Kristy Nita Brown on Independent Publishing

My name is Kristy Nita Brown. I write junior fiction chapter books about
small characters who do big things. In July, I independently released my debut
junior fiction chapter book, Looking for Lily

I had a specific publisher in
mind when I wrote Looking for Lily. Unfortunately, I found out (very late in
the writing process) that this publishing company doesn’t accept unsolicited
manuscripts. I pitched Looking for Lily to a couple of other publishers via Kid
Lit Vic and slush piles, but in my heart, I knew Looking for Lily wasn’t a good
fit for them. 

This is when the real work started; hours and hours
of research, emailing, cold calling, and learning. I spent the next six months
working with an illustrator to get the cover and 47 internal illustrations
right. Then, as deadlines passed, I looked for a printer. Importantly, I wanted
a printer who cared about the environment as much as I do, and there was
absolutely no way I was printing offshore. I received quotes from printers
around Australia, but in the end, I found an offset printer (using ethically
sourced paper) five minutes down the road from my house! How lucky! 

Next, I set
up national distribution with John Reed Books via the Australian Society of
Authors (ASA) relationship. This is available to all members, and it allowed
Looking for Lily
to be listed on TitlePage and other book ordering programs,
something I couldn’t do myself. Then I set up my ISBN and registered Looking
for Lily
with the National Library of Australia. As I got closer to my release
date, I pulled together a package of tools to market my book. This included a website,
e-newsletter, social networking,
 a VLOG, a press release, sample chapters, a book trailer!

Then I set up a pre-order on my website (collecting
money via Stripe) and hounded my family and friends to purchase Looking for
. I ended up selling almost 100 copies before I released my book, and I
received 100% of the profits. Wow! 

After my release date, I targeted
independent bookstores around Australia, sending them lovely emails and sample
chapters, hoping they would stock Looking for Lily. I also followed every
bookstore on social media and contacted them this way too, making sure they
received my email. A
tip; when bookstores ordered your stock, show them love. I linked to bookstores
on my website who ordered stock and made special video posts across social
media. Once I finished contacting bookstores, I targeted primary schools. The
emails I sent were simple, because the administration staff are very busy. I
told them I’d won second place in the 2022 CYA Writes and Illustrators
Competition and how Looking for Lily is 100% WA made, with author, illustrator,
editor and printer located locally. I told them about the setting being the
Great Southern Region of WA and the characters being highly researched flora
and fauna of this region. 

I included quick dot points; things like the theme of
Looking for Lily being friendship, survival and hope, and the topics including
land clearing and the environment. I also included target demographic, page
count and links to purchase. Another tip; primary schools purchase through
Booktopia, Dymocks or Angus & Robertson. I also added my experiences as a teacher and my
availability for school visits at the bottom. 

Another marketing
strategy I employed was targeting podcasters. I’m a confident speaker with a
cheeky sense of humour, so podcasts are a good fit for me. And with a wealth of
publishing knowledge, I offered new information, advice and tips for authors.
It worked! I locked in three podcasts in a relatively short amount of time. 

Now, as I continue my self-publishing journey (it has been less than a month
since my book was released), I continue to target schools and bookstores a
second time and as key events approach (e.g. book week and Christmas). I learned from others who
independently published before me … I only ordered a small first edition print
run of 500 books. Overall, my book hasn’t been that hard to sell. The children
who have read it tell me they love it! (We think you might, too. Ed.)

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