Tips from a Book Publicist

Romi Sharp is the founder of Just Write For Kids (JWFK) – a rapidly growing online support group for writers and illustrators of children’s books.

Romi is a qualified Early Childhood and Primary School teacher turned picture book writer and reviewer, freelance digital marketer, publicist and copywriter who works with children’s creators and publishers… and she’s loving it!

In 2017, Romi launched Books On Tour PR & Marketing – a specialised publicity service for the children’s book market, with multi-media cross-promotion and brand development.

Karen Hughes, author of Kalika Magic, said working with Romi ‘surpassed all her expectations’. Other authors Romi has represented include Debra Tidball, Anne Helen Donnelly, Nicole Madigan, Elizabeth Cummings, Carolyn Denman, and Cameron MacIntosh. Boomerang Books feature Romi’s blog tours.

Romi’s currently featured author is the 2017 recipient of the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Creative Time Fellowship, Allison Marlow Paterson, who is published with Big Sky Publishing. Her latest book – Follow After Me – targeted at young adults, blends historical detail, modern social issues and young love in a rural Australian setting. There’s an interesting Q&A with Allison Paterson on Nadia King’s site.

Romi, what do you consider a successful book in Australia?

‘Successful’ in my eyes means a book (and its author/illustrator) that have created emotion, or a feeling or resonance with their audience on either a small or universal scale.

Your top three tips for authors doing their own marketing and publicity.

  1. Make your presence as an author known both online and offline. Contribute to discussions, share your passions, and connect with your readership.
  2. Have an active and well-presented website with all your author and book information.
  3. Build your mailing list so you can share your upcoming news, events, literary activities and links back to your website and sales channels.

Romi’s first article in her Book Marketing Secrets series can be found here.

What are the three most common mistakes you see authors make in terms of marketing?

  1. Being sporadic and not continually active in their marketing efforts, or giving up too quickly. It’s tricky to focus on writing and marketing at the same time, but what’s the point of having a book out there if no-one knows about? Quick Tip: Plan and schedule your social media / blog posts in advance and aim for at least once a week.
  2. Being too ‘salesy’. It can be off-putting to the audience to see a constant barrage of ‘here’s a link to buy my book’. Quick Tip: Gear your content to relevant topics / activities involving your book, media features, etc.
  3. Having no website, or a messy one, with no ease for audience engagement and nowhere to find your information.

Money is tight when it comes to book publicity, with books being a low margin return. Why should self-published children’s authors hire a publicist?

Self-published authors, in particular, have to juggle between writing and marketing (and often times another day job, too!).

Authors face competing pressures in getting their work seen on a larger scale.

I’ve taken on the role of publicist, or ‘publicist to the stars’ as I like to call it, to provide the behind-the-scenes platform to making publicity happen for those who simply don’t have the time, confidence or know-how to market their books.

What services can authors expect from a publicist?

I arrange:
Book trailers and promotional videos.
Blog tours with reputable bloggers.
Facebook event parties.
Media releases and interviews.
Facebook event parties.
Book reviews.
Video content (such as author interviews).
Book launches.

What reference books do you recommend to writers?

Hazel Edwards’ ‘Authorpreneurship: The Business of Creativity’, and ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’ by Stephen King.

Lately I’ve found the convenience of listening to podcasts, and I recommend the brilliant Tania McCartney’s The Happy Book, and So You Want to Be a Writer Podcast, as well as Jen Storer’s Girl & Duck Q and Q tutorials on YouTube, and Middle Grade Mavens Podcast for all things middle grade.

Surrounded by all these talented authors, is there a story perculating in your own imagination?

From time to time I get to dabble with my own picture book writing. The ideas for my stories usually come out of past and present experiences, particularly the funny and quirky things my kids say and do. Observing nature is also a place where I enjoy finding inspiration.

I think this writing experience, along with learning the ins and outs of the industry and making loads of connections with like-minded people has given me a great foundation for when the time is right to have my own books published.

Signing Off:

Well, that’s the end of our interview with the delightful Romi, I’m off to put all this new knowledge to good use for the benefit of Hawkeye Publishing’s Cate Sawyer, delightful author of the phonetic gemstones Discombobulated, and The Umbilical Family, and the simply fun It’s Raining Shoes, and Places to Poop!

Useful links:

Just Write For Kids

JWFK Facebook

JWFK Facebook Group

Books On Tour Facebook

Books On Tour Twitter

Cate Sawyer’s Picture Books

Carolyn Martinez

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