Where Unagented Writers Can Directly Submit Picture Books
(and other kidlit manuscripts…but mainly PB focused)
I’ve authored 16 books without an agent. I’m now actively pursuing one, given the tighter and more competitive climate, but am still pitching solo. It’s not impossible, and I know many other kidlit authors/illustrators that are staying commando. Wait, I mean rogue. Agentless? You know what I mean.
But as I get ready to submit my next round of picture books, I see more and more publishers that USED to be open to submissions are either closed and now agent only, are at capacity and temporarily closed until further notice, or sadly have shuttered down completely. Some have been bought out by larger houses so their policies have changed, some are simply catching up from 2020 and are temporarily overwhelmed.
What that means to me is that aaalll those great lists of picture book publishers I’ve bookmarked and found sooo helpful are now outdated, and a bit frustrating since I have to re-research every link.
Since I’ve been living this research for the past six months, I’m sharing with you all the current info on open publishing houses that I have garnered, so you’re not pulling out as much hair as I have (and perhaps spewing fewer bad words). I’ve spent hours/days/weeks on this list, and I hope you find it as helpful a resource as I do. I refer to it constantly. You’ll notice many are small presses–but by no means lesser. (It makes sense, right? Larger houses are more well-known so more people submit to them, almost forcing them to go agent only. There are only so many hours in a day to open pitch emails.)
I found over 60–strike that–now over 75–open presses, listed below. I tried to include a little detail on each, to avoid you getting excited and clicking the link only to find out they don’t want what you’re having. And okay, sure, maybe the detail is there to remind ME all that stuff so I’m not re-clicking every two days…
I’ve only included mainstream traditional houses, mainly based in the U.S., with the thought they offer the greatest chance of acceptance. Niche such as those accept only stories about folklore or agriculture, specific religion or culture, for example, I haven’t included, since you’ll want/need to do your own targeted research on those. (If it was specific-ish yet still wider sweeping, like “science and math” or “the general Southern region” I kept it, since there are plenty of ways that can go.) Any press that felt too small, such as 1-2 book titles a year or only have a handful of books total, or felt too focused on one author/illo, or hasn’t posted a new release in the past few years, or hasn’t recently updated their website, I didn’t include, as I figured odds were suuuper low there. I purposely did not include any hybrid publishers as that’s a whole other kettle o’ fish.
I decided to add a section at the bottom for houses that are open have a specific open window each year; keep your eye on social media for those kinds of opps and by all means let me know if you hear of any.
Please know it is not 100% comprehensive, it’s just my personal research. It’s not a slight to any house not listed; it’s simply ROI/math as I know how hard it is to put yourself out there and I want to give us the best odds. But on the plus side, I found and included some presses that are BRAND NEW, and several that are not found in anyone else’s list.
Every writer has a goal, whether it’s yearly, monthly, or “someday.” Goals are used as motivation to get stuff done. Resolutions are made, typically with broad intent.
A goal might be to get on the best seller list.
It might be smaller, like come up with x number of viable book ideas (challenges like Storystorm encourage picture book writers to come up with a 30 new ideas in 30 days).
Or get an agent, find a critique group, nab a pitch party.
Or, finish that darn book (NaNoWriMo is famous for encouraging writers to complete a novel in 30 days).
The problem with those kinds of goals, is that the skills needed to accomplish them are glossed over. Nowhere in the goal setting does it account for HOW it will get done.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on the skills you need to accomplish your goals, instead of the goals themselves?
As performance coach Derek Schenck puts it, “The Good focus on a goal; the Great focus on a skill.”
Maybe, instead of having a goal to finish your book, you can focus on the skill of, say, self discipline. The skill you choose to focus on for the year or month could be limiting social media to x numbers of hours a day/week, or once in the morning after you’ve checked email, and once in the afternoon after lunch. Maybe the skill to focus on is saying no to interruptions, and reminding yourself you are worth alone time. Those skills free up time for you to write…which will help you finish your book.
