Thursday, November 14, 2019

Your Twitter and Facebook Headers - Are Using This Free Real-Estate In The Best Way Possible?

It's a question brought on by this roundup "Authors on Twitter: 55 Stunning Header Image Examples" by Diana Urban at BookBub.

Both Facebook and Twitter allow you to upload your own custom headers... are you making the most of that space?

Check out the examples in the article, and also consider who are your colleague authors - those whose books your readers love, too - and go to their pages on social media to see what they're doing with that space.

Be aspirational - check out what the best-sellers in your category are doing.

Be strategic - Diana's roundup gives some handy design categories these fall into, including:

Promote a single book

Promote a series

Display multiple books

Showcase art from a book or cover

Focus on author branding

Be creative - use a free tool like canva.com, or a more robust designer tool, or consider hiring an actual designer to help make you look like the professional you are.

Some inspiration:








Have fun with it, and know you can change it up over time!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

"How I Hit a Bestseller List with a Traditionally Published Book" - Christina McDonald Shares Her 7-Step Playbook on the BookBub Blog



How I Hit a Bestseller List with a Traditionally Published Book by Christina McDonald is a guest post over at BookBub.

Fascinating? Yes.

Duplicatable? Well, no one else is Christina with that exact book, "The Night Olivia Fell", but there are lots of strategies and techniques Christina shares that we might consider for our books, including testing ads, stacking promos, and orchestrating everything to hit at the same time.

The bottom line:
“Don’t be deceived: Hitting the USA Today bestseller list isn’t easy. You need your publisher on board if you’re traditionally published, and you have to be willing to give it all you’ve got, including investing a lot of money and time into marketing. I spent over a month preparing for the few days I hoped to increase sales.” — Christina McDonald
The full post is well-worth reading. See what might resonate for you!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Publishing a Book, By The Numbers (and Illustrated Charts!)

This comic-style article, Publishing a Book, By the Numbers, in The New Yorker by Michelle Rial is brilliant and hysterical.



 Go check out the full piece online here.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

SCBWI 2019 Reading List Advertised In PW's Children's Bookshelf!



Children's Bookshelf is "a free e-newsletter from Publishers Weekly that reports on children's and YA books" with 32,000 opt-in subscribers!

SCBWI's 2019 Reading List is "a SCBWI digital publication that lists books written and/or illustrated during 2019 by our PAL members. The list is organized into the categories of Board Book, Picture Book, Early Reader, Chapter Book, Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Anthologies, and is available to download. There are over 140 searchable keywords to help teachers and librarians locate stories on certain genres, themes, and subjects, or find books from authors and illustrators in their area. The SCBWI Reading List is a great way for anyone to find the perfect book for a child or young adult in their life."

Check out the SCBWI 2019 Reading List, and share it with the people you know to help spread the word!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Jonathan Maberry on Why Some Readers Like To Be Scared


Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times best-selling and five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author, anthology editor, comic book writer, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator, and writing teacher/lecturer. He was named one of the Today’s Top Ten Horror Writers. His books have been sold to more than two-dozen countries.

His young adult fiction includes ROT & RUIN (2011; was named in Booklist’s Ten Best Horror Novels for Young Adults, an American Library Association Top Pick, a Bram Stoker and Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading winner; winner of several state Teen Book Awards including the Cricket, Nutmeg and MASL; winner of the Cybils Award, the Eva Perry Mock Printz medal, Dead Letter Best Novel Award, and four Melinda Awards); DUST & DECAY (winner of the 2011 Bram Stoker Award; FLESH & BONE (winner of the Bram Stoker Award; 2012; and FIRE & ASH (August 2013). BROKEN LANDS, the first of a new spin-off series, debuted in 2018.

