Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Katie Davis on How to Promote Your Children's Book

Katie Davis is the only author-illustrator I know who has not one but ten-count-em-ten versions of her bio on her web site. Including a rebus version.

That is so Katie. She's a rare combination of inventive, fearless, and infinitely flexible. She makes this promo stuff look natural, sensible, and maybe even fun. So it's lucky for the rest of us she's written How To Promote Your Children's Book: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to Create a Bestseller. The book has 30 chapters, 217 pages, each with homework to help you get motivated and started on your path to promote your book and build your career. Over 60 authors, illustrators, and librarians contributed countless (Katie tried but lost track) pieces of advice to promote your book and support your career. The book includes resources, links, and videos. Here's Katie herself, in an interview that is part of her blog tour with this book.

[Uma] What made you decide you needed to put your wealth of promotion knowledge and skills into a how-to for others?

[Katie] I truly believe the title of Chapter Six: Give More Than You Get and You'll Get More Than You Give. The more outward looking I've become and the more I help others, the better I feel and the stronger my career becomes.

[Uma] That I understand! I've always felt that way about teaching and mentoring other writers. But promotion? Talk about why you believe authors and illustrators need to quit being promo-chickens.

[Katie] Legend has it that there actually was a time an author or illustrator could sit back and the publisher would do all the promotion. If you still believe that then I've got 2 bridges and a bestseller printing machine for sale.

True or False?
  1. Promoting your book means standing on the corner hawking, "Get yer terrific tome right heah!"
  2. You have to be the life of the party to promote your book.
  3. You don't need a "platform."  
  4. A shy writer has nowhere to turn!
  1. False. You can promote your book via a blog tour - hey, like I'm doing right now! - and never have to actually talk to a single person.
  2. False. You don't have to have a big personality. Just be yourself. Real and humble is more compelling anyway.
  3. False. Yeah, you kind of do. But you can decide on the kind of platform you want. Do you write science books? If that's what you love it becomes fun, not the shudder-inducing word, "branding." On your blog you can include an experiment of the week. On your YouTube channel you can use your webcam to create videos of experiments. Interviewing someone else is a great way to get comfy in front of the camera and takes the pressure of you. And btw, if you don't have a YouTube channel, why not? It's the second biggest search engine, which'll bring a lot more eyeballs to your site, and is connected to the biggest, Google.
  4. False! Check out the fantastic blog, Shrinking Violets Promotions and of course, How to Promote Your Children's Book has lots of great ideas to help you. But the most comforting thing to remember is to just be yourself and your platform will evolve organically.

[Uma] I like that. You don't have to do things that make you shudder but you don't have to feel paralyzed either. I love how the boundaries between building community and promoting one's own work are permeable in so many of the ideas you suggest. Talk about that as a concept.

[Katie] Say you do a recipe exchange with your neighborhood friends because you're all interested in cooking. You're great at desserts so you talk about dessert recipes a lot, and you share tips and secrets for the best ones. Soon you're known in the neighborhood as the Dessert Lady (or Guy). Social media is the same idea on a larger scale. And you become known for your particular strengths, and you share them. You're not pushing them, you're sharing them. You're helping others. Take advantage of the accessibility we now have, make a neighborhood through Twitter, Facebook, Google+ … wherever you are most comfortable, and connections will be made. The operative word in Social Media is social, and reciprocity rocks!

And so does Katie Davis. Look at what editor and children’s editorial & publishing consultant Emma Dryden of drydenbks LLC, says of Katie's book:

Katie Davis has done an excellent job with this helpful book - including interviews with and examples from loads of children's book professionals - and it ought to prove a helpful, timely marketing tool for children's book creators! As a children's book editorial and publishing consultant, I'll definitely be recommending this eBook to my clients.
Here's Katie Davis speaking to Emma Dryden in a podcast.

Here are all the stops on the Katie Davis How to Promote Your Children's Book blog tour:

Feb 1  E is for Book
Feb 2  Elizabeth's Banana Peel Thursday
Feb 3  Chris's Creative Spaces
Feb 6  Deborah Halverson's Dear Editor
Feb 7  Right here on WWBT
Feb 8  Shutta Crum
Feb 9  Sharron McElmeel
Feb 10  Kerem
Feb 24  Christine Fonseca
March 1  Julie Hedlund's 12x12 in 2012
And finally, you can comment on this post to enter a drawing for a free download of How to Promote Your Children's Book (in PDF format). Just comment. Easy. Social. Reciprocal. And very Katie.

Or if you want to buy the e-book for Kindle or Nook, Katie's web site features links for both. Thank you, Katie!


  1. Hah, I hadn't seen the TEN bios! I wouldn't mind some of her idea fairy dust! Katie really does manage to demystify and give us the confidence and kick we need to get promoting. Her enthusiasm is truly contagious. Thanks Uma and Katie for this fun interview. I already have the book, so don't count me in the draw. ;)

  2. Thanks for the insightful interview.

    (First time I've seen a rebus bio. Very cool.)

  3. I love the recipe exchange analogy! So true.

    And Uma, I love Katie's plethora of bios too! :-)

  4. Katie and Uma thanks for the post. I am a blog tour groupie. I am learning so much in such an enjoyable way. I happened to win a copy of Katie's book on an early stop on the tour at Elizabeth Stevens Omor's blog http://bananapeelin.blogspot.com/

  5. I finally got around to hearing Katie recent podcast and am now visiting all the sites. Every time I encounter Katie I learn something new. I will definitely check out Shrinking Violets Promotions as well. Best on the blog tour!

  6. I like Katie's point about being yourself and the platform evolves organically.

  7. Being yourself does seem to be so threatened when we look at promoting our work on on platforms...there's always the pressure to 'be what the AVERAGE searcher' wants to find...thanks for this calming advice, Katie, and Uma for hosting Katie on this tour.

  8. Thanks for all the great comments, folks! Keep them coming. I'll do the drawing this Friday (Feb 17). Joanna, I want that fairy dust too, and I won't count you in as you already have the book. Happy Valentine's Day to all.

  9. OK, so I put everyone's name on a slip of paper and threw them all up into the air for my cats' amusement. So Kirsten Larson, by popular feline acclamation (as in 2 out of 3 cats pounced on your slip) you win! E-mail me at uma (at) umakrishnaswami (dot) com. I'll forward your message to Katie and she will make sure you get a copy of How To Promote Your Children's Book. Thanks for playing, everyone and thank you Katie, for making WWBT a stop on your blog tour.