How do I sell my self-published children’s books? [Reader Question]

Hi Rebecca!

I feel, as a self publisher, as if I am a bit ‘out of the loop.’ Bookshops aren’t interested in self published books, and you cannot enter them into competitions in the Children’s Literature Centre. I still have many books left over from my book launch in 2013, and I don’t know how to sell them. If you have any answers, please let me know.

Sincerely,
Margaret

Dear Margaret,

I’m only just getting into the marketing side of things myself now but have learned that a great deal depends on two things. Your next book, and doing the legwork yourself.

Your Next Book
It’s very difficult to push and promote one or two titles but every new book you write and release expands on your audience for all of the ones that came before it. If you’re building your mailing list then every time you release a new title you can email your list to let them know and that new title will draw in more people for your list that you can promote your old titles to. The larger your catalogue, the better your reach so one of the best marketing tools is to write more books.

Doing The Legwork
Beyond that, it’s about actually getting out there with the books and going into places to ask for the sale/consignment. You MUST have an incredibly high-quality product for this to work. It’s so easy for self-published and vanity-press published books to look home-made and retailers will reject them on sight so make sure you’ve followed all the typesetting, size and formatting trends of traditional publishing so that your book is indistinguishable from traditionally published books. Book shops, especially independent booksellers, DO take self-published books, but only if they are done to industry standards and under industry terms.

Then it’s about building the networks, taking the books into schools, libraries, book stores, visitors centres, newsagents, gift shops, etc. Think about who your target market is and where they congregate then go there with them. If you’ve got books for toddlers offer to do readings at local parenting groups, playgroups, and library story time; if you’ve got books that have kids playing soccer you can approach your local sports groups, etc. Think outside the box here because it’s not just about getting your book onto bookshelves, it’s about getting it into the hands of your readers and you can often do that directly.

Look into your target market and build a list of contacts. Put together a press kit to send out to schools/libraries (with product descriptions, order forms, speaker rates, etc.) Offer ARCs to book bloggers, magazines, newspapers. Find news ways to tie what’s timely in the media now with what’s in your books. It doesn’t matter if your book is already 2 years old if the content is relevant to a newsworthy event today.

Ultimately, it’s putting the foot to pavement and getting out there to spread the word and to ask for the sale.

Do The Research
I guess there is a third part but it doesn’t necessarily convert to sales as effectively as the first two and it’s a long game strategy, but the truth is you must do your industry research. If you’re serious about being an author as a career rather than a hobby then you must be in the know, learn the lingo/jargon, understand what terms like trade discount and arc mean, sign up for professional memberships and use the services these groups provide, keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on not just in the local industry but world wide. The more you connect deeply with the roots of the industry the better informed you’ll be about opportunities and the greater your odds are of making connections with people who can guide and influence you.

Ultimately, you’ve got to think of this as being in the book business. The creative side of writing is one part of the job, but when you take off that hat you put on the publisher hat and that means thinking of things like distribution, marketing, accounting, and all those other business angles that authors often don’t consider. Approach it like you would any other career, with a professional and business mindset committed to developing fantastic product with a good sense of who your target market is and how best to reach them.

I hope this helps. 🙂

Sincerely,
Rebecca

[FFF] Syllable Soup: Because The Right Word Does Matter

SYLLABLE SOUP
by Guy Incognito

Syllable soup is not sour or sweet,
No chunky vegetables, no floating meat.
There are terms and expressions, from message to motto,
Enunciated nouns and verbs with vibrato.
There are plenty of adjectives and probably some slang,
At least if you’d like your soup to have tang.
Would you care to make some? Anything goes!
Gather ingredients and write them in rows.
Mean what you say and say what you mean.
To create quintessential communication cuisine.
Let’s get our soup started, the syllables are hot.
Decide on your words and then fill up the pot.
Now start the stirring, let the flavors all change.
A good hearty soup should have sounds that are strange.
But you must be careful. Do not over spice.
Words should enhance, invite and entice.
Though all words are free, some have a cost.
Some are not simple, so your reader gets lost.
The stovetop’s the page, the chef is the writer.
Who chooses the words to make stories burn brighter?
Syllable soup is a scrumptious delight,
When the cook stirs in all the syllables right.
Never too many and never too few,
Make the syllable soup that’s inside of you.
What’s that you say, you’d like a sample?
How about instead I just cook an example?
Seems fair enough — sometimes once we see,
Then our hearts and our minds and our spirits agree.
Let’s start with a word that’s been pummeled to pulp.
Drop it into the soup and get ready to gulp.
Your teachers have probably all said, “Said is dead!”
But said is not dead, it’s like butter to bread.
Or syllables to soup — I’ll explain what I mean.
Your teacher just meant that “said” shouldn’t be seen.
Said is a word that has only one sound,
No matter how you inspect it or spin it around.
Yet how many ways can you also say said?
I have so many examples inside of my head!
Speak, utter, voice; pronounce or reply,
Your hero could exclaim, or opine, or cry.
Or maybe declare, recite or disclose,
But a rose by another name is still just a rose.
When you find yourself searching for perfect ingredients,
Don’t settle for the sound that seems most expedient.
There is no substitution for that one perfect word,
That gets the page read and your stories all heard.
There is music to language, each word has a beat,
To get you nodding your head and tapping your feet.
Each word has a sound, some short and some long,
They are notes in the verse of a sentence’s song.
Choose each one wisely, place them all in a group,
And share a savory spoon full of syllable soup!

