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It is my pleasure to announce our three winners for the March 12 x 12 in 2012 prizes! The first prize is a copy of Katie Davis’ outstanding ebook – How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Creating a BestsellerNext, I am giving away two free Brain Burps About Books iPhone apps because I love the podcast so much (and NOT just because I am sometimes in it. :-))

Winners, if you already have Katie’s book, or the iPhone app, OR don’t have an iPhone and therefore can’t use the app, please let me know ASAP.  I’ve kept the Random.org list of winners, and if you can’t use the prize, I will simply keep going down the list until I find someone who can.  Thanks!

And now, for the winners…. *CUE DRUMROLL*

Winner of How to Promote Your Children’s book is…..    BRENDA HARRIS!!!!!!!!

Winners of the Brain Burps About Books iPhone App are….    ROBYN CAMPBELL and JARM DEL BOCCIO!!!!!!!

Congratulations to all the winners! Contact me for info on how to claim your prizes.

Onward, ho!!!

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You guys have heard a lot about Katie Davis on this blog lately, however, it’s all been in the context of ME being featured in HER space.  Today I am so pleased to turn the tables and announce Katie as our featured 12 x 12 in 2012 author for March.  Katie has been very busy this month spreading the word about her new eBook, How to Promote Your Children’s Books: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Creating a Bestseller (see a list of all the stops Katie’s made on her blog tour at the end of this post).  Readers, I have read this book, and I must tell you this is MANDATORY reading for anyone who is serious about publishing and promoting their books.  Every question you could possibly ask about marketing and promotion is covered in this book.  What’s even better is that it’s written in Katie’s trademark voice, which means it is actually fun to read. AND, Katie is giving one lucky 12 x 12 participant a free copy of this book.

If you are a regular blog reader, you know I am now a monthly contributor to Katie’s Brain Burps About Books Podcast.  I’ve also been a subscriber of the podcast for well over a year. I’m continually amazed by the amount of information imparted in the shows.  Every time I have a question about something related to kidlit, I ask myself if maybe Katie’s done a show on the topic.  Recent examples of questions I had were on author websites, school visits, eBooks, writing retreats.  Podcasts addressing those issues?  Check, check, check and check.  Katie provides this great service for FREE.  I am so passionate about the value of these podcasts, (and NOT just because I am in some of them – I swear) that I want more people to take advantage of them.

Yes, you can listen to the podcasts directly for free.  However, I find that it is much easier to have the Brain Burps iPhone app.  All of the episodes are there and searchable.  You can stop and go back and listen where you left off.  You can “favorite” certain episodes.  But the best feature is that you have them with you wherever you go.  Standing in a long line?  Just pop onto the app and listen while you wait.  In fact, I love the app so much, that in addition to Katie’s giveaway, this month I will draw two additional winners who will receive the app from me as a gift!

Now you’re probably wondering when the heck Katie is going to show up in this post, and that is right now.  Lest you think her book, podcasts, etc. aren’t applicable to you if you are pre-published, I asked Katie a few specific questions on how the advice and tips in her books are appropriate for ALL writers – not just published ones.  Take it away Katie!

Many of this blog’s followers are pre-published authors.  Which chapters or parts of your book do you think are most critical for them to read and why?

I think Chapters 1-30 would be best. Oh, wait. There are 30 chapters in the book…

I really can’t choose just some sections because it’s one of those more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts kind of thing. All the chapters together teach a way to approach this business. Picking out one thing would be like pulling out one domino; they’re all interconnected.

Why do you think it is important, even for pre-published authors, to develop an online presence?

 I’ve heard of publishers looking online to see what kind of presence prospective authors have. I can’t believe if someone isn’t online it would jeopardize getting a contract if the story is publish-worthy, but imagine if you have an odd subject or niche book. An editor sees you have a following and knows that you’ll be proactive in the marketing support of that book. These days we all need an online presence and if you already have one firmly established, you’re that much more ahead of the game. But nothing will help a badly written book, so the thing you need to concentrate on most is writing well, learning your craft and making sure that you’re creating your best possible work.

