Erin and Stephen discuss how to market a kids book and get the word out. It is significantly harder to market to kids than adults, but we discuss several things that Erin has been doing.
Stephen: alright, welcome back to Discovered Wordsmiths. We’ve got the second half of our talk with Aaron Royce and Aaron let’s get started talking about some author stuff. Writing this book, kids book, picture, kids book what are some things that you learned that if you do the next couple books what you’re going to do different?
Erin: Mommy, why was it allowed me to pull together the building blocks of what I need to do for the second time? The second book I write and the third book I write will be easier flowing from a marketing perspective because I have the steps in place already. So it’s been a long process for this first book, but it will make it easier for the next ones ’cause they’re already in place.
What I need to do once, ’cause once you write it, then what do you do? What’s your intent? And then if your intent is to sell it, There’s a lot of steps that you need to put in place for that to happen if you’re doing it yourself.
Stephen: And I think writing another book, the first one, you’re not sure, a lot of people are like, how do I start?
What do I do? Getting that second book is okay, I know I use this word processor. I know I need to do. Yeah. So all of that marketing and everything. And speaking of, what do you use to. Your book, do you use a word processor? Do you do it by hand? What have you used?
Erin: You know what? Typically with mommy, y I wrote everything by hand and then I wrote, I just have files on my computer.
So then I had files saved, so I would just do it on the computer, and then I sent everything to an editor. When it was just the written words, because they don’t want anything fancy. They just, they wanted to see it written and then they tweak here and there. So then
Erin: will put it in book format.
Format. I don’t put it in the book format. They did. So the one I used, so for me it was just an easy process on the writing side of it. ’cause I would long hand then. On the computer and save it, and then I would send it off for editing. I make it sound easy, but it was took some time to find somebody
Stephen: to do it.
Okay. And this question with a kid’s book, there’s not as many words as like a full length fantasy novel for adults. So how much editing and how much do you go back to revise and change things once you’ve written the main, the first draft of the story? I
Erin: didn’t. So with children’s book, children’s books, when I was deciding to do it, I researched, how long, how.
Long do they have to be? Because there is a format out there really that picture books, children’s books are around so many words. So that’s what you want, right? To stick to and around. So when I was writing, I had to decide how many questions was I going to put in the book, and then I would write out the answers and then shorten it.
To be honest, the. I didn’t have to change a whole lot from Word, the number of words to grammatical changes. It just flowed really well with it in my mind, how long it needed to be. It, for me, the content of what I was showing wasn’t overly challenging to put together, but I can see that, that I think it would be harder for novels in chapter
Stephen: books perhaps.
And I, I think, for a lot of people like myself, I haven’t written a children’s book, a children’s picture book. So keeping yourself confined to a sentence length, sentence structure, words for that age group, I think that would be difficult. You can’t, you have to really. I get the across in less words and maybe not the longest, biggest words too.
Erin: Yeah, no, that, that is true. You, you have a limited number of words that you want to say a lot in a way that is understandable for the age group that’s going to be listening to it. Parents will be reading it to them, but the children need to understand that to a point. So yes, you have to write in a language they understood.
And at the time that I was writing it, I suppose my brain was in that four to six year old range, because that’s when I was speaking to my daughter about these things. So it goes to an editor. They also help with that too. They will change with certain words or suggest.
Stephen: Certain structure, probably pretty important to find an editor that understands children’s and kids books.
Somebody that edits 600 page fantasy novels probably wouldn’t be the best choice for a kid’s book. No. Like you need
Erin: someone who’s, I would say, I don’t know if they’ve had to do it before. Some people are just fantastic at what they do. And if you can find someone who’s an editor that can see the differences between.
How a fantasy book should be written and what it should look like in a children’s book and a, or a romance book or a novel in a short story in a poem. If you can find someone that can do all of that’s amazing. I don’t know that you can yet. Definitely, they need to have an understanding of the audience you’re writing for and the content that you’re trying to.
Stephen: Okay, so now you’ve written this book. You’ve got it ready to go. Published digital format, hardback. You got it already. I can’t imagine how. You market that book because all the author talk, all the books on how to market other books, they’re all focused on basically an adult reader. Yeah. Someone that you can send an ad to, somebody that you can send an email to, but you can’t do that with four year olds.
