I've been told that my writing is quality, but I have yet to attract a publisher. When professionals in the publishing world find out that I have five children under the age of 12, their knee-jerk response is, "Ma'am you don’t have time to market your books."
These women know from experience the demands a child has on her mother’s time, and they don't want to invest their time in something I can't help them sell. I respect that.
Being the mother of 5 children is time-consuming, but it wouldn’t hinder my ability to market books as much as you’d think.
Because I have 5 young children…
1. I connect with teachers. When my daughter learned to tie her shoes, I sent her to school with a poem I had written. She read it to the class, in celebration of her accomplishment. Her Kindergarten teacher loved it so much, she asked for a copy. She wanted to use it in her class, and share it with other teachers. Before I knew it, every teacher of the lower grades had a copy and was using it. I would have sold a copy to each of them, if it had been a picture book. This is one example of my work being used in the classroom.
It’s an ill-kept secret that Teachers Talk. They belong to online groups, and websites where they post recommendations. They attend workshops outside their area where they share ideas with other teachers. Because of my children, I know teachers ranging from Transitional Kindergarten through 7th grade. Once I am published, I can market my book through this already established network.
2. I connect with others in schools. I once read an adorable picture book about a girl who learned to be proud of her art. The librarian at my son’s school hadn’t heard enough about it to get the book. When I told her how it was an awesome story, the librarian ordered it for the school. I could have been promoting my own book! I am comfortable recommending books I believe in to librarians at every school in my area.
3. I am active in children’s programs at the library. Being a member of six different library systems means I know how children’s reading programs are run in my area. I know what the favorite publishers are, and what activities are in place. Spending time at the library is a regular occurrence, and while I am there, I could be talking with the librarians about my books.
4. I connect with other parents. Teachers and librarians aren't the only people I get to know through my kids. Some of my best friends are parents of children who go to school or Sunday school together.
One of my friends has a child who is learning to read. Her little girl likes “real stuff” and doesn’t want to read Dr. Seuss’s imaginative tales. So I recommended some books. My friend went out and bought them all, then came back and thanked me. Most of the recommendations had been published by the same company. If only I had a title on that list…
5. I connect to online communities. When a play I wrote was being performed in Indiana, I promoted it on my Facebook page. My pen-pal friend in Arizona happens to have family in Indiana. Word of the performance got to them because of my established online network with other mommies.
Raising 5 children takes a lot of time, but it also establishes connections and creates opportunities for marketing children’s books. That’s why I am seeking publication now while these connections are fresh.
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)