Maybe, instead of the goal of finding a critique group, your focused skill could be on better communication and social interactions with fellow writers. You could focus on being the best type crit partner one could have–like having tact, kindness, offering direction/suggestions without rewriting, and knowing when to shush. Practice your people skills (introverts prefer online groups for this very reason–avoiding in person convos. But it needs to happen, and practice makes perfect–or at least better). Find ways to interact with people without expecting a return or gain. The better you get, the more you’ll view yourself as a valuable crit partner, and the more confident you’ll be in seeking others out. Get real good and a critique group might even come find you!
Instead of a goal of finding an agent, how about you (re)focus on your writing skills, getting them so fine and tight and absolutely irresistible that no agent could possibly say no? Same goes for getting a best seller. Sure, some of that might be luck and marketing–but it’s nothing without beautiful writing. Quality writing is something you can control. Fame is not.
Wanna nab a pitch party? Focus on research — what EXACTLY is being asked, how can I meet that, who are past winners, how did they format their pitch, who can I bounce revisions off of until I’m ready?
To paraphrase the hilarious Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, to master the skills needed to reach your goals, the question isn’t so much “Who do you want to be?” so much as it’s “What are you doing to make it happen?”
His blunt questions are: What are you improving at? What are you learning and gaining? Instead of thinking about what you want to achieve…ask yourself, “What do I want to be good at that I’m not?” Then he challenges you to get working on it.
Goals are easy to formulate. But when you achieve them, you need new goals. When you don’t achieve them, you feel disappointed if not disillusioned. Repeat ad nauseum. You’re never done; you never close the loop.
Taking advantage of all that time at home….Resources to get started writing that children’s book of yours
I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned I’m a children’s book author without the reply being, “Oh I’ve always wanted to do that.” (Well either that or the implications about how easy it must be but let’s save that for another time, shall we?) What better time to sit down and write that book you’ve been thinking about than in the age of quarantine? I mean, what better excuse do you have to tell your kids to get out of your room, you’re writing?
There’s an uptick in novel writing right now. Which means soon (if not already, according to The Guardian) there will be an uptick in submissions. Which means you need to make sure your work stands out from the crowd. Which means you gotta do your best work. Which means, if you’re just getting started, you need to get started on the right foot.
I’m here to help.
You’re going to need some assistance, even if you’re pretty sure you don’t.
Writing children’s books isn’t as easy as you think.
For example, most writers assume an editor reads the manuscript and decides from the email if they’ll want to publish it, replying by saying they’ll be sending out a contract. Ah, yeah, no. Here’s a peak into the lengthy acquisition process from one publisher, First Second Books (spoiler alert: they have nine steps, meetings, dozens of people and lots of math before any final decisions are made). And that’s just whether or not to send a contract. Even more people get involved after that.
Another probable assumption is timing. It takes longer to get the book in a bookstore than you think. Way longer. About 2-5 years for a picture book to hit the shelves, not including how long it took you to write it–which, if it’s good, might take many months, or years. [I know an author whose publisher waited for a particular artist to be available and it took SIX YEARS to get published from the time she got her contract. An exception, but still.] Maybe two years for a teen YA (young adult) to get to market, according to agent Steve Laube. In this stay-at-home environment that may slow down things even more, since no one’s at the ol’ printing press to make it. Or bookstore to buy it. Or school to read it. So sit down Sally, there’s no rushing here. You might as well take the time to write the best possible work you can.
Just about every picture book writer assumes they need to submit illustrations or photos. I thought I did, when I first started. But you don’t! Do NOT ask your neighbor or friend to create sample artwork for it. It’s not only not needed, it’s not wanted. Send only the words if you’re a writer, and only samples of artwork if you’re an illustrator. If you do both really well, though, it’s okay to send in a mock up.
I could go on and on with random facts. I want to focus back on helping you kick off your manuscript.
The good news is there are hundreds of tools literally at your fingertips to help you set started. The bad news is that there are hundreds of tools literally at your fingertips to help you set started.
Why a mixed bag? Everyone and their brother has started a school or class or webinar on how to get published. And it’s their business, how they put food on the table. I’m not saying a for-profit group or people aren’t helpful! Is Magnolia Bakery‘s icebox cake not the best d*mn cake in the world because they sell it instead of giving it away for free? Of course not. It’s a business and they are experts. The very reason they do it for a living is what makes them the best (shout out to Malcolm Gladwell’s Outlier’s principle). But people online may not be the experts they appear to be…so be careful, and choosy, my friends.
