Tips 28 surefire ways from the (SCBWI) to keep your book on the radar.

Regardless of how well a book is written, critical praise doesn’t always translate into sales, and often even well-reviewed books disappear, out-of-print within a couple of years. No matter how much publicity and support your publisher offers, you are the best advocate for your book, and there are actions you can take to prolong its life in print.

Perhaps you’re about to publish a first book and have no idea what to expect. Maybe you’re a seasoned pro looking for new ideas on promoting your books.

  1. Begin laying the groundwork for your book promotion six months before your book is published. Write a press release, and e-mail it to newspapers and TV stations closer to the publication date along with a review or two if you have them. If newspapers have a lifestyle editor or a Sunday team reach out to them as well. Keep contacts of reporters and remember to invite them to signings and other events.
  2. Find a public relations ally. If you can’t hire one then barter. Find a friend or a student and you offer to edit their stories and novels for free (forever) in exchange for helping you do publicity. This may sound extreme, but book publicity can be grueling work and it helps so much to have a friend with a sense of humor who “gets it.”
  3. Use the internet, search engines are your friend. Read up as much as you can and look at comments and reviews to find tips about sites you should be reading up on. Check out writing groups and ask for assistance or information on who can help you with your publishing journey.
  4. Make flyers and/or bookmarks. Start with 100 copies. You can leave stacks in bookstores, restaurants and libraries or hand them out on school visits. Always be prepared with something to hand out.
  5. Set up a website where parents and children can write to you and learn more about the world of the book and what you do as an author. Peruse other author sites to give you ideas.
  6. Update your website regularly. Offer creative writing ideas, story prompts and giveaways.
  7. Send out e-mail blasts as often as you feel comfortable, but don’t overdo it; three or four times a year is a good rule of thumb, and only if there are real updates. Be wary of e-mailing in bulk too often.
  8. Create your Facebook page long before the book is due. Post funny saying as well as other books so that you will have a following when your book is finally out that you can interact with. Don’t wait.
  9. Use Goodreads and Booklikes giveaway feature. Readers all over the world will add your book to their shelf hoping they will win a copy.
  10. Join a fiction writers or picture book listserv or online group. There is Goodreads Lovers of Diversity and Folklore Group, Facebook Groups Caribbean Writers, SCBWI Caribbean Chapters and SocaMom Book Club, follow the Anansesem Ezine, Caribbean Books Foundation and other Caribbean Blogs. Look for blogs about the world of children’s literature. There are many great children’s and YA book blogs. Clicking on one will lead you to many more. Children’s and young adult book bloggers are the ones who keep your books alive, ask them to feature you. Thank them. Send them your books to review, but only devote a little time each day to these blogs; you want to be protective of your writing time.
  11. Create your own book tour by visiting literary festivals. Stay with friends and family and make yourself available to promote your book with copies on hand. Rent the cheapest rental car and purchase airline tickets through inexpensive online travel sites.
  12. Visit bookstores before your book comes out—six months is a good rule of thumb. Set up e-mail correspondence with the store manager, or the person in charge of scheduling their author visits or promotions. Over the next few months, set up dates for the book signings/writing workshops. If you just have a handful of giveaways, make photocopies or send a pdf to select book reviewers. This especially works well for regional newspapers or magazines. Smaller papers do a great job of author profiles and reviews if you let them know in time.
  13. E-mail bookstores with your information (book, website, jacket quotes) and follow up those e-mails with store-visits or phone calls. Explain how you are able to offer short writing workshops for kids instead of just traditional readings. Hint: Be upbeat and professional even when clerks can and will be indifferent. You will find the ones who get you, and as for the ones who don’t, move on with grace. Try to focus on the independent bookstores because they are the ones who will hand-sell your book and may have a small sitting are for you to interact with the children.
  14. Set up writing workshops for children in schools, libraries, and bookstores. Lead a guaranteed audience of children in writing their own stories and poems. Make sure art supplies are on hand so the kids can illustrate their creations, and offer to publish any stories that they e-mail you in a special section of your blog or website. The fee for attendance? Have the bookstore require the purchase of one of your books to participate in the writing workshop. Talk to the parents and teachers who attend. Networking can lead to “artist-in-residencies” at schools and more school visits. Keep writing workshops high-energy: MORE participation. Get kids excited through sincere praise, and encouragement, and then up on their feet to read their poems or stories. With older kids and teen groups, smaller circles work best.
  15. Consider having a reading/book signing at a place other than a bookstore. Go to a pizza parlour, a fast food restaurant with a children’s area, a tea house or some other nontraditional place. A friend’s backyard or your own if you like. An independent bookseller will love to sell books, and you’ll be able to woo more friends into coming and bringing their friends. If you have children, your children can run around and celebrate too. Hire or sponsor an up and coming musician for the gig and let them give out their cards or CD’s.
  16. Do as many free writing workshops as you feel you can at first. Do them for foster children, children in juvenile hall, children who are differently-abled – children who don’t have a chance to meet with writers. Publish their stories on your blog if they want you to do so.
  17. Pitch workshops or classes to your Library, Universities or a school near you. It’s free advertising for you and your book and your class. You also get to meet wonderful students in your workshop.
  18. Set up a six- or ten-week writing workshop at a local library for teens or adults wanting to write children’s stories. You will be able to charge, of course, and the bookstore will advertise the class and your book on its website and in its newsletter.
  19. Go support other authors. Show up at their signings and readings and buy their books. Host them in interviews on your website or blog, or simply mention their books in a short review. We’re all in this together, and the more we can reach out and support each other, the more we’ll get back.
  20. Send your press release to your old school, high school, or college. Offer to meet with students from your alma mater to talk to them about writing.
  21. Write an essay for your alumni magazine about writing for kids, or about how you became a writer. You’ll get readers; universities like to hear about their graduates and their adventures. If a rural library asks you to donate books, say yes. Say yes as much as you can. Just do it. If you can’t do it all the time, that’s okay, but say yes whenever possible.
  22. Write an essay/op. ed. piece for a newspaper with a large readership. This will get your name out to more readers.
  23. Record your book at your local Braille Institute, if you have one and offer to do a workshop at its summer reading program. You’ll meet amazing kids who are budding storytellers.
  24. Go to events. Go to SCBWI events or book festivals on your own dime at least once if you have a book coming out. If they cannot offer you a signing during the festival go and meet people. It’s worth it. You will make connections you cannot make e-mailing from home. Tight budget? Stay with friends and family to save money, or contact the SCBWI regional advisor in your area to see if a nearby member might have a guest room available.
  25. Find a local chapter of the SCBWIand offer to do a workshop on setting, plot, voice or anything else.
  26. Write thank-you notes to everyone: librarians, teachers, booksellers. Be appreciative. Don’t whine. Say “thank you.”
  27. Get a GPS navigation device. It really helps out there on the road. Remember, the more you give of yourself as an author, the more you will connect with your readers at every level.
  28. Keep writing. The more books you market the easier it becomes. Keep, keeping on. Give yourself a break and time to be alone to write and just be, so you can gather the stamina needed to get out there again.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a non-profit organization, is one of the largest existing organizations for writers and illustrators. It is the only professional organization specifically for those individuals writing and illustrating for children and young adults in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia.  Its mission is to support the creation and availability of quality children’s books around the world.

