Many aspiring authors struggle to find the right marketing strategies that resonate with their target audience and result in increased visibility and sales. Without a clear plan and effective resources, the process of marketing can be time-consuming and discouraging.
We're talking about children's books! Not only the importance of Social Emotional Learning and teaching that to children, but also self-publishing vs. trad for children's book authors, and tips from author Sheryl Bass.
Self-publishing has really leveled the playing field for regular folks to get out there if they've got a story in them that they want told. – Sheryl Bass
About Sheryl Bass:
Sheryl Bass holds a master’s degree in Social Work and has studied child development. She uses these insights to inform her picture book writing. Sheryl also holds a master’s degree in Journalism and is currently working in public relations. Her goal in creating Be-Kind Publishing is to produce lighthearted rhyming stories with gentle themes of teamwork and friendship. Sheryl resides just outside of Chicago, IL with her husband and two terriers.
In this episode, we covered:
SEL or social emotional learning and why it is important to teach it to children
Pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing from a self-published author perspective
Tips for children's book authors
The Importance of SEL in Children's Books
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a crucial aspect of children's development that helps them understand and manage their emotions, cultivate healthy relationships, and develop empathy. Addressing SEL in children's books allows the young readers to learn valuable life skills that will serve them well in their personal and professional lives as they grow older. The incorporation of SEL themes in children's literature like teamwork, accountability, and empathy fosters emotional literacy and develops essential communication skills. In the conversation with Sheryl Bass, she explains her background in social work and journalism, which led her to passionately believe in the importance of social emotional learning being included in children's books. Her stories focus on themes such as teamwork and friendship through whimsical narratives that captivate young readers. Such books aim to provide a solid foundation for children to develop critical emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills.
Join SCBWI and Children's Book Insider for resources, conferences, webinars, and contests.
Consider using April Cox's Write Publish Sell program for guidance in self-publishing.
Look into Bobby Hindman's editing services for rhyme and meter in children's picture books.
Use Facebook groups for finding editors and other resources.
Visit Laura Bonchi Bontje for developmental editing to find holes in your story.
Utilize vendors recommended by April Cox for finding an illustrator.
Consider self-publishing for creative control over your book.
Purchase an ISBN code for your book.
Upload your manuscript into the Library of Congress.
Use focus groups for feedback on illustrations and character design.
00:06:23 – Self-Publishing and Working with Editors, Cheryl shares her experience with self-publishing and working with editors, including the invaluable guidance of April Cox and the importance of finding editors through Facebook groups. She emphasizes the importance of creative control and finding the right illustrator.
00:11:56 – Finding Editors and the Importance of Developmental Edits, Cheryl discusses the importance of finding the right editor for a developmental edit, which can help find holes in a story and improve its overall structure. She emphasizes the importance of finding editors through Facebook groups and other resources.
00:14:46 – Marketing Children's Books, Sheryl Bass gives insights on marketing children's books. She recommends hiring a PR professional specializing in books and authors. She shares tips on promoting books, identifying relevant awards, book reviewers and podcasts, and using ads on Amazon and Facebook. She also shares her experience using Pubby Co, a resource to review other authors' books and get reviews of your own.
00:23:25 – Traditional Marketing for Children's Books, Alexa and Sheryl discuss the challenges of marketing children's books and how it differs from other genres. They agree that traditional marketing involves going out and getting in front of the community, such as school events, fairs, and author events. They suggest that authors consider hiring a PR expert who has the media contacts to help them get on the news and reach parents and teachers.
00:24:56 – Libraries as a Resource, Sheryl shares that she purchased a database from Eric, who wrote a book on how to get your book into libraries. She plans to send a letter about her book to librarians throughout the US, which can be a great resource for selling books. Alexa suggests that going into schools, doing readings, and creating bookmarks with graphics from your book can also help promote it.
00:26:13 – Creating a Sequel, Sheryl shares that she is working on a sequel to her first book and how it can help sell more copies of the first book. Once readers are invested in the characters and their adventures, they are more likely to buy
Antoinette Truglio Martin is a seasoned author of children's picture books and middle grade books. She made the decision to republish a beloved picture book, Famous Seaweed Soup, an adorable, beautifully illustrated book about independence and resilience, which re-published with a new publisher on May 9, 2023. As a multi-published author, Antoinette has a lot of great advice for authors about the process of working with several different types of presses, both hybrid and traditional, and great marketing strategies that have worked for her.
