Laura Howard: Marketing Middle Grade Fiction


Marketing Middle Grade Fiction

Super fun and different post today! I've had quite a few requests for tips on marketing Middle Grade Fiction.

The opportunity to have G.M. Moore on Finding Bliss came my way and I said YES! 

Welcome G.M.!

Time. When writing middle grade fiction, it is definitely on your side. It takes time to build any readership no matter what the audience, but middle grade writers should be prepared for an ongoing marathon.
Who’s your buyer?

Middle grade readers are a unique lot because they don’t hold the purse strings and aren’t making the buying decisions. Their parents and teachers are. And those 8- to 12-year-olds aren’t posting on Facebook, or Tweeting about how great a book is, or checking a favorite blog to find their next read. They’re off having play dates, at swimming lessons, or watching the Disney channel. Mom or Ms. Jones will most likely be handing them their next read. So MG authors must walk the fine line between writing for one audience and selling to another. It’s a tricky business. Take the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. The petty longings of Jeff Kinney’s characters aren’t exactly what a parent dreams of, but the books are getting kids to read and who can fight with that? Chaaaaching! for Jeff Kinney.

Kids first

When marketing a MG book, the line between buyer and reader can easily be blurred. It’s tempting to write and market strictly to the parent or teacher. Think chaaaaching! for Jeff Kinney and don’t do it. Stick with your target audience no matter what. Write and market to the kids first and then the parents and teachers. Word of mouth is your best MG marketing tool and if a kid doesn’t like your book or doesn’t even read it, time won’t help you.

No to a book?

With Muskie Attack and the other two books in the Up North Adventure series, I targeted the reluctant reader, specifically boys. I wanted that kid who hated to sit down and read, the kid who took one look at the girth of the Harry Potter books and said, “No way.” I kept the series fun, fast-paced and filled with boy humor. And, most importantly, I kept the books short. 

My target audience doesn’t even want to read, so talk about a challenge. But I’ve gone to my audience, attending kids book clubs, scout meetings and fishing expos. All for free. And slowly, over time, the books are growing. I’m pleased with their progress.

At one book signing, I was chatting up an 11-year-old boy, giving him my sales spiel. He turned to his mom and asked if she’d buy him Muskie Attack. She wrinkled up her nose and shook her head no. “What?” the boy yelled incredulously. “I want to buy a book, and you say no. How can you say no to a book? Huh? How can you?”

She bought the book.

I'd love to hear your tips for writing and marketing Middle Grade Fiction. Leave a comment below and share what you know!

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