Thursday, September 12, 2019

How would it impact publishers (and authors and illustrators) if Facebook ditches the Like count?

This article by Monojoy Bhattacharjee in What's New In Publishing, How would it impact publishers if Facebook ditches the Like count?, gives us a glimpse of the experiments happening with hiding like counts on Instagram and Facebook.



Why are these platforms looking at hiding the like count?
A spokesperson for Facebook, Instagram’s owner, told BBC that “This test only makes your like count private to others, so that you’re able to focus less on likes and more on telling your story.”


Monojoy predicts,
"With Likes possibly becoming less of a determinant of content popularity, focus on community building and content quality will increase."
This raises so many interesting questions!

Consider: How would your social media efforts change if no one but you could see how many "likes" something you post gets?

And if no one else could see, would you come to a point where even you stopped looking at the like count of what you post?

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Coping with Critical Reviews - Advice from NetGalley Insights

This post from NetGalley Insights, Coping with Critical Reviews, contains some excellent advice:
"When you put your book out into the world you are hoping to find its biggest champions and most devoted fans. But, of course, no one book will appeal to everyone."


Points they suggest we all keep in mind include:
Remember that star ratings are relative
and
Resist the urge to respond
and even
Glean valuable data in critical reviews

"Sometimes critical reviews can help you better target the right kinds of readers, or tweak your marketing copy. For example, if you have been promoting your book as YA, but critical reviews are saying that it’s too young for a teen audience, consider positioning it as a Middle Grade book instead. Or, if reviewers are expressing surprise at the content, consider revising the way you are describing your book. You want to entice readers, but you also want to find the readers who are most likely to enjoy your book as it is."
It's an article well-worth reading. That is, if you read your reviews. (And I've heard from many authors who don't.)

 How do you deal with critical reviews?

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, September 5, 2019

A Preorder Campaign Fueled by Kindness and Community for Author and SCBWI Member Beth Revis



As reported in this article by Sara Grochowski in Publishers Weekly, YA Community Joins Forces in Support of Author Beth Revis, over 150 YA authors have contributed to prize packages that only folks who pre-order Beth's newest book will have a chance at winning!

Here's the scoop, from Aime Kaufman:
#PREORDERMYSOUL: THE BID MY SOUL FAREWELL PREORDER GIVEAWAY! Want to go into the draw for a bundle of five autographed books? Would you like a book signed by Veronica Roth, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Victoria Aveyard, Rainbow Rowell, Ransom Riggs, Tahereh Mafi, Sabaa Tahir, Stephanie Garber, Holly Black, Gayle Forman, Neil Gaiman or one of over one hundred and fifty YA authors? What about a hardcover sent out before its publication date? What about a whole series, or a book from the UK or Australia?

Well, this is your lucky day! Preorder Bid My Soul Farewell by Beth Revis and you’ll go into the prize draw — you might score an autographed copy of that mega-bestseller you’ve been dying for, or you might discover your new favourite author. There are over forty prize packs up for grabs!

WAIT, THIS IS YOUR WEBSITE, AMIE. WHY IS BETH’S PREORDER HERE?
Beth Revis is an incredible human being. She’s one of the most generous authors around, and never hesitates to share her time, wisdom and enthusiasm with readers and with her fellow publishing peeps. And right now, she’s having a tough time — as she’s explained, her husband is very seriously ill. She needs to focus on what matters right now, but she has a book coming out this September. And sometimes in life, you really do reap what you sow. Beth’s been there for so many people in the publishing world, and now they’re rallying around to help promote her new book for her, so she can keep her mind on her family.
As Beth was quoted saying in the PW article,
“This summer's chaos made me sort of drop the ball on... everything… including making sure everyone knew about my upcoming book release. I have amazing, awesome friends, and when they saw that I was in trouble, they stepped up to ease my load.”


Here's the description of Bid My Soul Farewell from Beth's website...
The stunning finale of the epic fantasy duology from New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis. Alchemy student turned necromancer Nedra Brysstain has made a life-changing decision to embrace the darkness–but can the boy who loves her bring her back to the light before she pays the ultimate price?

Lunar Island is trying to heal. The necromantic plague that ravaged the land has been eradicated, and Emperor Auguste, the young and charming leader of the Allyrian Empire, has a plan: rid the island of necromancy once and for all. Though Greggori “Grey” Astor wants what’s best for his people, he knows that allying himself with Auguste threatens the one person he loves most: necromancer Nedra Brysstain. Feeling like he already failed to save Nedra once, Grey becomes determined to help the Emperor rebuild Lunar Island while still keeping Nedra safe from harm.

Back at the quarantine hospital, Nedra’s army of revenants are growing increasingly inhuman by the day. Wracked with guilt for imprisoning their souls, Nedra vows to discover a way to free the dead while still keeping her sister by her side.