The 12x team has been debating on the Facebook page whether or not they should use their names in their blogs or whether they should set up websites if they don’t yet have a book to promote.  What’s your advice?

I vote for using your name in your blog site. Your blog should be contained within your site so visitors don’t have to go to two different places to find you. Your name is what people will search for and you want it to come up on the first page of the search, right? Also buy your title.com the minute you know it – or just buy it if you have a potential title.

I am so happy I bought katiedavis.com when I did back in the late 90’s because do you have any idea how many Katie Davises there are out there? And at least two are authors, and another Katie Davies is a children’s author and published by S&S like me! So go buy yourname.com NOW.

I’ll wait here.

Okay, now that you’ve done that, let’s continue this interview.

 Actually, I have to interject here and agree wholeheartedly with Katie. I bought juliehedlund.com three years ago and I am just now starting to build my author site from that domain.  How happy am I that I own it now that I am ready?  Seriously.  It costs, like, $12 a year for a domain.  Go Daddy (which Katie mentions in her book) is the registry I use for all my domains.

What are the biggest mistakes newbies make with promotion activities?

  1. Forgetting that the more you give, the more you get. Remember to do things for other people first, and it’ll all come back to you, as sappy as that sounds. The minute, and I do mean almost to the actual minute I started looking outward and promoting other people, I could tell my career shifted.
  2. Being scared that you’re not doing enough and/or that you’re doing the wrong thing and then freaking out because of that. Do what you’re comfortable with. If you don’t like blogging, don’t do it. Pick something you can handle and most of all, enjoy.
  3. 3.   Forgetting it’s about connecting with people, not marketing.

What is your own biggest marketing/promotion blooper?

Where to begin?! I got a bunch of ‘em! I spent money on stupid marketing efforts that didn’t work, or I’ve spent a ton of time on a complicated idea that fell flat. During this blog tour for How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to Create a Bestseller one of the stops was all about my mistakes, called Banana Peelin’. The more you try, the more you fail, but the more chance you’ll have at succeeding.

What is your biggest marketing/promotion success?

 Being generous.

 If you were in a reality T.V. show about the “real” life of a children’s book author, what part of it would viewers find the most surprising?

Very weird you’re asking me this, since last week I was asked to be part of a pilot for a new “Housewives” type show! (I said no.) However, since you put “real” in quotation marks, I will take that as not real so I suppose you’d be most surprised at all the butlers I employ. They carry me from my front door to my studio so all my shoes remain spotless. This is also the technique I use to wear high heels so my feet never hurt. Plus I have an app that writes all my books.

Children’s author/illustrator Katie Davis has published nine books and appears monthly on the ABC affiliate show, Good Morning Connecticut, recommending great books for kids. She produces Brain Burps About Books, a podcast about kidlit, a blog and monthly newsletter. Katie has volunteered in a maximum-security prison teaching Writing for Children and over the last dozen years has presented at schools and writing conferences. She’s a 2010 Cybils judge and has also judged the Golden Kite, smartwriters.com, and Frontiers in Writing awards. Recently Katie was selected to be on the Honorary Advisory Board for the Brooke Jackman Foundation, a literacy-based charity.

Participants – to enter to win Katie’s Book and the Brain Burps app, you must be an official challenger and leave a comment on this post (INCLUDING YOUR FIRST AND LAST NAME) any time during the month of March for one point.  On March 31st, l’ll put a check-in post on the blog.  If you completed a picture book draft in March, you can let us know in the comments of that post for another point.  I will draw a winner using Random.org and announce on April 2nd.

Check out the rest of Katie’s blog tour stops!

