Launching a debut book is a celebration of years of hard work, tons of rejection letters, lots of waiting, more revisions, and some well-aligned yesses along the way. But launching a book into the world successfully is also time consuming, energy taxing, and marketing activities might eat into writing time. 24 Carrot Writing spoke with members of the debut picture book group 21 For The Books about their marketing strategies and debut-year goals amidst a pandemic.
Compared to previous years, my goals, both creative and personal are different for 2021. I’m enthusiastically planning two book launches—one in February and one in July. As I created my publicity plans, I reminded myself that despite the world being upside-down, it’s mostly up to me to build excitement about bringing these book babies into it! My role as an author feels full circle when I work with my publisher and target promotional opportunities with the direct goal of getting books into the hands of parents, teachers, librarians and little readers.
To learn more about Deb, visit debadamson.com.
MEENA'S MINDFUL MOMENT will be published in October 2021 by Page Street Books. It is my debut picture book, but I published a MG book, ORANGE FOR THE SUNSETS.
What the past few months have taught me is to be kind to myself and have realistic expectations about my writing. I allow days for imagining and creating and other days for writing.
What this year has taught me is to be FLEXIBLE I have to think outside the box on how to reach young readers.
Visit Tina's website to learn more.
Like all new babies, JET THE CAT (IS NOT A CAT) is going to get ALL of my attention around the spring launch, not only because I am so proud of the story, but because the illustrations by Terry Runyan are marvelous and the world needs to know.
My scrappy strategy for marketing so far is to write goofy but heartfelt (my brand!) emails to bloggers and bookstores, hoping that some magic will happen. And that’s been successful! Barefoot Books and my editor Lisa Rosinski have been incredible, so I have no doubt Jet and I will find ways to connect with kids and their readers.
My creative goal for next year is to use limited writing time more wisely. But the secondary goal is to really hone in on my brand and voice. Like every picture book writer, I have about 1,000 ideas an hour, but I’d love to create stories that scream “me”
Learn more at www.phaeacrede.com.
I have an awesome marketing manager at WorthyKids to help spread the word about 30,000 STITCHES: THE INSPIRING STORY OF THE NATIONAL 9/11 FLAG, which launches May 4, 2021. She’s creative and enthusiastic, which has made the process much easier and enjoyable. I'm planning an online blog tour around the release date, along with organizing pre-order campaigns with my local indie bookstores. We also have a giveaway and scavenger hunt in store! For the 20-year remembrance of 9/11, I hope to reconnect with some of the special people and places the flag touched to see if they would be interested in sharing their stories. I hope to facilitate virtual school visits so students can be inspired by the story of the flag as well. I don’t have a cover to share yet, but I did include one of the amazing spreads, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport. The image shows the moment when the flag was taken out of storage and emerged after seven long years. Torn and tattered, this was the beginning of its journey to being healed. I decided to share this spread, because the goal with all of my marketing efforts is to share this message of hope and healing. The flag is a reminder that if we come together, share our stories, and listen, we can become whole again.
Visit Amanda's website to learn about book giveaways and more.
I try to remember that no one marketing tactic is going to make a huge impact on book sales; it’s a cumulative effort. I’m focusing on the marketing tactics I most enjoy (such as interviews like this). The pandemic is actually helping me stay focused. I was originally planning on setting up tables at community fairs and doing a lot of in-person events. Now I will use that time for digital marketing and new writing. In terms of creative goals, I have a second book contracted with Sourcebooks. I’m also endlessly working on a YA historical novel. If I can keep up with those two goals, anything else will be gravy.
Learn more about Tracy and some cool preorder benefits at tracycgold.com.
Moni Ritchie Hadley:
I plan to launch my debut picture book, THE STAR FESTIVAL, twice. The first will be a virtual gathering, partnering with a local bookstore to kick off the release in spring 2021.
For the second launch, I hope to have an in-person gathering at Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, in the summer of 2021, guidelines permitting. The setting of my book is the Tanabata Festival, which takes place every summer in Japan. Many cities in the United States hold celebrations similar to the Japanese Star Festival. It is a colorful, multi-sensory celebration that shouts for a lively get-together. And if the world opens up, that will be worth celebrating!
Contact at moniritchie.com to receive an invitation.
Amy B Mucha:
A GIRL'S BILL OF RIGHTS launces February 2, 2021. Finding balance between marketing and writing can be difficult in a debut year. For a few months I focused almost exclusively on marketing: website creation, social media, cover reveal, debut group, endorsements, book promotion, swag. In short, I wasn’t balanced at all. The only time I even thought about being creative was each Tuesday morning when I’d meet my writing group in a local café. Then the pandemic hit and I lost even that.
