Getting Past the Gatekeepers: Promoting Children’s Books


By Louisa Clarkson – Indicated

Now that more and more people self-publishing, it can be hard for new books to get noticed. With that in mind, Louisa Clarkson, founder of Indicated, a promotional resource for indie authors and small presses, has shared three helpful tips on how to promote children’s books, the genre with arguably the most gatekeepers.

Boy, I thought writing for children was tough. Keeping things exciting enough to entertain kids. Maintaining a fast pace to hold their short attention spans. Being sneaky and sprinkling in lessons so that the kid’s didn’t run a mile.

But then when I self-published, I also learned I had to get past the gatekeepers so children could read my book. Gatekeepers (parents, grandparents, friends and family, guardians, librarians and teachers) sometimes choose books on behalf of children to ensure a book will be suitable to read. Here’s 3 tips to promote your children’s books to gatekeepers, and get them into the hands of children.

1. Sign up for School Visits

If you’re shy like me, then it’s time to get over it, and schedule some visits to schools. Presenting or doing workshops is one of the best ways to directly interact with children, and many schools are open to hosting children’s authors for presentations on themes relating to their book(s), or teaching writing workshops to encourage kids to write and read. The kids get to learn more about the author, their writing process and inspirations. Best of all, the author gets to show their book(s) off to the kids!

Billy Bob Buttons (aka Edward Trayer) is a British independent author of seven children’s books, and visits about 200 schools each year to give literary workshops. Billy’s most recent book, I Think I Murdered Miss has sold over 30,000 copies with the help of such promotional efforts.

I will caution, that most of these events are unpaid, although some might be paid if the school has a budget. On the bright side, you might be able to sell a few books at these events and negotiate to advertise your book in the school newsletter, and it creates exposure for the author and their book. You may even get recommended to do more events, potentially leading to bigger and paid events.

Here’s a few handy resources on how to organize a school visit and make school visits worth your while:

2. Get Targeted Book Reviews

Ok. You probably already know about this one. But are you targeting respected children’s reviewers? Remember, some gatekeepers don’t want their children reading about scary monsters or scenes or blood and gore as it gives the children nightmares. Some gatekeepers look to recommendations by trusted children’s book review sites like Kid Lit ReviewsKid’s Book Review, or Shelf Employed. Reviews on these blogs are written by other children’s authors, librarians, junior school teachers and people with experience in the children’s book industry.

If you want a chance at getting your books into libraries, schools and bookstores, apply for a review in a book review journal or magazine like School Library Journal (USA), Magpies Magazine (Australia) and The School Librarian (UK). Journals/magazines like these are read by librarians, teachers and bookstore owners, and a positive review might convince them to buy/stock your book.

Alternatively, if you know any children’s librarians or teachers, ask them to review you book, and use quotes from these reviews in marketing material to approach libraries, schools and bookstores direct.

3. Run a Holiday Workshop

Why not approach your local library, junior school or a community center to do a writing workshop or children’s activity that relates to your book? As part of the Easter school holiday program at my local library, I’ll be running a workshop to teach kids how to create awesome, lovable main characters, and deliciously evil bad guys! I’m also going to use it as a research mission to find out:

  • What kind of characters kids like to read about
  • What kind of character traits they find fun (like super powers)
  • What makes a good bad guy and what is a terrible bad guy

Jeff Doherty, an author friend of mine, has a book with a theme about magic origami, and he held a very successful workshop on how to make origami. The sky’s the limit on what you can do.

So what are you waiting for? Giddy up and get going!

Tell me how do you get past the gatekeepers? Have you ever done any school visits, workshops and sought out reviews? How did you go? I’d love to hear your stories.

On Indicated, I have a massive list of book review bloggers and about fifty journals and magazines from the USA, Canada, UK and Australia where you can get niche specific book reviews and help promote your book. I add more weekly if you want to come and check them out. 


Louisa Clarkson is the author of The Silver Strand (under LJ Clarkson), the first in the Mastermind Academy tween fantasy series for 9-12 year olds. Creative endeavors called, and she left her Environmental Engineering career to study a Masters in Creative Writing and pursue her writing dreams. In the months she spent researching how to promote her novel, she found bits of information here and there, but no complete author resource. As such, Indicated was born. Indicated, a promotional resource for indie and small press authors, features book promotion guides and a database of where to find opportunities like book review bloggers, free and paid advertising opportunities, guest posts, authors interviews and so much more.


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