Setting the Stage to Self-Promoting Your Children’s Picture Book
Guest Post by Laurie Monopoli
I equate publishing a book to giving birth to a child (obviously a female perception) — a painstaking process that culminates into a unique, celebrated reflection of oneself. Publicly promoting something that is dear to heart can range from moments of sheer bliss to bouts of disappointing misery. After all, it’s comparable to placing a precious newborn in front of the world to be judged, dissected and scrutinized. You can (and you will) sing the praises of your own book until the cows come home, and still not sell many books. Kudos from reputable reviews sources and notable awards serves a valuable role in the promotion and overall success of your book. So it’s worth the risk to get it out there for some open scrutiny.
Getting started — promoting your book is the reverse of the old adage, “Don’t put the cart before the horse.” I strongly advocate having your book’s search engine optimized website in place, press kit completed, e-newsletter designed, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and HootSuite social media dashboard tweaked and ready to tweet and post – ALL well in advance of your book going to press. And since images speak louder than words, a promotional video is fundamental. It should be displayed on your website via YouTube — the prevalent visual promotional stomping ground to the universe.
Yes, indeed this can be costly and time consuming. I’m going to share with you my promotional strategies, which for my book reaped favorable results. My intention is to offer some insight into my general approach in this article and I encourage you to visit both www.TonyChestnut.com and www.LearningStationMusic.com to obtain links to all of the mentioned reviews, awards, online press kit and other pertinent information. I certainly don’t claim to know it all. Succinctly, when I signed up and began digesting informative newsletters from www.readerviews.com, each morsel of useful tips, guidance and experience began to compile into a wealth of beneficial knowledge. In appreciation, I’d like to share my personal promotional journey.
Book REVIEWS and AWARDS
People naturally gravitate towards products that others deem worthy. Being able to post favorable reviews and awards on your book’s website, in your press kit and across your social media network, is unquestionably a meaningful way to promote. There’s a plethora of literary bloggers and websites sweeping the internet that review every genre of books. However, I caution you to do your research before shipping your book to any review source. Between the cost of the book, press kit and freight, this is a costly venture. To avoid this becoming a wasted investment, only send to credible review sources that guarantee a review within a reasonable amount of time. Ship your package with a verification of receipt and be prepared to stay in constant communication with each reviewer until the review is completed.
Beware of the cons. Some review sites boasted that they do free reviews and emailed me eager to get my book in their hand. It wasn’t until after the delivery of their copy that I received another email revealing they were laden with books and there’s a fee to guarantee a timely review or a review, PERIOD! When visiting a review site, thoroughly read their book review submission guidelines. Before you ship, verify that they are accepting books for review in your genre and request a projected completion date.
Two sites, www.commonsensemedia.org and www.toyportfolio.com have both become popular family book, toy and media review sites with a splash of national TV exposure. However, there is no guarantee they will post your book’s review. ALA’s Booklist and the School Library Journal’s editorial reviews are received with the highest industry regard and respect. They both have a substantial online presence and require no money. Booklist is a bit persnickety regarding their book review picks and both may post unkind reviews.
The optimum time to promote is when the book is hot off the press. After extensive research, I chose some paid review sites that I found displayed professional writing skills, were highly respected and had plenty of online presence. They didn’t put my storybook under a merciless microscope as if to dramatically analyze it in desperate search of finding the minutest flaw. Foremost, the book was critiqued by fair-minded reviewers who were genuinely drawn to my story. All paid reviews arrived promptly and reflected an accurate analysis, overview and examination of the story’s characters, subject, content and conclusion. Since many reviewers post and may even require that your book is listed on Amazon.com, it is advisable to get your book listed as soon as you have inventory in hand.
Since The Learning Station’s connections are educationally based, I chose to submit to awards related to this industry. To date, “The Book About Tony Chestnut” has been graced with five 2010 outstanding awards — Creative Child Magazine MEDIA OF THE YEAR, iParenting Media Award for Excellence,
Dr. Toy’s Best Children’s Vacation Products, Mom’s Choice Awards – Audio Books Gold and Tillywig Top FUN. Awards allow you bragging rights and the opportunity to prolong your book’s promotion. Take into account that after receiving an award (or a review) you should immediately blast out the good news in an e-newsletter, splash it across your social media network and post it on your website.
Most award submissions do have a fee (ranging from approximately $100 and up) and may require multiple books sent. The American Library Association (ALA) awards are without a charge. You will however have to submit a copy to the ALSC office, award committee chair, award jury or even the entire committee (not required but strongly suggested). If you truly believe your book is worthy of an outstanding ALA award then I encourage you to submit. Without a doubt, having your book recognized by the American Library Association is by far a prestigious accomplishment. The ALA 2011 awards will be announced at their Midwinter Meeting, January 7-11. For more information about ALA awards and grants visit: www.ala.org/ala/awardsgrants/index.cfm.
On a final note, keep the faith in yourself and all that you create. Putting your book out into the world opens up a door to having the quality of your work assessed by others. The Book About Tony Chestnut was widely received with astonishing approbation and 5 star reviews. However, there was one somewhat disappointing review that I found quite daunting. I have come to the realization that disapproval and harsh criticism can be taken as hurtful and discouraging, or it can encourage us to work harder and improve ourselves. I have chosen the latter. Also, it’s strangely encouraging to know that there are many famous writers who as aspiring authors received numerous rejections. Some had their works even cruelly trashed. For example, J.K. Rowling’s, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s(renamed Sorcerer’s) Stone was rejected by a dozen publishers. It was actually a child who encouraged her CEO dad to publish the book – PRICELESS!
Laurie Monopoli is an educational specialist, children’s advocate and founder of The Learning Station, a multi award-winning children’s educational music company. She has devoted 27 years to creating, healthy music for a child’s heart, body and mind. Her most recent accomplishment was to bring the much-loved characters of The Learning Station’s internationally acclaimed song, Tony Chestnut to life, in “The Book About Tony Chestnut.”
“The Book About Tony Chestnut” is an award-winning picture book recognized for its ability to capture and engage the attention of even the most reluctant reader. Children are invited to actively participate and connect with the story, its cast and heartwarming message of compassion and kindness.