Monday 11 May 2015

Top Tips for Marketing Children’s Books

Today I'd like to welcome Penny Reeve to Australasian Christian Writers, to talk about marketing books for children. Welcome, Penny!

Marketing Children's Books

If you ask an author what the least favourite part of their job is they’ll often talk about marketing or publicity. Regardless of how unpleasant many authors find these tasks, publishers, booksellers and even readers expect authors to be involved - and this includes writers of books for children.
So, what marketing and publicity strategies do children’s writers use? And are they different to those used by authors of books for a wider market?

To understand this we must first look at the intended audience of a children’s book. For, while a children’s book is written primarily for children to read (or be read to) it is generally NOT the children to whom marketing and publicity strategies for children’s books are aimed. Children are consumers of children’s books, but they are disempowered consumers. Their choice, preferences and financial buying power lie securely with the adults that surround them.

Consider the purchasing chain for a novel for adults: the adult sees the book - they like the book - they buy the book.

Contrast this to a purchasing chain for a children’s book: the child sees a book - they like the book - they must convince their adult to take a look - the adult sees the book - they like the book - they buy the book.

Because of this dominance of adults (be they parents, teachers, librarians, family or friends) in the children’s book buying chain it is imperative that children’s writers carefully consider how to market their books to adults – on behalf of the children the books are intended for – at various points along the purchasing chain. The following tips can be helpful for narrowing down relevant opportunities:

Tip #1: Clearly identify who your purchasing adults are. 

Are you targeting librarians? Teachers? Grandparents? The marketing strategy to each group will be slightly different based on their purpose behind buying. Don’t assume one strategy will reach the ears of everyone, think strategically and purposefully about your target groups.

Tip #2: Find out where these adults gather information about potential children’s book purchases. 

Is it Goodreads? Facebooks? Parenting magazines? Librarian conferences? Find out, and then consider building an author presence in these settings.

Tip #3: Carefully prepare marketing pitches to meet the needs of potential buyers. 

Why should these adults buy your book for their child? What need does it meet? Enjoyment? Education? Shared experience? Something else? Spend some time thinking about it and then prepare sales pitches that adequately (and truthfully) explain how your books meet these needs.

Tip #4: Be prepared to market for the long haul. 

Although you’ll most likely want to get your books out and sold as soon as possible, word-of-mouth remains the best seller of books. And word of mouth takes a long time to build up momentum. Teachers talk to librarians, friends talk to grandparents, parents to parents, and book recommendations are passed on. The brilliant thing about children’s books is that the market repeats itself over and over. This year’s five year olds might grow out of your picture book, but next year’s five year olds haven’t even heard about it yet! Be committed to marketing your books over a long period of time and allow that beautiful word-of-mouth momentum to grow.

Tip #5: DON’T forget the children. 

Although a children’s writer must sell books to purchasing adults they must never forget who they are writing for. Always allow opportunities to interact with children themselves and look for events where children can interact first hand with your books and stories. School visits, playgroup talks, store story-times, library visits, writing workshops etc. Often these events will not translate to immediate sales (remember the potential drop off points in the purchasing chain?). But child centred events will remind you who your true audience is, sales or not, and why you must remain committed to creative marketing in order to get your books into these hands.

About Penny Reeve

Penny Reeve is the author of many children’s books including the popular Tania Abbey Adventures and Find The Animal series. In 2013 she won the Children’s Category CALEB Prize with illustrator Jemima Trappel for their picture book Wonderfully Madison. She now lives in western Sydney with her husband and three children, and will be guest blogging for ACW on the topic of writing for children over the next few weeks.


  1. If I ever write a children's book, I now know exactly what I'm in for and what I need to do marketing-wise. Excellent post. Thanks Penny! (and Iola)

    1. Thanks, Andrea. I don't know if I ever know 'exactly' what I'm doing - but these tips have helped me a lot. I'm sure some are similar to marketing to adult readers also, so you'll already have a head start if you decide to write for kids one day!

  2. Great tips Penny. I've been reading a lot more children's books since I started volunteering with the Pyjama Foundation and I try to put reviews up on Goodreads, but it's hard to know how many people might buy a book because they've seen it there. Hopefully it at least helps to get the word out.

    1. It's great to hear of your review posting, Nola (and your involvement with Pajama Foundation too!) I think reviews do help some readers find good books, and for parents who are tight on cash, a review certainly helps take the 'risk' out of potential purchases.

  3. Penny, excellent post! Thanks for sharing your helpful marketing tips with us :)

    1. Thanks, Narelle. As I said to Andrea, I'm sure some of the tips are transferable in concept to engaging with an older age group of readers too.


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