But still reeling from the trauma of the plague, the people of Lunar Island are looking for someone to blame, and Grey can only protect Nedra for so long. And when Nedra and Grey are thrust into a battle with an even more terrifying adversary, Nedra will be pushed to the darkest depths of her necromantic powers. But can Grey let her go that far?
The novel releases on September 24, 2019, so there's still time to preorder (do it by September 30, 2019) and enter the giveaway drawings! Get all the details here.

The best part of this story? Our community coming together to help one of our own.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Transparency and Insight From Deborah Underwood as She Shares the Royalty Numbers for "Pirate Mom," an Easy Reader

Deborah Underwood posted this on Facebook on August 15, 2019, and it received over 100 comments and was shared numerous times.

With her kind permission, I'm sharing it here with our SCBWI community:



On one hand, I'm happy to get a check for $308.07 for a book that's been out for 13 years. On the other hand, this is why authors charge for school visits and why we can't send you free books. 286,982 copies of PIRATE MOM sold over the years. My take: $17,459.15 less the 15% that goes to the agent who sold the book. So I've received $14,840 and change, spread out over 15 years when you take the timing of my advance into consideration. I'm delighted to have this book still out in the world, and when schools ask me which books they should sell during my visits, I include this one, because its low cover price makes it accessible to kids who might not otherwise be able to afford their very own book. But still. A girl's gotta eat! So does her cat.

---
A few clarifications: Most sales of this book were paperbacks. The paperback price started at $3.99; not sure what it is now. My royalty rate on standard paperback sales is 3%, but I think there were a ton of book club sales, too.


By email, Deborah adds:

"This is a particularly dismal scenario; with most of my books, I’m getting 5% of the hardcover picture book list price. But if you do the math, you’ll see that selling a very respectable 10,000 books at $16.95 earns a picture book author $8,475…or $7,203.75 after their agent’s 15% cut. And they'll only see that if their advance has earned out.”

A few aspects of what Deborah shared that really resonate:

Pirate Mom sold over 280,000 copies - more than a quarter-of-a-million copies!  And Deborah's take was less than $15,000 - spread out over 15 years! Less than $1,000 a year...

"...this is why authors charge for school visits and why we can't send you free books."

The generosity and transparency behind Deborah sharing these numbers. Because the more real we can be in setting our expectations for what this writing (and/or) illustrating for children career can be, the better we can navigate the adventure that is our career.

What resonates for you?

Thanks, Deborah! Find out more about Deborah and all her books here.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, August 29, 2019

A Conversation with Christopher Paul Curtis - Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast Now!



National Book Award finalist and Newbery Award winning author Christopher Paul Curtis speaks with Theo Baker about his own writing journey, and shares his advice on the craft of writing, offering insights into the process, and reflections on his works. Their conversation ranges from a writer's power to the power of stories to surprise you to the role books can play in the world, and much more!

Listen to the episode trailer here.

Current SCBWI members can listen to the full episode here (log in first).

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The New Kate Dopirak Craft & Community Award



Announced at the 2019 SCBWI Summer Conference (#LA19SCBWI), The Kate Dopirak Craft & Community Award provides tuition to the SCBWI Annual Summer Conference in Los Angeles to the author of a promising manuscript who is dedicated to honing their craft and expanding their writing community but is experiencing a financial barrier to attending the conference. This award is offered in celebration of Kate Dopirak, a picture book author and beloved SCBWI member who lived her life lighting the way for others.

The KDCC Award will alternate every other year between a picture book winner and a middle grade/young adult winner. The initial 2020 KDCC Award will be given to a picture book manuscript, and will include a 20 minute phone consultation with literary agent Tracey Adams from Adams Literary, as well as a 20-minute phone consultation with children’s editor Andrea Welch from Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster.

You can learn more about Kate and this award here: https://www.katedopirakaward.com/

Submissions will be accepted from between 5:00 a.m. PST on September 1 and 8:00 p.m. PST on October 31, 2019. Good luck!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, August 22, 2019

SCBWI's New Grant For Authors of MG Fantasy and Science Fiction: The A. Orr Fantasy Grant



The A. Orr Fantasy Grant is a new award for middle grade fantasy and science fiction authors. Sponsor Michele Orr, through her foundation Voice Garden, has been a member of SCBWI for several years and when her sister Alice Orr Sprague passed last year from a short struggle with cancer, Michele wanted to honor her memory. Alice, under the name A. Orr, wrote two fantasy novels, The World In Amber and In the Ice King’s Palace, published by Bluejay Books in 1986 and 1987. It is Michele’s honor and joy to create this award in remembrance of her sister.

Award: The winner of the A. Orr Grant will receive tuition to the Los Angeles Summer Conference (beginning in 2020), a manuscript consultation at the conference, and $300 cash.

Deadline: Submissions will be accepted February 17, 2020 through March 20, 2020. The winner will be announced in May.

You can find out all the details here.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Inspiration: Jane Yolen on the nearly 17 years it took her to write "a Jewish Book"



Jane's essay at the Jewish Book Council website, "If the Muse Comes Calling: Jane Yolen on Writing," is about the evolution of her Jewish dragon short story and novella, written with her son Adam, The Last Tsar’s Drag­ons.




