Selling Your Children's Book!
There’s a big difference between story-telling and story-selling. Yet, to touch the most people with our work, we should strive to be effective in each.
Even if you’re seeking or have secured traditional publishing, the cycle of actively, passionately and thoughtfully sharing your creation ought to be in constant animation…and here's why:
Publishers only have so much money budgeted for marketing talent. And, as you can imagine, the top earners typically get the lion’s share. This means, if you’re an upstart or mid-level illustrator/author, you can best maximize your publisher’s marketing and sales efforts by tossing in some of your own.
Today: We’re going to explore 5 of the best ways to sell your children’s book!
1 | INDUSTRY EVENTS
Industry events help get your book into schools, libraries, bookstores and more. These conferences aren’t normally marketed or made available to the general public.
What They Provide: Closed-room opportunities to make strategic B2B connections with industry decision makers.
Who’ll Be There: Purchasing librarians, programming managers and book buyers for schools, school districts and universities.
3 Powerful Industry-Only Events for Your Children’s Book(s):
Extra: The CTN Animation Expo could be great for those hoping to have their stories converted into cartoons, animated films, etc. This event comes HIGHLY recommended by a mentor who has worked as a lead animator for Disney and Pixar over the past 30 years. I will be attending CTN this November - and sharing my takeaways here (in case you’d like to hear more about the event before attending).
2 | OFFICIAL REVIEWS
All reviews are not weighted equally. If we’re hoping to convince book buyers our work will be a great purchase for their store, library or school district it helps to show that our book has been favorably reviewed by organizations they respect.
Having official sources speak to the quality of our product typically lends it an air of credibility in the eyes of purchasing professionals.
Over a million new book titles are printed every year in the U.S. alone! So, it helps to distinguish your work by making a stronger case for why it’s worth the purchase.
6 Review Sources That Hold Weight w/Many Buyers:
Some review sources cost and some are free. The tradeoff is, the publications that charge (expectedly) guarantee review of your work, while many of the free editorials won’t promise you’ll receive a review if you submit.
3 | DISTRIBUTION
If you’re traditionally published, your publisher will be primarily responsible for getting the end-product shelf space.
BUT, if you know of a particular bookstore you’d like to be a part of (perhaps a staple in your neighborhood or a shop you love) feel free to approach the store manager/buyer/owner, mention you’d like to be represented in their collection and ask about the process for consideration.
However, considering a distributor more tailored to your book’s needs can be better for your sales and outreach. When it comes to distributors, bigger doesn’t always mean better. It’s primarily about what’s best for your product.
6 Distribution Options for Independent Publishers:
4 | AWARD SUBMISSIONS
Respected awards can be powerful marketing tools. Even if you only come close to winning.
Being shortlisted, making the honorable mention or taking bronze/silver means that you placed very high amongst (in some cases) thousands of category submissions!
Certain awards have a special gravity for publishers and book buyers.
9 Notable Children’s Book Awards:
5 | BOOK FESTIVALS
One of the best ways to share your work is to share yourself. This is especially true if you have a deep, personal history with the book’s subject matter.
As a genuine introvert, it took me longer to surrender to the value of getting in front of strangers than I hope it’ll take you. Sharing your stories and the stories behind your stories nearly always generates sales and amazing personal/professional connections over the course of a festival day.
Some people may be interested in your content, some in your journey as a person or creative, while some yearn to create books of their own and will see you and your achievements as encouragement to keep going.
When it comes to making connections, building your base and selling your work…reputable book festivals are almost always an accelerator.
11 Credible Children’s Book Festivals:
The Reality: After navigating the joys and anguish of creating a story and arriving at a finished product we’re (hopefully) proud of…we arrive at the edge of a daunting abyss: SELLING OUR WORK.
My mission for this post is to help you orient where your energies and resources can yield the greatest ROI for your children’s book(s).
To Help…each festival, award competition, distributor and editorial listed in this article will be covered in a stand-alone piece to offer greater insights into their intricacies.
Sunset: To have these weekly snippets come to YOU, join the B. Creative Newsletter! We’re sharing insider-information and storytelling resources from the worlds of writing, illustration and publishing.
Prefer face-to-face? If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area - we have a Meetup Group in Oakland to help folks through the process of creating their own picture book.