Here’s my fourth and last blog post with notes from the North Texas SCBWI conference. (See why I rave about conferences? If nothing else, they give you lots of fodder to write about on your blog. 🙂 )
Illustrator Melonie Hope Greenberg gave a presentation on marketing with some very useful tips. Melonie has illustrated a number of picture books, and had a circuitous journey to get there, as she reinvented herself time and again.
The biggest take away I got from Melonie’s presentation is how much work it can take to promote your book and make it a success. Melonie showed her boxes of index cards filled with contacts from the media, bookstores, editors, etc. No only is she constantly promoting her books, but also herself as an illustrator to get future work.
To promote both her artwork and picture books, Melonie regularly sends postcards to contacts to keep her top of mind. And a lot of work goes into keeping her contact lists up to date, especially with people moving jobs.
One of Melonie’s best tips, in my opinion, was Google Alerts. (If you haven’t heard of these, Google allows you to set up alerts for specific keywords then will email you links to the top 20 web pages that have those keywords. The top 20 changes constantly as new pages are uploaded or old pages get more traffic, so you can keep the alert going for a while.) I had heard of using Google Alerts to keep track of reviews and other mentions of your name or book. But Melonie said she sets up Google Alerts for her book’s subject matter, and when she’s sent notices about other websites writing about that topic, she sends them a postcard about the book. For example, if she had a book about lighthouses, she would set up a Google Alert for lighthouses, and if, say, she gets an alert about a lighthouse club in Maine, she can send them a postcard about the book to spread the word.
And spreading the word is what it’s all about. Melonie showed that it can be a lot of work, but the pay-off — a successful career as an illustrator or writer — is worth it.