Feb 1 – E is for Book – www.eisforbook.com

Feb 2 – Banana Peel Thursday – http://bananapeelin.blogspot.com

Feb 3 – Creative Spaces – http://chrischengauthor.blogspot.com

Feb 6 – DearEditor.com – www.DearEditor.com

Feb 7 – Writing With a Broken Tusk – http://umakrishnaswami.blogspot.com

Feb 8 – Shutta Crum – http://shutta.com

Feb 9 – McBookWords – mcbookwords.blogspot.com

Feb 10 – Kerem Erkan- keremerkan.net

Feb 16 – Elizabeth O. Dulemba- http://www.dulemba.com/

Feb 17 – Fiction Notes – http://www.darcypattison.com/

March 1 – 12×12 in 2012 – http://writeupmylife.com

March 2 – Christine Fonseca, Author – ChristineFonseca.blogspot.com

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Make it Stop!!!

You know those CAPTCHA’s / word verification tools that appear when you try to comment on a blog post?  Well, lately they have gotten all but impossible to read.  And I have better than 20/20 vision, so I know.  Often I have to try two or three times before I get it right, so lately I admit I sometimes abandon comments I’ve already written when that word verification comes up.

Here’s why you need to do away with word verification and CAPTCHAs.

  1. You don’t need them.  Both Blogger and WordPress have excellent spam filters.  Let the filters determine who is a real person.  Do not put that responsibility on your loyal readers.
  2. You will lose comments, if not readers.  Word verification never would have been a deal breaker for me in the past, but since the 12 x 12 challenge started, I now follow more than 1000 blogs.  I try to be an active follower and comment as often as I can.  Even if it only takes a few seconds to fill in that box, multiply that by hundreds and you can see why it becomes a drag.  Not only that, but now that they’ve made the letters and characters all but impossible to get right the first time, it takes even longer.
  3. It flags your blog as less professional.  Sorry.  I do not want to offend any of you lovely, lovely bloggers out there, but I challenge you to visit any blog that has a huge following that also uses word verification.  You won’t find one.  Why?  Because these bloggers do not want to create any friction between a reader and his/her comments.

I was hesitant to write this post even though I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot.  Then I read Leigh Covington’s post which inspired me to forge ahead.  She provided a link to JA Bennett’s post on How to Turn Off Word Verification on Blogger.  I was surprised to learn that some Blogger users don’t even know they have word verification activated, so I implore you to read the post and double-check.

Here it is again. How to Turn Off Word Verification on Blogger.

Here are a few more sources

Why I Hate CAPTCHA and How I Got Rid of It

Yet another blogger I follow, Clarissa Draper, agrees.

Here’s the scoop on Blogger’s spam filter

If you are a WordPress user, there is absolutely no reason to use CAPTCHA’s.  Just turn on the top-notch Akismet spam filter.  I think I’ve had one spam comment show up on a post in 2+ years of blogging.

I am not quite at the point of saying I’ll no longer comment on blogs with word verification, but the day is getting closer.  I would hate to do that, but with time being truly precious, filling in those boxes is not what I want to be doing.

Okay rant over.

Have you ever abandoned a comment you intended to leave on a blog because of word verification?  Also, I’d be curious to know if any of you Blogger users, after reading this post, discover you have word verification and didn’t know it.  

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I’m finally getting one of these posts up on time! 🙂

  • Week 10 Theme: “Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection.”  This chapter asks us to examine any toxic patterns that we use to block our creative path and how to overcome them.
  • Morning Pages: I missed a couple of days over the weekend because I was getting up SO EARLY to go skiing.  Got right back into them though.
  • Artist Date: I’m still participating in a free online business boot camp called Women on Purpose, and the calls are so inspiring I’m considering them my artist date.  Probably a cop-out, but that’s the best I can do right now.

Any “Aha” Moments? 

  • Some of the self-inflicted blocks to creativity mentioned in Chapter 10 include alcohol, food, obsessive love, etc.  Another is workaholism, which I

    Social Media. A boon, a block or both?

    at first dismissed as not applicable.  After all, I’m doing work I love, and I don’t have a day job that gets in the way of my creative time.  However, this book was written 20 years ago, well before the explosion of the Internet and Social Media in particular.  It’s tricky because so much of what I do online is work-related, but I also realize that I am often seduced into tinkering around on social media sites when I should be creating.  Updating Twitter and Facebook, blogging and commenting on blogs can seem like “real” work – and sometimes it is – but very often it’s also procrastination, or even worse, total avoidance.  It’s also a bottomless pit.  There is no way to be “finished” with social media tasks.

