Ideas for Marketing a Self-published Picture Book

My friend Katie Lynn Daniels just launched her new self-published picture book, The Tale of Pirate Shishkabob. She was looking for marketing ideas a few months ago, and that intrigued me.

How does one market a self-published picture book? It’s not like an e-book novel, where you can try to market to people online and get them to buy it on a whim. This is a hard copy, sit-in-my-lap-and-let-me-read-to-you book. The target audience isn’t online! You can’t depend on little Johnny seeing your book in Wal-Mart and begging mommy to buy it. No, you really have your work cut out for you!

But there must be some way, so I began to think of ideas for her and came up with the list below. I haven’t tried most of these, but they’re here and maybe somebody will find them helpful. 🙂

  • Send out review copies in digital ‘cause it’s free! (And seek out places to send ‘em! There are probably tons of sites out there reviewing kids’ books. Here’s a start: http://bit.ly/wNfhGr and http://bit.ly/yj7z9a )
  • Give away a free copy via Twitter retweets or comments on your web site.
  • Tweet and Facebook like crazy about it. Ask your friends to do the same.
  • Make an author fan page on Facebook.
  • Go to your local library and ask them if they would like a copy. At the very least, let them know about yourself and your book! Also, suggest that your friends do the same.
  • Along with that last one, I know of an author who offered to send a copy of his book to the first ten libraries that contacted him for a free copy, and then he had his existing fan base give their local libraries his e-mail address.
  • Another library idea: See if you can do a storybook night as a local author at your library and then read your book as part of the program. And if they’ll let you, sell and sign books afterwards.
  • Likewise, bring a copy of your book if you ever babysit or kid-watch anywhere. Then, if you can swing it, pull your book out near the end of your time with the kids. Try to be reading it aloud when the parents come back. This is easy if the kids love it and ask for it again, ‘cause then you can say, “This is the third time!” when mommy and daddy show up. (Sneaky, I know, but they’re the ones with the wallet! )
  • Get in touch with your local news media (check their web sites for contact info) and send them an e-mail about how you, a local author, just came out with a new book. If you’re “young,” mention your youth for the added wow-factor and you might up your chances of getting an interview. I did this for Incredibooks’ 500th review and got on the front page of the “at home” section of a local newspaper, plus I nearly got on the local news (they didn’t use the interview because I didn’t know what to say and it was terrible… Lesson: Be prepared!), and I got to do an interview on a local radio station (this one was better and did air).
  • Climb onto your roof and shout about your book. Some of the neighbors might buy it just to get you to shut up.

And by the way, Katie’s book is a fantastic piece of whimsical goodness, so do check it out!

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One thought on “Ideas for Marketing a Self-published Picture Book

  1. I’ll add a few more…

    * Make a free sample available for download because samples are a great way to get readers hooked.
    * Establish relationships with other authors and cross-promote each other’s books.
    * Offer a free copy to book bloggers and reviewers.
    * Look for podcasts that talk about or read books in your genre. Offer permission for your book to be read, or offer to do an interview, or offer to have you, the author, read your book.
    * Offer free copies to your local doctor or dentist to put in their waiting room.
    * Try Facebook ads targeting grandparents or parents. Offer that free sample.
    * Try Google ads appearing only on sites were parents or grandparents hang out.

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