The only way to get traditionally published is to have great material that’s sent to the right person or place (and now,”at the right time” might be more important than ever. Who knows?). So let’s get crackin’ with some things to consider as you get started.
Make sure any resources you pay for, or heed, are experts too. For example, one YA best-seller doesn’t make them an expert on the industry per se, but it does show they know how to write a great book for teens. They might not be your best bet for picture book advice. And their path to success isn’t necessarily the right formula for you (it’s certainly not the only way) so don’t try it copy it. Almost all authors will recognize this and dole out assistance accordingly. We’re a good lot. But these are the kinds of questions you want to be considering when you look at “Get Published in Five Days! We show you how!” kinds of pitches. Who are the sellers of this information? Are they out to help you–or help themselves?
There are lots of things to consider. If they are offering marketing advice, for example, ask about their own sales numbers and how active a role they personally played in their own book sales–was it based on their idea or the publisher’s? If they offer a course on writing, are they themselves published in the exact genre or age range they are talking about?
Don’t pay for a program or e-book because it’s ON SALE NOW, OFFER EXPIRES AT MIDNIGHT; pay for it because it’s a resource crafted by an expert you can’t find elsewhere that will help you move forward. You didn’t save $100 on $119 download on sale for $19 if you never use it. You lost $19. Think carefully about whether you’ll put it good use.
I’m not saying everyone is out to get you. There are so many great people out there that truly do want to, and can, and will help you. That’s what makes this industry so great. I hope I didn’t scare you away. The number of GREAT sites & resources waaaay outweigh the ones to be wary of. So don’t shut down that laptop yet. You’ve been thinking about this book way too long to give up before you started.
This home-bound time is almost a gift to you to start writing that dang book, so let’s get to resources. We’re gonna start at the very beginning (which is, after all, a very good place to start). Try looking at nonprofits and author websites first, you’ll be amazed at what’s available for free when you google the right “how to” phrase.
A “how to write picture books” search might bring you here (weird that it’s my own video, right?):
Here are a few other resources to look into when you’re getting your feet wet. These are for the true kidlit beginner writer that has just sharpened their pencil and isn’t sure what to do next.
I can’t possibly list every great beginner resource, but this is a start…for your start:
Kidlit411 offers manuscript swaps, writing challenges, all kinds of how-to writing resources from picture book to chapter book to middle grade and YA, giveaways, articles, blogs, and more–all free! (donations accepted) With soooo much content it can be a bit overwhelming so maybe check this after you have your first draft.
scbwi.org offers current listings of editors and agents along with contact information, monthly news, awards and grants, a great community of writers and illustrators that probably live in your immediate area no matter where you are, free or $10-$25 webinars and more (membership required for most resources)
Writers Digest (not as much kidlit stuff but solid writing help, they also offer classes and crits for pay)
There are of course a ton of other general writing resources not dedicated to children’s books. Good writing is good writing but I suggest you center your efforts on kidlit resources as our needs/requirements (such as word count) and formats are slightly different. If you’re not up to snuff on the right way to submit, you’ll be placing yourself at an immediate disadvantage. After all your hard work you don’t want to do that.
If you’ve got other great (free or free-ish) beginner resources to suggest, lemme know!
What to Include in Your Presentation (and how to best include it)
If you’ve read my post on Presentation Skills, you may recall that people care more about how someone talks to you more than what they say (a UCLA study shows an audience judges 93% of a presentation on the speaker’s nonverbals–the how of your presentation). If that just made you clench, go back and reread that post to set your mind at ease. Even the most introverted of introverts can still successfully present, and I show you how.
If you have a presentation coming up and are ready to start tackling content (the what of your talk), I’ve got some kick-butt tips for you. Obviously I can’t tell you what facts to include or graphics to omit because I have no idea what topic you’re speaking about. But there are certain things all effective presentations have, and I’ll list what I think are most important–especially in the writer’s world.
I’m mostly imagining you at a writers conference or an author/ school visit. But these tips fit almost every scenario.
I’m assuming–nay, begging–you have an actual presentation ala PowerPoint or Canvas vs speaking from notes the whole time. You’re cute and all but no one wants to stare at your mug the whole time. (And c’mon introverts, do you really want people staring at nothing but you the entire time?)
