Pam Halter & Kim Sponaugle Part 2

Pam Halter headshot

Pam Halter has been a children’s book author since 1995. She has published two picture books, Beatrice Loses Her Doll and Beatrice’s New Clothes (Concordia, 2001) . She was selected to attend the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop for Fantasy, May 2010, received Writer of the Year in 2014 at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, and won the Reader’s Choice Award in a short story contest hosted by Realm Makers and Brimstone Fiction in 2015. Pam also is a children’s book freelance editor and the children’s book editor for Fruitbearer Kids. http://www.pamhalter.com

 

Kim Sponaugle head shotKim Sponaugle is a graduate of The Art Institute of Philadelphia and began working for David C. Cook Publishing designing children’s curriculum and products. But she soon found her heart’s vocation in children’s illustration. In 2001, Kim illustrated her first picture book series Beatrice Loses Her Doll and Beatrice’s New Clothes with Concordia Publishing House. In 2007, Kim started Picture Kitchen Studio and has had the pleasure of interacting and working with both traditional publishers and self-published authors. She has illustrated more than 60 picture books is also a children’s book cover designer. http://www.picturekitchenstudio.com

Now, as promised last week we are sharing here our advice for anyone who is considering self-publishing a children’s picture book.

* Make sure you hire a good freelance editor. It’s not easy to write for kids. You have to take a 10,000 word kind of story and tell it in 700-800 words.

* Spend time with kids. You can’t write a story that will hold their attention if you don’t know what they like.

* Read LOTS of current picture books (public libraries are great for this). See what’s out there already. Figure out how you can tell the same old story in a fresh way. Get ideas for fresh and wonderful artwork.

* Spend the money for GREAT illustrations. Pictures are every bit as important as the story for a children’s book. Don’t skimp on them. If you don’t have enough money, wait to publish your story until you do. You won’t regret it.Storytime 3

* Read your story out loud. Have someone read it out loud to you. Picture books are meant to be read out loud. You’ll be amazed at what you hear.

* When you’re sure it’s ready, read it to a group of children. Kids are blatantly honest. My 7-year-old grandson thinks Willoughby is a wimp. Ha! But I’m not upset or worried. I know my story isn’t for every child.

* Writing/illustrating is mostly a solitary activity. Find or form a writers or artists group. There’s nothing like hanging out with creative people to help your writing and illustrating. It’s also good to have others you trust to bounce ideas off.

Willoughby cover - frontRemember that Kim and I are planning to offer mentoring workshops and weekends for picture book authors and illustrators. We’re hoping to start this fall.  Subscribe to my blog or Kim’s blog for updates.

www.pamhalter.com

www.picturekitchenstudio.com

Willoughby and the Terribly Itchy Itch is available through Amazon and at Fruitearer.com

How to Write Short Stories

51tt3quw5zlHow to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career (Kindle Edition) by James Scott Bell. Published by Compendium Press in 2016.

In high school and college I enjoyed reading short stories immensely. I still do. I like taking on projects that I can complete in a short time, and then move on to the next. Maybe that’s why I enjoy short stories and shorter books like YAs and MGs. I’ve always had difficulty getting through great literary works of 500, 600, 800 pages.

So, as a writer I’ve wanted to try writing short stories. One BIG problem, though. I’ve been unable to get a handle on what exactly IS a short story? What is its structure? Other than its length, why is it a short story?

So, I couldn’t resist buying and plunging into James Scott Bell’s short book How to Write Short Stories… Again, I read most of it—the first seven chapters—in one sitting. The last five chapters are famous and successful short stories. I enjoyed reading them. But they also helped cement for me Bell’s definition and explanation in the first seven chapters.

The goal of this book is to “give you a key that will make it easier for you” to successfully write short stories. Bell emphasizes that this will can accomplish two things: 1. Stretch your writing muscles and build endurance (like wind sprints) to improve everything you write. 2. Provide quick sources of small income and get you needed exposure for your longer works.

Bell reviews the history of the short story and discusses some of America’s most famous story-tellers in this genre. He also devotes two chapters to publishing for Kindle readers and maximizing your marketing efforts with short stories.

Bell succinctly gives the distinctives of successful short stories—what separates them from other literature. He discusses length and structure, and that little something that makes short stories pack a wallop. BINGO! That is what I wanted to know.

I highly recommend How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career. I bought my Kindle copy at Amazon. It’s available at other online book providers, too.

Six Steps to Successful Sharing

Many avenues are now available for writers to publish and publicize their books. Some of us choose traditional publishing. Some  choose self-publishinng, co-publishing or a dozen other options. The same might be said for marketing or sharing the books we write. My guest today, Alicia Broaddus, offers us a different take on marketing the works of her imagination. Her approach may be just the thing you (or a writing friend) are searching for. If so, please share Alicia’s post with other writers.

 

Prioritizing your Social Media Platform with Writing and Illustrating a Book –

Six Steps to Successful Sharing  by Alicia Broaddus

Six Steps to Successful Sharing

Penny_Pink_Takes_a_BathWhen Jean asked me to share my approach to marketing my new picture book, Penny Pink Takes a Bath, my first thought was that my purpose is to “share” rather than “market” the book. That subtle difference in wording is basic to my ministry, my approach to writing, and my approach to using social media. My purpose is to create a children’s picture book to share the plan of salvation. Writing, illustrating, publishing, and using social media were simply tools I would use to assist in my ministry.

