December 2017 Karen H. Monteith, like all new authors, learned a lot when she published her first book this year. Every step, from finding an illustrator to editing to promoting her book, brought with it a learning opportunity. Thankfully, she’s an eager learner, quick to act on advice and look up instructions. The result? A well-polished book—and a growing platform. Redrick Raccoon and the Christmas Mystery, written by Monteith and illustrated by Christopher J. Padgett, came out three months ago. The book follows Redrick Raccoon as he helps his friend Henley Groundhog wake the Bear family in time for Christmas. This delightful story portrays the merits of keeping one’s promises and the strength of friendship, kindness, and teamwork, while bringing to life a new world of lovable characters and beautiful forest scenes. Monteith came to Deep River Books with a great story, but she’s still quick to say she learned a lot during editing. “Looking back, I can see how my original story needed work,” she says. “And I learned so much. I learned about spreads and how many words you need to have per page for children’s books. It’s quite an education, and I’m grateful for the help I received from Deep River.” But no matter how well a book is polished, it can’t be found, bought, and read without some promotion. Monteith knew she needed to take initiative online and off. As she did, her informal author education continued. Now, she shares what she learned with the rest of the Deep River Books family. Don’t Be Afraid of Social Media Monteith created a Facebook page for Redrick Raccoon in July 2017, three months before the release date. She recognized the social network’s potential early on: “There are so many people who are on [Facebook],” she says. “It’s a tremendous marketing tool. I didn’t have a business page, but they make it easy. Facebook walks you through everything.” In July and August, she only posted a couple times a month. But in September, as the release date approached and her book was available for preorder, she became much more active: “I try to share something at least two to three times a week. You have to keep going, or people will forget you.” One thing Monteith does often is share links from online retailers. She started as soon as Redrick Raccoon was available online. She notes how easy it is to share links directly from Amazon and B&N: “It’s so easy to just click on the FB icon, share it. It was that simple.” Monteith has seen more success with her Facebook posts than you might expect from a new author. As of this writing, one post from October 14 has over 900 reactions and 118 shares. This comes partly from another thing she’s learned about: boosting posts. “I would heartily recommend that you boost,” she says. “You can be reasonable about it, keep a budget. Facebook makes it easy. … If you sit down and read it and take your time, Facebook makes it easy.” A key part is targeting the right audience. When you boost a Facebook post, you’re prompted to give specifics about your best audience, so that the post will show up in the feeds of the right people. For Redrick, that’s Facebook users who have shown interest in “Christmas, Christianity, and children’s literature.” Monteith adds, “I mostly target women from ages nineteen through sixty-five. I would target all over the US. I have even boosted things in Canada. If you really are specific about targeting your audience, you should get good responses.” Monteith repeatedly emphasizes how doable Facebook is—and other social media, for that matter: “I guess what I’d like to share is do not be afraid of social media. Do not be. Use it.” She speaks from experience: “I was timid to begin with. I was timid with Twitter.” In fact, Monteith still isn’t as active on Twitter as on Facebook—partly because she already knows she can reach her audience there: “You cannot beat Facebook.” But she still has an account and makes some effort—her initial timidity won’t hold her back. Don’t Be Shy About Approaching Bookstores We often encourage our authors to approach local bookstores about carrying their books and hosting book signings and readings. Still, no matter how much we encourage, that can sound intimidating. During her visits to two nearby Barnes & Nobles, Monteith discovered that it really doesn’t need to be an intimidating task. “I went into the stores, I introduced myself, and it went from there. And one thing they said at both places was ‘We love it when authors come and see us.’ They really appreciate authors coming in and introducing themselves. And both stores have sections of books from local or regional authors. They appreciate it. I mean, they are there to sell books.” Monteith was soon scheduled for two readings, one at each location. The first reading was on December 2 at the Biltmore Park Barnes & Noble. Monteith wrote about the experience in an email to us that afternoon: One of the customer service managers, Heather, read How the Grinch Stole Christmas first. Then she introduced me and Redrick. There were about twenty children and adults. They all listened, and the little boys particularly seemed to enjoy the illustrations of the Bear family. Representatives from a local elementary school were there as well. … The school librarian said she wanted to buy a copy of Redrick for the school. All in all, the experience was great and resulted in her books doing well at both stores. Monteith has learned that her books are doing well at the other nearby Barnes & Noble store, too. Her success in both stores started with her simply going in and introducing herself. Monteith has been rewarded for her boldness on social media and her approach to local stores. As she emphasizes, “I guess one thing to sum up everything: Don’t be shy!” To learn more about Karen H. Monteith and Redrick Raccoon and the Christmas Mystery, check out the book’s page on our website. Be sure to find the book on Facebook and Twitter as well!