This is just one of many brilliant rhymes and poems for readers of all ages now available in Guy Incognito’s new book, Syllable Soup. When Sean Platt heard from a publisher that his vocabulary was too rich for children he was blown away. He thought children of all ages deserve to be immersed in the wonder and fullness of language! I agree completely and I’m so glad that early rejection lead Sean into the world of Self Publishing. Now, from the Guy Incognito imprint comes a fabulous book of rhymes and language for children that will enrich their lives and yours! For lovers of language, and people who believe children deserve to be immersed in beautiful words, grab yourself a copy of Syllable Soup and share it with the whole family.

There are Author Bios, and then there are Author Bios

It occurred to me today that I need to write another author bio. I recently bit the bullet and finally rewrote my bio for 2014. I have it here on The Craft of Writing Fiction, and on The Flight of Torque website. But, as I was looking at that “author bio” page in the back of my manuscript, it occurred to me that I need to write another one.

You see, there are author bios, and then there are author bios. The bios I’ve used on the Web are changeable. I can update them as time passes. So using dated material doesn’t really matter. Every year or two I tweak the bio or, like I did recently, rewrite it completely to reflect the changing directions of my interests and my career. Having it malleable like that is fantastic because I can keep it updated to reflect who I am today.

But that little bio, the one paragraph one for the back of my book? That’s going to be in print. Immortalised. And yes, while I can ultimately update the book if I feel I need to, the author bio in printed copies will remain exactly same as when it went to print. The author bio inside the covers of the book needs to have more longevity than Web content. It needs to reflect, not just who I am today, but who I’ll be tomorrow.

So, yes. It seems I need to write another bio. And bios aren’t an easy thing to write. It can be difficult to give yourself permission to wax lyrical about yourself. When I write bios for others it is easy. I can objectively observe their traits and virtues, their accomplishments, achievements, and their successes. When I’ve written resumes for other people it’s been a simple thing to power-play their skills sets. When I’m writing about myself it is much harder.

I find the only way I can do it is to think from outside of myself. Look at my accomplishments as if they were those of a client. When I do that I actually get a pretty good buzz because I can pinpoint the aspects that sell me as an author and experienced writer/editor. From outside of myself and my own insecurities and lack of self-confidence I can put a pretty good spin on everything and not feel like I’m tooting my own horn. Of course, I feel like I’m tooting my own horn right now, but the thing is, that’s what you’ve got to do when you’re writing your own bio. You’ve got to step out of yourself, and let yourself write it as if you were tooting your horn about the virtues and experience of your idols.

Now, I have to try to sum up who I am today, who I’ll be tomorrow, in a single paragraph that will be immortalised in print. I’ll share it in the comments when I’m done.

Have you considered writing your bio? Why don’t you join me and write yours now? I’d love to read it, so please post it in the comments and remember, step outside of yourself and truly acknowledge all the awesome experiences and achievements in your life. Play up your skills and sell yourself. Pretend you’re writing the bio of a favourite author, one you love and whose work and accomplishments you admire, because truly, you should be very proud of yourself for all you’ve already done.

Journal of a Writer – May 26th 2014

May 26th 2014

4.45pm
Rewrites are hard. It’s simple, drafts are drafts, and rewrites can range from tweaking words here and there to changing entire threads of storyline. These last few chapters of The Flight of Torque are giving me problems because the changes I’ve made so far have been significant. In the last three chapters I wrote a character into the scenes that wasn’t there before. In this scene she has a major role but because of the changes I made in the last three scenes there is no way she could physically be present in this scene. The trouble is, I really enjoy this scene the way it stands.