Hmm, maybe you want to read this what part first, before you focus on that how. Your call.
The Classic Format:
I’m sure everyone has heard the standard old format “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.” Well honestly, it still works. It’s actually kind of magical. So I’m not going to spend time explaining that. Just know you don’t have to repeat yourself word for word or be formal about how exactly you outline, explain, and recap. It’s the best method to use, IMHO, so stick with it.
The Before You Start Part; Speaking Their Language:
You need to know your audience and cater the presentation to them, at their level. (Or should I say at the level they are, regardless of where you’d like them to be.) You wouldn’t create a presentation to teachers the same way you’d present to second graders. Choose graphics, words, phrases, and examples that speak their language. Think about how they will best respond to what you’re saying, and what techniques you think they are most likely to pay attention to (and therefore learn from).
The Before You Start Part; Thinking Visually:
Try to think visually. Where can you add a graphic, a photo, a colorful pie chart, do it. Audio clips, video clips.
Think even more visually. Add show & tell items that you hold up or point to behind you. Any sort of prop. Books, stuffed animals, art work, flip charts.
What if there was a part where you stopped and wrote on a whiteboard? What if you started drawing on it? Doing math?
Can you introduce someone in the audience and have them stand up to wave hello?
One note of caution: as mentioned in the Presentation Skills post I keep talking about, don’t pass anything around while you’re speaking. If people are looking at something in their hands, or distracted by the rumble of it getting passed around, it means they aren’t listening to you. Hold it up, then keep it up front and wait until you’re done to let people manhandle it. (And know it might get dirty, broken or stolen.)
Getting Down to Business; The Outline/Preview Part (Tell them what you’re gonna tell them):
It’s great to start out with a bang. A funny story, anecdote, fact. No need to stress over this, though, especially if you’re not funny or if humor doesn’t some easily for you. Many people default to a quote that summarizes the overall topic or feeling of the workshop. Simply google your topic and “quote” or “fact” (“bee facts” “quotes about bees”) and something useful is bound to come up. See “The Now-That-It’s-Written Part; Your Live Intro,” towards the bottom for more details on how to kick things off; it includes how to start your intro as well as what else to include.
Getting Down to Business; The Meat (Tell them)
For every point you make, back it up with examples and data. You don’t need to have first-hand knowledge of everything. But it should all be factual.
Have smooth transitions from one point to the next. Make it clear it’s a new section.
Along the way, ask questions! People like knowing you care about their feelings or opinions. Have people raise their hands by saying “Show of hands [then raise your own hand], how many people have…?” It keeps things interactive (and keeps people on their toes if they know they might be put on the spot. But don’t put any one person on the spot, keep it a group Q). Questions that people can answer YES to are great because it gets buy-in and keeps them invested in what’s going on.
Getting Down to Business; The Recap (Tell them what you’ve told them)
Remind them of all the main points you talked about, and bring at all home with a grand conclusion. “Now you know how to best prepare for your next presentation.”
Leave them with a Call to Action. “I want everyone here today to give themselves a deadline to when they can start practicing their next presentation. I’ll give you 30 seconds to write it down.”
The Conclusion Part
End with a bang. Another great place to have a quote, inspirational story, or joke. At a minimum, leave with a fun-but-relevant graphic on the screen that in large font includes your contact info, where you might be presenting in the near future, book titles/product info, and website. Keep it up until you walk out of the room.
“Thank you for letting me be here today. I hope you learned more than you ever expected about presentations. My name is Bitsy Kemper. Thank you.” (Ideally there will be applause or at least some head nods.)
The After Part; Q&A
Yes, you should leave time for Q&A. Spend some time trying to predict what kinds of questions you’ll get so you can either a) go back and include that content in the presentation, or b) have answers ready so you’re not caught off guard.
You’ll still have people raising their hands afterwards, even if you don’t officially include a Q& section. You are the content expert and people will understandably want to pick your brain. Yeah, sure, there might be a few chomping at the bit to prove they know more than you, but keep your cool. Control the room.
If questions were asked during the presentation that you are going to cover, do no answer the question. State “We will answer that in about two minutes.” Then move on.
