My wheels were turning as I jotted the first few words onto the page. My children’s book, Violet’s Victory, was nowhere near completion, but I had grand notions, and not only concerning my story. My marketing plan and strategies started at the beginning stages of writing my picture book. I was excited to get this unique story out there, so I did. I told every bookstore, toy store, library, and school I encountered about Violet’s Victory. I created a website on my own and shared it on my Facebook and Instagram accounts. I am not computer savvy in the least, but I slowly worked on it step by step.
Being an avid handcyclist, I joined a cycling group on Facebook, and created a post about handcycles and adaptive sports equipment. I had an overwhelming response, so I included a little blurb about my upcoming book. So many parents, caregivers, and teachers reached out to me because they were interested in Violet’s Victory. They expressed how there are not too many children’s books on varying abilities, and they were looking forward to purchasing my book when it was released. These connections truly touched my heart!
It was at this point that I figured out who my target audience would be. Not only would this story be ideal for older preschool age children and elementary children (appropriate for children ages four through ten), but also the parents, caregivers, and teachers. Many special needs schools and programs reached out to me even before my book went into print because they couldn’t wait to get hold of a book on varying abilities. Children’s books incorporating different abilities are not of abundance, so they were truly eager to have Violet’s Victory. This story is pertinent for children of all abilities because it exemplifies diversity, inclusiveness, and social awareness. However, I also wanted children with different abilities to feel represented. I thought of the parents from the cycling Facebook posts who sent me photos of their children riding youth handcycles. It was important for me to reach out to those children so they could feel empowered and know they can dream big and do great things.
It is the most wonderful feeling in the world to have people reach out to you with excitement about your book. It can also be a bit overwhelming! It is hard to remember exactly who made an effort to contact you and who wants to be updated on the status of your book. Creating a database or an Excel Sheet is a must. Create columns with the person’s name, their contact information, and where you saw them or how they reached out to you (email, Instagram, Facebook Messenger Author Page etc.). When the time comes to send out newsletters, updates on your launch, author readings/signings, you will have their information already in a nice and neat file, ready to be put into your address book.
Before Violet’s Victory was released, I was taking part in school visits. I bought a projector and read the digital version and conducted presentations on different abilities. I had bookmarks and stickers printed up and handed them out at each school. The front of the stickers and bookmarks had the image of the cover of my book, and the back had my contact information, website, and Facebook and Instagram handles.
Thankfully, I made good friends with the women from my local printing and copy place. They are the nicest ladies you will ever meet, but it was important for me to form a nice relationship since I would be utilizing their services frequently going forward. More importantly, I really wanted to support my local business run by wonderful women. This marketing technique for handing out swag really worked for me. I had increased my visibility drastically and yet stayed within my budget.
I also kept thinking out of the box. What can I do differently? Before I wrote Violet’s Victory, I conducted presentations on different abilities for preschools and elementary schools. I decided it would be beneficial if I did a short presentation at author readings before I read my book. It was important for me to show children adaptive equipment, and by using my varying ability dolls, I was able to show children the friends they will see in my story and beyond.
For giveaways, I stuck with my violet or purple theme. I purchased Violet Crumble candy bars for the first couple dozen buyers. For special events I got purple mini cotton candy bags and tiny sachets of lavender. Both were represented in my story and brought out such imagery. It was also fun, and much appreciated by readers.
Connections through words are not only important, but connections through all the people I met on this journey mean the world to me. I not only made friends with local librarians, bookstore owners, and teachers, in addition, I befriended local and not-so-local children’s book authors. They not only supported me every step of the way, but they were helpful promoters of my book. Through the Women in Publishing Summit, I made beautiful friendships that I treasure. It is a reciprocal relationship, and it feels wonderful to know you have friends all over cheering you on, and you are so very happy to do the same for them. You go in with the notions and intentions of making network connections, and you come out with making long-lasting friendships that last a lifetime.
Valerie Goldstein is a children’s book author, writer, social worker, wife, and mother of three children, ages ten, eight, and six. She has been an avid reader and writer since she was a little girl. In the year 2000, Valerie was a passenger in a motor vehicle accident, leaving her an incomplete quadriplegic. After attending Stony Brook University for her undergraduate and master's degrees, she found solace in her writing.
In addition to being a children’s book author, Valerie has written various works on different abilities, differently abled parenting and female empowerment. She has been featured in Woman’s Day, Long Island Parent/NY Metro Parents Magazine, Scary Mommy, and ADVANCE Healthcare Network for Occupational Therapy Practitioners, amongst others. She also conducts presentations on different abilities for children and takes part in public speaking engagements. Valerie was recently awarded Stony Brook University’s Top 40 Under Forty for her work in civil service and activism. Her favorite pastime is visiting local libraries and bookstores with her children, enjoying the theater, and handcycling on the boardwalk