We accomplish this by fostering a vibrant community of individuals who bring books for young readers to the public including writers, illustrators, translators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers, bloggers, enthusiasts and others. We provide education and support for these individuals and the community through our awards, grants, programs and events. We strive to increase the quality and quantity of children’s books in the marketplace, and act as a consolidated voice for writers and illustrators of children’s books worldwide. Membership in the SCBWI is open to anyone with an active interest in children’s literature from picture books to young adult novels. We welcome aspiring and published writers and illustrators, librarians, educators, artists, students, dramatists, musicians, filmmakers, and others. A passion for children’s literature is our #1 criterion.

In the Caribbean there are two regions Caribbean North and Caribbean South visit the website at www.scbwi.org for more information.

Marsha Gomes-Mckie, Regional Advisor, Caribbean South, SCBWI (Adapted from SCBWI’s tips.

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No longer a hobby…

A year ago I went to a fashion show; each designer had at least twelve pieces of clothing. They each got their fifteen minutes on the catwalk and wowed. Models came out in style, designers bowed with their collection and they were ready to take orders. I sat there and imagined the catwalk full of authors with their books on show.

How many of us have one published book to walk down the catwalk proudly with?  How many of us have five to twenty works of writing to exhibit? At that time I had only one, that was properly edited and really public ready. I had a number of finished-to-edit and unfinished manuscripts with too many potential stories. I imagined my models on the catwalk with only one finished dress. The rest of my collection would be missing buttons or bottoms (endings). All the sides wouldn’t be sewn up; some would be hung together with pins.  I winched as I sat there thinking about my wild and crazy fashion show. Unlike a designer my product couldn’t be reviewed in fifteen minutes but all artists have one thing in common. They have to complete their work before they can show it and sell it.

Not one of those designers came to the show with one dress because it didn’t matter how dynamic that one dress was, it meant one sale while a collection meant multiple orders. An art gallery has the same mind-set. One glorious painting at the middle of the gallery you would never see. There is certain power in numbers: numbers to attract different tastes, numbers to widen the profit margin and numbers to establish a brand.