If they’re even looking at the screens they’re not gonna see the ads. They’re not the ones you’re getting email. So how do you even start? To market
Erin: this. So you have to look at who your audience is for children’s books. The children are secondary to who’s buying it because they can’t buy it.
They don’t know what’s out there. So it’s parents, it’s grandparents, it’s aunts, it’s uncles it’s the adults in their life that you have to try to reach out to in some way to let them know it’s there. With Mommy, Wyatt, that’s, I started in. My daughter’s school, it’s in their library. It’s in a couple of the classes in grade one and two, I went in and did some readings and the parents were there.
So the unfortunate part of that is right after that Covid started, so I, everything closed down. So it’s now all authors. Anyone creative has to reach out in a different way than what you would normally do. Somehow to have your content known. But for children’s books it’s the adults in that child’s life to whomever that is, that you’re trying to touch to buy the book so the children have the opportunity to read it.
So for me it was libraries, schools, bookstores, talk to family and friends. And I’ve given some books away as well. My next part is gonna be the hospitals, the children’s wards, things like that. Anywhere where. Where kids are in the age
Stephen: group that I’m thinking of or more importantly, anywhere the parents and grandparents are that take the kids there.
Erin: They’ll be there too, because they’re only four to six,
Stephen: kids are hitchhiking to get to daycare. You said you went into the classroom and read your book and some of the parents were there, so I, it’s, I know it’s probably really good reading and. Kids, but you can’t rely on the kids going home.
Say, Hey, someone came in today and read this book. I liked it. I want to get it. So when the parents were there, did you get parents come and say, Hey, I like that. How can I get a copy? Was did it not help as much as you thought? I’m curious. I
Erin: brought a few books with me, so we raffled off some of them too.
To some of the families. Oh, that’s cool. Yeah I signed all the books and the ones that I brought, I essentially gave away. When I first wrote the book, I thought this is all of my money I’m putting into this. I do not wanna lose a cent to anyone that I don’t have to. And that’s changed over the time because you have to do that.
You have to. I’ve learned that you have to give away and you have to share, and you have to do some of that in order to see it come to some kind of fruition. Yes. I would give all my books away. I did that for the classrooms as well, and the teachers, and I’ve asked ’em to put the information on their blogs this past Christmas.
I partner partnerships I think are important too, so I partnered with. Camp Chester near. So it’s a camp, kids camp that’s been where I live for 25, 30 years. With Covid, everything’s pretty tight, tough. So they had all of my information on their websites. I had their information on my websites. We did some things together.
I did a, 10% off. I will deliver the books to your house personally and sign the books. So things like that. Anything you can think of to get the word out. And social media is a big part of it. And to be frank, it’s not my forte. It’s not what I like to do if I’m not good at it. If I could have someone do that for me, I would.
But there’s so many people are much better at it than I have with Covid and such. It’s just something you have to do.
Stephen: I remember back in the day when I was younger, going to the doctor and they would have Dr. Seuss books or similar books, and when you opened it to read it, they would have. Little coupons in there fill this out and send it in and get a book of the month club type thing.
And so thinking on that now it seems like I, if you give the book to the classroom, give the book to the library, then the kids borrow it, take it home. Oh, I like this. Oh we might as well get it for ’em. And then, oh, hey neighbor, our kid got this book. It seems to me that’s a difficult way to get the word out, but with.
Picture kids books. It seems like probably a very natural way for that to happen, though. Slowly.
Erin: Yeah. And I don’t, I think you have to do it in multiple ways. That’s just, that’s one way that you want the hard copies if you can, in places where children are and that parents are you wanna be present, have a presence on social media and have, let people know what you’re doing.
Everyone’s always interested in what everybody else seems to be doing. So the Instagram and Facebook and partnering up with other organizations I think is a good step as well. So finding some, an organization that speaks to you and makes sense with what you have. So I partnered with the camp because that camp, if they’re children some of them are older, yes, but some of them are younger.
