Now that “Why Kimba Saved The World” is settling into the business of getting noticed and sold, I am forced to enter into a whole new world of self-promotion. Normally, whatever publishing house bought your book would take care of all of this nonsense. It would tell you where to show up for a book signing or event and make all the calls and connections for you. Self-published authors have to pay for this service or do it themselves. Paying for promotional work is very pricey (and rightly so, it’s nasty, time-consuming work). Promoting and selling a self-published book can feel like one big game, and it sort of is. Knowing how to play is the key. Thank goodness I have a degree in Public Relations.
Back in the late 80’s when I completed that degree, the game was very different. It was more about working for big corporations and writing press releases to help promote or cover up something. By the time I was in my last year, I knew I didn’t really want to do that for a living. It was just a core group of classes that I really enjoyed. Lots of English, Journalism, Creative Writing, and Technical Writing. I never worked a day as a publicist (I went back to school to earn a teaching degree), and I never thought I would. Until now.
Most afternoons when I sit down at my computer to face the challenge of how to get my book noticed and appreciated, I hear Queen singing “Play The Game” in my head. It is a very elaborate game, so I’m grateful for the generous spirits along the way who share their advice freely. I have links to them in my blog roll already, but I should give a shout out to Katie Davis and Joanna Penn. Both of them offer lots of products and seminars and blogcasts you can purchase for in-depth information, but they are also free with the freebies. If you are in the same boat as me and need to know how to play this book promotion game on your own for as little cost as possible, start with these two women. They will give you enough fodder to stay busy for many months. I have never met either of them and have no vested interest in whether or not you purchase their products. I just highly recommend them.
My current game is to get book reviews. This is VITAL if you want to play the amazon.com rank and algorithm game. No one knows exactly how it all works, and they seem to be changing the game from month to month so you must stay up to date on what they like and don’t like, but the big #1 whammy to get better rankings is reviews. They don’t even have to be fantastic reviews. It seems to be very much about quantity and who those reviews are from. My first target was the top 1,000 ranked reviewers at amazon.com. Yes, it was a lengthy process, but I made sure that anyone I was in contact with was willing to review children’s books. In the end, out of 1,000 I made contact with 28 of them. Three responded and agreed to be sent a copy and do a review. I’m not sure if that is a great percentage or not. It does not feel like a home run, but it’s something.
Now on the agenda is getting in touch with bloggers who do book reviews. Again, I’ve taken a big list from a web site, narrowed it down to potentials, and now I am going through one site at a time. Sometimes it is immediately clear that the site would be a bad fit. Books on vampires or romance novels (or worse) filling the pages are a good hint. Out of the first 30, I’ve send requests to 7. One has responded enthusiastically and already has the epub file to review. Many times you just submit an author interview format which may or may not be posted. We shall see where that all leads. It’s not an amazon review, but it’s web traffic and may lead to more later.
It’s a game. It is not for the timid or the part-timer. Self-publishing allows for wonderful opportunities for so many people to get their books out into the world. Getting them into people’s hands is a different matter altogether. So I get up every day, write my 1,000 words on “Vacation Hiro,” and then I spend a few hours playing the game of finding an audience for my first soul book baby in a vast sea of children’s books. But this game is just the opposite of “War Games” — if you don’t play, you can’t win. So onward I go.
And here’s a fun Kimba picture because everyone loves cute cat pictures.
If you are just getting started with a children’s book promotion, I highly recommend “How To Promote Your Children’s Book,” by Katie Davis. I have not even made it through all of The Creative Penn’s free blogs and audios, but I’m sure her stuff is great too.