How U Can Market & Promote a Picture Book like Author Shannon Stocker (+ Giveaway)
Updated: Sep 29, 2019
Many of us know the marketing rule of seven. But how does a debut picture book author reach prospective buyers with a promotional message at least seven times to encourage the purchase of her/his book? Fine question. My dear friend and critique partner, Shannon Stocker just launched her entertaining picture book, CAN U SAVE THE DAY, with a song! She’s here to share her advice and experience with you.
~ Giveaway over ~
Hi, Manju! Thanks so much for having me!
1. What past experience did you bring to marketing your debut picture book?
This is a bit of a complicated question. For years, I performed as a singer/songwriter, so certainly that helped get my name out there in the past. No matter what industry you’re in, though, relationships mean everything…so I’ve certainly reached out to friends, old and new, to chatter about my book. Prior to the launch, I made sure I’d established an online presence (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, a website), and I started a blog series for female authors called #InHERview. I’ve also been very active in SCBWI, I’m a Rate Your Story judge, and I’m a co-coordinator for local SCBWI meetings. Truly, everything you do in the kidlit community can be seen as beneficial for future marketing.
2. Prior to publication, did you work to create your own brand online?
I did! I set up my first website in 2015 after I wrote my first draft which, in hindsight, was probably a bit early. I began blogging right away and joined SCBWI and 12x12. I reluctantly joined Twitter (it terrified me) and Instagram (I’m only now learning how to use it). Although I might’ve jumped the gun a little on my website, it was nice to have it in place when things started taking off. One less thing to worry about! But more than anything, I really wanted someplace a prospective agent could go to see that I was serious.
3. Did you reach out to friends, schools, libraries, bookstores, and the media about CAN U SAVE THE DAY?
My publicist at Sleeping Bear has been doing a lot of that with/for me. I’ve reached out to friends, schools, and bookstores, and my publicist has reached out to schools, libraries, and bookstores. I’m just now starting to touch base with libraries on my own, and I’m trying to communicate with schools about potential visits bit by bit. I had my first post-publication author visit at Louisville Montessori School and absolutely loved it!
4. Do you coordinate events/swag with your publisher’s marketing team? Do you need permission to use the illustrator’s cover art or interior art for promotions from cake to bookmarks?
Swag is really more something that I chose to do on my own. This will vary depending on the size of your press. At my launch, I gave out bookmarks that I had printed, did a T-shirt giveaway, and had a face painter (thank you, fabulous illustrator Scott Soeder). My publicist and the marketing team created activity sheets that I brought to the launch (and will bring to other signings and school visits). They also helped with the bookmark design. We didn’t need permission on the cover art for the cake because my name is on the cover, but the house did want me to limit interior art to just a few spreads (I think that’s standard). That being said, they gave me the choice of spreads that I’d like to use, which was nice.
5. How have you used social media to promote CAN U SAVE THE DAY? Did you organize a blog tour?
I did! The best way to see my blog tour is to visit the News page on my website. I’ve done several interviews and will be on the Reading with Your Kids podcast tomorrow (Sept 20)! Written interviews for the blog tour include those with Lynne Marie (The Story Behind the Story), Rate Your Story, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Vivian Kirkfield’s Will Write For Cookies, WOW! Women On Writing, Kathy Temean’s Writing & Illustrating, Susanna Leonard Hill’s Tuesday Debut, Jennifer Prevost’s Magnolias & Manuscripts, and now, of course, yours! I have a few more yet to come, too.
6 What steps did you take to organize your Book Launch Party?
Fortunately, I’d already established a relationship at Barnes & Noble by doing book signings for my Chicken Soup for the Soul books. That took some work, however. The gatekeeper (a wonderful guy) was tough to reach, so I had to literally go to the store and camp out by the desk to speak with him. He’s known about my debut picture book for nearly two years now, so when the time came, he gave me my choice of date and time. B&N kindly allowed me to organize the space, bring a cake, have a face painter, play my guitar, and even come early to make sure everything “techy” worked. I had bookmarks and t-shirts made, printed out the activity sheets from Sleeping Bear Press, brought little animal headbands that kids could wear during the reading, and gave out little foam letters during the signing. It was fun!
7. I love the song and music video you created to promote CAN U SAVE THE DAY. Please tell us how this project came together.
Oh, this was so much fun to do! I’m super grateful to a couple amazing people for helping me make this happen. I’ve been a musician forever; my husband and I even lived in Nashville for three years so I could play with songwriters in the round at some really cool places, like the legendary Bluebird Café. While there, I wrote songs with an incredibly talented guy named Scott Sanford. He and I co-wrote the song on that video. My brother-in-law, Mark Stocker, used to work with a production company called ZoomCulture. He produced music videos, a feature film…did some amazingly creative things. Mark kindly agreed to produce the video. He brought a green screen to my house, I recruited the adorable kids, and magic was made. I’m really proud of that video.
8. What advice would you give another author who is preparing to launch her/his first book into the world?
Big sigh. Be kind to yourself (and others). Be patient with yourself (and others). Don’t try to do it all. It WILL get overwhelming. Don’t plan for much else during the month of the launch, and don’t beat yourself up when things fall through the cracks. Last but certainly not least, remember to start each day with a sense of gratitude. A launch is exhausting, but it’s such a blessing, too. I still cannot believe I have a real live book in this world. I’m so grateful.
Thank you, Shannon! I appreciate you sharing your marketing adventures with us. I wish you many cheerful school visits, with students singing along to CAN U SAVE THE DAY.
Shannon Stocker is an award-winning author and proud word nerd who lives in Louisville, KY, with her husband, Greg, and their children, Cassidy and Tye. Her debut picture book, CAN U SAVE THE DAY (Sleeping Bear Press), released on August 15, 2019. Her next picture book, LISTEN: HOW ONE DEAF GIRL CHANGED PERCUSSION, comes out with Dial (Penguin/Random House) in 2022, and several of her nonfiction essays have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. Shannon currently serves as SCBWI social co-director for Louisville, a judge for Rate Your Story, and she created the blog series, Pivotal Moments: inHERview, highlighting transitional life stories of female picture book authors. Cool facts: Currently writing her memoir, Shannon is a medical school graduate, a coma survivor, an RSD/CRPS patient and advocate, and a singer/songwriter who once performed two songs, including one original, as part of an opening act for Blake Shelton.
To subscribe to her blog, visit her website. She can also be found tweeting positive quotes and mantras @iwriteforkidz. Shannon is represented by Allison Remcheck of Stimola Literary Studio.
For a chance to win a signed copy of Shannon’s CAN U SAVE THE DAY, leave a comment on this post OR the Sub Six member page. Let us know your favorite PB swag and where you shared this post. (Book will only be mailed within the U.S.)
Deadline to enter is September 27th.
For those not familiar with Sub Six, we are a children’s book writers and illustrators support group. Members support each other through encouraging comments, submission tally sheets and monthly prizes.