Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Marketing your digital book: What's the plan? (#giveaway)

If there is one topic that is almost sure to elicit a quizzical frown and not much else from most children's book authors and illustrators, it's marketing. That's the publisher's job, right? We creative types don't want to think about promotion…yuck. Yet publishers can't do everything and there are many innovative techniques nowadays that are often inexpensive or free. And if you haven't heard yet, authors/illustrators are expected to carry the marketing ball more and more these days. If you choose not to participate, your book's sales will almost certainly suffer.

Indeed, the word is that having a "platform" can make the difference between getting or not getting a publishing contract in the first place. And in the digital realm, many authors/illustrators are now seeking to release ebooks or book apps based on out-of-print (OP) as well as original titles, bypassing publishers entirely. Based on my limited experience with my OP book about sea turtles*, it’s pretty tough to get the word out. Putting a digital book on the iBookstore, App store, Kindle store, NOOK bookstore, et al has been compared to tossing a book into a warehouse and slamming the door shut. Now what?
Fortunately there is a terrific newly-released resource for #kidlit creators by children's author-illustrator Katie Davis, How to Promote Your Children's Book: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to Create a Bestseller. (Note: I am one of the 60 contributors to the book and received a free copy.) The content ranges from Your Website and What's Wrong with It to Skype Visits to The Secret Sauce and much more…including social media, of course. Katie has built her platform in a myriad of ways that she generously shares. She makes a monthly appearance on TV in Connecticut to recommend great kid's books; she produces a weekly kidlit podcast; writes a blog; gives keynote speeches and presentations; has judged awards; is on the board of a literary charity; and created two book trailers that made it to the finals in the School Library Journal Trailee awards…she clearly has a lot to tell the average author/illustrator. Not incidentally, her book Little Chicken's Big Day was the 2012 winner in the publisher or author-created trailer category for elementary readers. (I just found this out while writing this post, so big congrats, Katie!)

Here are a few random items from the book to give you an idea:
Book Trailer Rule #1: No slow, loving pans of your cover.

On YouTube: It's easy to forget that YouTube is yet another social media site, isn't it? But that's exactly what it is…

On Contests: Don't have a "contest"—have a "giveaway," or a "sweepstakes," or a "drawing"…I've checked, and you just don't want to use the word "contest."

On Printed Postcards, etc.: Now that you know about all kinds of appearances, are you going to arrive empty handed? No, you are not!

The book's tone is lighthearted and conversational while the content is comprehensive and well-organized. There are many, many tips from the various author/illustrator/librarian/blogger contributors plus links galore to a huge variety of resources. At the end of each chapter is "homework" that consists of action items to do such as Create a school visit page on your site. It's obvious that my internal Excuse-O-meter is going to have more trouble coming up with reasons to NOT work on promotion for my books. I certainly won't be able to plead ignorance! After all, the whole point of writing and illustrating a book is to have people read it, and they can't read it if they don't know about it, right?

Katie has managed to get her book into a number of formats/ereaders including Kindle, NOOK, iBooks, and PDF. It's not easy dealing with the different formats and ebookstores; kudos are due on that score as well.

If you’ve read this far, perhaps you would like to become eligible for a free PDF version of Katie's book. Please leave a comment by this Friday, February 3 at midnight Eastern time and I'll choose a random number to determine the winner. Check back on Saturday to see if you won! The book costs $9.99, which is not bad for over 200 pages, no?

Today's post is only the first on the blog tour for How to Promote Your Children's Book; there will be additional giveaways at some of the blogs, so here is the schedule:
Feb 8 - Shutta Crum
Feb 9 - McBookWords
Feb 10 - Kerem Erkan
Feb 17 - Fiction Notes
March 1 - 12x12 in 2012

Update: Check out Katie's Brain Burps about Books podcast about the How to Promote ebook, with several mini-interviews with contributors.

Thanks for stopping by!

*My iBook about sea turtles, Tracks in the Sand