In the last eight months, I've written, labeled, and mailed 1,662 May B. postcards. Yes, really.
Much of marketing a book is like throwing darts, but as I've learned, a personalized, audience-focused dart has more potential to hit the board than those thrown willy-nilly.
I can't take credit for what I've done -- that goes to Saundra Mitchell and her bossy self-marketing plan. Using her suggested wording, I determined my audience and tweaked what I wrote for each.
Kansas schools and libraries
Why? May B. takes place in Kansas and is primarily a school and library market title. Also, Kansas Day is 1/29. Teachers are required to teach KS history on or around this day -- perfect for an early January release date!
Plains state/frontier/pioneer museums
Why? May B.'s focus on the frontier era will ideally interest museums that focus on the plains and pioneer history.
Dyslexia schools and camps
Why? May B. (the character) struggles with dyslexia. While her story is one of a specific time period, ideally her feelings of isolation, shame, confusion -- and ultimately hope -- will resonate with children with disabilities now.
NM schools and libraries
Why? This is where I live! Hopefully that alone will be a start in drawing local interest, library purchases, or speaking opportunities.
For KS schools and libraries:
My historical verse novel, May B., is set on the Kansas frontier. It releases 1/10/12, just in time for Kansas Day! I hope you'll consider it for the students of ________ school / for the _______ library's children's collection. I'm available for Skype visits.
For plains state/frontier/pioneer museums and historical societies:
My historical verse novel, May B., is set on the frontier. I hope you will consider it for __________. It's a great way to introduce young visitors to the pioneer era.
For dyslexia schools and camps:
My historical verse novel, May B., focuses on a child with dyslexia in an era when such struggles were misunderstood. I hope you'll consider it for the students and families of _________ school. I'm available for Skype visits.
For NM schools and libraries:
I'm a NM author. My historical verse novel, May B., will appeal to fans of Hatchet and Laura Ingalls Wilder as well as reluctant readers. I hope you'll consider it for the students of ________ school / for the _______ library's children's collection. I'm available for Skype visits.
Roughly 50 postcards have come back to me (incorrect address, no drop box at this address, and -- sadly -- vacant buildings).
Hits to my website increased with each batch I mailed, coming from the locations where postcards were sent.
Roughly 20 people have reached out to me -- teachers, camp directors, directors of learning disability organizations, librarians, and a museum or two.
• My publicist has sent on ARCs to several responders or contacted marketing to set up direct sales for gift shops.
• One teacher is using May in her classroom this year.
• One NM librarian scheduled an author program.
• Several librarians contacted me to let me know they'd already ordered or planned on ordering my book.
• One camp director would like to share May B. with campers this upcoming summer.
Most postcards probably went straight to the trash. But I have to think that even that brief exposure counted for one of those 3-7 times on average that marketers say a person needs to be shown a product before they respond. My cover in front of new eyes = never a bad thing. Besides, maybe a docent in a prairie museum somewhere took my postcard home to a granddaughter or a local teacher. I'll never know for sure, but thinking this way was enough to keep me motivated.
Will I do it again?
Yes, though I’ll probably not send as many. The last five hundred weren't as exciting as the first thousand. In some small way, though, I've taken hold of my book's success by spreading the word, one postcard at a time.
Caroline Starr Rose spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and New Mexico, camping at the Red Sea in one and eating red chile in the other. As a girl she danced ballet, raced through books, composed poetry on an ancient typewriter, and put on magic shows in a homemade cape. She’s taught both social studies and English in New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana and is the author of the historical verse novel, May B., and the forthcoming picture book, Over in the Wetlands.
Have you used Postcards? Do you think they are effective?