The Kiwi Kids’ Bookstore officially turns two on 13 November. Founder and owner Kate Gordon shares a few thoughts on the past 365 days of promoting and selling kids’ books by New Zealand authors.
SO MANY thoughts about the past year… where to start?
In many ways it hasn’t been an easy year, but a recent email from a Kiwi grandmother helped me see the bookstore is going in a good direction.
The email said: “Delightful books and very pleased how convenient the whole process was. I’m already recommending you to friends.“
Kind words which may have taken only a minute or two to write, yet they’ve stayed with me for many days. I’m so grateful she took the time to write to me.
The journey of creating an online store which showcases only books by New Zealand authors for children and teens has been… fun? Definitely! Hard? For sure! Required many hours? Oh, yes! Worth it? Yes, but some days…a few wobbles on that front.
The Kiwi Kids’ Bookstore is my passion project, my much-loved side hustle, and something I continue to believe in. Changing the name from Kiwi Kids Read Kiwi Books earlier this year was really positive and I still smile every time I see the awesome artwork that Kiwi illustrator Lisa Allen created for the store. It’s fun! And we all need a little more fun in our lives, right?
I can’t deny, quite recently I thought about closing the whole store down. I was feeling overwhelmed and under-resourced (a common issue for sole traders!)
I have loads of ideas on promoting Kiwi kids’ books and their amazing authors – because that’s how we can show wonderful book buyers all over New Zealand (like you) just how awesome these books are. But how to find the time?! Like most of us, I’ve got to prioritise income-earning activities (from my other business) over pretty much everything else.
I feel like the bookstore can be, should be, considerably busier than it is. I’ve put my heart and soul into it, even when time is limited. I wake up thinking about it in the middle of the night. I get up early and stay up late, adding new books to the store and making social media posts. But am I reaching the right people? Am I doing the right marketing? It’s hard to know, right? (Any feedback you ever want to offer on that front is always welcome!)
I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining. After all, the whole thing was my idea and no one is making me do this, so I’m sorry if it comes over that way.
There are SO MANY great things about having created this online store and SO MUCH about it that makes me happy, like:
- Hearing that the store makes it easy for a Kiwi teacher to find “gems” of books by Kiwi authors for her class.
- Hearing Kiwi authors say the concept of the store helps validate the effort they put into their work.
- Getting to knowing these amazing, talented Kiwi authors and being able to share our love of writing for children.
- Super emails from book buying parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties who are pleased to have found a great book for the fortunate child in their life.
Oh my gosh, these things make all the effort I’ve put into the store worthwhile. They truly do.
So where does this leave me going into the store’s third year in existence?
Well, with a brief loop back to “overwhelmed Kate” who’s been knocked for six by the sheer volume of books by Kiwi authors that I could stock, I think I need to consider carefully which books I want to stock and why.
- I’m keen to support more authors of all nationalities represented in Aotearoa. Some research to do there.
- I’m keen to have a wider diversity of books. I know, for example, I haven’t come across any LGBTQIA+ books yet, but that’s more on me to actively look for them.
- I am committed to supporting New Zealand authors writing and illustrating quality books, whether they’re indie or traditionally published.
- I will keep offering you books that are fun, adventurous, mysterious, fantastical and engaging which actively encourage our children and teens to read Kiwi books. The vital point is they have to be a great read! (And there will be none of the cultural cringe some of us felt about New Zealand books back in my 1970s childhood years..!)
- I will actively work on ways to showcase these books to wonderful people like you who buy books for your children and teens, and help you get to know the Kiwi authors and illustrators creating these books.
- I’ll keep adding to my technical skills so the store can offer new features like wish-lists, eBooks and audiobooks at some time in the future.
Whew! I better wrap this up and get on with packing orders of more great Kiwi kids’ books!
Thanks so much for being part of this journey and I hope you enjoy the opportunity to browse these virtual bookshelves of carefully selected Kiwi kids’ books. I’m always happy to order books in if there’s a title you want that I don’t currently stock. Simply email me – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ngā mihi nui