In this interview with Tyler Moss for Writer's Digest, Jonathan says,
"...when people ask me why I write about monsters, I tell them that I don’t. I write about people who confront monsters and find a way to defeat them. That’s a big difference."
Jonathan further breaks down the reasons why some readers like to be scared:
"Partly because we like to think that there’s more to our world than what which can be measured. Partly because we like to put ourselves into the roles of the characters in a scary story and imagine what we would do, what we could do, and how we’d react. Partly, we like to explore the dangers of our own life through the filter of metaphor and allegory, largely because in fiction there is a third act, a resolution, a solution. If we see Van Helsing stake a vampire or plucky teens rise to overthrow a dystopian government or a frightened mother save her children from a poltergeist, then it helps us cultivate and preserve the optimism that allows us to believe we will somehow conquer the threats in our real lives."
The whole interview is well-worth reading. Oh, and Happy Halloween!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast Now - A Conversation with Alvina Ling

Alvina Ling is Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. In this interview with Theo Baker, Alvina speaks of her career path, what’s constant in being an editor, the relationship between her and her writers and illustrators, and so 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

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Registration for #NY20SCBWI Opens Today, Thursday October 24, 2019

All the #NY20SCBWI Winter 2020 SCBWI Conference information is up, and registration opens at 10am Pacific!



Join us for keynotes by Kate Messner, Jerry Pinkney, and Derrick Barnes!

Join us for the Agent/Editor panel wish Patrice Caldwell, Susan Dobinick, Connie Hsu, Alvina Ling, and Marietta Zacker!

Join us for your pick of 3 two-and-a-half hour Intensive Breakouts!

Join us for the Golden Kite Awards Presentation Gala with special guest speaker James Patterson!

Join us for the Saturday night socials (Illustrators, LGBTQ + Allies, First Time Attendees, Nonfiction, and All Voices Inclusivity!) or Peer Critiques!

Join us for the Awards Presentation, the Autograph Signings, and all the craft, business, inspiration, opportunity, and community that the Winter SCBWI Conference offers...

We hope you'll join us in New York City February 7-9, 2020, but don't delay... we expect this conference will once again sell out!

Click here to find out all the details and to register.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Working On Your Author Profile? 35 Strong Examples from BookBub



Diana Urban has rounded up 35 author profile examples, and while they are mainly authors of works for adults, the reasons "Why We Love It" after the screen shots (and live links to each featured author profile) make this worthwhile for all authors looking at the raw clay of your bio and considering how to best shape it for online consumers.

Should you lead with review blurbs?

Where to put accolades like bestseller status or awards?

Inspirations?

Where you live?

What if you only have one book so far? What if you have multiple series?

Partners? Kids? Pets?

How do you get voice in there?






The variety of approaches is well-worth exploring.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Do You Have a Strategy To Beat Writer's Block? Advice from 11 of Australia's Most Celebrated Authors

In this roundup article in the Guardian, 'Give up and go to the pub': Australia's top authors on beating writer's block, nominees for the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary awards share their tips on tackling “the monster that plagues all writers.”


 From YA author Clare Atkins, nominated for Between Us:
Research has been the best antidote to writer’s block for me. If I get stuck I find someone with the same lived experience as my character to talk to about the story. Real life is often even more weird and wonderful than fiction.
to YA author Karen Foxlee, nominated for Lenny’s Book of Everything:
Just keep writing until the water runs clear. Write what you think might happen. Write random snippets of dialogue. Write something else unrelated. Just write. It will feel terrible but eventually the good ideas and story will flow again.
to Nonfiction author Tanya Dalziell, nominated for Half the Perfect World:
I read recently that scientists have confirmed what the Romantic poets knew well: walking helps thinking and writing.
There's lots of good advice and methods to try!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The SCBWI BookStop is Open!



SCBWI's annual BookStop promotion is live!

Open from Oct 8-Dec 3, #SCBWIBookStop has tons of books for kids and teens that you and the public can browse and buy!

Here's the link: https://www.scbwi.org/scbwibookstop/

The SCBWI BookStop lets you slice, dice, and browse books within each of 10 categories, inside or across more than 85 regions, looking at either traditionally published titles, independently published titles, or both, and of course you can search by title and/or author/illustrator name.

