by Annette Schottenfeld and Jennifer Buchet
The stars have aligned and “the” response you’ve been waiting for, in what seems like forever, arrives…"We’d like to acquire your manuscript for publication." After contract signing, celebrating, social media announcements, & coordinating with your editor (and possibly illustrator), your release date is at long last approaching.
As you experience this amazing & wonderful next level of the publishing process, here are just five (of many!) things we wish we knew ahead of time:
1. Build relationships with your local indie bookstores and libraries before your book’s release.
This may sound daunting, especially for writers & illustrators, as we tend to be a bit of an introverted bunch. Make a list of local bookstores and libraries in your area, then make plans to visit them. When visiting bookstores introduce yourself to the owner and/or manager, and at local libraries, meet the children’s librarian(s) and strike up a conversation. Booklovers are a friendly sort and there’s lots to connect over. No need to “hard sell” the first time you meet someone—that can wait until you actually have book in hand!
2. Keep a list of tips and ideas for book promotion.
Once our books were under contract, we immediately began researching how to promote them. Your agent/publisher should provide guidance, but there are also great blogs and websites with quality tips, including Kidlit 411 & SCWBI, and of course, social media. Make note of any associated costs, so you can budget accordingly.
3. Speak to published authors and start a calendar of tasks to complete leading up to your release date.
Keeping a calendar is so important! Depending on your lifestyle, perhaps only one task a week is realistic or maybe five are attainable. And, support these published authors and illustrators by reviewing their work on Amazon and Goodreads, and requesting their books at your local library (which gives you a great conversation starter, too!) Remember that the 6 months up to your book’s release are important promotional months.
4. Join a debut group for support, ideas and cross promotion.
The kidlit world is a supportive, loving community and joining a debut group (or book birthday group, if this isn’t your first rodeo) is very important. Check on Twitter and other social media platforms for groups to join. But don’t join too many at once—remember, you’ll be expected to support others in your group in return for their support. More so, you’ll learn a lot by chatting with folks walking the same path as you.
5. Pace yourself, your job is far from over.
This is one of the hardest things to remember. You think you’re all done once contract is in hand then, boom—edits are needed, boom—pre-sales marketing hits, boom—your debut group needs help, boom—more edits are coming! And of course, there’s always that sequel or two you may want to write!
Writing and illustrating children’s books is a true marathon, not a race. Yet with the support of others, the run can actually be fun vs grueling.
Stay strong and create on, friends!
Annette's debut picture book, OBI'S MUD BATH and Jennifer's debut picture book, LITTLE MEDUSA'S HAIR DO-LEMMA are both launching in late 2020 with Clear Fork Publishing. Both authors are currently working hard on their next books and of course, pre-marketing their soon-to-be-released picture books!
You can chat with both authors on Twitter at any time! Strike up a conversation with Annette @nettschott or shoot the breeze with Jennifer @yangmommy..