Follow The Interests
One of the coolest things to me as a mama, is hearing my oldest talk to me about the apps he wants to design, the games he wants to create to play on the iPad, I find this so fascinating and it makes my mama heart proud. I can’t wait to see where this interest leads and I love that my son has the freedom to learn as much as he wants about creating apps, when he wants and can follow it as far as he wants, maybe it will lead to a career, maybe it will be a passing hobby, at the very least, he is already, starting to gain some pretty impressive tech skills.
I think for a lot of unschoolers, there are several moments, where we start to wonder “what-if” and apply it to ourselves. “What if I was left to write, day after day, where would I be now?” is a question I ponder, every now and again. I think I would be a whole different person, so it’s fortunate that I like myself and my life, now (I mean, I’m currently out of coffee, but for the most part, I’m content).
When a reader asked me if I had any tips on how to help their teen promote a book, the question gave me pause. There are lots of books published by children, published by teens and young adults, out there in the world, so it’s not like this hasn’t been done. But I can only answer this question from a respectful parenting, unschooling point of view and as someone who has some experience in working with authors and promoting books.
1. What Do They Want To Do With The Book?
This is a question I put to the authors I work with. Not everyone has the same goal or wants the same thing. When working with an author, I ask: What is your goal, for this book? Do you want to hit the Amazon Best Seller list? Or USA Today Best Sellers? Do you want to be known as a local author? Do you want to stick to print or e-book only? Is this a stand-alone or one of a series? What are your author goals? Do you want to write full-time? Is this a side hustle? Or a hobby? Do you plan to stick to one genre or write in several different genres?
These questions work, when there is already a book to promote and to work with but I would ask your teen these same questions because the answers will help you form a plan with the long view in mind.
What happens when the book isn’t a book yet, but it’s in a Google Doc or filled the pages of a notebook?
Then you start from where you are. What do you want to see happen with this story? Do you want to make it into a book? Do you want it up on Kobo or Amazon? If they want the manuscript to become an ebook, then some things you are going to have to figure out is: how to format it and what ebook creation software to use and maybe look at making it a PDF, depending on if it’s for consumption by the public or for family and friends.
If your young author wants a book to hold in their hands, then you are looking at print on demand, if they want a few copies to give to family and friends, I would probably go with Blurb but that’s just preference (because I like their quality and their price points are reasonable for small runs), there are many POD’s out there.
If your young author wants their book to be in bookstores and online and everywhere, then you’re going to need to query an agent.
2. Where To Start With Book Promotion?
Okay, so your young author has decided what they wanted to do with their manuscript and now as an ebook. Where to start with book promotion? First, I would ask them, what they want to do? And what do they want *you* to do? You might want to tell everyone, but if your teen doesn’t want to let Aunt So and So know, then please don’t tell Aunt So and So. If you offer to post it on your Facebook and they are comfortable with that, then go to! How comfortable are they talking about themselves? What are the things that they don’t want you to tell other people? I would look at where your teen is already online and see if there are places you can add the book buy link and where they can mention that they are an author (TikTok, Snapchat, in conversation on Discord) –if they are comfortable with being out there. Putting yourself out there as a creator, as an artist, is a hard thing, there are plenty of adults who struggle with this and it takes practice to get comfortable. Start with where you and your young author are online, start with your family and friends and then extend to your community.
3. Tell Your Friends
Now your young author has the beginning of an online trail that leads people to buy their books and maybe they have grown to be comfortable talking about the book and letting others know about it and now friends are asking how they can help. A few easy things that you could ask your friends to is, ask them to buy the book, share on their social media, and a key to any ebook’s success, to review the book on Amazon and alongside reviewing the book, ask them to bump up good reviews and bump down less than positive reviews, or reviews that aren’t detailed.
4. Tell Your Community
The book is out now, it’s made the rounds of family and friends, generated a few dollars in sales and maybe your young author wants more. What’s the next step? Tell your community. Look at how you can share it with your community: can you post in your homeschooling group? Can you mention it to your running club? Can you find a way to write about it in your professional organization’s newsletter? Is there a “Community Spotlight” feature in your local paper? If it is a print book, can you help your young author set-up at your local bookstore? If it’s an ebook and we’re in the COVID restrictions, what about looking to see who is hosting Zoom chats that relate to the book? Is your teen involved in any national organizations that have spotlights on their websites? How can your young author reach out to the communities they already participate in, to let people know about the book? Tell your local library and see if they will include the book in their catalogue.
5. Copy What The Pros Are Doing
Who is your young author’s favourite author? Have a browse through their social media, is there anything they are doing that they could take a hint from? What kind of language do they use, what posts are getting a lot of comments on? Maybe your young author wants to try a Goodreads give-a-way or make a book trailer, maybe they want to ask their favourite author to blurb the book (can’t hurt) maybe they want to start their own blog or create their own writing group or publishing company and if there is a negative review that comes, it can be helpful to look at how those big-name authors handle it and after all the best book promotion is to write the next book.
Those are my five tips to help your young author succeed at book promoting and maybe it helps to think of it this way: take a step back from being their number one fan, and become their publicist, their partner and take direction from them because it is their intellectual property and their choices around it, need to be respected.
Since 2008, I have been working with authors and their books. Book promotion and author publicity is a passion of mine and I am currently offering pay what you can Publicity Consultations. Need suggestions on book marketing and author promotion? I’m your person! firstname.lastname@example.org