How To Make Yourself More Marketable As a Writer with Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo

How to make yourself more marketable as a writer and sell more books. It’s but another of the many little ‘jobs’ authors need to be conscious of as writers. In the first session of the SCBWI One Day Conference, industry professionals, Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo revealed the steps you can take to build your platform as a children’s author.

Allison Tate and Valerie Khoo encouraging us to think about our own profiles

Allison Tate and Valerie Khoo encouraging us to think about our own profiles

Allison Tait (author) and Valerie Khoo (Australian Writers Centre) connected with the conference delegates with their humour (plus their Cleo Magazines stories) and their zest for helping authors and illustrators create successful careers.

They spoke about the five pillars of marking marketing magic. These pillars resonated with me in four ways: create, connect, community and celebrate.

  1. Create

The first step is to create the book, if you are an illustrator (like me) change the word book into illustration. Do the work to finish writing the book, even if you write in 10 minute time blocks. Once you have finished writing the book and sent it off into the world, don’t wait for a response or a publishing deal, begin writing your next book. Don’t wait, create!

2. Be Findable

Being an author/illustrator is a about having a mindset that the work you do is a business. With a business plan you can control your own destiny. Plans help to keep us moving forward. Allison and Valarie encouraged the delegates to connect both online and in real life.

Your personal brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room.

3. Connect - Website

Connecting online means you need to be findable. The first baby step is to create a website. You might feel that you’re not ready yet but consider this - I met you at the conference or saw your illustration and I want to contact you. Can I google you like I can google a business? Please say yes, even if that means you have done the first step of buying your own domain name and have a one page website.

  • Consider what should be included on your one page website.

  • An email or a contact form.

  • Short biography in the third person, and include what you do and the region that you live in eg. Gold Coast, Queensland.

  • Adding a second page? Have a list of all your books with a link to where you can buy them.

Connect - Social Media

Next connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. You don’t have to do them all, choose one platform. Think about your audience and the best place to connect with them. Then post once a day. I hear the chorus sing – I don’t have time to do that! Try to find 5 – 10 minutes each day. Post (without over thinking it) things that show:

  • the real you

  • the quirky you – see Oliver Phommavanh’s hamburger fetish on Instagram!

  • the helpful you – the perfect book about loss is Finn’s Feathers by Rachel Noble and Zoe Abbott (Not your own book. It’s about community not self-promotion.)

  • the promoter you, others in the book world - Thank you to Paul and Beth Macdonald, The Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft, for your support and hosting our three minute book pitches and being our conference bookshop.

    Connect – In Real Life

  • Connect with your audience and the book industry in real life too.

  • Give talks to libraries and schools

  • Join the local writers centre and national associations like SCBWI or AWC

  • Attend conferences, workshops, boot camps, social functions

4. Community

Part of the connecting is becoming part of the community. Become a valuable member of your communities and in return the community will support you.

Your website and online presence will build the hype and anticipation of your upcoming book well before its release date and create conversations about it for years after its book birthday.

Being part of a community will not happen overnight, it is the long game so start today – Hooray if you came to the conference you have already begun connecting with your community.

5. Celebrate

You have taken baby steps to control your destiny because you are doing the work.

Though connections and community, word of mouth will help you reach your dreams.

Celebrate by creating your own parade.


Leanne Barrett

Illustrator, writer and reviewer for Kids Book Review