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Book Marketing: How To Reach Young Readers Through Book Festivals

Book Marketing: How to Reach Young Readers through Book Festivals

drawing of little girl

Little Miss Inky – illustration by Zoe Sadler

Book marketing is especially challenging when your target readers do not have the purchasing power to buy books for themselves – such as children, dependent on their parents. Children's indie author and illustrator Zoe Sadler shares her top tips on how to reach both parents and children by promoting your self-published books at literary events such as book festivals.


As a children's author and illustrator I am always trying to find new and innovative ways to reach my audience.

But is our goal to reach the parents or the children?

Festival sign

Roll up, roll up!

On one hand, our books have to appeal to the parents as they are the ones who buy the books however I feel it is just as important to reach out and appeal to the children our books are truly written for.

Literary festivals are a fantastic way to reach young readers and encourage children to read and be creative.

Starting Local

This year as a local author, on the Isle of Wight, (off the south coast of England), I was delighted to be invited to take part in my local literary festival. Additionally, I was also asked to join the schools program, which precedes the main literary festival weekend.

So collectively, as local authors, we were able to reach more children and at the same time promote the upcoming festival weekend.

Focus on Young People

We are pretty fortunate on the Isle of Wight as our Literary Festival has its very own Youth Zone. So all the children's authors involved were invited to run a fun workshop to inspire children, which took place in the most amazing yurts.

photo of yurt

Offering children's activities in funky yurts (kilt optional!)

I ran an ‘invent your own monster' workshop, where initially I used my own stories and sketches to inspire the children. This in turn encouraged the children to get creative and draw and write about their own monsters. Then, of course, was the opportunity to chat to the parents afterwards while selling and signing copies of our books.

We were also permitted to have a bookstall for the weekend, which was a great opportunity to showcase our books. I personally went to town on this and trundled my tiny vintage caravan along to the festival and turned it into my bookshop for the weekend. One of the books I promoted for the festival was a newly-released coloring book, so I also pitched up a little bell tent next door to the caravan which the children could sit in and color some pages from my new book. It proved pretty popular and provided a bit of talking point.

Photo of Zoe's tent and caravan

What child could resist the lure of a fun activities tent and a tiny caravan?

So my advice is when it comes to entertaining children be as crazy and inventive as you like. The children will adore it!

interior of caravan

What an inviting setting to encourage young visitors to linger

Of course, make sure you have permission from the organizers before you go too wild, and remember to enjoy and soak up the atmosphere.

The more you enjoy it the more the children will too!

My (Children's) Literary Festival Check List

  • Photo of girl colouring

    A tried-and-trusted way of engaging children: hands-on activities

    Book readings – make it a performance to entertain the children

  • Invent a fun and engaging workshop based around one of your books
  • Book signing
  • Book stall (if applicable) – remember to make it visually appealing you are trying to reach the children after all
  • Be creative and inspire!

JOIN THE CONVERSATION Tell us about your success stories and creative ways of promoting books for children, at literary festivals or elsewhere.

Top tips for #bookpromotion to children via #litfests - via@zoesadler_ink #selfpub Share on X

Author: Zoe Sadler

Brought up on small Scottish croft in rural Aberdeenshire, Zoe Sadler gained a degree in Illustration from Dundee University's prestigious Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, a post-graduate degree in Publishing from the University of Plymouth, before working as an illustrator and a book designer for a London book publisher. She now works as a freelance illustrator from her studio in the Isle of Wight, England. She recently published her first children's picture book, "The Lighthouse Keeper: A Cautionary Tale", and is currently working on a second picture book.


This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Loved this post. Truely inspirational….. I once had a Playbus (which is where my stories start). Really wish it was still around in fact not just fiction as it would be perfect for delivering stories.
    Indeed it once was, as we would attend training rallies to meet other Playbus projects all around the country.
    That was pre-story writing but I suppose pre story collecting!
    As part of National Playbus, and Mobile projects promotions I loved the idea of using a mobile to take the service to where it is needed. In fact that was the original idea behind the ‘Playbus’ projects movement.
    and yes it was a great place to sleep over, self contained and lots of fun.
    Now I only have the bus in story form.

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