It also includes a very telling and thought-provokingly honest account of how the first 17 years of Jane's writing "did not fea­ture any­one or any­thing Jewish."

Here's how Jane describes what happened next:
"And then in the 1980s, one of my edi­tors, who hap­pened to be a rabbi’s wife, asked me why I had nev­er writ­ten a Jew­ish book. And I had to think long and hard about that. And she noodged. Boy! Was she an expert noodge. The result was The Devil’s Arith­metic. And then the Jew­ish sto­ries began to tum­ble out — between more books about women pirates and kings and princess­es and uni­corns and dinosaurs— in prose, in rhyme, for pic­ture book read­ers and for teens."
What I think is so fascinating is that it took someone on the outside to point it out to Jane - and to ask for it.

Which can be inspiring for each of us.

What do you wish someone pointed out to you that you haven't done yet in your creative work?

What do you wish someone asked you for?

And ask yourself: What's my equivalent of Jane's Jewish dragon story?

And then write and/or illustrate that. After all, it worked for Jane!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, August 15, 2019

"Time is the Best Editor" - Excellent Advice from Author/Illustrator Eugene Yelchin



Eugene Yelchin, an equally adept author and illustrator, is a National Book Award finalist for The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge, co-authored with M. T. Anderson,



and the recipient of the Newbery Honor for Breaking Stalin’s Nose.


He received the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for The Haunting of Falcon House,



the National Jewish Book Award for illustrating The Rooster Prince of Breslov,



and SCBWI’s Tomie DePaola Award!

In a breakout session at this past weekend's #LA19SCBWI, Eugene gave a talk about time in picture books that I attended. He's brilliant, and one of the most resonant pieces of advice he shared was this:
Take your story as far as you can bring it, and then stop.
Let it sit for several months.
Five or six months later, look at it.
You'll see what it needs.

"Time is the best editor."
Great advice, and I can vouch from personal experience that it works.

Thanks, Eugene!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Instagram! Twitter! The SCBWI Conference Blog! Follow #LA19SCBWI To Gather Your Own Favorite Moments

Can you feel the buzz?

On Instagram, wisdom like:


On Twitter, insights like:


And on the Official SCBWI Conference Blog, craft knowledge like:




It's all there for you to check out - with live stories, photos from the portfolio show and the Woodstock at 50 gala, and so many more moments of inspiration and community.

#LA19SCBWI

is your key.

Go unlock the SCBWI 2019 Summer Conference as it resonates online, and for you!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Si hablas español, la página de Facebook Facebook en Español seguirá los principales acontecimientos del congreso #LA19SCBWI.

#LA19SCBWI starts tomorrow, and I'm so excited to share that our Spanish-speaking friends (lead by Malena F. Alzu, SCBWI's Spanish Language Coordinator) will be sharing about the conference on SCBWI Facebook en Español here: https://www.facebook.com/scbwispanish/!


We hope you'll follow along, and share the word - en español, of course!

Oh, and check out the July 2019 issue of La Cometa here!

Make sure to follow the hashtag #LA19SCBWI on social media, and the Official SCBWI Conference Blog at http://scbwiconference.blogspot.com/

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Ten Top Book Advertising (and Marketing) Tips from RWA's Annual Conference, complied by Diana Urban at BookBub Partners

This highlights article is loaded with ideas, including some excellent step-by-step advice, gleaned from the recent Romance Writers of America annual conference.


There was so much good stuff shared, here's just the first one of ten:

1. Create reader sales funnels

A sales funnel is the journey a reader takes in order to eventually do business with an author or publisher. Dana Kaye, founder of Kaye Publicity, explained how to implement sales funnels to increase book sales. The funnel breaks down into four main stages:

Awareness: the reader first hears your name or book title and starts to become familiar with your work.

Interaction: the reader engages with you through social media, your website, or at an in-person event.

Interest: the reader signs up for your newsletter or downloads a free ebook.

Sale: the reader purchases one or more of your books.

You can drive readers down your sales funnel across various marketing channels. Take email marketing, for example; when someone signs up for your mailing list, you can set up an automated email series driving potential readers who just became aware of you (by finding your website) and interacted with you (by subscribing) to become more interested in a specific title and ultimately land a sale. Dana recommended setting up an email sequence like this:

Welcome email: a brief introduction to you and your work, with a free piece of content.

Backstory email: a deeper dive into your writing and your backstory.

Social proof email: reviews of your book, awards and notoriety, read-alike suggestions.

Tripwire offer: a discounted ebook or other low-cost content (hook readers with this first sale).

Free gift offer: another free piece of content, access to a Facebook group, or other free offer.

You can also apply this sales funnel methodology across other channels, like Facebook ads (to target readers who’ve visited your website) or quizzes (to email content to readers who selected specific quiz or survey responses). 

Click here to read the full piece on the BookBub Partners website.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee