Ask a Picture Book Editor

Tooting Your Horn – The importance of self-promotion

This blog post is split into two parts and comes with tips and advice from Jessie Sullivan, Marketing and Publicity Officer at Little Tiger Press. 

This month we’re going to talk about how to build your profile online. 

Next month we’ll talk about what you can do offline, through events, festivals and school visits. 

In the modern world, books are vying for people’s attention with: 

social media 
and . . . 
other books! 

That’s A LOT of competition. 

Getting your book onto the shelves is the first challenge - making it stand out from the crowd is the next step, so a strategic self-promotion campaign can really help.

In addition to the support of the publisher's marketing and publicity team, by taking a few simple steps, you can encourage even more people to read your book (and want to see more stories from you in the future). 

The time to start building interest and a following of supporters and potential readers is before your book is even published. 

There are lots of social media platforms, but as a first-time author some of the best places to start are: 


And, as an illustrator (both of the above and): 



Top tips: 

Don’t over-extend yourself. One or two regularly-updated platforms are better than a forum that never/infrequently has new information. Why would people keep coming back if there’s nothing new to interest them? 

Traffic on sites like Facebook and Twitter is busy – there are so many people using these platforms every minute of every day. This makes these platforms easy for you to build an online presence, adding new content frequently, in a manageable way.

As new authors or illustrators, to build a significant online presence with a website or blog requires much more effort, because you will need to entice people away from Twitter and FB. You will be building something from scratch and need to get people to go from something with which they are familiar to something that is new and unknown. You need a strong incentive to get people to break from their normal patterns and routines! This is why a website or blog isn’t always the best arena for connecting with your readership.


Try not to make every post about your book. A good rule of thumb is for every 10 tweets/posts/pictures make 8 about your life, 2 about your book. Even though its imminent publication is extremely exciting, this is the chance to connect with your readers (or for the picture book genre, the people who will be buying and sharing your books with your readers). 

Be helpful - Create content that is helpful to your audience, like: 
Piggyback on trends - For instance, is your book about pirates? Use the ‘talk like a pirate’ hashtag to promote your book on International Talk Like a Pirate Day. 

Run competitions to give away your books - your publisher can provide and even send out your books and it’s a great way to increase your following. 

How often? The general rule of thumb is to try and post at least once a day. 

Top tips on posting content online: 

• Know yourself and your values - keep these constant and care about everything you post. 
• Know your audience - for instance, as picture book authors and illustrators, it will be the parents/grandparents and guardians who will be following your social media so adapt the tone of your writing accordingly. 
• Reply - Always reply when you can. 
• Share the social-media karma - engage with and support other authors / illustrators / companies and they will do the same with you. 

Here’s a list of authors and illustrators who have great online / social media presence: 

Holly Webb, @HollyKateSkeet 
Tracey Corderoy, @TraceyCorderoy 
Tim Warnes & Jane Chapman, @ChapmanWarnes 
Chris Riddell, @ChrisRiddell50 
Oliver Jeffers, @OliverJeffers 
Emma Yarlett, @EmmaYarlett 
Catherine Raynor, @catherineraynor 


AMAZON AUTHOR PAGES - Amazon runs a free service called ‘Author Central’ which allows authors to edit their ‘Author Page’. You can upload a picture of yourself and add a biography which will sit alongside your picture books. 

GOODREADS - this is the largest site for readers and book recommendations. You can create an author profile which lets you add a picture and a biography. It also allows you to share a list of your favourite books and recent reads, as well as publicising events, signings and visits.

Self-promotion online and in person takes a lot of hard work and determination, but it can make all the difference!

Natascha Biebow is editor, mentor and coach at
Check out the Cook Up a Picture Book Coaching Courses:


  1. Natascha and Ellie - thank you so much! Tons of great ideas here. Can I take the opportunity to share my own totally free colouring in competition for which all entrants get a FREE ebook of 'The Tale of the Greedy Fish'?! Hopefully will help some parents out during the school holidays - here's all the details on the Facebook page: I am going to start working on some of the other ideas you have shared here - thanks again and please keep it coming :-)

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