Marketing Children’s Books – Advice Needed

A friend of mine – Silvina De Vita – has self-published her first book Emilio – A Picture Book For Children.

She both wrote and illustrated it, and it just went live yesterday.

Silvina is very new to the world of self-publishing, and I was giving her some advice on how to go about it.

Sometimes images don’t look great in e-books, and the placement of the text in relation to the image can be tricky.

Silvina took an interesting approach where the text is actually incorporated into the images itself, so that each “page” is just an image, which gave her a lot more freedom in terms of fonts and placement of the text.

The result is beautiful – I really love the illustrations – and I bought a copy for my brother’s kids. Obviously, it will look best on a laptop, iPad, or iPhone where you can see it in full color, but I believe it looks good in black and white on the Kindle too (I don’t have one to check).

Here’s the blurb:

Emilio is very small toy. His owner – James – takes no notice of him at all. But one day, Emilio finds out that being small can be very useful indeed.

Follow Emilio on a voyage of discovery and enjoy the fun pictures and rhyming text.

“Emilio” is a picture book for children aged 1 to 6 years old.

I don’t have the first clue about how to market children’s books, and I don’t know many authors who write/illustrate books for young children. I presume you are marketing to the parents, but that’s about all I know.

I would really appreciate it if any of you guys could help give some advice to a self-publisher who is just starting out.

Silvina is from Argentina but living in London. As such, she is a native Spanish speaker, and fluent in English. She has plans for a range of books for the same age group, and is planning Spanish editions as well.

I think there are great opportunities to sell both to Spanish speakers and to Americans who want to teach their kids Spanish in a fun way. But the first step is marketing this English edition.

Targeting the parents is the tricky part, and any help or advice would be appreciated. I think she has a really great book here, and we just need to get her some help in getting the word out.

Silvina’s blog is here. She’s also a graphic designer, and she blogs about art and design here. Both blogs are brand new, so there isn’t a huge amount of content there yet, but there will be.

If you are interested in checking out Emilio – A Picture Book For Children it’s available for $2.99 on Amazon US, and for £2.29 on Amazon UK.

It will be available shortly on Smashwords for those with other e-readers. If you would like me to send you a message when it’s available, just leave a note in the comments.

Most importantly, if you have any tips or advice on how to market children’s books, if you have any links that would be of use, or if you can put me in touch with someone who could point her in the right direction, that would be greatly appreciated.

About David Gaughran

David Gaughran is Irish, living in Prague, and the author of Mercenary, A Storm Hits Valparaiso, Let's Get Digital, Let's Get Visible, and this here blog.
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28 Responses to Marketing Children’s Books – Advice Needed

  1. I also have a kid ebook for 2.99 on Barnes & Nobel and Amazon Kindle.
    It is very hard to market kid books. Pushing parents around wouldn’t work.
    Participate in some forums and get a twitter account.
    Another good place to be is on LinkedIn.
    My main character in the ebook is under four years old. My reader doesn’t read yet.
    I am very careful where I am online.
    I think that kid ebooks are in a corner because most ebooks seem to be YA or adult.

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  2. On Twitter, someone sent me an interesting article with some thoughts on how to market Children’s books for anyone who is interested: http://femmemalheureuse.posterous.com/self-publishing-how-to-market-childrens-books

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  3. The key to sales is engagement/interaction with kids, which pleases parents, who see their kids loving the book, and then want to repeat that experience on their own at home….

    I have a chapter book called Little Red Riding Hood, Into the Forest Again, and a middle grade novel called The Ghost in Me. A friend of mine, Judy Torres, has had great local and regional success with her self-published picture book, Duck, Duck, Moose. Because hers is in print, she is able to generate interest thru elementary school visits and story-times at book stores, where she reads the book to the students/children. (This is something I am also starting to do). She also has a song and CD to go along with the book, which keeps the kids entertained.

    Because Emilio is an ebook, I would suggest that Silvina get an account on Wetpaint, which is a skype “portal” for hooking authors up with classrooms. I signed up last week, and have one Skype visit booked for October, but I set this up on own–not thru Wetpaint, so I’m not sure how Wetpaint works yet, but it looks promising, with success stories and advice from other authors on the site.

    Because Emilio is designed with text imbedded through illustrations, Silvina could also get a print copy of the book made for herself thru Shutterfly (or another photo site), which she could take with her to onsite school and bookstore visits. (I can say that the quality looks great on Shutterfly, from experience). She could use the printed “hard copy” for her presentation/storytime, and also have the added benefit of showing the book application on Nook and talk/teach about that process, as well.

    I know of other children’s authors who had success on generating Nook sales at the holidays last year because the devise was new and parents wanted ebooks for their kids, which is useful for holiday travel. I’ve also seen parents looking at children’s ebooks with their toddlers on their ipads/iphones.

    The e-book/digital market is just opening up, and I believe children’s authors can be successful in it as well, especially if we can learn to add those interactive apps as well….and bring that experience into the classroom.

    Thanks David, for the nod and interest towards children’s book. I love your site, as always!

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  4. The Kindle Previewer is relatively little known, but it shows pretty well how ebooks look like on Kindle devices and mobile apps: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000234621

    Kindle Previewer is available for Windows and MacOS X, but it works fine with Wine under Linux.

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  5. Josephine Wade says:

    I have no real authority here, but I read the book (very sweet by the way) and here are some ideas:
    You market to adults who love to read in addition to what Shuenda said because people who love to read will read anything and they have to share what they read and like with the world. Think of it as marketing to adults who share their love of reading with the children in their lives. You would do this the same way you’d do it for adult books at Goodreads and LibraryThing, ect.. Contests ect.

    Also write a bio that speaks to children. Not too cutsie, but something that gives her audience an in with her. And this needs to go in the back of the book. Maybe a picture with a special toy from her childhood or a replica of Emilio.

    Also, being one of the first to broach children’s book in this new medium she is an automatic authority in this area, find interview markets for this specialty in addition to author interviews.

    And just off the top of my head maybe have a template parents could trace to make their own Emilio.
    That’s it.
    The book is sweet and I love the ending. Good luck to her.

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  6. Josephine Wade says:

    Shaunda! I’m sorry!

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  7. Debora says:

    Parent of young kids, here… A couple of things I’d like – one is for her to upload a couple of the inside images using the “share your own customer images link”. Hopefully she’ll get the “look inside” feature soon, but until then, this would help me imagine what the book is like, and what it looks like in B&W (I’d be skeptical whether B&W would hold my child’s attention on my kindle, so seeing an image live would help, or convince me to load it to the iPad instead). And maybe the first 2-3 lines of rhyming text included in the blurb? I don’t really have a feel for the book from what I see on the product page

    It’s a big challenge to get visibility for kids’ books, I think – but while she tries to crack that night, I think a few tweaks to the product page will help convert people who do arrive there.

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  8. silvinadv says:

    Thanks for all your comments everyone, they´re really helpful.
    Shaunda, I will check all your suggestions and best of luck with your project. Debora, I took your suggestion and I uploaded one more image from inside the book in Amazon. Josephine, thanks a lot for your lovely comments about the books, I´m so glad that you like it.
    I´m off now to figure out how to get my book on Smashwords, I´ll let you know how I get on!

    Like

  9. Some thoughts:

    1. I can understand why she incorporated the text into the images. She’s a designer, so the way text and images work together is integrated. I think that this was a mistake in terms of the marketing. As David can attest, one of the single-most powerful marketing tools a self-pubber has with ebooks is allowing people to sample the work. Because of the way the sampling engine works at Amazon — about 10 percent of the file size — the more a book’s file size is weighted by images, the less someone actually gets to see. Text has a fairly small footprint in this regard, so if the text can. If she can mix native text with the images, then more of the book might be included on the sample. As it sits, the sample shows the cover twice and the copyright page.

    2. If she’s not able to figure out a way to make the images and text work together, consider moving the copyright page to the backmatter. I’m not sure why the cover page is there twice. The first one is embedded, which is good. The second appearance is superfluous. I imagine it has to do with the way the book was converted from Word, but I’m just guessing here. Consider Skateboard Sam (US, http://amzn.to/r4UD44;UK, http://amzn.to/pBAmGp), a book that’s similar to Emilio in that they’re both an all-images edition and they’re both geared toward younger children. But Skateboard Sam’s sample, because of the way the full ebook was built, gives the embedded cover and two actual content pages.