If questions were asked that you don’t cover, don’t answer them right then either. You are in control, remember. “I don’t cover that here, but let me write that down and we can go over it in Q&A after the talk.” Use a flipchart or whiteboard if avail so they know you are taking it seriously.
Question that came out of left field? “That’s a great question but a little off topic for what we’re learning today. I can talk to you after for a little bit.” That’s it. Move right on to next slide, Q, or point.
If someone challenges you or picks apart your facts/presentation, be gracious. They just want attention. You typically don’t have to challenge them back. “Thank you for your feedback. [pause] Anyone else with questions?” seems to be very effective. That lets them know they’ve been heard.
Have I mentioned “Control the room” enough? It’s your show. Not theirs. You have the mic. You get the last word. Just make sure it’s a kind one.
The Now-That-It’s-Written Part; Your Live Intro:
Kick off your talk by pandering to the audience. It works Every. Time. You know how rock stars shout out “Hello Sacramento!” and the local crowd goes wild? The crowd feels seen. Special. As if this concert is only for them and hasn’t been done exactly like this on tour all 147 times earlier this past year. Do the same thing. Unless you’re not in Sacramento. Start with “Hello, Cherry Avenue Second Grade!” or “Good morning, writers and illustrators!” They will know you are there–for them and only them.
Next, slowly and carefully state your name (don’t assume everyone knows you!) as well as the name of the session/workshop/talk or topic. “I’m Bitsy Kemper and this is Presentation Skills Part II: Content.” This allows an early and fast exit to anyone that is in the wrong room.
Start your slide presentation after you say your name and after the title of the talk. Don’t have it up before you talk, or the second you start talking. You want people to get used to focusing in on YOU, not watching the screen.
Give a sentence or two on why YOU are the content expert and why you are uniquely qualified to be giving this presentation. Toss in a fun fact if you’d like. “I’ve been presenting professionally for years. You may have seen me on CNN or on one of my regular TV news segments in Sacramento, Portland, Phoenix, or Albuquerque, heard me on national radio, read my syndicated newspaper column, or seen me in any of literally hundreds of media outlets across the country. Maybe you’ve driven by me on the freeway and didn’t even know it!”
Dive right in with “Today you are going to learn…” (see the important reason why you don’t lead with “Today I am going to talk about…” in DON’T #1 here)
The Now-That-It’s-Written Part; Handouts
PEOPLE LOVE HANDOUTS. Please do yourself a favor and create something, anything. The audience will not only love you extra for it, but they’ve got a tangible piece of you they can take with them. It’s the best marketing tool!
As with visuals, don’t pass them out while or even before you’re talking. It’s a distraction; people look ahead or read instead of listen. Let them know you have handouts and will be distributing afterward. It helps ensure people stay until the end 🙂
Don’t include proprietary info or anything that would prevent someone from coming to your session next time. Give them just enough to remember what you were saying and how great you were; not the whole presentation.
Make SURE you have enough for everybody. This is ESPECIALLY important at schools. Don’t give away 60 bookmarks and leave 42 kids without. If you realize you’re shorthanded, don’t sweat it. Mail 102 to the school afterward. This goes for anything when it comes to kids: HAVE ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE. I learned the hard way. After a school visit a kid asked me for my autograph. I said sure, and grabbed the one piece of letterhead I had handy. Big mistake. Another kid came running over. “Can I have your autograph?” I didn’t have any other paper. I tore off a piece of scrap paper from my school-visit contract, the only other paper I had. The first kid gloated. A third kid came running over. I tore a scrap of paper even smaller. Fourth kid. No paper left. I asked if he had any paper or notebook that I could sign. He did not. First kid gloating even more. Kids that were dismissed from the assembly started running back in and lining up. I had no paper. At all. Kids wanted autographs. “It’s not fair so-and-so got one.” The teacher Was. Not. Pleased. Lesson learned.
I promised you kick-butt tips on creating the content of your presentation and hope I delivered.
Let me know if you learned anything. If you use them. If you have other tips.
Now stop reading and start preparing. You’ve got lots to do. And you’re gonna do great.
