Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Marketing... it's not a dirty word - by Mike Ciccotello

I love creating stories and illustration, but luckily for me, I also love marketing. Yup. I said it. 


I really don't need a caption for this.

Embrace marketing. It doesn't have to be coupon pack mailers, or cheesy radio ads, and it should NOT be instantaneously telling people about your book as soon as they like one of your tweets.

You're probably marketing your work right now and you didn't even realize it.

Every time you enter a contest, attend a conference, and get a portfolio review, you are marketing. Yes, you are still honing your craft, but at the same time, you are promoting you and your work. You are showing people what you create, who you are, and getting your name out there. By doing this consistently, people will start seeing your name and work, over and over, which leads to familiarity. Repetition is a good thing, as long as it's done in moderation. 

My entry for the NJ Library Association, poster contest.

Try to find a balance between creating great work and getting it our there. Don't just do the marketing, that would be putting the cart before the horse. And don't be scared to share the work you create. You don't have to share everything, but try to share something. 

Recently I hit a creative block while rewriting one of my manuscripts. In order to keep working, I tried my hand at some short term projects while I took a break from my manuscript. I entered a couple contests and applied for a conference. I was able to share the imagery on social media and feel the accomplishment of completing a short term project. Illustrators have a lot of opportunities to do this and they don't cost a dime.

My entry for SCBWI Draw This, for July. The prompt was, Admire.

Drawing challenges - share on social media with proper hashtags. 
These are ones that I know of.
pinch punch post, sketch dailies, daily doodle, finish the scribble, scbwi draw this, inktober, and illustration friday.
(Please mention some more challenges in the comments.)

Contests - see if you are allowed to share your entry on social media. 
This year I submitted to SCBWI Art Spot, NJ Library association's poster contest and 3x3.
(If you know more contests, please mention them in the comments.)

Blogs - research blogs that take submissions from illustrators and will promote your work.
I'm a regular contributor at, but I have also been invited to show work on Kathy Temean's blogNerdy Chicks Write - Kid Lit Summer School and Tara Lazar's blog Pre-PiBoIdMo.
(If you know other blogs that take regular submissions, please mention then in the comments.)

By putting all of this effort into yourself and your work, you're building your brand.

That may sound business-like, so we don't have to refer to it that way. Let's say, you're putting your best foot forward to promote what you love doing.

Twitter: @ciccotello 
Instagram: @ciccotello 


  1. HI Mike : Love your Tortoise & Snail for the SCBWI Draw This Prompt: ADMIRE. Snails expression is right on. Great tip to participate in drawing challenges. I recommend #colour_collective on twitter.

    1. Thanks so much, Di. I forgot about #colour_collective - Thank you! That's a great one.

  2. I really enjoy the focus you put on just organically getting your name out there by showing up and participating in things–either online or in person. Feels more natural than constantly promoting a book.

    1. Thank for saying that, Barbara. I feel it's the best way. You are doing two things at the same time. I think this works for getting your name out, especially if you are unpublished and don't have representation, like me. ;) I'm sure I'll be able to come up with similar ideas that apply to book promotion, but I need to get to that point to test it out.