When marketing a book, your job as an author or publisher is to find out who your target readership is, then develop a way to appeal to them through ads, content, events, and other marketing strategies.
With a children’s book, things might get slightly more complicated–you’re marketing less to the end consumer and more to the adults around them.
Parents, grandparents, teachers. They all want to buy a book that their children will love, so the first step to marketing a children’s book is writing and illustrating a book that will appeal to those children.
There are many strategies for selling the book once you’ve produced it. Let’s look at some specific ways to market children’s books.
How is marketing children’s books different?
Marketing children’s books is different from marketing adult books in a few ways. The biggest way is that you might be marketing to multiple groups–parents, teachers, children themselves.
Parents, teachers, librarians, and booksellers will be responsible for distributing your book. Most kids won’t be making the purchase or selection of their own books, and for the most part, parents are going to want to know what their kid is reading.
Your marketing and cover matter have to be appealing to both the children in your target audience AND adults, because parents and teachers are the ones making most of those purchases.
You want something that’s eye-catching to catch a kid’s interest, and to give them a sense of the art style and general tone to come. But you also want something that gives the adults a clear idea of what kind of book they’re picking out for their kid!
Another differentiation from marketing regular books is that kids books tend to have a stronger loyalty in readership. Parents don’t want to endlessly shop for good content for their kids. It can be stressful and time-consuming for attentive parents to vet media for their kids, so once they find a good author, they’re likely to continue buying those books. This is great for children’s lit authors! Once they’re in the door, they’re invited to live there. So how do we get in the door initially?
How to market a children’s book
Now let’s look at a few methods you can use for marketing your children’s books, to both adults and children. We’ll discuss ads, social media, school and library visits, as well as podcasts, speaking gigs, and utilizing an illustrator if you’ve hired one.
Most people’s first instinct when they hear “book marketing” is probably the act of actually buying advertisements, so let’s cover those first.
Another option is sponsoring influencers. You can pay relevant podcasts, YouTube channels, and social media influencers for a spot in their content.
For example, since my YouTube channel is dedicated to writers and writing craft, brands hire me to make reviews or tutorials for their products like NovelPad did or sponsor a video related to their product like GetCovers did. This kind of sponsorship puts your product in front of relevant users with someone they trust vouching for the product.
And of course other ad spaces still exist, like print ads and billboards, but when compared to online options, they’re often too expensive and less accessible. That doesn’t always mean they’re not a good option, so consider your goals, platform, and target demographic before you rule them out!
2. Social media
Most parents of young children are on social media, so you can utilize those platforms for connecting with parents and teachers for cheap or free. This can be as simple as posting your book cover with relevant hashtags. You can use hashtags about your book’s content that kids are interested in (#Dinosaurs #Ponies) and hashtags that target the specific users (#MomLife #ParentingHacks).
You can also search through Facebook groups for your particular niche–potty-training, robots, etc., and connect with parents there.
Social media is high-traffic, low-cost, and can be a very personable way to meet parents and expand your readership.
3. School visits
Many schools have a budget specifically for authors to come read their books to students, so reach out! Email schools and offer to come in to do a reading. Send them a presskit or info packet so they have access to the cover, synopsis, and age range so they can plan which children you’ll present to.
Do what you can to make your visit memorable for the kids, then check to see if the school admin minds if you send the children home with information packets for the parents to learn more about your books.
4. Library visits
Libraries are another great opportunity to connect with children and their parents. Libraries are phenomenal community resources that reach a surprising amount of people. Talk to your local library about ordering a few copies of your book, and see if they’d let you host a reading event.
Librarians are also the best at recommending age-appropriate books to kids.
You might not make any money past that original sale as people rent your book, but it’s a fantastic way to get your name in circulation and gain dedicated readers.
Libraries are a great way for families to have a day out without feeling obligated to spend extra cash, so a reading or book signing at your local library could be the perfect way to both promote your book and give back to your community.
Side note: if you have an indie author in your life and you’d like to give them some free marketing, ask your local library to order their book if they don’t already have it!
5. Get guest spots on podcasts
Given that there’s a podcast for nearly everything, it’s also a given that there are plenty of podcasts out there for kids and their families.
Find a podcast for kids or a family-friendly podcast that you think would fit well with your personal brand. Lots of these podcasts host interviews, so send them your press kit and ask if they’ll take you as a guest. Keep in mind that many podcasts, particularly popular ones, might take a few reach-outs before they get back to you about a guest spot.
There might be opportunities outside of actually having a guest spot, like finding storytime podcasts and submitting one of your books for them to read. You might even write a short story to serve that format and send it out to as many storytime podcasts as you can find.
This is one of the few key areas to market books effectively in today’s digital climate, so much so that it’s a big part of our Sell More Books program.
6. Book speaking gigs
A great opportunity for authors to make extra cash and build their readership is through taking speaking gigs.
If you’re new to speaking or have a smaller audience, you’ll likely start very small with speaking gigs. This is actually great, because it allows you to build experience speaking with less intimidating crowds at local venues.
Figure out your niche, then find groups and venues that serve that niche. You might pitch specific talks to give, or you might just introduce yourself and see if they have a need for a speaker you can meet.
As your opportunities organically grow through speaking at smaller events, your confidence and presentation skills will grow too.
7. Use your illustrator
Writing a book is a team effort whether you’re writing children’s or adult books, but it’s especially true when you’re writing children’s books. The illustrator is an absolutely vital part of your bookselling process, and they might be a huge part of your marketing strategy as well. With the rare exception that you’re a talented writer AND a capable artist, you’ll have to partner with an illustrator to produce your book.
Hiring an illustrator gives you an opportunity to be strategic. If the illustrator already has a platform and successful books under their belt, their audience becomes your audience when you produce a book together.
You can partner with your illustrator in marketing and pull new readers for yourself from their existing platform. Just like writers, illustrators want people to buy their books! That’s double the team for your marketing efforts, to choose your illustrator wisely. The illustrator facet is one of the biggest ways that writing and marketing children’s books is different from other books.
Writing and marketing books for children can be a little tricky to navigate, but it’s worth it! Kids run through books quicker than any other demographic, which means it’s a lucrative genre. There’s also something very special about writing books that people read in their formative years. The values and comfort kids receive from the books they read is worth the work it takes to get those books into their hands.
Need some help marketing your children’s book? Check out this free training just for children’s book authors!
What marketing efforts are you looking forward to trying for your children’s books? Let us know in a comment!