by Kelly Carey
You’ve just sold your debut book?
You want to join a debut marketing group?
What’s that? You’re not exactly sure what a marketing group is? How to find one? Or what kind of group to look for?
Don’t worry! Check out my tips on how to not only find a marketing group, but how to find a great one!
Tip #1: Find a Book Marketing Group
A book marketing group is made up of authors who join together to help promote each other’s books. Most groups are organized around a common attribute, like debut authors, or middle grade authors, or books publishing in 2021.
You can find marketing groups by:
Tip #2: Only Sign Up for One Group
Marketing groups are a huge help in plugging your book and in offering support and comradery during a launch. But you only need one group. While the benefits of a group are many, you will not multiple the benefits with more groups. One is plenty.
For "branding" purposes, it’s also better to identify yourself as belonging to one group. There will likely be a group logo, and a cool group name that you can include on your website, and in your social media. Best not to confuse folks with multiple tags.
Finally, a marketing group requires time and energy on your part. There is no need to juggle the responsibilities of more than one group. You’ll be spending plenty of time marketing and you don’t need to double the workload!
Tip #3 Timing is Everything
It can take a few months to collect a group of like-minded authors for a marketing group. Once you have a group, it can take a few more months to agree on a name and logo, build a website and platform, and introduce your group to the world. It’s not too early to start looking for or forming a marketing group – um – today!
Your marketing group will want to start interacting with potential readers, librarians, bookstores, and teachers about six months before anyone’s book launches. That means you'll want your group to be forming about a year before publication dates. If your 2022 debut group wants to announce your fabulous new books to the world in the last half of 2021, you’ll want to find your marketing group in the first few months of 2021.
Tip #4 Assess the Group
Don’t be afraid to be picky if you get asked to join more than one group – you want to be in good one! The best way to do this it to ask a few questions and do a little research. I’d look for the following things in a group:
Congratulations on your upcoming book! I know you’ve worked hard on it and readers deserve to get ahold of it! Give yourself and your readers the best chance of connecting by finding a fantastic marketing group!
Guest blog by Sarah Jane Abbott
As a writer myself, I understand the struggle of trying to figure out when a story is “finished.” Is it ready to submit? Or does it just need a few more months of tinkering before it’s ready to be extracted from the bowels of my laptop? The truth is, it’s easy to make little adjustments to a manuscript forever and never send it out. There’s a fine line between putting thoughtful, thorough revision into your manuscript and completely overworking it. So how is one to decide when it’s time to stop tinkering and start querying?
Take A Step Back
One of my best tips is to take a step back for perspective. It’s easy to get so close to a manuscript that objectivity is impossible; if you’ll excuse the cliché, you can’t see the forest for the trees. So put the manuscript away and work on something else. Try not to even think about it for several weeks. Then, when you come back to it, it should feel fresher and you may be able to see it in a way you couldn’t before. Maybe you’ll realize it needs more revision after all. Or maybe, after being away from it, you’ll see that it’s stronger and more polished than you remembered.
Picture books are a unique and special form in literature in that they are often read aloud. I always suggest that authors read their work out loud before finalizing it. This will help you see numerous things: Is the language colorful and engaging? In a rhyming text, do the rhyme, rhythm, and meter flow naturally? Does the pacing move along quickly enough to keep a child’s attention, while allowing time for the plot to develop? If all of these things feel good during read aloud, it’s a positive sign that the manuscript is polished.
Get Feedback from Critique Partners
Another helpful tool to gauge readiness for submission can be input from a trusted critique partner or group. It’s one thing to have a non-writer family member or friend read your work; you’ll often be met with sincere, but vague feedback like, “this is really great!” Peers who are familiar with the world of writing for children specifically will be able to give targeted, constructive feedback on your work. Your critique partners can give their honest opinions about the readiness of the manuscript for submission and, if they think it still needs work, their thoughts on how it can be revised.
The possible pitfall, of course, is taking so much feedback from so many critique partners that you lose your own voice or intention. Maybe you’ve followed several different suggestions and ended up with so many different versions of your manuscript you barely remember the story you were trying to write in the first place. Maybe you’ve written both rhyming and non-rhyming versions, both first and third person narration, in past and present tense. It gets confusing! Or maybe you’ve tinkered and tinkered and even though you think it’s a strong manuscript, you just can’t seem to make yourself press send on any queries.
If you feel stuck, maybe it’s time to bring in a professional. A freelance editor can use their experience and industry knowledge to give you an expert opinion on your manuscript’s readiness for submission as well as what areas need revision. They can read multiple versions and tell you which one they think is the strongest, or help you pull together the best pieces from different iterations of the manuscript to make the heart of your story shine through.
Most of all, the important thing to remember if you’re thinking you’re ready to query is: it’s a big accomplishment just to be at this point! So take a breath, take a step back, and read through that manuscript one more time. Pressing send can be scary, but once you’ve put in the work to polish up a story you’re confident in, it’s an incredibly satisfying feeling to send it out into the world.
Sarah Jane Abbott is an experienced editor who has spent eight years making books for children. She got her start at Simon & Schuster’s Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books, where she had the pleasure of working with many wonderful authors and illustrators including Samantha M. Clark, Samantha Cotterill, Scott Magoon, Anita Lobel, Alice B. McGinty, and Diane Goode. In 2020, she established Sarah Jane Abbott Editorial, and works with authors and publishers on a wide range of projects. Visit her at sarahjaneabbotteditorial.com or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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