As a writer my brand is my books but I realized I wasn’t writing enough.

I know that writing isn’t a race and a fashion designer and artist isn’t a writer but the principle of sales is universal. If you have one product in a certain market, there is a point of saturation for that one dress/book. Soon your fans will look to see what else you have on the market. If you have a collection it is very likely they will buy another dress/piece if they loved the first but if you have nothing else to offer they move on.

That is the year I made up my mind to treat my writing as a business and stop calling it a hobby.

I stopped looking at one book and started to plan for the collection. I’ve known a number of authors who have published one book and the marketing work they did could have definitely covered five books at the same time. I placed my manuscripts in categories, I gave myself a monthly target of words and I made time to write even if it meant missing sleep and socializing.  When I print I want to have a very diverse book launch, nevertheless I have been publishing e-books as I go along.

One year later I have two distinct genres, the first is paranormal/folklore fantasy fiction which I write under the pen M. Mckie and children books which I write under Aunty Marsha Books. My collection is not yet complete but I like what I see and I build on it every day. My target is three books per year after the first launch (2017) in each category. I will also like to explore the young adult genre, contemporary romance and more magical realism in the future.

Feel free to follow me on Facebook, Book likes and Goodreads for occasional giveaways and new releases.

My website is http://www.marshagomes.com.

Lightning Fire: The Blue Moon’s Calling – 2 day free download

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Five star review:

“Oh for the love of Green eyes, strong chests and bare-chested shirts!!!!! This book has paranormal, werewolves, fairies, magic, sex, and more sex and a lot of sensual romance……… oh I am melting!!!! Thank you Ms Gomes-Mckie for sharing this amazing story with us, the readers!”

Synopsis: Almost 200 years ago the Fairy world turned to the Lycans for protection after a deadly vampire attack took away their flying magic. Although safe, they are faced with the reality that this same alliance have weaken their blood line and made it impossible for them to complete a successful blue moon ceremony since, to restore their magic.
With two months away from a blue moon’s rising, the monarchy is sure that crown Princess Lily is the key to save them, but as luck would have it a Lycan Alpha dies and Arn the new Alpha is not interested in signing a renewed alliance without a bride. Faced with choosing between the safety of his borders and the hand of his pure daughter Monarch Alcazar is forced to reveal that his daughter is a twin and offers Luna instead, in hope that she would please the wolf and buy them enough time to complete the ceremony.
Luna enters a world that not only unlocks the secret of her lineage but she realizes in a most embarrassing way that she actually has a powerful light that only comes out of her when Arn brings her to an orgasm. Arn commits to helping her master it and it triggers a suppressed memory from his childhood, which reveals what really happens the night his parents died. This insight into his past proves to be the key to helping him uncover the fact that he has inherited a complicated rule filled with betrayal, murder and strife. With pure nerve and brute force Arn fights to uncover the conspiracy which threatens to devastate the continuance of his pack. While Luna is called upon to step in and complete the Blue Moon ceremony herself when Lily fails, placing her in harm’s way.
Their ultimate success will only come when they both join forces to reconcile their past in time to save a world that depends only on the strength of their love to survive.

This book will be free to download on the 25 and 26 September 2016. Please download, read and leave a review.

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THE GHOST – 2 day free download

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Five star review: “I rather enjoyed this story. A story about a Caribbean Island with two resident demons, and the people who got caught between their individual snares. But mostly it was about Theodore and Madgalene; a ghost of a man, cursed for 100 years, and a young woman who desperately needs to take control of her own life. For them love was a trap, a poison and ultimately the one thing that could save them both.”

Synopsis: Magdalene inherits the neighborhood’s haunted house and she didn’t even know her family owned it.
She bravely decides to move in and finds the house is really haunted by a ghost who awakens her sensuality. He spends his time strumming an old grand piano and she knows she has found a soul mate for her violin.
When she digs into his past she unearths a family secret and comes face to face with a curse which threatens to hold more than her heart captive.
Magdalene starts a chain of events that puts them both at the mercy of an evil spirit.
Can she find the means to break the curse or is she destined to be yet another causality of the house on All Hallows Eve?

This book will be free to download on the 25 and 26 September 2016. Please download, read and leave a review.

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I am woman

A wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend,
The tip of my pen tell the tale of my soul,
the passion of my thread,
the length of my tears, the warmth of my smile
what’s been, what’s now, what’s yet to come
I am woman …
Bronze hips, to chocolate lips,  
sunsets to sunrise, new moon, old moon, no moon 
I am woman,
yesterday, today, tomorrow…
A wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend,
I am woman.

© Marsha Gomes-McKie