How To Expand Your Market To Sell Your Children’s Books

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children's books

This post lists examples of prospective buyers for children’s books. This is by no means an exhaustive list but should stimulate your thinking to find new places in which to sell your book.

The market for children’s books is potentially huge, and while most authors approach this enormous opportunity by trying to sell their books through bookstores (bricks and clicks), there are other options. Instead of competing with all the other books out there, why not seek sales in non-bookstore segments?

Pre-school children

Daycare centers might purchase books to read to children and/or to resell to parents. Desirable forms and topics include board books, activity books, coloring books, books with puzzles, fiction, and nonfiction on a variety of topics. Books in Spanish and other bi-lingual books may sell well here, too. Books on religious subjects sell well to the pre-school centers run by churches.

For a listing of all childcare centers by state, go to the Kinderstart search engine.

Other options include:

  • National daycare centers such as KinderCare Learning Centers, with 1,500 locations in the US, and La Petite Academy, with 725 academies nationwide.
  • A Kindersmart search provides this list of education/daycare/childcare advocacy groups and organizations.
  • A search on Kinderstart returns a list of over 150 sites with relevant child-education information and book-sales opportunities.
  • Primrose Schools offers child care and preschool programs for children six weeks to five years old.
  • SafeKidz provides child safety products and ideas to help run a successful Christian day care center.

Sell to parents

Parents are always looking for new ways to entertain or advice to help them connect with their children. General topics of interest include positive discipline, nurturing your child’s developing mind, sibling rivalry, how separated and divorced parents can raise happy and secure kids, and potty training. Another high-interest topic for school-aged children is helping children deal with bullying. Military families are also a niche segment for parenting books (e.g. how to make new friends when a child moves every few years).

Opportunities include:

  • Hedgehog Online Children’s Bookstore, the brainchild of teachers who believe that reading aloud to children will set them on a life-long journey of learning and exploration. Their teacher-reviews help parents choose the best books for their children. The website includes grade level reading lists.
  • The Readers Digest Foundation, which promotes the benefits of parent involvement in childhood literacy.
  • Parenting 101, a hub of insight, perspective, research, recommendations, and stories that speak to what it means to raise children in the modern world.
  • Baby-Place.com is a hub for information related to pregnancy, birth, and babies.

Children’s museums and libraries

Gift stores in children’s museums seek books that extend the guest experience. They typically prefer hardcover books and price is generally not an obstacle to purchase. Wikipedia has a list of children’s museums. For distribution to this segment, contact Event Network, Inc.

Books for children’s libraries range from board books to young adult. Picture books and bi-lingual books sell well here. Baker & Taylor is a top wholesaler to libraries. Here are sources of potential buyers if you choose to contact them directly:

Associations

There are many ways in which an association could purchase your books in large, non-returnable quantities. They could place it on their online bookstore, like the one for the American Academy of Pediatrics. They could use it as a fundraiser or hire you as a speaker and resell your book to attendees at the meeting. The membership chair could use your book as a premium for people who join or renew their memberships. You could also align your business with the association under the terms of cause marketing.

The Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association lists companies that provide products for children sold through retail stores. A company making baby furniture, for example, could buy your books and provide them to retailers carrying their products to give to people who purchase them. A quick Google search will reveal many associations related to your content and most have a page with the contact information for the association’s board members and staff. Parent-Teachers Associations and the International Moms Club are two examples.

Teachers’ resources

The approval process for getting your books into public schools can be daunting and require a state-by-state approach. Use these resources to get your books in front of teachers to shorten the process. If you can get an association to approve or recommend your book, it can add volumes to your credibility.

  • Display-marketing companies such as Collective Goods (formerly Books Are Fun) buy large, non-returnable quantities of books and gifts directly from publishers at discounts up to 80 percent. Then they sell directly to consumers through displays at the buyer’s locations (schools, corporations, daycare centers).
  • The National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators has a list of related organizations, adding more prospects to your sales funnel.
  • The National Education Association is America’s oldest and largest organization committed to advancing the cause of public education.
  • ChildFun has provided educational resources for parents, teachers, and childcare providers for more than 15 years.
  • Barclay School Supplies is one of the oldest and largest vendors of educational and classroom materials in the country.
  • S&S Worldwide provides educational classroom supplies and materials.

Awards

The ALA provides a list of children’s book awards (including Caldecott, Children’s Literature Legacy, Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media, Geisel, Newbery, Odyssey, and Sibert awards) as well as recommended reading lists.

Reviews

Carol Hurst’s Children’s Literature site provides a collection of reviews of books for kids and ideas of ways to use them in the classroom.

At LitPick, kids review books for free. Each book and review is looked over by an adult to ensure quality. It’s offered free to authors and it gets kids to read and write more in a real-world setting.

Book clubs

Go to Book Club Deals to find a list of children’s book clubs.

Catalogs

Discovery Toys catalog brings educational, kid-powered learning products to market.

Media

Children may review and recommend books, but parents buy them. Reach specific target segments through broadcast media — for example, “Let’s Talk Adoption” is a podcast for adoptive parents. Use Radio-Locator to find radio shows in any zip code in the United States and Canada.

Gift shops and toy stores

  • Lori’s Gifts is the nation’s largest provider to hospital gift shops.
  • Learning Express sells books on science, nature, arts, and more, listed by age and interest.
  • Fat Brain Toys sells goods online and has physical stores and a catalog.
  • Lakeshore sells kids’ books — from paperback fiction classics to nonfiction.
  • Mindware, a store featuring “brainy toys for kids of all ages,” has a category devoted to books.
  • Oman web directory provides a list of educational toy stores — many of which sell books.
  • Educational Books provides a directory of wholesalers with thousands of other wholesale suppliers, manufacturers, and vendors.

The academic market

In Book Selling University‘s course 109, “Selling to Schools,” Sharon Castlen tells why and how to sell to all levels of schools, school libraries, and colleges and universities.

Homeschooling is a large and growing opportunity for selling books and there are organizations that serve the homeschool community at a national level. Homeschool Central is a good source of information for this market and includes this directory for state-by-state research and another for military homeschool support.

The National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network has a newsletter and other resources for families with children who have special developmental or physical needs.

The North American Montessori Teachers’ Association is a membership organization open to parents, teachers, and anyone else interested in Montessori education.

The education system operated by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) serves the children of men and women in the armed services who are stationed in the United States, Europe, and the Pacific. A current list of DoDEA schools may be obtained by writing the Department of Defense Dependent Schools, Hoffman, Rm. 152, 2461 Eisenhower Ave, Alexandria, VA 22331.

Find places to sell books for children of grade school age on Kinderstart.

Distributors

Bountiful Books is a children’s book distributor of fiction and nonfiction books for schools and libraries from pre-school to high school.

American Reading Company for the Common Core State Standards provides literature and informational texts for students in grades pre-K through 12 in English and Spanish.

The APSS/JetBlue children’s book giveaway dispenses new, free books for kids aged 0–14. Kids are allowed to take as many books as they are interested in – no strings attached. Currently the vending machines are in Washington DC and Ft. Lauderdale, but they are looking to expand to Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.

Publishers

Visit Bookfox for a list of children’s book publishers that are accepting submissions directly from authors.

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Breaking down the mass market makes it much more manageable. It also saves you time and makes your marketing efforts more economical, because you end up only targeting the people who might be interested in your book. If you apply the ideas behind each of these examples to your own title, the non-bookstore mass market will not seem quite so intimidating.

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