Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Take Some Creative Advice from Meg Medina - Your Artistic Mission Statement

There's maybe no better way to prepare for the new year ahead than to consider, as writers and/or illustrators,

"what do we want our lives to look like?" 

What's our mission?

And to write that out as our "Artistic Mission Statement."

For inspiration, listen to this under-9 minute podcast, Podcast #30: Meg Medina Talks About Nurturing Your Artistic Voice, from our friends at the Highlights Foundation, where George Brown speaks with Meg Medina about Meg's finding the mission statement she wrote 19 years earlier, before her books and awards, when she was a new mother and trying to figure out how to have time to write. Trying to see the artistic path ahead.

And now she looks back, seeing how far she's come, and thinking about where she wants her artistic career to go next!

So write down (or draw) your artistic mission statement, and have that with you as you head into 2020!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Travling this Holiday Season? Take some Social Media Inspiration from Karina Hale

This was very cool: Karina Hale posted pictures of her upcoming book on Instagram in a variety of locations.

 It was featured in this BookBub piece on Book Promotion.

And it made me think - Karina's not writing children's or YA, but this idea could work for ANY book. (My book! Your book!) And it doesn't have to be exotic travel to some fabulous beach or European hot spot. It could be photos of your book in locations you visit every week. The snowy field across the street. The farmer's market. The train station.

Maybe you match the locations and tone of your book. Or maybe you just go for it, and create a travelogue with your book in hand.

It seems like a fun way to connect with your community and promote your book at the same time! And hey, aren't you carrying around a copy of your book anyway?

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Love Letter To (And Defense of) Picture Book Biographies

Over at Electric Lit, J.M. Farkas writes "You Should Be Getting Your Biographies in Children’s Picture Book Form"

“Reading PBBs is an amazing hack for readers who want to know the general beats of notable lives.... But beyond acquiring facts and increasing your Jeopardy! score*, what I relish most about PBBs is how they infuse history with much-needed empathy and emotion.”

“There’s also one more hidden benefit: reading them will make you a better writer. A biography in a picture book format is a master class in distillation. All writing involves making choices, sometimes excruciating choices, of what to leave in and what to leave out—but the art of a biographer takes this excision to the next level. And the scissory task of a picture book biographer is even more arduous: how to fit an entire life into a 32-page container. It’s no coincidence that some of the best PBBs have the fewest words.”
And then the author lists some of their favorite picture book biographies. Some I knew, others I've added to my to-be-read list.

The whole piece is well-worth reading!

Illustrate and Write On,

*For a fun sidebar, see the shout out that 'Jeopardy!' Star James Holzhauer gave to children's books as his strategy to become a game show millionaire.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast Now: A Conversation with Mem Fox

International Best-Selling Children’s Picture Book Author Mem Fox speaks with Theo Baker about her drama school background, her writing and revising, and what it means to be an Australian writer.

Listen to the episode trailer here.

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

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

How to Launch a New Book - a BookBub "Book Promotion 101" Article

Packed with good ideas to add to your plans, check out BookBub's Book Promotion 101: How to Launch a New Book.

Organized into five phases:

Planning, Early Promos, Preorders, Launch Day, and Post-Launch, 

the article aims to "walk you through the stages of a book launch, with examples of how successful authors have promoted theirs."

From learning "how your audience searches for books" to securing "blurbs from comparable authors" to sending a "digital gift pack to readers who preorder" to streaming "a live Q&A on Facebook or YouTube" to signing up "as a HARO source" there's great advice for every step of your book making its way into the world. Some of the many ideas shared may be ones you're already doing, but others may inspire you to try something new!

The full article is well-worth reading.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, December 12, 2019

SCBWI Books for Readers Continues Giving Books and Building Dreams - Read About SCBWI's 2019 Donation Events

This report by Patty J. Murphy reported on the two 2019 events that donated thousands of SCBWI PAL member books to young people.

SCBWI’s donation of 1,000 books to Madison Reading Project and its Big Red Reading Bus, allowed the organization to reach a milestone– the 100,000th book donated to readers–and to be recognized for the hard work they have done, as well as the work yet to come.

“It is a tribute to what we are doing and to the kids we serve. We are wowed that the authors and illustrators who created these books are supporting what we are doing, and helping get their books into these kids’ hands,” said Executive Director Rowan Childs. “It’s also an intrinsic pat on the back–a belief in what we are doing to increase literacy rates, and encouragement for all of us to do more!”
“These books are unlike any others that our children have received before,” said Dr. Goff, executive director of REACH, “because they’re donated by the very people who created them. They’ll allow our children to see worlds outside their communities, to offer them experiences they’ve never had, and to see what can be, and what they can achieve. Like that famous quotation, ‘A reader lives a thousand lives–a non-reader only one!’ These books will give our kids a thousand lives–and then some!”
Read the full report here.

To learn more about the SCBWI Books for Readers Program and nominate your favorite literacy organization for 2020, visit The SCBWI Books for Readers FAQ here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Literary Agents of Color - A Great Resource to Know About

Agent Beth Marshea's recent article in Publishers Weekly, We Need Diverse Agents, points out,
"With nearly 80% of the industry identifying as white, straight, and able bodied, is it any wonder that so many stories sound the same? Calls for more diverse characters, authors, and stories are great. There’s a step further that must be taken, however; we need to make changes to the gatekeepers. As Kacen Callender rightly pointed out in their Publishers Weekly article, 'We Need Diverse Editors,' sometimes stories weren’t written for the people we have guarding the house.