There's so many books to discover!

And if you're an SCBWI member and you haven't yet created your published-in-2019 book page, there's still time. You can design your page until Dec 2, 2019! (Log into your SCBWI member account and look for "My SCBWI BookStop" in the left-side navigation column.)


So spread the word - and the SCBWI BookStop link - and let's help these SCBWI member titles be discovered!

Illustrate and Write—and promote—on!
Lee

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Our Children’s Books Put America (and English) First - Avery Fischer Udagawa Explains the Critical Importance of Children's Books In Translation, And How Our Industry Needs To Do Better

My mother used to have this thing against Mothers Day, that 'shouldn't every day be a day mothers are appreciated?' - in a similar vein, just because it's no longer September (#WorldKidLitMonth) doesn't mean we shouldn't still be discussing how important children's books in translation are—and looking at what we can do to help!



This guest post, over at Cynthia Leitich Smith's indispensable Cynsations blog, Our Children’s Books Put America (and English) First, is a must-read!

 Highlights:
If a child’s bookshelf (or classroom, library or bookstore) holds books by authors from many countries, telling stories from around the world, that child stands a chance of growing up to see herself as part of the world, and connected to its inhabitants. She becomes inoculated against campaigns to have her see people of other countries as lesser or invisible. She grows informed about the history, variety, and complexity of humankind. She grows up globally-minded.

She also becomes more likely to read international literature as an adult, and to see a reading diet of mainly American books as limited, as a diet of American food is limited.
And this startling fact:
Translations into English comprise less than five percent of U.S. children’s books published annually.
And this call to action:
If we work in children’s lit, let us acknowledge that language is culture (try describing a culture without using a word of its language)—and that to offer cultural diversity, we must seek out source language diversity. Depending on our role(s), let us acquire, edit, fund, publish, sell, buy, borrow, request, gift, list, boost and review children’s books (picture books through YA) authored in languages other than English. Most importantly, let us share them with young people.
Read the whole article here.

And then, go read a children's or teen book in translation! And, as Avery suggests, give one to a child or teen.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Another Great Roundup of Excellent Author (and Author/Illustrator) Websites



This resource was put together by Matt Ziranek, 67 Author Websites With Delicious Designs and Captivating Content.

67 is a lot, but you can use the search function to skim through, checking out just the ones that highlight "children's" or "young adult", or whatever you're keen to explore.

The commentary is great, and the article opens with a helpful review of the elements of an excellent author or author/illustrator website:

Easy Navigation

Clarity

Branding

Author Funnel

SEO including these 3 simple, important rules for SEO success:
Create epic content 
Optimize it for your keyword 
Get others to link back to it
Fan Resources

Here are just three of the 67 featured websites:






There's lots of strong examples and inspiration to be had—with live links to each. Well-worth checking out!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, October 3, 2019

"Author-Tested Middle Grade Marketing Tips" - Publishers Weekly Rounds Up Writer Advice for Reaching Middle Grade Readers

Shannon Maughan speaks to eleven Middle Grade Authors for some of their best marketing tips in "Author-Tested Middle Grade Marketing Tips."



Here are some highlights:


