Children rarely enjoy listening to smooth jazz, reading the newspaper, and going out for coffee with friends. They aren't overwhelmed with bill payments, frustrated with politics, or eager to expand their career. Children are different from adults, and marketing children's books is quite different from marketing any other book genre.
Picture book or young adult?
There are many subgenres in the children's genre. Generally, these subgenres are split up by age or reading level. Understanding how your book fits within these subgenres will make it easier to reach the children who will enjoy your book most.
Children ages four to eight are beginning readers or early readers. These books are short and contain only easy-to-read words.
If your book features many illustrations and pictures, it would be classified as a picture book. Picture books are read by children ages three to eight. These are the books parents read to children at bedtime, until the children learn to read and begin reading the books themselves.
First chapter books, generally read by children ages six to nine, feature fewer pictures and longer stories than picture books. These chapter books may feature many very short chapters rather than fewer very long chapters.
Children ages eight to twelve read middle-grade books, which have difficult words, complex structure, and some mature content.
Young adult novels, with the most mature content and the hardest reading-difficulty in the children's book genre, are read by teenagers.
What are other authors doing?
The children's book industry isn't as gentle as it seems. It takes ambition and dedication to compete with other children's authors. Spend time online, in a bookstore, or at the library to see what your competitors are doing right. How do other authors interact with children? Do other young adult authors use social media? How do authors of first chapter books use their web site? In the marketing world, knowledge can give you the power to surpass competition.
Are you award worthy?
Not every book can call itself "award-winning," which is what makes the title so alluring. Parents are especially attracted to award-winning books, as it ensures that their child will read something of quality. But you won't have to win the Newbery Award to receive such an honor. In truth, there are many book awards and competitions that self-published authors can enter. Some awards allow entries only from authors who are self-published or independently-published. In most competitions, winners receive stickers that they can put on their book and are allowed to feature the title of the award on their cover or in the book description.
Who can help?
Local contacts can be allies to any author. For children's book authors, they are especially important. Network with bookstores, libraries, and schools. As many children are excited to meet authors, book readings and signings are an excellent way to have direct contact with your target audience. A local bookstore may host a reading and signing for you and local children. You can also have such an event, along with a workshop or discussion, at a library. Talk with a local school about delivering a speech or seminar. At a school, you can talk with kids about being a writer. Consult with local groups and clubs for children and parents-either church-based, school-based, or otherwise-about giving a talk or signing books.
In most cases, it is the parent who ultimately buys the book. Especially for books targeted to younger children, it is important to remember their parents in your marketing plan. Create a strong press release and send it to local media. Coverage by the radio, newspaper, and broadcast news will give you and your book more attention as well as make you more credible. Another good way to market to parents is to create an author web site. On your site, talk to parents about the benefits of your book, why children love it, and what makes it stand out from other books. Use your site to announce media appearances, book signings, and other events. This will also increase your credibility as a writer.
As a children's author, you know what makes children such an enjoyable audience. Prove to children and parents alike that your book is something they should be excited to read.