The need for representation in all aspects of publishing is clear. In order to get an editor, books need to be represented by agents—so it stands to reason that the industry needs diverse agents, as well."
And then, Beth brought up the website Literary Agents of Color at https://www.litagentsofcolor.com/, which, as of writing this, lists 56 "amazing agents of color."

Our industry certainly needs more, but it's great to know about this resource!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Don’t miss out on the 21st Annual SCBWI Winter Conference, Feb 7-9, 2020 in New York City - Less Than 30 Spots Left!

It’s going to be amazing!

Join us for:
Deep dives into craft

Dynamic Keynotes

Relevant panels of industry experts

Your choice of three in-depth workshops taught by editors, agents, and master writers and illustrators.

The Golden Kite Awards Gala

Saturday night buffet dinner

Networking Socials (LGBTQ + Allies, Illustrators, Nonfiction, All Voices Inclusivity, International, First Time Attendees) and Peer Critiques

Portfolio Showcase
It will be a weekend packed with craft, business, inspiration, opportunity, and community – and will most likely sell out as it did last year.

We hope you’ll be able to join us.

Click here for all the conference information and to register: 


Illustrate and Write On, 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Thinking of Writing a Holiday Picture Book? Some Wisdom from Patricia Toht

Patricia Toht is the author of two different holiday picture books, “Pick a Pine Tree” and “Pick a Pumpkin” and in this post at the GROG blog from last December, Writing a Holiday Picture Book,

Patricia runs through some of the pros, cons, and considerations for writing holiday-themed picture books.


From the Pros:
Holidays come around every year.
From the Cons:
There’s a very short window for sales.
From the Considerations: (I share two here but all five are good.)
2) Christmas and Halloween are widely covered in the US. If you choose either, can you come up with a unique character, setting, conflict, or other element? 
4) Look at book formats. Has a particular format not been done? Concept book? Wordless? Nonfiction? Historical fiction? Poetry?
The full post is well-worth reading.

Illustrate and Write On, 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Wonderland Article Gives Us a Glimpse Into the Maira Kalman Exhibition at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

So maybe you can't get to Amherst, Massachusetts before April 5, 2020. Or maybe, this will convince you to!

 The Pursuit of Everything: Maira Kalman’s Books for Children

The Wonderland article has lots of great photos and quotes from Maira's talk at the exhibit's opening, including these gems:
“The most wonderful projects come from wandering and finding your way and one thing leads to another.”
About writing about Thomas Jefferson, slavery and his sexual relationship with the woman he enslaved, Sally Hemings, in her 2014 book “Thomas Jefferson, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything”: “You can’t tell that story and have that thing be left out of it. … But you can talk to kids about that very plainly. … We said the monumental man had monumental flaws.”
“The way I deal with people is not from a cynical or sarcastic point of view,” Kalman says. “What I really want to say is we’re all in this together and I find you fantastically beautiful and interesting.”
“If you don’t digress and go off the point, I think you miss the point.”

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast Now: A Conversation with Floyd Cooper

Author/Illustrator Floyd Cooper has created nearly 100 picture books, winning multiple awards along the way! In this interview with Theo Baker, Floyd shares early lessons from his career and discusses his artistic process.

Listen to the episode trailer here.

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

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Homework Help - A roundup of experts on Dyslexia dispel myths and misunderstandings

Writing and illustrating on a topic where we don't have expertise can be tricky... that's where doing our homework comes in.

Jen Robinson's Nov 13, 2019 Growing Bookworms Newsletter shared a link to this Expert Roundtable: Dispelling the Myths and Misunderstandings About Dyslexia from Reading By Example.

It's a crash-course on how to make sure we're not reinforcing misleading stereotypes and false information on Dyslexia.

And what's particularly useful is that asking six different experts -- with different perspectives -- the same question,

"What are the one or two things that you believe are most commonly misunderstood about dyslexia today, and what message would you want to share with educators, parents and/or students to increase their awareness of the reality?" 

We get a much more fully-realized picture than if we just spoke with a single expert.

It's a good model for doing our homework as creators of content for children and teens.

Thanks to Jen for sharing the link, and to the six experts who shared their knowledge in the roundtable.

Read the full article here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Leslie Helakoski and Darcy Pattison share 9 Picture Book Topics to Avoid (or, at least be forewarned about!)

Over at the Highlights Foundation blog, SCBWI members and all-around awesome picture book folks Leslie Helakoski and Darcy Pattison share a post on 9 Picture Book Topics to Avoid.

What's so helpful is that they acknowledge the well-worn themes, but also point out that if you go there, you better be bringing something new and fresh to the category... and then they list some picture books that have done just that.

From the tooth fairy to a new baby coming into the family, the areas are familiar... but are the fresh takes on those as familiar?

They ask us to consider, for a fresh take on tooth fairy stories, The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy by Martha Brockenbrough, illustrated by Israel Sanchez

and for something new on the new baby on the way stories, You Were the First (2013) by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin.

The full blog post is well-worth reading.

Consider, does your current picture book work in progress fall into any of these nine categories? And if so, do you have an approach that will help your take stand out?

Illustrate and Write On,

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,

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,

Thursday, November 7, 2019

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,

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,

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,

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?


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,

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,

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!

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!

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,

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



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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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!
“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.”
“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, 

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,