Peter Brown, Author of The Wild Robot Escapes (Little, Brown):
Decide how much of your own money you’re willing to spend on self-promotion, if any. Then think about the most effective ways to use that money. Apparently, people really love enamel pins, so I spent my own money to have pins made of my character Roz from my Wild Robot books, and I gave them away at book events. At least for a while, there were children (and adults) all over the country (and other countries) wearing my pins out in public. I think that was money well spent.
Wendy S. Swore, Author of A Monster Like Me (Shadow Mountain):
Hashtags that relate to your story, such as #StopBullyingNow, help make your message searchable on feeds. A local #KindCommunity organization is working to get my books into classrooms as part of a kindness initiative because my story aligned with their values.
Kate Messner, Author of Chirp (Bloomsbury, Feb. 2020):
Do you want your Twitter feed to be a mostly-for-other-adults situation where you’re not limited in the language you use or the topics you discuss? Or do you want it to be something a fourth-grade teacher can share with students on the SmartBoard? Different authors make different choices about this, and for valid reasons. Whatever you decide, be intentional and thoughtful about what you choose to share.
Rajani LaRocca, Author of Midsummer’s Mayhem (Yellow Jacket):
I’m attending as many nerd camps as possible this year. These are free conferences where educators and authors get together and talk about all kinds of interesting topics. I found out about these by following accounts on Twitter and going to their websites.
Kelly Yang, Author of Front Desk (Scholastic/Levine):
To use social media effectively, I like to think of it as a garden. I tend to it regularly. I grow a variety of plants—retweets, long threads, short posts, videos, pictures, giveaways, posts about my book, posts that have nothing to do with my book—but I always, always keep my posts authentic and relevant to my followers. That authenticity is key.
Ann Braden, Author of The Benefits of Being an Octopus (Sky Pony):
Promoting your book is not about icky self-promotion—it’s about helping others connect to this book that you believe in, so that readers can be moved in response.
Christina Soontornvat, Author of A Wish in the Dark (Candlewick, Mar. 2020):
Kids really like watching book-related videos. If it’s in your budget to make a short book trailer, it’s a great investment. But even if you can’t produce a trailer, you can record simple videos of you pitching your book, sharing three or four things you love about it, or giving cool background information about how you came up with the story. Educators could show these videos to their students to get them excited about your work.
Karina Yan Glaser, Author of The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue (HMH, Sept.):
I made a website (I used Squarespace, which was easy for me to create and update myself) with news, events, resources, book recommendations, and information about my books. I tried to make the resources section fun with lots of photos, a q&a, some videos, an educator’s guide, and a place to listen to music from my books.
Nathan Hale, Author of Major Impossible (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #9) (Abrams, Dec.):
It took years of school visiting to find my presentation. And now I work as hard on my presentations as I do on my books. If the material is engaging, the kids want to read the books.
Russell Ginns, Author of Samantha Spinner and the Boy in the Ball (Delacorte, Jan. 2020):
Always accept the microphone. Often, you will get asked if you want a microphone or not. When you present to 30 or more kids, always ask for amplification, even if you are in a carpeted room, and even if you have a loud or piercing voice like me. The moment one kid in the back cannot hear you clearly, he/she will turn to his/her neighbor and ask what you said. This will ripple through the crowd.
Adam Gidwitz, Author of The Chupacabras of the Rio Grande (The Unicorn Rescue Society #4) (Dutton); The Inquisitor’s Tale (Dutton):
I’ve tried a number of techniques to share my books with kids. I think there are two factors that determine whether a technique works or not: First, are you finding the readers where they are? I mean this both physically and emotionally. And second, is the technique really natural to me? Is it something I can do with integrity?
Lots of inspiration here! The full article is well-worth reading.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

p.s.: This is companion article to "Taking Middle Grade To Market", where publishers spoke of their strategies to connect middle grade books to readers.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

"Taking Middle Grade to Market" - Publishers Weekly Rounds Up Publisher Strategies



Shannon Maughan's excellent article, Taking Middle Grade to Market: Publishers share their strategies for capturing the interest of preteens, covers a lot of ground, organizing strategies into:

Gatekeepers Are Key,
One of the biggest challenges of marketing middle grade titles directly to their readers is that the majority of eight-to-12-year-olds don’t purchase their own books. However, those kids definitely wield influence over the adults in their lives who hold the purse strings. As a result, it’s vital for publishers to appeal to the gatekeepers—teachers, librarians, parents, and booksellers—and at the same time to design elements of their marketing campaigns that will grab the attention of kids.

Bringing Authors to Readers,
The school or library author visit, a tried-and-true tack, provides an opportunity to reach educators and readers at the same time and remains king of the middle grade marketing hill.

