Shannon Maughan's excellent article, Taking Middle Grade to Market: Publishers share their strategies for capturing the interest of preteens, covers a lot of ground, organizing strategies into:
Gatekeepers Are Key,
One of the biggest challenges of marketing middle grade titles directly to their readers is that the majority of eight-to-12-year-olds don’t purchase their own books. However, those kids definitely wield influence over the adults in their lives who hold the purse strings. As a result, it’s vital for publishers to appeal to the gatekeepers—teachers, librarians, parents, and booksellers—and at the same time to design elements of their marketing campaigns that will grab the attention of kids.
Bringing Authors to Readers,
The school or library author visit, a tried-and-true tack, provides an opportunity to reach educators and readers at the same time and remains king of the middle grade marketing hill.
Book Buzz in the Halls,
“Word of mouth is still the most effective and important way that books get passed between kids, and that often happens in schools and is started through librarians,” says Melanie Chang, senior v-p of marketing and publicity at Abrams.
A Leading Role for Libraries,
Faye Bi, director of children’s publicity at Bloomsbury, believes that library events at publication or as part of a promotional tour are an underused opportunity. “There are so many passionate librarians at schools or public libraries, and they are in direct touch with kids who love reading.”
New and Familiar Venues,
Outside of school, publishers say the best place to reach gatekeepers and kids directly is at school and library conferences or book festivals.
Digital Marketing Playground, and
A New Hybrid.
Exploring Kids’ digital reading platform Epic's cross-pollination between preteen digital reading and print reading: “digital is clearly supporting print, and many of the major publishers with content on the Epic platform believe that Epic’s enormous audience is increasing awareness of and affinity for their titles.” says Epic cofounder Kevin Donahue.
How many of these are you and your publisher leaning into for your middle grade titles? The full article is well-worth reading.
Illustrate and Write On,