact and value of your book. Middle grade and young adult novels should absolutely have a resource guide. You can offer it as a digital download on your site and other sites that sell your book, and if you have it printed you can make it available at book fairs, festivals, and school visits. I have one for a middle grade novel I wrote that did not do well, but I’m glad I have it because the teachers I’ve given it to love it!
Out of the many suggestions you have on how to promote a book, which one would you say has the highest success rate? —Kurt Chambers, YA fantasy writer (whose first novel, Truth Teller, pubbed last week!)
Congrats on your debut!
Genuine reciprocity is the best way to live online. It’s the thing I emphasize most in How to Promote Your Children’s Book. That means:
- give before you get
- support others
- follow blogs not because you hope they’ll review your book but because you like what they have to say
- engage in your community and connect
What does that look like?
- Tweet someone’s blog post because you like it
- Tell others about a great site
- Blog about something that will help other people
I wanted to make this tour worth it for anyone who would help me so I
bribed enticed my hosts to join in the fun work by gifting them their own copy of the book. There is also promotion for them because they’re each linked on every blog I’m visiting, as well as on my own site. As hokey as it sounds, the thing that works best for me is to always try to give more than I get. It feels good to help others and if it feels good, you’ll be more likely to keep up with your promotional efforts, too.
How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Create a Bestseller: PDF / For kindle / For Nook /For iPad, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Follow Katie’s blog tour for more promo insights & giveaways:
- Feb 1 – E is for Book
- Feb 2 – Banana Peel Thursday
- Feb 3 – Creative Spaces
- Feb 6 – DearEditor.com
- Feb 7 – Writing With a Broken Tusk
- Feb 8 – Shutta Crum
- Feb 9 – McBookWords
- Feb 10 – Kerem Erkan
- Feb 16 – Elizabeth O. Dulemba
- Feb 17 – Fiction Notes
- March 1 – 12×12 in 2012
- March 2 – Christine Fonseca
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post by midnight Wednesday, Feb 8, to be included in the random drawing for a free pdf edition of How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Create a Bestseller. Winner to be announced Thursday, Feb 9.
Katie Davis has published nine books and appears monthly on the ABC affiliate show, Good Morning Connecticut, recommending great books for kids. She produces Brain Burps About Books, a podcast about kidlit, a blog and monthly newsletter. Katie has volunteered in a maximum-security prison teaching Writing for Children and over the last dozen years has presented at schools and writing conferences. She’s a 2010 Cybils judge and has also judged the Golden Kite, smartwriters.com, and Frontiers in Writing awards. Recently Katie was selected to be on the Honorary Advisory Board for the Brooke Jackman Foundation, a literacy-based charity. For more about Katie and her book, go to www.KatieDavis.com.
Katie’s work schedule sounds effective, especially the “turning off” part so she can write. Promotion planning and execution can be such a time stealer, I find I must be militant about protecting writing time!
Because Life and projects are always in flux, I find that I’m constantly adjusting my writing/promo/Life balance and looking for new tactics myself. So I like hearing what others do to protect their writing time.
I love Katie’s books and her book trailers. I would love to win her book about promotion.
Thank you! Good luck!!
Thanks for the tips! I only recently discovered Katie’s podcast and they are so interesting.
Wait till you hear this week! And Deborah’s on it, too!
I’m thrilled to learn about your great podcasts. Love them. So informative.
What a great interview. I’d love a chance at a copy of the book.
Thanks, Katie, for all the great tips! It’s so hard to figure out where promotional time is best spent and your book sounds like it has all the answers.
Can’t wait to read it (would LOVE to win it!)
Well, at least it has SOME answers! A lot of answers…dunno about ALL!
Exceptional post. Listening to Katie and reading her blog has been unbelievably informative. She has such energy that it is more than refreshing. I absolutely love her constant mention of reciprocity. Thanks for having her on today, Deborah. And…I would love to win her book 🙂
And I love that she’s not afraid to tell you what she’s learned DOESN’T work… and how she learned it.
Great advice, Katie! I love your podcasts.
My debut YA Elixir Bound comes out as a e-book with MuseItUp publishing later this year, so I may just pick up a copy of this book (if I don’t win it).
Congratulations, Katie! I just read the blog post you wrote about hearing your news. Big year for you.
Congrats!on your debut! I definitely think it could help you, whether you win it or not. Make sure to check out the part about Twitter Book Birthday parties!
The book sounds awesome and the ideas presented here are excellent. Thanks!
Sounds like I’ll have to finally learn about “blogging” and “tweeting” after all! Great tips.
Katie, you are a wonder. Your generous spirit of sharing is much appreciated. In Joy, Marsha
Wow, these suggestions are so helpful! Thank you!
Why is it that men who write children’s books don’t seem to follow the give more than you get theory? I wonder what a man’s promotional tips might be and how different they are from a woman’s approach. And how do you get a publisher’s support if you are a female author? Case in point: A Newberry Honor winner (female) was at a conference and her editor was there too. But rather than begin there to promote her book, the editor was there to promote a first time male author. I wonder how many women are accompanied by their editors on book tours? Just curious.