  • Once again I am examining the amount of time I spend on social media to see if there is a way to balance it more with creative time.  For one thing, I know I have to let go of the guilt I’ve been feeling lately around not being able to comment on as many blogs, or even respond to comments on my own blog.  I genuinely want to support others’ blogs and acknowledge the folks who support mine, but I also know that if I keep going at the pace I kept before the 12 x 12 challenge started, I would never get any writing done.  So I’m still working on striking the right balance. Cameron emphasizes that the things we use to block are not bad in and of themselves (and in fact can be good).  The key is acknowledging when we are abusing them to block ourselves.

A few favorite quotes from the Week 10 chapter:

“If creativity is like a burst of the universe’s breath through the straw that is each of us, we pinch that straw whenever we pick up one of our blocks.  We shut down our flow. And we do it on purpose.”

“There is a difference between zestful work toward a cherished goal and workaholism.  That difference lies less in the hours than it does in the emotional quality of the hours spent.

“We are the origin of our art, it’s homeland. Viewed this way, originality is the process of remaining true to ourselves.”

Do you have creative blocks?  How do you attempt to overcome them?

Weeks 8 & 9 Check-In

Week 7 Check-In

Week 6 Check-In

Week 5 Check-In

Week 4 Check-In

Week 3 Check-In

Week 2 Check-In

Week 1 Check-In

The Artist’s Way

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Okay you guys, I’m a little late getting this out (or early since Katie’s new episodes don’t usually release until Wednesday), but I’m SO EXCITED to tell you that I am a guest on Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books kidlit podcast again.  This time I am with several other authors, all of whom are amazing, talking about book and/or blog promotion strategies.  AND, you will get to hear Katie’s dog Mango, who fortuitously interrupted our interview

I blatantly stole this picture of the wise and wonderful Mango from Katie's blog, hoping that neither of them will press charges for violation of copyright. I just wanted you all to see how obviously smart this dog is (and if you click on the image, what happens when writers get into the "zone" near a bag of Beggin' Strips)

segment because he somehow KNEW that I had not gotten my point across correctly and wanted to give me time to regroup.  I tell you, dogs are higher sentient beings that we humans are…

But I digress.  I learned so much from listening to the full episode about book trailers, where to find photos, audio and video that you can use for trailers or blog posts, how to create materials for teachers, how to support indie bookstores while also promoting your books, how to get more than ONE MILLION hits on your website, etc.  Seriously, there’s something for everyone here.

I’m sure after reading this you will want to listen right now.  So, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200, just click here. (That’s a Monopoly reference for my non-U.S. readers…)

Or, if you want to listen later on your iPhone, Android, etc. you can go here and get the app/info you need.  That is totally fine too (although you can forget about getting Park Place and Boardwalk that way…)

 

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Hi everyone,

I’ve spent some time cross-referencing the comments on my MeeGenius contest entry post with the results post to determine who wanted which prizes.  Here is the list of the prizes and recipients.  Some of you left your email addresses in the comments and some did not. Whether you think you have already given me your email address or not, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS POST WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS INCLUDED so I can contact you offline for prize distribution.  At this busy time of year, it would be helpful to have that information all in one place so I don’t have to check multiple posts.  Thanks!

A few people who commented on the first post did not elect a prize.  If this is you, please do so by December 31st, as I would like to wrap this up before the new year.  The agent list and writing critiques are available on an unlimited basis.  I have one IndieBound gift card left and two picture books.  If I do not hear from you by December 31st, I will assume you do not want a prize.  Thanks!

A couple of you left comments on the second post but not the first.  In order to keep it fair, I could not enter you for the monetary prizes.  However, please let me know if you would like the agent list or a writing critique.

iPOD SHUFFLE: Ellen (tannawings)!