Last post we defined Author Platforms. So tell me, what is an Author Platform, do you remember? It’s how you show your unique qualities that “brand” you as a writer or artist…with the ultimate goal of leading to book sales. It’s a long term goal, not a RIGHT NOW CLICK HERE goal. No one likes the CLICK HERE RIGHT NOW guy, amiright?
Social media is one of the main ways you create your brand. Since most of your readers will never meet you in person, it’s how most of your readers get to know you. This post is gonna look at ways to maximize social media so you can give yourself the best platform. We’ll talk through some real examples, screenshotted below.
General social media tips to support your Author Platform:
Be you, all the time.
Have fun! Every tweet/post doesn’t have to have something to do with writing or illustrating, but each one should still reflect who you are and what you stand for. Remember the part about the real you needing to shine through?
Sorry to say this, but people are people. And by that, I mean selfish. I’m not judging. It’s fact. We are always asking ourselves WIIFM? As in, What’s In It For Me? No one has time, and we make decisions in a snap. You need to do whatever you can to convince me, quickly, that what you have to say will benefit me. And then come through. So don’t just tell me your book trailer is finished and give me a link. Tell me what the trailer is about, what I’ll see, why it’s worth watching. I need to know WIIFM or I’m not going to click. Even if I like you. I just don’t have time.
Other people are selfish–but you need to be giving. Stop talking about how great your product is. Let us figure that out on our own. Your book really should be able to speak for itself…or at least let others do the talking. A tweet like”Another great review, my work is profiled yet again! Click to see the latest url.2937y5/iji…” gives me no incentive to click. It’s blatant bragging. But what about “What an honor to be included in this roundup, check out the other Best 2016 Reads by Buzzfeed at url.8724r34r/…” or “Thanks for the kind review, Donna, it was nice being your guest blogger this month. I bet no one can guess how many puppies were harmed in the making of that video! [link to Donna’s website].” Do you see the difference? One is “Look at me!!” Another–the preferred method–is “There’s something in this for you, have a look.” You want to be of service. Your book or link or review just happens to be one way to help. [See #6, below.] Continue reading →
Quick quiz: You’re told you need to work on your “Author Platform.” You:
A. Smile politely, then go back to searching online for cute cat outfits
B. Nod, smile, then furiously Google “author platform” hoping you’re not the last to know what the heck that is
C. Think “Oh, yeah it really is time I update and interact with my social media” [Facebook, Twitter, Insta, blog and/or website], then dig right in
D. B or C but definitely not A (unless it was a really good sale)
Correct answer: D
What is an Author Platform? And why do you need to care?
Let’s break it down. Author. Platform. It’s like a compound word. (Author Platforms or Writer Platforms, no matter what you call it, are the same thing, don’t get hung up on author vs writer. For the sake of ease, we’ll use the terms synonymously here. I’m also capitalizing the words here for effect, which is unnecessary elsewhere.) What does the phrase mean?
As defined, a writer or an author is someone who has written something. A platform is a raised surface, something you’d stand onfor better visibility. Like a stage. Put the words together and you’ve got an image of a writer standing on a, well, platform, a little taller than everyone around them. They stand out; you can spot them in a crowd.
That’s the writer you want to be.
You want to be the writer/author that people can find easily or can recognize…the one that stands out. And you’ll need a platform on order to do it.
“Author Platform: your visibility as an author, utilizing your personal ability to sell books through who you are, the connections you have, and the media outlets you use.” –Writer’s Digest
I think of the term as a less-commercial way of saying “author branding.” It means how you present yourself to the public, and how you are seen/viewed by readers, agents, editors, fellow writers/artists and anyone else paying attention. It’s a way of showing your unique qualities that “brand” you as a person, as a writer, or artist…with the ultimate goal of leading to book sales.
Don’t confuse it with image. Image implies something perceived. You’ll be putting the real, flawed you out there, just like you do for your main characters. An Author Platform should be based on truth. You’re not an actor hiring a publicity agent to get media attention. You’re you, showing who you are, with the ultimate goal that the likable you is worthy of following or noting or reading or acknowledging, and it will at some point lead to book sales. Isn’t that why school visits, book signings, special promotions, launch parties and all that exist: to sell books? Well you’re the in-person version of that, the walking billboard, the neon sign, the ever-friendly smile of customer service, open 24/7. Except when you’re asleep. Or driving. Or whatever. You know what I mean.