    3. Drop the price. Sandra Boynton’s iPad apps — which are charming AND interactive — are $2.99. Obviously, price isn’t everything. But for a relatively short, static book with a disappointing sample … three bucks is probably too high.

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    • Hi Rob,

      Thanks for your comments. The sample is an issue, but I don’t think separating the text will really increase the sample size, as it is such a short book (most picture books are). However, moving the copyright page to the back and eliminating the duplicate cover is a good suggestion, and will allow people to see a couple of pages of the actual book.

      I suggested the price, but it’s obviously something that can be tinkered with. We looked at competing titles, and they were priced the same – or higher. I think with a re-jigged sample and some good reviews, this price could work. Dipping below $2.99 puts you in the 35% royalty zone, and that’s a big factor in choosing this price. But it’s something that can be looked at over time.

      I’m not sure how she went about the formatting exactly, but we can certainly look at that. Thanks for your help.

      Dave

      Like

  10. I too have a kid’s book on Kindle called ‘THIS THING’ which is a rhyming picture book for kids dealing with the horror of expecting a new baby brother or sister. And to be honest, it’s not selling well at all – especially compared to other things I have up on kindle (perhaps because even in the kids market mine is geared to a limited audience.)

    But I did have an idea, which I haven’t tried out yet – which is to get some copies on Createspace and bring the book to baby stores and other place like that.

    Like

    • How long is your book?

      The problem with a lot of kid’s books is that they are so short, that print editions are a tricky proposition (although POD is outside my area of experience, so I could be way off here).

      Like

      • Hi David,

        it’s like 25 or so pages (with a few lines of text and or a picture on each page) Does that strike you as too short?

        The other problem with the book on Kindle (besides the ridiculously hard time formatting the text and pictures) is that I’m unable to get any of the pics to show up in the free preview. So I’m thinking I’ll have to put a larger sample on my web page.

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      • That strikes me as pretty normal for a kid’s picture book. A larger sample on your site is a good idea.

        Like

  11. Pingback: Lets Get Digital – How to self-publish E-books « Pio Pio Books

  12. the weird thing is, my book is listed as a ‘bestseller’ for new baby books on kindle – it’s like #8 right now. Which leads me to believe they just don’t sell that well on kindle – at least in that category.

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  13. davidhburton says:

    I would suggest “mommy” blogs. In my experience, getting to kids has to be done through the parents and there are lots of blogs aimed at mothers that are happy to review children’s books.

    Like

  14. silvina_dv says:

    Thanks for all the comments and suggestions.

    Like

  15. Mij Kelly says:

    Hi – this is so interesting, I’ve been waiting for the arrival of e-picture books for ages and will get a copy of Emilio as soon as I can persuade a friend with a Kindle to download it for me. I write traditional (print) children’s picture books, and my advice to Silvina would be to copy the traditional print marketing strategy. I think people are more conservative/cautious when it comes to books for little children, so go for traditional newspaper reviews – using Smashwords coupons, maybe. I’m not sure how else you could deliver the book to the trad. newspaper reviewer for free, but the first person with a children’s picture book who solves that problem is going to get a lot of coverage – because, like it or not (and I’m caught between trepidation and exhilaration), it’s ground-breaking.

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  16. silvina_dv says:

    Hi Mij Kelly,
    You don’t need to have a kindle to view the book. You can see it in any computer of iPhone, Android, iPad with this free software
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_ipad_mkt_lnd?docId=1000425503
    Thanks for your comment and advice. We were thinking about sending out a free PDF version actually to publications for review. Any suggestions or ideas on which ones might be good to target, are more than welcome!

    Like

  17. I would like to leave some brief info on my children’s book featuring my cartoons characters the RAP FROGS YO! I need exposure to get attention to make sell happen
    please take a look a google search at anthony taylor rap frogs yo!

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  18. great – can you look at my pictures books for kids – it’s free with itunes !!
    and tell me what do you think – it’s only with miniatures and real photographs.
    http://www.pictures-books-for-childrens.com

    Like

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