I attended a number of writing conferences and found editors, agents, and publishers recommended developing a social media platform for marketing a book. And I found authors and illustrators were frustrated with the amount of time that effort took away from completing a book. I realized early on that I could not divide my time between a book and social media. I decided to prioritize and focus on completing a book. After all, I had to have a book in order to share it.

Here are my Six Steps to Successful Sharing:

  1. Pray for God’s specific direction for your book! Every writer has a unique calling. There is no one-size-fits all formula for the process. Gather information for a specific amount of time, and determine what publishing model works for you.
  2. Create a very basic mission statement and static web page about your book and a simple business card. Pray that you won’t be distracted with an elaborate web page or social network before your book is completed.
  3. Focus on completing your book! Pray that God will give you the inspiration, direction, and perseverance you need and get busy on your book!
  4. Build REAL rather than VIRTUAL relationships. Pray God will bring the right people into your life and that you will be a blessing to them. Form friendships with other Christians, not for the purpose of promoting books, but for the purpose of sharing life and ministry.
  5. When your book is complete, focus on your social media platform, website, and distribution. Now that you have something to share, pray God gives you opportunities.
  6. Find REAL ways to share in-person! Pray God will open doors as you seek opportunities to read to church groups, ministries, and relevant community groups.

 

AB_Headshot_400x400Most of Alicia’s career she has been a technical illustrator, technical writer, and graphic designer. But her true passion is writing and illustrating children’s stories. She is originally from a small town, Irvine, Kentucky. She now lives near Charlotte, NC. She spends as much time as possible illustrating and sharing her stories.  

The Way Back – Part 4

PTL!

IMG_4468I’m eager to share with you how the Lord provided for me last week. I mentioned that I’m somewhat isolated because of my recent move. Well, since that post I found the Louisville Christian Writers (or https://www.facebook.com/lcwriters/)  who meet monthly just ten minutes from my home.

Then, a writing friend contacted me on Facebook about a one day conference she’s organizing this spring in – you guessed it, Louisville.

AND, I was invited to join a small critique group of folks who write for children.

Isn’t God good? Amen! Thank you, Lord, for hearing our smallest requests.

Now, to return to step five of my journey.

Step 5-SPEND TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA EVERY DAYphiladelphia-224462_1280.jpg

Do you ever find yourself in the far left lane on an Interstate highway, then suddenly realize you need to be four lanes over in the far right?  You survey the hundreds of cars and truck zooming by and dread grabs you. How are you going to get from here to there?

I feel that way about marketing most of the time. But, I need to get my mind into gear for it. What good is one of my books or articles doing if no one reads it?

These days marketing begins (and sometimes ends) with social media. <sigh>

I admit that I do NOT enjoy maintaining a social media presence. I’m making some progress in that direction, but I keep easing off the clutch too soon and rolling backwards. I believe I resent the time I spend “socializing” instead of researching and writing. I’m trying to look at it from a different perspective.

I am learning to use Buffer.com to make better use of my time. But, it takes TIME to use Buffer (and such programs) to save time.

I’ve decided to use my writing time one day each week for learning how to use, and maybe enjoy using, social media.

I’m taking advantage of Buffer’s free educational videos to learn how to optimize the time and energy I put into it.

My agent, Cyle Young, is a media/marketing guru. His newsletter Almost An Author is loaded with marketing tips and advice. I’m determined to implement some of his advice.

But it’s kind of like taking cough meds with that horrible Guaifenesin taste. (BTW – the only way I’ve found to neutralize that taste is peppermint.) Time to be a big girl, isn’t it?

This week I’ll watch the Buffer videos. Next week, my goal is to locate and read Cyle’s posts about social media. And, of course, to try to understand what I’m reading!

auto-racing-558089_1280.jpgCan you share any tips you know, or videos you’ve viewed, or online courses you have taken on better use of your time on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and all of those other sites out there? Thanks. I’ll take all the  help I can get!

Okay. It’s time to hit the road.

“Jean, start your engine!”

 

 

Writer’s Market Guides

Writer’s market guides abound! They are very useful when researching periodical and book markets for your manuscripts. Their formats vary, but they all include valuable information–much more than just a list of publishers.

All include helpful indices, information about agents, articles about writing, submitting, publishing, marketing, and more. They include bios and interviews of popular authors and agents, and tips for finding the best markets for your work.

Here are a few Guides on the horizon:

 

At a cost of about $30 per book I can’t possibly afford to buy each of these books each year. And, I don’t need to. I’ve zoned in on a couple that best represent the markets I target.

I find that I can use each Guide for a couple of years because I ALWAYS make a phone call to a publisher to verify that they are still in business, that they are still accepting submissions and that the listed submissions editor is still around before I submit to them.

So, I rotate the Guides and purchase only one each year.

Peruse the collection and select one or two. Please let us know IN THE COMMENTS which Guides you plan to use. Most can be pre-ordered yearly.