Book Buzz in the Halls,
“Word of mouth is still the most effective and important way that books get passed between kids, and that often happens in schools and is started through librarians,” says Melanie Chang, senior v-p of marketing and publicity at Abrams.

A Leading Role for Libraries,
Faye Bi, director of children’s publicity at Bloomsbury, believes that library events at publication or as part of a promotional tour are an underused opportunity. “There are so many passionate librarians at schools or public libraries, and they are in direct touch with kids who love reading.”

New and Familiar Venues,
Outside of school, publishers say the best place to reach gatekeepers and kids directly is at school and library conferences or book festivals.

Digital Marketing Playground, and

A New Hybrid.
Exploring Kids’ digital reading platform Epic's cross-pollination between preteen digital reading and print reading: “digital is clearly supporting print, and many of the major publishers with content on the Epic platform believe that Epic’s enormous audience is increasing awareness of and affinity for their titles.” says Epic cofounder Kevin Donahue.


How many of these are you and your publisher leaning into for your middle grade titles? The full article is well-worth reading.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Can You Name the 10 Types of Book Trailers?

If you're interested in book trailers, check out this roundup (complete with examples) by Joanna Penn, at her Creative Penn blog, Book Marketing: 10 Best Book Trailer Types.


With advice and budget estimates, it's a good overview of the Book Trailer landscape, and you might just find inspiration for your own book trailer...

The whole article is well-worth reading (and viewing the examples.) Make sure to check out Joanna's addendum, on ways to promote a book trailer as well.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Marla Frazee - Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast Now!

Welcome to Season Four of the SCBWI Podcast!


In this first episode of our new season, Caldecott Honor-winning and New York Times Bestselling Author/Illustrator Marla Frazee speaks with Theo Baker about her career, sharing insights, advice, and the fascinating stories behind creating some of her most popular and emotionally resonant books, including Boss Baby and The Farmer and the Clown.

Listen to the episode trailer here.

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

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Advice on Hashtags (and Social Media for Authors) from Scott La Counte

This article by Scott La Counte, CEO of BuzzTrace, How to Promote a Book on Social Media: 10 Tips for Indie Authors, has great advice for authors using social media.



There are ten points, and #10 is all about Hashtags:
10. Hashtag It! Hashtags are one of the easiest ways to get followers quick, if you use them right. A hashtag is something that starts with a # sign. When a person clicks on the word after it, they see other people talking about that topic. So, for example, if you are talking about politics you might end your tweet with #politics.

Here’s a few things to remember about hashtags:

First: don’t hashtag everything. Use them when they seem relevant, but every post doesn’t need nor should have a hashtag.

Second: don’t be generic; posting a tweet about how happy you are about something with #excited will not find you any followers.

Third: use hashtags relevant to your followers—if you are at a writers' conference, for example, and there’s a hashtag for that conference, use it. This will connect you with other people at that same conference.

Last: think of hashtags that build into your brand—unique hashtags that only you use. So, for example, you might have a hashtag for the book you are working on, and whenever a reader clicks on it, they can see all the tweets about that particular book; or you may ask readers and influencers to use a certain hashtag whenever they talk about your book.
The whole post is well-worth reading. Thanks to Scott and the folks at IngramSpark for sharing!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Mina Javaherbin Makes the Case for Multicultural Books and Readers at the CBC's Diversity Blog

Multicultural picture book author Mina Javaherbin shares this heartfelt and insightful post at CBC Diversity, Let’s Become Multicultural!
Highlights:
“If we refuse to know our neighbors and instead build territorial walls, we are alienating people who most likely share similar challenges and dreams, people we could bond with and befriend. Books about people we don’t know—or are afraid of—cultivate a multicultural mind-set so that when we meet these people, we’re more comfortable with their culture.”
and
“As a multicultural author, I write to help create multicultural readers. I hope my readers wonder, What would I do or think if I lived in the world of this book?
And that last point feels particularly universal.

  The entire post is well-worth reading.

Illustrate and Write On, 
Lee

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