After spending decades in the children's book industry, Antoinette Truglio Martin thought she had seen it all – until she took the unexpected step of re-publishing her own book with updated illustrations and found out just how powerful connecting with her readers could be. Now, her groundbreaking journey is inspiring countless other authors to share their stories. What other surprises might this author extraordinaire have in store?
Watch how children play, see what they're doing, and write stories that will resonate with them. – Antoinette Truglio Martin
This is Antoinette Martin's story:
Antoinette Truglio Martin, an award-winning children's book author and teacher, knows firsthand the importance of building connections and relationships for successful book marketing. With her recent book, Famous Seaweed Soup, she took matters into her own hands and re-published it with updated illustrations to better fit the modern world. From radio interviews to school visits, Antoinette has been proactive in her marketing approach, seeking opportunities to engage with people and create lasting impressions of her work.
After this episode, you will be able to:
Excel in marketing children's books by navigating school and library networks.
Foster strong relationships to ensure successful book marketing efforts.
Harness the power of social media platforms for captivating book promotion.
Triumph over self-doubt and persist on the marketing journey.
Master the art of writing authentically for children while preserving their sense of wonder.
Persist through challenges and tap into expert guidance for triumphant public relations outcomes.
The Importance of Making Connections
Building relationships is an essential part of successfully marketing a children's book. Connecting with people in schools, libraries, and cultural events helps establish rapport and trust, which can ultimately lead to increased exposure and sales for the book. Networking with key players in your target market, such as the PTA or school librarians, can expand your reach and audience. Forming connections with educators, librarians, and fellow authors enhance your credibility and will showcase your book in various spheres of influence. For Antoinette, using her career as an art and education teacher helped her to engage with schools and classrooms for workshops and presentations. By establishing connections with school personnel, she creates a supportive platform that helps her introduce her children's book to teachers and students alike.
Start a blog to establish your voice and share news, events, and updates related to your book.
Use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter to promote your book.
Reach out to local schools, libraries, and bookstores to schedule author visits, workshops, and presentations.
Join local writer's groups and attend events to network with other authors and industry professionals.
Submit your manuscript to publishers, querying their interest in your book.
Consider hybrid publishing as an alternative to traditional publishing.
Develop lesson plans or activities related to your book for teachers to use in the classroom.
Market your book to homeschooling moms, preschool groups, and other educational organizations.
Use Goodreads and other social networking platforms for readers to expand your reach.
Reach out to local media outlets, such as newspapers and radio stations, for interviews and promotional opportunities.
00:02:23 – Antoinette's publishing journey, Antoinette talks about her initial struggles and how it took about five years to publish her book. She also talks about how authors had no say in how the book would look or illustrations used.
00:20:59 – Local Marketing Strategies, Antoinette discusses post-launch marketing strategies such as reaching out to local gift shops, schools and museums for gigs. She emphasizes the importance of using social media to expand your reach beyond the local community.
00:22:14 – Benefits of the Children's Book Review Tour, Antoinette shares her positive experience with the Children's Book Review Tour, where she was able to engage with a community of reviewers and promote her book through giveaways. It helped her reach new audiences and increase visibility for her book.
How to write a picture book without procrastination, self-doubt or taking months, even if you've always struggled to turn your idea into a story
Our April guest expert is Karen Ferreira of The Children's Book Mastery.
In this free webinar, discover how to:
turn your idea into a story that appeals to your audience, so you can create a picture book that they will want on their bookshelf forever, without taking months or even years
avoid the five big mistakes people make when writing, or trying to write, children’s books and why these mistakes are so destructive
We'll also cover a case study of three aspiring authors that rapidly went from each having no published books, to publishing multiple books, including bestselling and award-winning books. How did they do it and what did they all have in common?
Presenter Bio: Karen Ferreira is and award-winning illustrator and creative director, and the founder of Children’s Book Mastery, where she helps children’s book authors master the process of writing, creating, publishing and selling their books by providing all the know-how and expert support they need. It all started after Karen established an illustration company, GetYourBookIllustrations, with the purpose of providing authors with beautifully illustrated and designed books. In illustrating these books, Karen saw the many struggles authors encountered, which prompted her to start Children’s Book Mastery. It is her mission to assist children’s book authors to win on every step of the journey, from writing, through publishing, through promotion and marketing, and she has assisted many authors to do exactly that through her online training, coaching, and the annual Children’s Book Mastery conference.