I hadn’t noticed such a trend, N. Could it be more of a numbers issue? More women write children’s books so it appears as if more women are promoting others. I’ve encountered much support and word-spreading with male writers. Bruce Hale, Gary Soto, Jeff Hirsch, MT Anderson, DearReader.com guy readers who blog and tweet supportively.
In the case you cited, it does seem like the ed should be supporting both authors if they are at the same conference. There’s a larger company reason for touring a debut author. That’s not usual. Hmmm, intriguing.
Yes, this does sound intriguing. I’d love to know the whole story. And btw, I know pa-lenty of generous men in this biz. I also know of self-involved, unsupportive women. It’s an individual thing I think.
I’m a man and I write children’s novels. I spend a massive amount of time helping support other writers. I love helping them because of all the kindness they have shown me when I started out. I also spend most of my spare time in the evenings running the Young Adult Novel Workshop helping to mentor new and published authors as a volunteer. Admittedly, I’m the only bloke in the forum. I think men are in the minority when it comes to writing for children.
Hi, Katie–your energy is amazing! Thanks for sharing your book-promotion tips, too. Do you e-pub all your books?
Thanks! Actually, all my books have been published by the big traditional publishers: Harcourt, Greenwillow (Harpercollins), McElderry (S&S). This is my first eBook. I’m working on a trailer for it now, too!
Great job, ladies. Now I feel like if I’m even considering publishing I must read “How to Promote Your Children’s Book”. I hope I win a free copy.
You’ve given us solid ideas to consider. Can’t wait to read your book!
What a great post! Now if only I can make myself be as organized with my time, I might accomplish a fraction of what Katie does in a given day. 🙂
Thanks for the great info and ideas, Katie 🙂 I love your answer to my question. I only just recently discovered how hard it is to promote a book, and I think with the boom in indie publishing, your book is just what authors like me could really benefit from. Good luck! I’m sure this will sell by the bucket load.
Oh, I nearly forgot, thank you so much for the mention, Deborah 🙂 You’re so nice!
This sounds like an excellent book to review on my blog. As the Member Liaison for Northern Colorado Writers, we have quite a few writers who specialize in children’s books. I’m going to post a note on our Yahoo! Group and see if I can send a couple more visitors your way.
Fabulous, Patricia! Always glad to hear when something is particularly helpful to fellow writers. Thanks!
Thanks for all the great tips and ideas Katie! I always learn something new when I visit your site and read Dear Editor. Thanks for all your hard work and helping others!
I like that the tips are centered not just on promoting your book but reciprocity: give before you get. Helping all writers helps us all.
Love this post! I would love to win a copy of your book.
I really want to thank everyone for the kind comments! This blog tour has been SO much fun, and I can’t be sure but it definitely feels more successful than other launches I’ve done. Thanks, especially to Deborah!
So many great tips here. Hopefully one day I’ll have my very own shiny book to promote. 🙂
What a valuable resource this book will be. If I don’t wind a pdf download, I’ll be purchasing the book. Getting ready for the day I actually sell a manuscript. Thanks for this opportunity.
These are great ideas, Katie. I get ideas for promotion but don’t worry about them because publication is further off, but it makes sense to jot them down for later. I will from now on, including the link to this article and your ebook. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading you book.
Count me in! This sounds like a great book. I need it!!
Katie, thanks for your tips. I have a picture book coming out next year, so I’m beginning to collect promo ideas.
Now’s the time! If it’s coming out next year you need to start planning your ideas, weighing alternatives, and creating a plan. Congratulations! And to those who are hoping to be able to have a book to promote…good luck!
Wow, Katie. Thanks for the awesome info — and look at all the responses to your post! Thanks also to Deb for highlighting you, your book and your blog tour so we can all learn more. 🙂
Great ideas for promotion here!
Very cool! Thanks so much. Looking forward to learning a lot!
Wow! I bet this is super helpful. I can’t wait to read it!
Help! I need a lot for this least favorite part of the job!
Am both wowed and bowled over by the specificity here. Many thanks.
Edith Hope Fine
I *love* the clarification on when to send free promo copies of your book. There really are different reasons why and we don’t always stop to think about our specific end goal (thanks vs word of mouth vs community support vs sales). If I don’t win your book I’m buying it on the 9th! 🙂
This was very enlightening, and I’m grateful for the insight provided on this site, as always.
Good luck to everyone who enters!
Can’t wait to get a hold on this book…think though I’ll buy it on Kindle because I like to have it ready to read and re-read on my phone at random moments. Love the podcast which I only discovered two weeks ago!
Wow! Great information! I didn’t realize there were so many ways to promote a book. Thanks so much!
Working on our first children’s book with a friend and looking forward to what looks to be some great advice from you to help with our success! THANKS!
The idea of recciprocity within the context of writing completely makes sense the way you’ve explained it. Thanks for the insight!
Ooh! Great links! Can’t wait to check out Katie’s book.
This is such a great idea for a book. I haven’t published anything… yet, but it’s nice to know this is out there for when I do break through.
I love reading Katie’s comments on advice. She has so many great ideas! Thanks for the giveaway.
I’m interested in tips on generating excitement and promotion of non-fiction books. Any suggestions?
Would like all the help I can get. Maybe should send a copy to my editors as well!
Great tips in this post! I can only imagine how helpful the book is. Thanks for the giveaway.
We’ve got a giveaway winner: Julie K. Congratulations!