INDIEBOUND GIFTCARD: Sabrina Martinez

PICTURE BOOK OF CHOICE: Deborah Cavitt

AGENT LIST: Joanna Marple, Jennifer DuBose, Donna Martin, Tanya Konerman, Jennifer Kirkeby, Cathy Mealey, Jodelle Brohard, Jennifer Rumberger, Lori Mozdzierz, Stacy Jensen, Louise Behiel, Coleen Patrick, Jarm del Boccio, Jenny Sulpizio, Penny Klostermann, Darshana, Robyn Campbell, Ellen Ramsey, Sharon Mayhew, Elizabeth Stevens Omlor

CRITIQUE: Erik, Nancy Hatch (whenever you have something ready); Also, Susanna Hill and Renee Tullipe – I’ll be happy to trade manuscripts sometime this year.  Let’s plan on choosing one of our 12 x 12 drafts at some point during the year!

FOLKS WHO ARE ELIGIBLE AND HAVE YET TO SELECT A PRIZE: Kaitlin, Diane Estrella, Debbie Allen, Patientdreamer (Diane)

FOLKS WHO ONLY LEFT A COMMENT ON THE SECOND POST (Can choose critique or agent list): Loni Edwards, Kate Kresse,

If I am in error on any of these, please let me know and I’ll check again.  As a reminder, the agent list will be distributed by December 31st.  Critiques will be completed by January 15 (unless we’ve specified otherwise).  The tangible goods/prizes will be sent as soon as I get contact information.

PLEASE remember to leave your email addresses on this post so I can get prizes out efficiently.  Thanks!

THANK YOU again to everyone who participated.  I know there were many people who voted and promoted who did not enter the contest too, and I am just as appreciative for your help!!  You all know I am here when you need assistance in return.

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With everyone’s help, I developed the strength of TEN Grinches! Plus two.

Last Sunday, I launched a contest to help promote my entry in the MeeGenius Children’s Author Challenge.  Everyone who entered promoted their hearts out all week.  What’s more, MANY people who did not enter the contest did the same.  What meant the most to me, even more than the votes and promotion assistance, were the comments of support and encouragement I got from people about both the story and my promotion efforts.  At the end of the day, I wanted people to help because they loved the story as much as I did, and I was so heartened by all the feedback I got from you.  I can honestly say that whether I make the final round or not, this has been a tremendous experience.

As I said in my Gratitude Sunday post yesterday, at one point during the week I felt I would explode with gratitude.  In that moment, I decided there would be no “winners” of my contest because everyone would be a winner.  That’s right! Prizes for ALL who participated. After so many people did so much for me, I would have felt stingy and Grinch-like drawing only a few winners from those who entered.

I can still only provide one iPod Shuffle, 2 IndieBound gift cards and 3 picture books, BUT the other prizes will be unlimited, so the pool of entrants vying for the others will be much smaller – hence, a greater chance of winning.

So here’s how this will work.  First, you must have left a comment on my contest post, as that was how I was tracking official entrants (Erik at This Kid Reviews Books, you are the exception because you left a comment about the contest on one of my blog tour posts, so I put you down).  Provided you were officially entered, you simply need to leave a comment letting me know which prize you want.  If you want one of the tangible items, please list your first, second and third choices.  Here is what is available:

  • List of 100+ children’s book agents (the Big Kahuna) = Unlimited (You want it, it’s yours)
  • Critique of a full PB manuscript or first 10 pages of any other genre = Unlimited (You want it, it’s yours)
  • iPod shuffle = 1 available (If more than one  person elects this as a first choice, I will draw a winner from among them)
  • $25 IndieBound gift certificates = 2 available (Same as above)
  • One picture book of your choice = 3 available (Same as above)

In your comment, please state the prize you want and your email address so I can contact you offline about details.  Please note: the agent list will be delivered by December 31st.  I just want to go through it one more time to clean it up and make sure it’s updated.  It is all publicly available information, but things change quickly in the industry, so I’ll double-check the data.  Writing critiques will be turned around by January 15th.  All other prizes will be ordered and shipped this week.

THANK YOU again to everyone, those entered in the contest and those not. I truly appreciate you all!

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