It was a. A place that made sense for me. I wouldn’t partner with, an oil company downtown necessarily. They, you have a lot of money, so maybe that’s a good idea. They could buy maybe 500 bucks. But
Stephen: You wanna there’s some thinking out of the box though. If the oil company downtown is, everybody in your community, you go to ’em and say, Hey, I have this book I wrote and I’m trying to get the word out.
Christmas is coming. How about a gift? To people or even saying, sending a letter, Hey, Whatever, just whatever those out of the box thinking. I just listened to an interview with Mark LaFave. He was up there at Cobo. He used to be. And he was saying how some of his best sales for an author table was at Costco, and he is I would’ve never thought going to Costco, but he said that was better than going to.
Books A Million or Borders or something or whatever they are up in Canada, Indigos or something. But that type of thinking is probably what is needed sometimes to get the word out, especially for something that it’s hard to reach the audience that’s buying it compared to the audience that’s reading it
Erin: Well for absolutely, for sure.
I think you have to think outside of the box, and I think you have to have, I think you have to consider multiple avenues. To get it out there because it is a harder audience. It’s not the one that’s going, they’re not looking at ads and they’re, I had, oh, I had an ad in the paper too for quite some time, which was cool.
And they had a link. So I, my ad was there, but I was also there and you could see me read a part of the book, that went to 10,000 homes in the area. I think that helped too. So you just, you wanna try to think of creative ways and different ways, multiple ways to try to, Reach out to organizations or other people or other places, and I’ve found most people are open.
You’re not gonna know unless you ask. So you have to have enough confidence or pretend you have enough to just ask the question, could I do this? Would you want this? Can we do something
Stephen: together? Do you have any other things coming up for marketing that you thought of that you’re going to be implementing or with Covid maybe less of a problem?
Do you have anything that you’re going to go to that you’re hoping will help push the book?
Erin: I just finished, I just wrapped up over Christmas and in beginning of the new year, just that kind of a campaign. So I had information on my website. I had a couple partnerships. I would bring books out. So I, right now I’m in the process of, I have to sit down and think of what the next step’s going to be with that.
It’s really has to be an ongoing process. And I’m just getting the, some more background steps in place too, distribution and where that’s going through and how that’s gonna look. When you’re doing your own book, you have to make sure that you have the books, they can get to where they need to go.
People can find ’em. And those things almost have to be in place in tandem or before you even talk about it. So I’m still working on that kind of
Stephen: stuff too. Aaron, it’s been a great discussion on some marketing. I hope somebody picked up some tips. But before we go, do you have any other advice for new authors?
Anyone that’s just getting started? I guess
Erin: I would just say, you know what, don’t just do it if there’s something you want to write, just. Don’t second guess yourself. Get out of your own head about worrying about is it gonna go 10? Just do it and take it step by step. Don’t look 10 steps down the road when you’re not sure what you’re gonna do.
If you have, if you’re at the point where you’re writing, then sit down and write If it’s a Thursday at 12 o’clock, and take a half an hour and write. And those days will continue and everything will develop and you’ll do it in a way that’s. Not overwhelming and reach out and ask questions to anyone in the industry.
They will help you get you to where you need
Stephen: to go. I was gonna say I mentioned Mark LaFave a minute ago. I just happened to send him an email from his website just asking a question. I’m like, okay, I know this guy’s busy. He’s fairly big in the community, and within an hour I had an answer and I was, yeah, pretty surprised.
But he seems like a pretty. Upstanding guy anyway, so I guess it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise, but you’re right, I’ve gotten a lot of help, a lot of answers from a lot of different authors, so that’s a great, yeah, don’t be afraid
Erin: To get to dive into it and if you don’t know something then ask that, because the more questions you ask, one person will lead you to another.
That’s been my experience that have helped me. With the building blocks of getting this going the community is, has been fantastic so far. Just do it. You can do it, you’ll see it, edit it. It just takes time sometimes.
Stephen: That’s all. Alright, Erin it was great talking to you and I wish you luck on your book.
I like seeing more children’s books out there encouraging kids to read.
Erin: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. And thank you for having me. Thank you for listening to Discovered Wordsmiths. Come back next week and listen to another author, discuss the road they’ve traveled, and maybe sometime in the near future it might be you.