Friday, November 15, 2013

Marketing Children's Books: It's All About Your Characters

At the PNBA (Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association) Fall Tradeshow, we presented our "Push, Pull, POP, Seamless Self-Promotion" class as part of the Author Track of speakers. One of the many cool people we met asked a series of questions about how our advice would be applied to authors of children's books. To be honest, we've been so focused on novelists and memoirists we had to give this topic some serious thought.

Morgan says: I've been an avid reader my entire life, so it was easy for me to name my favorite books from my childhood. Paddington Bear, Winnie the Pooh, Madeline <she's the reason I studied French throughout grade school...and I still have Paris on my bucket list>, and Barbar were among my favoritesWhat I quickly realized is that I remember the characters' names, but I honestly couldn't remember the authors! Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss were the only author names that I could recall, but they are also authors that I've researched and re-read as an adult.

As we researched site after site, this pattern held true with only a few exceptions: children's book authors have character based websites and promotions. Children tend to ask for books based on topics and characters. "I want to read dinosaurs" or "I want to read Angelina Ballerina" have both been uttered by any number of children around the world.

Common Children's Book Website Content:

  • All pages include images of the characters and used colors and backgrounds that are in line with the book artwork, setting, and color palette.
  • There is information about the author. Older books like Madeline and Eloise include a more exhaustive history of  the book series, artists, and author(s).
  • Most sites had a tab especially for child focused activities and extra content. For example, the Paddington Bear site includes a "Make & Do" tab that has links to craft projects and printable bookmarks and postcards. The Princess Cupcake Jones website has a "Print & Play" page that includes downloads for games, puzzles, and crayon friendly images.
  • All of the sites included a contact page for inquiries.
  • Most sites included a means to sign up for a newsletter or fan club.
With regards to other marketing activities for children's book authors, Princess Cupcake Jones has her own Facebook page. Again, the character is the key focus of this page. The author, Yellya Fields, posts pictures of little girls dressed as her character.

Points to Ponder:
  1. As a children's book author, are you currently engaged in character focused marketing?
  2. For all authors: How are you engaging your audience with extra content?

Our dear friend, Gary, is an author of children's books. In his 7 Book Signing Tips for Children's Author post, he provides great insights from his personal experiences. The first two tips are below this text. Check out the link to see all seven tips.

  1. No cursive. I was born in 1958, so handwriting was a big thing in school. We learned to write beautiful cursive script, and that’s what our generation uses for formal occasions. Today’s children, however, are often not taught cursive. Schools in our area have dropped it, and many others around the country as well. If you handwrite a clever little note to the children, odds are they won’t be able to read it. This doesn’t apply to the signature itself, but…
  2. Who Pooped signatureUse a clearer signature. When I’m signing a check or a legal document, my signature is a scrawl. If you didn’t already know my name, you’d never be able to decipher the signature. As grownups, we get this. An illegible scribble is the standard for signatures. Little kids don’t necessarily get it. If the family is plopping down $11.95 for a copy of my book, I figure the least I can do is make it readable. I know kids who don’t read cursive won’t be able to read a signature, but the letters are close enough to identify if you know what you’re looking for. Speaking of which…


  1. I really appreciate this post. I wrote a children's book in the early 1980's, published through a university press. The illustrations were just as important as the text. I've thought of returning to children's books again, but the publishing aspects of it (and marketing) have seemed daunting. This helps me see it in a different light.

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  3. I used to write a children book, and I always use animal characters. Having an animal character in your story remains some of the most popular and enduring in children's fiction. Animal characters demonstrate the full range of human characteristics.
    Jessica of College Research Paper adviser

  4. I remember myselft at the young age, I loved illustrations in books even more that text! So yes, I agree that it is very important.
    - Jana of the essay writing help

  5. Winnie the Pooh is #1 - Thanks for your article

    - Marie from EssayMaxi