What finally saved me was taking my writing group online. We decided to get together every morning on Slack. We start by posting our goals at 10am, then spend a couple of hours chatting, writing, and celebrating our accomplishments. I’m lucky to have such a wonderful group. It’s made all the difference in the world! Visit Amy's at amybmucha.com to learn more.
Rebecca Kraft Rector:
In my debut picture book Squish Squash Squished, Max and Molly end up crowded in the backseat with their animal neighbors. I fear life is imitating art as I’m feeling rather squish squash squished, overwhelmed by life right now. My 2020 goals had been too wide.
My 2021 focus is to create small, specific goals. For instance, instead of saying I’ll create new content-filled pages on my website for parents, teachers, and children, I’ll find ONE book-related craft for the kids. Instead of saying I’ll write a new chapter, I’ll write a page.
I can’t control all of life’s chaos. But hopefully I can keep my 2021 writing life under control with specific, achievable goals and lots of dark chocolate rewards. To learn more about Rebecca, click here.
I’m fanny-tastically excited about BATTLE OF THE BUTTS: The Science Behind Animal Behinds, illustrated by David Creighton-Pester, launching September 28, 2021. I’m always brainstorming silly marketing ideas for it, and I anticipate getting distracted from writing by the sheer fun of animal posterior promo. I’m thinking swag like whoopee cushions custom printed with my cover, asking friends to share videos of themselves doing ridiculous booty dances, and flooding social media with cute animal behinds. But since I’d like to make a life-long career of this whole writing thing, I’m determined to carve out time for putting words on paper. And then I’ll get right back to derrière dances!
To learn more, visit Jocelyn's website.
Having a book-baby is a lot like having a real baby: so much preparation before the big day! Being part of a debut group has been great for helping me balance my time and keep my creative reserve supplied. We have small critique groups to help us with new material along with all of the support for our books that already have deals. Quarantine and social distancing have meant that I don't see as much of the world, and inspiration for writing is harder to come by. Reaching out and making connections online has been a great way for me to explore virtually and ignite new ideas. RAINBOW BOY launches January 19, 2021.
To learn more visit www.taylorrouanzion.com.
On July 13th of 2021 my debut book, BELLA’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS, (illustrated by Geraldine Rodriguez) will be born. How am I going to find a balance between working, writing, and marketing?
Hmmm… It won’t be easy.
For now, I’ll keep promoting my book and building my brand through social media. When my book comes, I’ll cry, hug, and bug family and friends to buy it Then schedule blog tours, contact libraries, and schools, do virtual launches, and if possible, do in-person school visits.
When will I find time to write? I wake up one hour earlier to write before work, so I’ll need to wake up two hours earlier. (NOOOOO!).
My plans for 2021 are to keep writing Picture Books and work on writing Chapter Books. And planning for my other upcoming picture book launches.
To learn more, visit Ana's website here.
For me, 2020 has been a year of extremes. Moments of extreme stress, yet profound gratitude.
I’ve recently transitioned from a full-time career to full-time motherhood, and I struggled with what I hear from so many other moms: that when you give one thing your attention if feels as though you’re neglecting the rest.
So I gave myself permission to write—but also not to write. I decided that dictating some notes to my phone was just as good as putting actual words to actual paper. Even watching the world a little bit closer. Noticing a detail I might have missed before. Singing. Playing. Being present. I let that be a kind of research. We are supposed to write what we know, after all. So I’m giving myself some grace to learn. THERE IS A RAINBOW hits shelves January 26, 2021. Learn more at theresatrinder.com.
Christine Van Zandt:
My launch plan for A BRIEF HISTORY OF UNDERPANTS includes:
Keeping a positive outlook on things I can control, will definitely help maintain balance so that I don’t get distracted by things that don’t go as planned. For launch parties and readings, I can present an engaging and entertaining event for those who can attend. For libraries, classrooms, or homes that add CHICKEN FRANK, DINOSAUR! to their collections, I can be sure to provide fun activities to go along with it. For every new reader I meet, I can take time to hear their opinion on what they like most about the book.
As far as finding time to create new work, I keep the advice given from the late Rick Walton close to my heart. On writing he said, the goal shouldn’t be to write a book that will get published; the goal should be to write a publishable book. I’ve found this subtle shift in approach to the craft of writing incredibly empowering. It frees me to create the best book I can and provides me room to fall in love with it, because it keeps me from focusing on the end goal of finding a publisher, which can be stifling once you start thinking about it.
Learn more at skwenger.com.