Teaching students how to write well involved sharing incremental and manageable micro-steps or risk seeing them sink into a vast bin of hopelessness while staring at a blank sheet of paper clutching a sweaty pencil. I had to trick them into thinking writing was fun and easy. The writing process began with a fun and engaging activity – gathering words. Now retired, and a published author, this pre-write method is still a useful tool.
Every piece of writing inhabits a linguistic atmosphere. Knowing the word environment or content-area words associated with a subject keeps me focused on the big idea. Subject-matter triggers help me decide what to include or exclude in the final product. The quality and quantity of my word bank dictates its usefulness. An excellent word environment naturally produces parameters in which to write, edit, and revise a poem, story, or news article. For me, the word bank supports a formidable liaison between content and delivery.
To prepare for writing Mini Solja Stands on the Shoulders of Giants, I read, skimmed, and scanned black history books to gather words and terms from each decade dating back to 1619. Documentaries, speakers, primary source documents, and museums added to what I already knew about the subject. It was essential to include famous and noteworthy black Americans of distinction. My list of people, places, things, dates, times, and colloquial expressions influenced the outline. Taking stock of the manuscript’s goal through creating a word bank supplied a self-assessment: What did I know, want to know, and learned? What did this subject look like, feel like, sound like, smell like, and taste like? I compared this activity to setting the stage for a play, fertilizing a garden, eating an appetizer before dinner, or warming up before a yoga class. See it this way:
You are creating a reservoir of ideas from an ocean of suggestions related to your subject, theme, title, content-area, or focus.
THE IMPACT OF WORD GATHERING
Because Mini Solja Stands on the Shoulders of Giants was a poetry book with informational and literary elements, the word environment that I created during this pre-write process came in handy when collaborating with my editor. Every printed word dictated a promise to deliver a message of hope, remembrance, and homage to book lovers reading on multiple grade levels. Achieving suitable readability was an ambitious task. Bottom line, were the words generated from my word bank during the pre-write process dynamic, specific, timely, useful, effective, and historically relevant enough to convey the message I would later generate during the writing process? In this sense, the list was not static. It ebbed and flowed as new information became critical to the final product. I organized my words, knowing that the economy of words and ideas was crucial to the quality of the final product. I often swapped, threw out, re-purposed, recycled, or retired certain words depending on how my project progressed.
In short, spending time creating a word bank saved me time, supplied a world of ideas and possibilities from which to draw on, and served in helping to refine my focus.
Remember Yesterday's Giants Cherish Today's Giants Honor the Giant Within You. A teenage boy named Mini T. Solja learns an important lesson about his rich heritage from his grandfather. MINI SOLJA STANDS ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS is a lyrical coming-of-age conversation. This poetic snapshot highlights the stellar history of Black Americans and pays homage to our ancestral struggle and triumphs. Enjoy this timely, engaging, and enlightening book. Additional resources include a list of famous Black Americans and a directory of Black museums.
Renay Intisar Jihad was born in New Haven, Connecticut, where exposure to the arts was as natural as breathing. Serving as a literacy coach for eight, of the thirty years in teaching allowed her to support new teachers, write curriculum, and share resources. Scarves and Bandanas and The Day Josef Found His Pride were short-run publications tailored to the needs and interests of her students. Renay is the recipient of the Global Educator of the Year and a Teaching Tolerance Award. After she earned her National Board Certification, the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) recognized her as one of twenty NBCTs at that time. A Fulbright-Hays scholarship enabled her to travel to Kenya and Tanzania. Other education-related travel opportunities to China, Egypt, Morocco, the Caribbean, and Thailand helped enhance her teaching and writing curriculum. A Michael Jordan Fundamentals grant enabled Mrs. Jihad to produce a book of children’s poems entitled The Many Faces of Poetry. Her sixth-grade students authored original poems, art, and short stories inspired by personal experiences. In the Many Faces of Love, Jihad penned a poem for each of her one-hundred and ten students to honor their unique gifts. Now she contributes to the AF-Am POV (African American Point of View) and the Muslim Journal. Learn more at https://www.renayspace.com/