Whether you self-publish your books for children or you go with a traditional publisher, most of the marketing for your books will be left up to you, the author. Here are a dozen ways to market your books for kids:
1. Set up a website for your writing and include an opt-in box on the site so people can sign up for your mailing list. Sell your books directly from your site and offer a bonus when they buy the book directly from you. An autographed copy of the book is a GREAT bonus, for example. If you don't wish to keep copies of the book on hand to sell and mail yourself, then include a link from yourself to your publisher's site or other online bookstores that carry your book. But offer to mail anyone who buys your book an autographed bookplate.
2. Try to find some way to relate your book to the school curriculum. Then, create lesson plans, study guides, or discussion questions for your book. Turn these guides into simple .pdf files that teachers, librarians, and parents can download FREE from your site to use with your book. Also, write a press release that tells about your free lesson plans or study guides and how your book that has recently been released is now available to help classroom teachers get specific content across to their students. Submit this press release to online sites that will distribute it to a variety of online sources free.
3. If possible, form a partnership with some large organization that relates to the topic of your book. For example, if you've written a book about exotic animals, offer to partner with your local zoo. When they have special events, offer to be part of these events and show up to sell and sign your book. Incorporate information about the zoo into your promotional literature and in your local presentations.
4. Take part in local events that will give you the chance to sell your book and let people know you're a hometown author. I'm not talking about ONLY book signings at bookstores. Your community probably has some sort of street fair or community event in the fall or spring, where members of the local business association, or just local business owners, can purchase booth (or tent) space to promote their business. You can purchase space at one of these events to sell and sign your book.
5. Create a book trailer or have one created for you to generate more interest in your book. Put this trailer up at your site, of course. Also, get it on youtube.com and teachertube.com and other places online where your readers (and potential readers) are likely to see it. You can also have other friends and associates put the trailer on their websites with a link back to your site for more information about you and your other books.
6. Set up your own local book tour. Co-op with other local authors to do this. Contact your local SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Authors and Illustrators) if you don't know any other local children's authors. Get in touch with a few of these authors and suggest you contact local bookstores to do a Children's Book Day or other event where you can all set up your books at a big table in the store and sell and sign your books. The bookstores might not be as receptive to having one author do a book signings if this is your first book, so no one knows you as an author yet. But, if several children's book authors can be present in the store for a signing - and all are seated at one big table - this will attract attention to people in the store. It will also give the store something to announce ahead of time in their newsletter or at their website. And, with several authors taking part in this, each author's readership (or just family and friends) will draw a crowd to the store, which will interest the person in charge of special events at the bookstore.
7. Take part in virtual book tours through blogs and podcasts. Again, contact members of your local SCBWI chapter. Many of these writers will have websites or blogs and they'd be happy to have you as a "guest blogger" for the day. Line up 5 of these sites to be a "guest blogger" and you've got a week long virtual blog tour!
8. Be sure you offer school visits as part of your marketing efforts. But expand your presentations to include local libraries, recreation or community centers, and even summer camps and after school programs.
9. Write and distribute a press release about your book if your publisher has not already done this. If you have never written a press release, though, hire a professional PR service (or freelance press release writer) to write the release for you and then submit the release to local publications, but also have it sent out by an online PR distribution service.
10. Scout around online and find as many appropriate internet radio shows as you can, then email the person who schedules guests for these shows and offer to be a guest. Start with Book Bites for Kids, of course.
11. Teach workshops about some aspect of writing for children and use your book as part of the class materials. Be sure the cost of the workshop includes the cost of your book.
12. Make article marketing part of your overall plan for selling your book. Find out how to write short articles and submit them to article directories in order to drive traffic to your website or blog.