You are NOT shaking hands and asking people to buy your book all the time, oh no, you’re missing the point if that’s what you just ran off and started doing. No one is going to follow or buy the book from a guy that’s sending pestering Tweets or spamming Facebook posts or always standing up in groups asking people to buy their books after the meeting. Boy is that annoying or what? I hate that guy. What I’m saying is you are your brand. You represent you. So be respectable. Make me like you. Make me WANT to buy your book. If you do it right, you will probably never have to say the words “Buy my book.” I’ll decide I want to on my own.
Note this is a Writer Platform, not a book platform. This is about you, not your book. Why? Because you’re more than one book. If you brand yourself too closely with one title, on the next book you’ll have to do it all over again. That confuses people. They can handle lots of books, but they only want one you. Brand yourself correctly and all your books will easily fall under that one umbrella…you!
Everything you post online becomes a part of your brand. Your Tweets, your FB posts, your blog updates. Your forwards, your shares, your likes. It all shapes the person people see. Those who have never met you can only form an opinion based on what they see. And that’s based on what you do. How you reply to comments. What you post or repost. It’s not always what you say, but how you say it. The way you talk to your friends. The way they talk to you, even. It all paints a picture.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, right? Your bio may be the only time someone decides if they’re going to invest more time or energy into getting to know you, into hiring you, or into trusting you. So you want to put your best foot forward. Make that both feet.
This image was brazenly and randomly stolen off the internet
1. Know Your Audience What is the bio for? A book flap? Conference? Website? School visit? Who is reading it? Make sure your qualifications match the reason you’re there as a speaker, writer, professional. You’re a complicated (yet attractive) beast with many facets. You can’t possibly put everything down every time; nor would you want to. Play up your experience for that circumstance, adapting as needed. If you’ve written a piece on molecular biology, your stint in improv has no place in that bio. Your experience as a second grade teacher might, if the piece was written for grade schoolers. If it’s for college level, though, just mention being a teacher. Do you see what I mean? Highlight what uniquely qualifies you or makes you stand out for that situation. Do your audience the Continue reading →
There are some sneaky things going on in the writing world that you might not find sneaky. But I do. And I’m calling it out.
Writing contests. Mostly the kinds where you send in unpublished works.
It seems everyone and their mother, literally their mother, has some sort of reader’s or writer’s choice award. All you have to do is pay a small fee, say $19 to enter your manuscript or book into the contest. WHY ARE YOU PAYING MONEY TO ENTER A WRITING CONTEST? At least at the state fair you get a free fair pass in exchange for your peach pie entry fee. If it’s for charity, of course, yes yes pony up. But otherwise NO. As in NO.
What do you win? Let’s dissect a bit.
It might be bragging rights that you won a writing contest. That’s OK. It doesn’t have to be a trip to Sweden to accept the award.
Maybe it’s simple a ribbon or actual award/plaque. Fine. Still not a reason to cough up dough. Don’t tell me they are charging you to cover the cost of the actual award. Oh please.
Why would you pay money to say someone liked your unpublished story? Will it help you move forward, professionally, in some way? Really? Don’t fork over cash just to have your ego massaged. Volunteer somewhere if you feel the need for that kind of ego boost. Or I can tell you: You are a good person. You have value. Your writing is great. I think you’ll amount to something someday. Really. I believe in you. Please don’t waste your money.
This was my second blog post at The Picture Book Academy. It talks about what every writer needs to include in their website, and what stuff needs to just stop already (I’m looking at you, splash pages). Lemme know whatcha think!
I am on staff at The Picture Book Academy and write a quasi-monthly marketing blog for writers and illustrators (let’s not get too caught up in timelines, shall we? show some flexibility, it’s bound to get posted eventually). This was my first post, about creating a writer’s (or illustrator’s) platform. It defines what one is. Each following post will take apart an aspect of a platform and explain why it’s necessary. While there are lots of blogs with great writing/marketing advice out there, I’d like to think mine is just as good. Read and see for yourself. If you agree, pls say so. If you disagree, feel free to rant as well. Just don’t take away my chocolate. Well, the milk and white crap you can have, but keep yer mitts off the dark stuff.