This is a long overdue update on what I’ve been up to – and to let you know that, after many requests and a lot of planning (in between everything else), I’m finally bringing out How to Self-publish and Market a Children’s Book in the next few weeks.
I’m aiming for a launch date of 30 June 2018 but will confirm this closer to the time. If any last minute changes in the market occur in the next couple of weeks that I think are important enough to warrant a short delay, I will endeavour to include them.
As you have probably guessed, this is a book of two halves. It will be packed with practical advice on :
- the best print and eBook self-publishing options for children’s authors in this fast-changing market and the best tools to use along the way – going into far greater detail and significantly updated from what you’ll find on my website, albeit the principles here all still hold true
- the strategies you can use both offline and online to get your children’s books into more young readers’ hands – by far the most challenging aspect of your journey as I’m sure you will know
While many of the book’s first-half strategies will be useful for all self-publishers, it has lots of extras thrown in that are of specific interest to children’s writers. The second ‘marketing’ half is, of course, highly targeted to children’s authors. With my books sales now close to 15,000 I have lots to share on this – including what works and what doesn’t – and what is emerging…
The book will also include a link that I will use to keep you up to date with key changes in this fast-moving industry, and for useful downloads.
If you’d like me to notify you when How to Self-publish and Market a Children’s Book is out please sign up to my mailing list if you’re not on it already. (I don’t email often.) If you’d prefer not to sign up, don’t worry – I will put out a short blog post announcement here once the release date is finalised.
Now on to other news…
Hitting best seller lists, new picture book and more…
I’m thrilled to report that The Secret Lake has hit best seller status in key children’s categories several times on Amazon UK in the last few weeks, with the print book ranking at 335 in the whole of the UK store on one day and the Kindle version reaching the mid 3,000 spot. This month it has sold over 500 print copies on Amazon UK.
(Amazon’s bots have chosen to include the print book in a rather odd category ‘Children’s Exploration and Travel’ – it’s not one I chose, but I’m not complaining! I must say that I find the Kindle Store has far more relevant categories for my needs than the print store.)
Amazon stats update hourly so this streak is likely to be short-lived (it’s at around 500 as I write), however the print book has been ranking in the the top 2,000-4,000 since February so I’m cautiously optimistic that it will continue to sell steadily for a while at least after the spike fades. Wish me luck! I think it’s for all our benefit if a children’s self-published book can really make a name for itself on Amazon 🙂 And just for info, Amazon has it on offer at £4.99 over the last couple of days. I have no idea how long that will last and it’s due to increase in RRP price in June, so now’s a good time to grab a copy if you have any bookworm girls or boys aged 8-11!
I hope you like the new front cover. It had been on my never-ending to-do list for the last year or so and I think that my illustrator, Damir, has managed to retain the classic feel of the story while bringing the style up to date. I’d also like to thank the wonderful Rachel Lawston who gave invaluable input (she also designed the front cover for my upcoming non-fiction book). The beautiful Isabella Plantation woodland in Richmond Park near London, which inspired The Secret Lake, was in full bloom for most of May – below are images from my visit with the new cover a couple of weeks ago.
Ferdinand Fox and the Hedgehog – new rhyming picture book
Just ahead of World Book Day this year I published my second rhyming picture book, Ferdinand Fox and the Hedgehog, which is already proving a huge hit with children, parents and grandparents. Print sales of this are already in the many 100s and have exceeded all expectations. I will expand on the reasons why I think it’s done so well in the new book. I will also talk about the cover challenges I faced for marketing reasons and why I will be tweaking it to fix a few things soon – all great for “lessons learned” in our continuing journey!
Barnes Children’s Literature Festival opens up to Indies
For the third year running, Barnes Children’s Literature Festival in southwest London where I live has opened up to independent authors, offering the chance to run free events alongside the paid events programme. This is a great opportunity to showcase your work then attend other children’s /YA authors’ paid events to see how they engage with their audiences. If you live within reach of London do check out their website and sign up to their mailing list to be kept in the loop. They have limited slots for the free events programme each year. High volume sales aren’t guaranteed as it just depends on who turns up, but it will be a valuable experience.
At this year’s festival the interest in children’s self-publishing was clear. It was a full house of close to 50 attendees in the marquee when I presented on the topic as part of the paid programme – you can only see just over half of the attendees in the image below 🙂 No longer is self-publishing something you need to whisper about!
Helping local school and literacy causes
Finally, one thing I love about being an author is getting involved with local community projects, or doing what I can to help with fundraising relating to literacy.
Below you can see me at Brandlehow Primary School in Putney a couple of weeks ago, close to where I live in London. The PTA is raising funds for a new library and asked a few local authors if we’d come and run some free workshops that both children and parents could attend. The money they raised through donations is going towards the library, and stood at over £700 when I last heard! The children also got to buy signed books, so everyone went home happy.
I’m also extremely excited to have sponsored a bookshelf for a new literacy library being built in London by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education – a charity that works to improve literacy in primary schools.
Last, but not least, I’ve recently donated signed copies of my books to a local special needs primary school, Greenmeads Special Primary, as prizes for their quiz night last week. This was following a request from the lovely Becky Butler (or Dr Rebecca Butler to be precise!) whom I’ve know for many years. Becky’s Doctorate in education focuses on motor impairment in characters in children’s novels and how these are perceived by young readers. She also has a Masters in Children’s Literature. Stop press: she’s just emailed to tell me they raised over £7,000 on the night 🙂
GDPR and all that
I can’t sign off without mentioning GDPR, which has had us all in a tizz over the last few weeks. Personally I think it will benefit both businesses and customers by helping reduce bloated and unresponsive mailing lists for the former, and giving us customers a welcome opportunity to waive goodbye to all of those emails we signed up to in the past and no longer wish to receive.
That’s it for now. Don’t forget, if you’d like me to notify you when How to Self-publish and Market a Children’s Book is out please sign up to my mailing list if you’re not on it already – or look out for my short blog post announcement closer to the time.