22 July 2011

So how do you market kid's books?

A popular blogger and writer of middle grade books, Nathan Bransford, recently received some negative criticism for suggesting that users of the free and hugely helpful publishing information on his blog and forum might consider buying the book (harsh, right? Your site, your rules as far as I am concerned). The post is here.

Now I think it is fairly common knowledge that you're pretty much on your own as a debut author when it comes to book publicity, and you have to do things to try to sell your book yourself. I have to be honest, just the thought of it makes me nauseous. Given that the internet is where a very large number of books are sold, an internet presence is necessary.

So what do you do if you are writing for an age that has limited access to the internet? This was raised in a comment by Maureen Crisp on Roni Loren's blog, and I think she has a huge point.

Children of 9-12 don't have unrestricted access to the internet and they don't exactly read a lot of blogs. They are too young to (officially) use social media, and as a stranger, you shouldn't even be trying to reach them directly. It's clear that you are trying to reach them via their parents and teachers.

Now I think that Nathan did exactly what you need to do to reach readers in a previous post, which was to post his first chapter online. Check it out. In fact, sit down with your offspring and check it out together. I follow his blog because I'm a baby writer, so I saw it, and I sat down with The Boy and we read it together. The Boy loved it, so I ordered the book and he is reading it now. But how many parents use the internet to read with their child?

It strikes me that I can't be the only parent of a child who finds an author he likes and ploughs through the backlist. We have hammered Roald Dahl, Dick King Smith, Francesca Simon and several others. Box sets abound in my house. He reads one, and he wants the rest. Writing tasters are what float my boat too. If I read a short story I love on the internet and the author bio says they have a book out, I go looking for it. Disappointingly, I haven't always been able to find it, which means a lost sale for that author. Note: if your bio mentions a book, make sure we can buy it, please.

So wouldn't it be great if there was a site or a network dedicated to free short stories or first chapters from published authors, where we can introduce our children to their writing in a safe online environment and see if it's a hit? The Boy's school gives them limited internet access to use sites like Cool Math Games. How about Cool Stories too? Maybe with enhanced content like games and puzzles to go with them.

Or is this wishful thinking?

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