Hi Jon, Thanks for joining us today.
Before we get into marketing, can you tell me a little about yourself?
I'm Jon Bard, Managing Editor, Children's Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children's Writers and Fightin' Bookworm in Chief at The CBI Clubhouse -- The Essential Children's Writing Resource.
My wife (Laura Backes) and I have been publishing Children's Book Insider since May, 1990. Our audience is aspiring and working children's book authors. We've also produced numerous books, ebooks, DVDs and such, all about the art (and science) of writing children's books and getting them published.
Do you have a website/blog? When did you start it and who manages it?
We've been online with Write4Kids.com since 1995. But our new project is also our most exciting -- we've created a full members-only site for our readers called The CBI Clubhouse. It's packed with audio, videos, articles, ebooks, messaging and much more. It's really a full-fledged online community all about writing children's books! The response has been astounding -- there's nothing else quite like it on the Net. I invite your readers to come by and check it out. I think they're going to be amazed at what they find.
In your opinion , what are the top 3 things every author should and must do to promote their book?
1. Learn about marketing. In particular, learn how to craft a compelling marketing message that will resonate. Some of my favorite marketing writers are Dan Kennedy, Joe Vitale and Joseph Sugarman. PublicityInsider.com is a good site to learn about PR. Also, visit the Warrior Forum to learn how marketers think. They're a very helpful group and are usually happy to help newbies get started.
2. Don't be shy about promoting yourself. Get out there, via Twitter, Facebook, your blog, other people's blogs -- whatever it takes. And do all of this with a consistent marketing message in mind. One of my favorite marketing concepts is "the elevator pitch". If you have 20 seconds in an elevator to convince a fellow passenger to buy your book, what would you say? When you've got that down, you're ahead of the game.
3. Team up with other writers. Group blogs (like classof2k9.com) are a great way for authors to expand their reach and seem "bigger" than they are individually. Find some other writers who work in the same or a similar genre, or some writers who cover the same sort of topic and put together a group blog. Twitter together. Hold a teleseminar together about your topic, and so on.
In your opinion, how important is social networking?
They're great if used properly. They're ineffective if it ends up being all about what you watched on TV or what you're eating at the moment. Get out there and give useful information, provide quality links and build alliances, and social media will pay off for you.
How important is technology to an author’s marketing plan?
I don't even think of the Net as technology any more. It's just the place to connect with the world. I do like using audio and video, and they're now so easy to do. Combine a presentation software like Powerpoint with a screen recorder like Camtasia and you can create really compelling video in no time at all. Here's an example of the sort of video I'm creating on a weekly basis. It's called "A Crash Course in Submitting a Children's Book Manuscript to a Publisher".
What other advice do you have for authors/writers regarding marketing?
You've worked hard on your book, so you should feel no reservations about asking people to buy it. Too many writers feel uncomfortable with the idea of marketing and (gasp!) actually making a few bucks. Really, you're not selling out by doing a little promotion. Trust me, your favorite sainted children's book authors never turned down a royalty check, so why should you feel strange about hustling a bit to find success?
What are some offbeat things that authors can do to promote their books?
1. Give your book's characters their own online presence. Have them Twitter, create an online diary, let them make videos or audios. Have them do the sort of off-the-wall things that you never would. Create a buzz for your characters and readers will naturally want to read the book to find out more about them.
2. Target niches that might have an affinity for your book. Let's say one of your main characters is a cheerleader. Go to the top online cheerleading sites, blogs & e-zines and offer to do interviews about your book. Again, use an elevator pitch, but this time, more targeted to the niche you're addressing (e.g. "My book deals with a boy cheerleader who overcomes taunting from the school jocks to make it to the state championship")
3. Use your online "real estate" to sell your book. Put up some sample chapters and link to them in your e-mail signature file, in your signature files used on message boards, in your Tweets and anywhere else you show up. Post comments on blogs that relate to your subject and be sure to include the link, and so on. Just be out there -- and always include a way for folks to find your book.
Thank you for joining us today!