Do you target middle grade or young adult audiences with your book? It can often be difficult to reach that 8-18 age range through traditional means of book marketing as many aren’t typically on book blogs, looking on Amazon, or in some cases, be targeted by ads.
As a result, targeting this demographic can be particularly troublesome for authors and publishers. This can even be a challenge for more experienced publishing execs, letting alone budding authors.
There are a few strategies you can utilize to try to get in front of that coveted age range that might give you a leg up on the competition.
1. For really young, target libraries, bookstores, and schools
Most bookstores and libraries have events and areas specifically dedicated to children’s books. You can do book signings, read aloud, giveaways, contests, and more with these local venues for initial distribution. Many school librarians also keep careful watch in these areas so it gives you as a writer great visibility into potential decision makers, as well as parents.
While this might not scale into millions of sales, this is a really great way to get some word of mouth going and get your book into initial readers.
Many publishers in the children’s book space do this as well but have deeper connections. They can get you good placement in those sections at bookstores in particular and eventually feed you into schools.
One trick I’ve heard that sometimes works is to include a “reading guide” or “teaching guide” for teachers or parents to use with their kids. Give that guide away for free with the book or as an online add-on.
2. Target teen-oriented influencers
For 13-18 age ranges, these readers spend all of their time on social media. You can find people who like to read in particular on writing sites. You can also find people who like things like Harry Potter on sites like Tumblr or Instagram. Try giving them a free copy of the book and who knows, maybe they’ll promote you to their potentially millions of followers.
People trust influencers as they are essentially tastemakers. Influencers are a very powerful way to get in front of the people you want, with somebody essentially endorsing your work. You can find good influencers on sites like HelloSociety, Famebit, or Influenster.
Fanfiction is also an interesting way to piggie back on existing success and takes advantage of the buzz. Many influencers are also willing to read short stories, flash fiction, or even poetry on camera to promote, which is potentially a good avenue as well. Many of the best short stories in the modern age have actually been promoted through clever influencer campaigns and distribution journals.
3. Childrens, middle grade, and YA book blogs
There are many book blogs around that also get the attention of librarians and parents. A quick google will give you a wide variety of blogs that review books and give recommendations on what books to give to kids. Feedspot and Kidlitosphere have pretty good lists of good children’s book blogs that you can go through. If your works are graphic novels or picture books you can look at places to post graphic novels online.
Many have specific themes, like picture books only or fantasy only. Find all the blogs that might be relevant for your book and start doing some outreach. Not all of these book blogs have a ton of readers, but they do serve as a source of credibility for you.
4. Write for short attention spans
They say that young people have short attention spans. It’s true. Consider posting a very short story online, those stories that could fit in tweets.
On the credibility end, you can use every positive review or coverage as part of your pitch to the next blog or library. Tell them that you were featured on special blogs with raving reviews. It will make it more likely for people to consider you as you have social proof.