Marketing is usually pretty cut-and-dry. You have an audience you’re trying to reach, and you do what you can to reach them. But what if you have a whole segment of people whose attention you want but that don’t have any buying power? Well, that’s a whole different ballgame.
Marketing to kids is made more difficult by the fact that you have to appease not one but two people: the child and the parent. Because of this two-pronged approach, marketing kid’s books can be tricky. So here are some handy tips to consider:
Mind the law: The laws around Internet marketing toward children under the age of 13 are very clear and very strict. Make sure you familiarize yourself well with the COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) laws before you do any contests, giveaways, or other promotions targeting children online.
Build a Robust Website: All authors could benefit from a good website, and children’s book authors are no exception. Make it easy for parents and educators to know if your book is appropriate for a child by outlining the book’s story and themes, providing your bio, and surfacing any quotes from other authors, teachers, or librarians. Additionally, consider putting up downloadable activities, or a reading group guide, that teachers can use in their classroom. Here is a great example: TraceyJaneSmith.com.
Befriend your local librarians: Busy parents can’t always keep up with the latest in kid’s lit so they rely on not only their kids’ requests, which are usually based on what their friends are reading, but also librarians. So introduce yourself to your local youth librarian, volunteer to host a book club–based on your book or a classic, and find out what programs (a.k.a. summer reading) you can potentially get your book into. To get the word out to the larger educator community, make sure to increase your presence on Facebook, Twitter, and via blogging, too.
Tap into the Mom Market: Moms rule the web. From blogs on nursery decorations to the best strollers, it’s where they go for recommendations, including what-to read with their kids. So make a list of the top mommy bloggers who write about products for the age range you want to reach. Make sure to pitch bloggers as you would the more traditional media and offer a free physical or e-copy of your book. Mom blogs tend to be highly curated, so writers will want to read through your book to make sure it fits their standards before mentioning it.
Talk to teachers: If you don’t know any librarians, seek out teachers you know or know of through friends and family. Ask if you can donate your book to the classroom (or school’s) library and offer to come in and teach a fun, interactive lesson about the book’s theme. Maybe there’s an opportunity for you to teach a once-a-month writing class. This is a great way to grow your contacts within your community and get the word out about your book. If you have more money to play with, consider handing out copies (with the teacher’s permission) to students for their home library. There’s a word-of-mouth community among even the youngest kids!
Find a PR hook: The big holidays for adult books tend to be Mother’s and Father’s Day, the traditional holiday season, and summer reading, among a few others. Yet for children’s books there a number of book events overlooked by media that focus on grown-up titles, like Earth Day, back-to-school time, Thanksgiving, and Halloween. If your book has even the slightest slant towards any child-centric holiday make sure to pitch local, regional, and even national media 6 to 8 weeks beforehand. Check out these articles on how to write a press release or approach the media beforehand.
These are just a few tips for children’s book authors but there are many more. Care to share any of your own, Lulu authors?