EasternPennPoints Journeys: This piece was submitted by Eastern PA SCBWI member Andrea Denish to share a part of her publishing journey with other members of our region. If you’d like to share part of your creative journey, click here for submission details.
Don’t Let It COVID-19 on Your Parade
By Andrea Denish
Way back in February 2020, I was diligently working on a checklist of items needed for my upcoming book launch. I had been seriously writing children’s fiction for twenty years, and at long last, my book debut for Everyone Loves a Parade! was scheduled for late April 2020. I ordered Mardi Gras beads, cut bagfuls of confetti, filled my calendar with book readings, and doodled pictures of the perfect cupcakes to serve at my book launch party.
But my balloon popped in mid-March. Talk of cutesy hats and marching bands became frivolous. To my surprise, the book came out ahead of schedule in a hasty plan to fill orders and clear out warehouses while deliveries were still happening. As a result, I was unable to do a countdown to the book release on social media or sufficiently wrap my head around my new status as a published author. Further, Everyone Loves a Parade! is about parades, and guess what doesn’t happen during a pandemic?
During the lockdown, I attempted to stir up excitement with some book giveaway contests and social media posts, which reached a very small audience. Lots of friends were all too kind and purchased multiple copies of my book from online sellers. But all of the misfires threw me into a spiral of doubt and regret about the whole book release. I felt underprepared and behind in my efforts. I had read all I could read about releasing a book, but there was no guidebook that applied to this unique situation.
I turned to my Facebook author groups, scrolling the pages for others in a similar spot. They were difficult to find. In time, I created a new Facebook page called KidLit Book Relaunch. A place where authors who released books during the pandemic could come together and share strategies for how to navigate a launch in a virtual space. We pooled together some of our best tips for using popular social media platforms to bring attention to our new children’s books. Here is a short list of some ideas generated from our group:
- Follow lots of parents and teachers on Twitter.
- Keep your feed on social media interesting—not just about promoting your book.
- Consider using giveaways. Ask people to retweet your promotional post.
- If appropriate, contribute a portion of book sales to a charity.
- Check out YouTube as a place to read part of your book to gain some visibility.
- Make a Pinterest board and pin your book along with related crafts and activities.
- Promote fellow creators with likes and retweets.
Thankfully, we have come to a point where we are learning to live almost normally in the shadow of a global pandemic. Our contacts may include masked smiles and smaller audiences, but we can rejoice in the fact that SCBWI creatives have adapted to using technology in our book launches and promotion, keeping audiences engaged wherever they log on. Still, interacting directly with children and caregivers is an important part of the author/illustrator’s experience. Fortunately, in-person book festivals and book signings are returning, people are strolling through bookstores again, and children are attending storytimes at the library. Plus, parades are back—and I’ve got bags full of confetti!
Andrea Denish is the author of Everyone Loves a Parade! published by Astra Books for Young Readers and the forthcoming THE WAY WE SAY HELLO with Starry Forest Books. She works in the children’s department at The Abington Township Free Library where she loves to be the first to crack open a new book, read it, and recommend it to patrons. She delights in leading storytimes and is always on the hunt for fantastic read-alouds. She is a member of Eastern PA SCBWI and lives with her husband in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.
To find out more about Andrea Denish, please visit http://www.andreadenish.com.