One sizzling summer day, my daughter decided to run a lemonade stand. Maybe your kids did this too, once or twice?
She set up shop in front of our house. She had a sign, a table, fresh cold lemonade (mmm, I’m making myself thirsty – it’s super-hot here as I write this!), and opened up for business.
And then… nobody came.
What did she do wrong? She was certainly cute enough. And the lemonade was sweetly tart, frozen and refreshing.
But we lived on a one-way street that didn’t get a lot of traffic. People were driving past quickly and weren’t in a mood to buy lemonade. She sold a couple to our neighbours, but really didn’t attract a lot of interest beyond the immediate area.
So the next time we thought about doing a lemonade stand, we did it at my mother’s place, a block away. Not such a big difference, right? But there were a few major factors that changed the game:
- It was a two-way street, with a major road nearby
- There were lots of bikes and joggers going past
- It was close enough that our own neighbours could come there, too
- It was down the street from a police station, so everyone was driving slowly and paid attention to the little girl with the lemonade stand.
The kids also did something else differently, by the way: my daughter stayed with the lemonade stand while her brother rode around the neighbourhood on his bike drumming up business.
Smart marketing, right?
Maybe this seems obvious. But trust me, it isn’t. How do I know?
I hang out in writing groups and forums online. And every single day, I see writers on there trying to promote their work . In some cases, this seems to be the ONLY marketing that they are doing for their book. They go there ALL the time, posting and posting and posting their books, again and again and again.
These people are doing the online equivalent of what my daughter did – setting themselves up on a one-way street where nobody’s going to buy their lemonade.
How can you tell if you’re selling lemonade on a one-way street, to people who aren’t in a mood to buy? Check out what's going on in the spot where you're setting up your "lemonade stand."
- Are most of the people there writing their own books?
- Is your marketing getting lost in the crowd?
- Do you have to post and repost to get attention?
- Are the majority of the topics there about writing itself?
Online forums and writers groups are really useful for:
- Asking questions if you’re new at the self-publishing game
- Chatting about technicalities of publishing
- Asking legal, copyright or other questions
- Getting feedback about story ideas
- Finding resources like contests (check this indie kids' book cover contest; it's free to enter!), writing courses and workshops, and editing services
To sell books, you have to go where readers are. Or, since we write for kids, where their parents, teachers and librarians are hanging out. Given that 90% of readers have never and will never write a book themselves… if you’re hanging around with other writers, you’re in the wrong place.
So where SHOULD you promote your books online?
That’s a great question. I’d love to hear your ideas. Maybe we can start a conversation. Just drop me a line in the Comments section below.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make some lemonade…