• Caroline and Katherine Brickley

The First Set of Marketing Tips You Need as a Picture Book Author!

A couple of weeks ago @martinezkidsadventures asked us about book marketing! So we thought . . . why not share some tips in a mini music video (see below)?! Undoubtedly, marketing seems like it is often one of the trickiest things for authors. It most certainly was for us as it felt like learning a new language and that it was taking time away from the writing process we enjoy so much. But over time, we’ve come to fall in love with marketing not only because it offers us a chance to have fun by sharing our stories in creative ways, but it also allows us to connect with so many amazing people . . . like you!


Here is the full list of tips we mentioned in our mini music video that we think are perfect for first-time authors looking to grow their book marketing strategy . . . while also maintaining their sanity!


1. Approach potential book buyers in person:

There is nothing more effective than approaching potential book buyers directly and pitching why you believe your book should be on their shelves. Make sure to come prepared with a copy of your book, a sell sheet, and a business card so they can contact you. Of course, don't forget your elevator pitch (these should be no more than 15 seconds — or the amount of time it takes for you to ride an elevator). One more thing to mention, depending on where you are going it may be recommended to call BEFORE visiting. In particular, if visiting a school you should always call and make sure they know when you will be visiting and if it is alright to do so.


To get started with this tip, we recommend creating a list of places you would like to have your book stocked. Start with local bookstores, libraries, and schools, and then branch out. Map out where you will go and when and then hit the pavement!


2. Connect with other authors in your niche:

Establishing connections with authors in your particular book niche is a powerful thing! Not only are you making new friends who you have something very special in common with, but you are developing mutually beneficial relationships that offer chances for learning, growth, cross-collaboration, and cross-promotion. We've encountered many authors who feel as if they have to go it alone — that writing and selling a book is something that we must endure and overcome ourselves. But there is so much more to gain when we not only reach out to those experiencing something similar to us, but also offer to help them in the ways that we can. It is fulfilling and rewarding all at once!


To get started with this tip, we recommend going on your favorite social media platform (we enjoy Instagram and TikTok) and looking for authors in your niche. Reach out and say what you admire about what they're doing and suggest ways you could see yourselves working together to promote your work and make an impact on the larger publishing community as a whole.


3. Don't just sell to your audience:

When thinking about marketing, it may seem counterintuitive NOT to think of it as selling. And it's true, for anyone who has taken a marketing class, the success of your marketing is directly tied to sales. But we encourage you to scrap that idea (for the most part) and view the success of your marketing instead as the strength of your relationship with your audience. And this relationship doesn't grow from selling to them. Just as no relationship would! Relationships, instead, bloom through meaningful engagement and interaction. While it is most definitely harder to do both online versus in person, social media offers a number of meaningful ways to connect with your audience beyond selling.


To get started with this tip, we recommend going through your feed and commenting on posts that resonate with you. If you are currently selling books and distributing them yourself, we recommend creating personalized packaging so every person that buys your book feels like it was made just for them (think hand-written notes!).


4. Use the 70/30 marketing rule:

Similar to our last tip, the 70/30 marketing rule is a staple of modern-day marketing which is all about how we choose to connect with our audience. Of course, at times you WILL need to promote to your audience. Say you have a new book coming out, you're going to need to let them know when and how they can buy it! However, these sale-sy type posts should never make up the bulk of your social media marketing efforts. In fact, experts have determined they should make up about 30% of those efforts (hence the 70/30 marketing rule!). The other 70% of posts should pertain to information that your audience will find useful or engages directly with your audience.


To get started with this tip, we recommend outlining a social media calendar if you don't have already have one and scheduling your posts ahead of time so there is a nice balance between promotional, informative, and engagement-focused posts.


5. Dedicate a portion of your budget to advertising:

While spending money on book marketing is not always necessary, we recommend putting a little money towards book marketing when possible. BUT (and that is a big but!) you should only use this money towards effective means of advertising, and it is extremely important to know that not every form of advertising will be effective or legitimate. There is a lot to be said on this topic, but generally, a form of advertising is legitimate if it helps grow an engaged audience which ultimately converts to increased book sales.


To get started with this tip, we recommend doing research into some avenues of advertising that might work well for you, your book, and your goals. If you are looking to build an audience on Instagram, for example, you can boost a post for one day for just a dollar with the opportunity for that post to reach hundreds of people in your niche. If you choose to go down this route, we also recommend creating your own audience and modifying it depending on what you find works well.


6. Approach creating social media content like writing a book:

When we began marketing our books on social media (in 2016! Almost six years ago! Wow!) we have to admit . . . we didn't like it very much! We wanted to be spending our time writing books and making story-based media for kids, not spending time trying to craft the perfect social media post that, at that time, would only get a handful of likes if we were lucky. But eventually, we gained a new perspective on social media that changed not only the quality of what we were offering our audience (and in turn, increased awareness for our books), but it also changed how we felt about the role of social media in our careers as authors. Much like writing a book, social media has become another way for us to create meaningful content: Content that connects with people and has the potential to uplift in our modern world. And ultimately, it is quite a gift to be able to share your work in a way that is easier and more widespread than has ever been before!


To get started with this tip, we recommend thinking about how you currently feel about social media. If social media currently feels negative and/or stressful think about why. Do you feel pressure to post every day? Rework your schedule so that you're posting as regularly as you can, while also enjoying each post that you make.


7. Be yourself on social media:

When we began posting on social media, even though everything was online, we still felt shy with what we were posting! We were constantly worried about what others might think and if they would like it, and if they didn't, if they would unfollow us. While much of what we see online may not be real, we also see, more often than not, that when people choose to be brave online and embrace what makes them unique, then they truly are successful. This may not always translate to millions of followers, but it often translates to a unique brand and an engaged audience. Most importantly, it translates to the joy of true self-expression.


To get started with this tip, we recommend getting a sheet of paper or opening up a blank document on your computer and just writing down some ideas you have for posts. We especially recommend trying out some Instagram Reels and/or TikToks as these are great methods for releasing creativity. Jot down your ideas, and when you come across one that you love but also makes you think "should I really post this?" ask yourself why not. If it's only because you're concerned about what your audience might think, but the idea makes you feel excited, give it a try!


8. Take a break when needed (quality over quantity!):

This is our favorite tip! When we were searching for marketing tips as we began our careers as authors, one of the biggest tips we came across was that you need to be posting regularly and consistently (which when you combine all of the different social media platforms they recommend you use would amount to at least more than five posts a day!). For many authors, this is not only not possible, but takes the enjoyment out of marketing completely. As mentioned before, create a schedule that, while regular, is doable for you and will allow you to put out good content you enjoy making. Just like with writing, it comes through when you are truly enjoying what you're putting out on social media. And there is nothing better than reading a book that you know an author loved writing.


We hope you find these tips helpful! Please reach out to us if you have any questions or if we should elaborate on any of the tips mentioned!

Always be your-shelf! 📚 Caroline & Katherine Sisters & storytellers for children (and children at heart! ❤️) www.thefriendlybookshelf.com