From author Darcy Pattison via Jane Friedman:
Two years ago, I committed to indie publishing of my children’s picture books and middle grade to YA novels. As I wrote here, the first eighteen months were devoted to production, distribution and accounting. The last six months, my focus has switched to marketing.
Often for indie books, people will say that the book’s quality—or lack of quality—is the reason marketing efforts for a title won’t work. So, let me start by explaining that my marketing process includes sending the books out for review in major review journals for children’s literature. My books have been reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal—all favorable reviews. One book, Wisdom, The Midway Albatross received a starred PW review. Another book, Abayomi, The Brazilian Puma was named a 2015 National Science Teacher’s Association Outstanding Science Trade Book. Starting from that basis, I wanted to see what I could accomplish through online marketing.
. . . .
I knew that indie authors who focus on adult writing had already figured out many ways to succeed. However, I didn’t know if the same advertising and promotional activities would work for children’s picture books or novels. It made sense to try these things, even if I suspected they worked best for romance writers.
Another piece of advice is to maximize a particular channel by creating a sequence of iterations. Often writers give up too early when they should tweak copy, photos, offers, and so on. However, I decided that my criteria would be sales; if no sales resulted from an effort, then I wouldn’t pursue it. Limited sales would be evaluated as I went to determine if extra tweaking might result in reasonable results.
Here are online ads I’ve tried without any sales:
- Facebook fan page promoted post
- Facebook ads
- Facebook video ads for mobile only
- Google Adwords
- Giving away review copies of iBooks.
I targeted various demographics to try to get results, but nothing worked.
Here are things I’ve tried that have minimal sales, less than 100 copies:
- mailing/newsletter list
- setting a first book in a series as free on Kindle and iBookstore
- Bookbub ad for the first picture book in series.
The recent Bookbub ad was successful according to their terms. For a free book in the children’s category, they email to 500,000 customers and expect between 2,450 and 10,350 downloads. My book had 12,000 free downloads across all platforms, beating their top predictions. However, sales in the month since then have been less than 100 copies for the promoted book, never mind the other books in the series.
. . . .
I was startled that over 10% of the traffic to my website for the past year came from Pinterest. Organic traffic from Google search engines pulls the most traffic, followed by those accessing the pages directly. From social media, though, Pinterest was the winner by a huge margin. Here’s my Pinterest account.
I saw the power of Pinterest in action on my own website. One post, 39 Villain Motivations had received over 10,000 repins from July 2014 to April 2015. Even with a mediocre image, it was popular. Advice from Pinterest experts said that for popular posts, you should create an improved image and repin that. The post has now been repined over 19,000 times!
. . . .
As a marketing channel, Pinterest isn’t often considered, even though Promoted Pins have been available for a while. After looking deeper at the platform, I realized it might be a good place to try something for children’s books. Here are some reasons:
- Demographics. Pinterest demographics are 80% women; children’s book buyers are overwhelmingly female, whether classroom teachers or parents.
- Longevity of a Promotion. In rough terms, the half-life of a tweet is about 5 minutes; a Facebook post lasts 15 minutes; the half-life of a Pin, however, is three months. For the amount of effort, the longevity of a pin makes Pinterest a winner.
- Success of others. Even a casual glance at the education category on Pinterest showed many lesson plans from the Teachers-Pay-Teachers platform. Others were clearly reaching teachers on this platform.
One thing struck me: I’d only casually played at Pinterest. What if I really paid attention to the details?
Link to the rest at Jane Friedman
Here’s a link to Darcy Pattison’s books