This post was more aptly titled, “How to Launch Your Picture Book While Knowing Jack Squat About Social Media” by the author. This guest post on how to manage a successful book launch is contributed by M.B. Paradise, author of the picture book Beach Santa.
This is embarrassing. It took me 12 years to get my book over the finish line. Well, let’s be fair…the original idea came to me 12 years ago, but I actually started writing the story two years ago. I don’t know how long it takes anyone else, but this seems like a brutally long time to scratch out just 32 pages. Anyhow, you get the idea…this took a while. But finally, after sweat and tears (thankfully, no blood), I took the leap of faith, putting my work out into the world, and I held a published book in my hands!
My excitement was short-lived, however, as I quickly realized that now I’d have to have a social media presence, like for real. A wave of nausea overtook me. I’d been basically avoiding this for decades. Once upon a time, I had a Facebook page, but I quickly realized that I was not only wasting time on this site but that it was also affecting my mental health in a negative way. So, I abandoned this habit but kept the page so I could jump on occasionally to sell or buy something on Facebook:” buy, sell, and swap.”
Now that my book was out there, I knew I had to plunge back in, and it was pretty clear it had to be at least two platforms. This was scarier than putting my book out into the world. How do I post? What do I post, and when? I know hashtags are a thing, but how many is cool, and how many is cringy? And how do tagging people and places help me promote my book? If someone follows me, should I automatically follow back? (BTW: The answer to that is NO). For seasoned veterans, I’m sure these questions sound ridiculous, but for me, they were all legitimate concerns.
Make no mistake. I’m a work in progress at many levels…I still know next to nothing about the nuances or etiquette of social media, but I managed a successful book launch, nonetheless. Here’s why: Even though I was and still am a little afraid of social media, I didn’t let fear run the show. This was just another obstacle, and I had to face it head on.
For you rookies out there…this is how I sold over 1200 books in eight weeks as an indie children’s book author…
18 steps I took for my successful picture book launch
1. Sent an email to my friends, family, and co-workers announcing my book
2. Created a launch team and asked for a book review
3. Posted on Facebook that I had a book for sale
4. Created an Instagram account and asked my kids the difference between a post, story, and reel (If you are social media clueless like me, I’m guessing there is a simple YouTube video explaining this.)
5. If a social media idea came to mind for a post, I’d run it by a family member for feedback, and then I’d post it…letting the chips fall where they may.
6. Created an author website by googling my favorite two children’s book authors and making my site kind of similar (Why reinvent the wheel?)
7. Created an author one-sheet or sell sheet… for my first one. A talented graphic-artist friend helped me make this look professional, and I printed copies at a local printer, so they were crisp and vibrant.
8. I physically walked into bookstores and asked if they would take a look at my book and maybe take a chance on it. (Phone calls can be a start, but most responses came from me showing up.)
9. Signed up for some local craft fairs and learned really fast what to do and what not to do…For example, bring some snacks and lots of change and be ok with rejection.
10. Went to a few “ladies’ nights out” before the holidays and sold my books there.
11. An ex-coworker was nice enough to pass along my info to a patch reporter (patch.com exists in many locations) So, I would suggest reaching out to patch.com.
12. I asked a teacher at my kid’s school if I could come in for an author visit…they said YES!
13. I asked the local library if I could do a story hour and craft…they said YES too!
14. A local newspaper reached out…I know many people think newspapers are outdated and no one reads them. BUT a very well-respected business owner told me that many customers came into her bookstore saying that they saw an article in the paper and wanted to support a local author. If they don’t reach out, send a press release to them.
15. A good friend suggested I read “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert…this really helped.
16. I was rejected many times, and I was ok with it. For me, a NO beats a MAYBE. And try to remember it’s not personal. Sometimes, it’s simply a space issue. Keep believing in your book.
17. I listened to a couple of free online webinars about book marketing and picked up some helpful hints.
18. I had previously partnered up with Lois Hoffman, The Happy Self-Publisher, for formatting and editing my book; she gave me some very helpful marketing tips as well.
The fact that you are self-publishing a book and are looking forward to the marketing phase is, in and of itself, such a huge accomplishment! Take a moment to revel in this…even if it’s just 60 seconds. Let this sink in. As far as social media is concerned, predictably, I made (and continue to make) mistakes. But I’m ok with these mistakes and fumbles because there is something about taking risks that makes me feel like I’m going in the right direction. So, for all of you that are knee-deep in this self-publishing process and wondering if you have what it takes…my advice is to get yourself a mentor, believe, and face those fearful moments head-on, one at a time. YOU CAN DO THIS! Here’s to a successful book launch!
M.B. Paradise has always been a fan of stories, Santa, and the beach… so combining the three made perfect sense. She got her undergraduate degree at Rutgers University and a Master’s in Education at the University of Virginia. In high school, she started a painting business and later went on to become an athletic trainer and a college instructor. She has climbed in the Rockies, barely survived two NYC marathons, and currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and three daughters. She likes chocolate, treehouses, comfy pajamas, and all kinds of fun stories. Beach Santa is her first children’s book.
Fun Fact: she also worked sporadically for 20th Century Fox to promote movies. During one stint, she had to dress up in a Post-It costume and walk around New York City to promote the premiere of the cult classic “Office Space.”