I hate reading a scene, loving it, and knowing that I (might) have to discard it completely because I can’t make it work with the direction the story has now taken. Do you see that niggling (might)? That’s where it hurts. It’s this uncertainty that frustrates me the most. Have I made the right decision in this latest change? It’s not too late to backtrack and try again in a new direction. I could keep this scene as is and retract the changes I made to the last three chapters or I could kill my darlings and sacrifice this scene. Which path is the right one to take at this stage?

It’s times like this when I need to read forward and focus on my outline. How will the story continue to unfold from this point. Which change will prove most effective in the larger picture of the book as a whole. Right now I’m too close to it to judge. So I’ll read on for now and come back to this scene when I’ve made a decision.

4.46pm
OMG! OMG!!! I just had a wave of inspiration. You know, you have to trust the muse and the characters to come to the rescue at some point. I’m absolutely certain this scene as it stands must go. But there are parts of this scene that I can keep and move to a later scene. I can see it working in my mind and it leads to an even more powerful conclusion. Now, of course, I have to write it.

Writing Through a Move With Your Family

Budget Truck Rentals for the Moving Freelance Writing FamilyI’m currently house hunting, and hope to move sometime this summer. However it’s never too early for a freelance writer to start planning the logistics of a move. It is not like you can just move things over a long weekend, because writers never have one! There is always something to be done, written, or researched.

Your family can become a help or hindrance during a writer’s move. They can give you extra time and space before the move to tie up loose ends, and remember to mark all of the boxes with your computer and writing supplies! Unless you let them know what you need, they won’t be able to support you, and your trip will become a large headache!

Plan, Plan, Plan!

As soon as you know that a move is imminent, begin planning as much as possible. Even for an across-town move, you will be spending a lot of time and money. You’ll need to increase your income considerably during the months preceding your move, to pay for deposits, moving trucks, and general spending during the course of your move.

Even if money won’t be a problem, you will be very short on time. You will be packing up all your belongings, cleaning up your old house, moving into a new house, cleaning the new house, and unpacking. Whew! I recommend getting ahead of all your current projects by at least two to three weeks for a local move, and even more ahead for a long distance move. Let your writing clients know what’s going on, and what is the best way to contact you during the time your computer is packed away.

Have a Family Meeting

Once you have a moving and writing plan in mind, go over the details with your family. Let them know that you are going to be working extra hard to make the move a success, and enlist their help. Tell them exactly what they can do to make the upcoming months smooth sailing. If you need a few extra hours of quiet working time, let them know! Ask if they can pick up a few of your household chores, so you have more time to deal with moving issues. Whatever you need, your family can be there to support you.

Seek their input as well. In your planning, you may have forgotten about upcoming family events, such as reunions, graduations, or even your child’s weekly soccer practice. They may be able to tell you about upcoming expenses that you hadn’t considered as well. Also, don’t forget that moving can be very stressful, especially for your children. Allow them to voice their concerns about meeting new friends, adjusting to a new school, and keeping in contact with their old friends.

During the Move

When it is finally time to pack all of your books, computers, and writing paraphernalia, send a final email to your clients reminding them of the move and when you expect to be back online. Mark all of your belongings carefully, and pack them near the door of the moving truck, so you can easily access them right away at your new home.

Keep a notebook, laptop,  or phone with internet capabilities with you during your move. You’ll want a way to jot down writing ideas, and to check your email or voice mail as often as possible for any client emergencies. You may not be able to address them all right away, but you can reassure your clients that you will be available soon.

Above all, have fun on your move! A new home is the start of a new chapter of your family’s life, and can be a thrilling adventure! Enjoy the one on one time you will have with your loved ones on the road, and filling a new home with your special touches.

What other advice would you give for a freelance writer on the move? Have you experienced a move as a writer? Share your stories with us!

Photo Credit: Moving Truck by Phil_g

Travel destination: Western Australia

The beautiful sunshine, pristine coastlines, and natural bushlands of the southern continent are just part of what makes my homeland one of the best places in the world to live. We are the sunburnt country with fantastic weather all year round. There is so much about Western Australia that makes this a wonderful home.

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How to decide when your child has outgrown the car seat

There are a number of factors to take into account when deciding if your child is finally ready to use a standard car restraint. All approved infant vehicle restraints must be labeled with details that include the approximate age, height and weight suitable for that specific brand and style… But when are child seats no longer needed?

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