Marketing for the Younger Audience
Over the past ten years, I have had the opportunity to build websites, animations and online games for K-12 students. It's exciting and fun to build interactive components that are used in school districts across the country. There are certain safety measures to keep in mind whenever you create online products for children. Authors of children's and young adult books share a similar responsibility when it comes to marketing to this unique audience. In this month's column, I'm going to address some traditional forms of marketing as well as online routes.
TRADITIONAL MARKETING METHODS
• Bookstores - Book signings are not the most fun method, so check around your local bookstores to see if they offer special events for children. Everybody can't be a J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series), but be creative. See if you can generate some buzz and host your book release party at a bookstore.
• Library - Okay, you are not probably going to sell a book at the library, but there's nothing quite like "word of mouth." If a parent notices their children checking out the same authors, it's a good chance they may consider purchasing the book for their bookshelves at home. Great to keep something in stock for those rain days.
• Schools - Schools love for authors to come visit. It's quite possible to advertise your visit months in advance and a school representative maybe able to help you sell copies to teachers or parents prior to your appearance at the school event.
• Book Fairs/ Conferences - I remember when I was in school, Scholastic always had a book fair. You can check with your local schools to see if the sponsor book fairs in their district. Another cool resources is to check-out teacher or school administrative conferences. Teachers always want to add new books to their classrooms since year after year, books can get worn-out.
CAN I USE WEB 2.0 WITH THIS AUDIENCE?
Now the big question when it comes to online marketing for the younger audience - is it possible? Let's examine the age groups.
• Early Childhood and Elementary (ages 3-10)
Parents, guardians and teachers are probably going to the be the main audience you will target since they have the buying power. Your typical social media outlets like Myspace.com and Facebook.com may not be effective. Twitter.com has some possibilities, but you will have research potential customers and hope they are interested enough in your profile to follow you back.
• Tweens and Teens (ages 11-17)
It's normal these days to see teens and tweens with a cell phone or PSP. The most popular form of communication for this age group is texting. Not exactly a great marketing tool. Now once again you don't want to market directly to anyone under age eighteen, but you can research online sites where this age group frequents. It's probably best to seek sites created especially for the teen bookworm who has a short attention span. :)
ONLINE MARKETING METHODS
With some ideas in mind about your audience, here are some online tips to get you started.
• Book or "Mommy" Bloggers - Definitely connect with book bloggers. GRITSKidz.com is a great site. GRITS Kidz are real students blogging about books. Visit About.com for a great list of other Children's Books Blogs. If you have Christan-related books, check out aKidzfaith.com and aTeenzfaith.com
Other sites you may want to consider are what I call, mommy-based blogs. Usually a mom or a group of mothers run the blog and are enthusiastic about sharing tips. Bloggers are always in search of new content, so new book releases might be of great interest.
Don't forget homeschooled based blogs too!
• Book Blog Tours - This method kind of goes along with the one above. With some networking, you can organize a book blog tour with several bloggers for your book release. Try to set-up a tour for your book during a particular month using a theme.
• Author Alliances - Sometimes marketing in numbers helps you feel not quite so alone. The Brown Bookshelf is a great example of authors marketing their books as a group. Is there a common thread in your book with another author?
• Youtube.com - Over the past few years, book trailers have become popular. Now not all book trailers are created equal. If you are going to do one, make sure it's appealing to the age group. Visuals are very important, especially for the young reader, which is why good illustrators are highly touted. Recently, I viewed The Ark, the Reed, & the Fire Cloud trailer. The author, Jenny L. Cote, has a great musical soundtrack, graphics and captures the intended audience well with her message to parents.
SOCIAL MEDIA SITES
These are social networks especially for the children's book or young adult authors.
• JacketFlap is a social networking community where you can connect with more than 3,100 published authors and illustrators of books for Children and Young Adults
• Facebook.com - Children's Book Writers and Illustrators - If you have a Facebook account, this group is 2,000+ members strong and was created by illustrator Diane Evans.
• Ning.com - Kid Read - This network is for teachers, librarians, children's book authors, and children's literature lovers who believe that worlds open when kids read.
This article was posted right before Christmas, so I wanted to take the time to say "Have a Blessed Christmas and a Joyous New Year!" I'm looking forward to sharing more marketing tips and ideas with you in 2009.
- I believe in promoting authors and their books. Let me introduce you and your books to online readers.
I'm also a happily married mother of three who's trying to break into the Christian writing field. The writing road can be rocky.
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