5 Ways to Market Your Award-Winning Books
With the 2018 ALA Youth Media Awards announcements in the rearview mirror, it’s time to think about how to promote the books that just won. Maybe your collection includes past winners that you can highlight alongside them. Perhaps you have your own list of “books that were robbed;” I know that I have a few favorites that didn’t make the final cut. And when’s the last time someone checked out The Story of Mankind (Newbery winner, 1922) anyway? Sometimes marketing a book takes more than adding a shiny sticker. Here are five ways to get you started.
Location, location, location. Where are your award winners? Do you have a featured location for award winners? Do you have a bulletin board? What about a Pinterest board of award winners? Are your older Caldecotts and Newberys collecting dust? Perhaps a change of scenery is enough to get them circulating again. You might try interfiling them in the 800s to give your fiction section a little more wiggle room. Simply change the call number to 813 (Literature) and shelve them in nonfiction.
Promotion, promotion, promotion. Even products that are household names continue to be featured in ads and commercials. Why not have your readers create commercials about the winners, old and new? They can create infopics or use the low-tech tradition of recommendation placards. Add a feature in your newsletter that highlights the Golden Ones and their silver counterparts. Hang the posters you get from your book vendors.
Tweet, tweet, tweet. With social media, marketing has never been easier. Post a picture of the day/week with a quote from the book. Ask students to create videos of their favorites and tweet them out. Be sure to use a hashtag so that your readers can follow or find your posts. Optimize your visibility by tweeting at prime times: before school, at lunchtime, and late at night. Junior Library Guild uses #JLGSelections on Instagram to feature a book of the week.
Information, information, information. Do your readers know the criteria for awards selection? Give them that information. Build on their knowledge of the winning books by teaching them about the authors and illustrators. Use a resource like TeachingBooks.net to share the photos and voices of the creators. Follow The Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott blog to get the scoop on hot contenders (as well as sadly ineligible books such as Town Is by the Sea). Read Talks with Roger to go behind the scenes with an author or illustrator.
Engagement, engagement, engagement. Build experiences around the books to foster a desire to read. Show a book trailer or an author reading on video. Create an awards club that reads the winner and honor books in a given year. Plan now to host a mock election for the 2019 awards, and allow students to nominate books for consideration. Design activities around the books to heighten kids’ attachment to a story. For example, after reading Wolf in the Snow (Caldecott, 2018), have children work in partners to write their own script for the wordless book. Utilize ideas from SLJ’s blog, Classroom Bookshelf.
Shiny stickers tell the browser that this book is special. Making an effort to promote past and current winners through your marketing efforts help you get more bang for your buck. And it just may lead a reader to that special book that makes all the difference to him.