A Winner for the Totally Awesome Teacher/Reader Guide Service! and 3 Tips for Online Give-aways

A super congratulations to Erin Hagar who won the Totally Awesome Teacher/Reader Guide. I happened to know that in addition to being a wonderful writer, Erin is also a wonderful educator. I look forward to working with her on a Guide to meet her needs!

Now…

THREE TIPS FOR RUNNING AN ONLINE GIVE-AWAY (or do what I say, not what I did.)

1. Tease.

By the time I unveiled my teacher/reader guide contest on February 7th, I had been thinking about it for weeks months. I had already worked diligently on a guide for Melanie Crowder’s, PARCHED so I’d have an example guide. I had developed the content for the information page and the downloadable PDF. I had researched Rafflecopter. Really, I had spent many hours on the project. Here’s the thing… no one else knew that I was spending hours on the project. I never dropped any clues or hints. Unless you have an amazing following, you need to get the support of those who already do. Ask them to drop teasers for you in the days leading up to the contest. Use your own social media to hype the contest and its benefits to possible entrants. Send an email to your most influential friends (research their following) asking them to use their social media as well.  Guest post on other well-known blogs to promote the contest and what you are giving away. That way, when you unveil the contest, people will be waiting for it… nay, chomping at the bit to enter.

2. Have well-defined and simple goals for the contest.

I knew my goals for the contest. I wanted people to learn about my new Teacher/Reader Guide service that is perfect for busy authors/illustrators who want focus on their creative work and leave the marketing and peripheral writing to another professional. I wanted to boost my Twitter following. I wanted to boost my blog following. In hindsight, this was too much for a mid-list blog contest. My most important goal was to inform people about the new service. I should have designed the contest with this focus. Ideally people would have shared the blog post with others and gotten something for themselves. If they commented with the link to their own social media post, it would have potentially boosted their traffic as well.

3. Make it easy for people to enter.

I’d seen Rafflecopter work really well on other blogs and was excited to use it. Here’s the thing. WordPress.com doesn’t support the Rafflecopter widget. That meant that in order to enter, people had to follow a link away from my blog post and then come back. IT IS RARE THAT PEOPLE WILL CLICK BACK.  If I’d had simpler goals, I wouldn’t have needed Rafflecopter at all. I’d rather have a single entry from many rather than multiple entries from the same person. A simpler procedure would have increased entries.

I hope this is helpful to others who are considering a contest. Tell me what you think below!

Illustrator Hints from Publisher Dean Lunt of Islandport Press

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of Dean Lunt’s company. Dean is the Publisher of Islandport Press which publishes titles for Children and Young Adults such as:

   

Dean and I had a great conversation about the ever-changing publishing industry, book marketing in general, and personal marketing for illustrators specifically.

Dean says that a marketing postcard from a job seeking illustrator every six months is the most useful tool for the publisher. To make your marketing postcard effective it needs to meet the following criteria:

  1. Feature a fresh new image each time you send a publisher a marketing postcard.
  2. Include your contact information on the postcard.
  3. Include the link to your online portfolio.
  4. Categorize your online portfolio by media, type, or subject (eg: collage v. pen and ink, color v. black & white, children’s v. editorial) for ease of navigation.
  5. Update your website. The “News” section should have recent, relevant info. Images should be fresh.
  6. Size pictures for quick viewing.  A lower resolution makes for smaller file sizes and 72 DPI is all that is needed to look good on a computer screen.

If you get the call and sign on to a project, be aware that one doesn’t stop being a children’s book illustrator when the artwork is delivered. Dean is always looking for illustrators who have the energy for school visits, signing, and other marketing events.

Interested in submitting to Islandport Press? Here are the guidelines. View the brand new Islandport Press YouTube Channel!

Member Monday: Getting the most from Social Media

This weekend I had lunch with some wonderful, experienced NESCBWI writers and illustrators who are, like many in the industry, a little overwhelmed and perplexed by social media. They wonder if they have to do everything– Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Goodreads… They want to know how they are supposed to have time to still do their work if they are busy posting status updates and being cyber-social with everyone on their list. They want to know what their ROI (Return on Investment) will be once they take the time to learn and then use social media platforms.

I’m not a social media expert but here’s what I’ve gleaned from listening to editors, agents, and other writers/illustrators about the subject:

  1. If you don’t like it, don’t do it.
    Social media is at its cyber-heart– social. Whatever platform you adopt should be one that you enjoy and that you will do regularly. If you don’t want to put the time into blogging– don’t blog.  If you don’t enjoy perusing Facebook updates or following others on Twitter, your friends and followers will know. Take some time to be familiar with the various sites out there and make an informed decision. This is one of my favorite explanations:

    Social Media Explained From Geek.com
  2. Once you decide on a social media site, take the time to learn about it. Watch a few tutorial videos, read a few blogs so that you can maximize the time you waste put into it in the future. Most of these sites have ways to make groups so that you can view your close friends, your writer/illustrator friends, and industry professionals separately. Learn how to search for keywords that are important to what you do. There are a bunch of “Third-Party Applications” that you can use to follow more than one social media site at a time. I’m currently using one called Tweetdeck but I hear that Hootsuite is good too. I’ve included a few links here to other blogs that review/discuss these and more. This one has an interesting graph that shows the variety of apps out there: THIRD-PARTY TWITTER APPS STILL THRIVING This one is a review post: 8 of the Best Third-Party Twitter Apps for iOS [App List]
  3. What goes around, comes around. Even if you are doing this to expand your marketing platform, no one will follow/friend you if all you do is toot your own horn. Pass on industry info, help launch other people– in general, be a good neighbor in the kidlitosphere. No one really knows what the ROI is. Does social media really sell books? Maybe not. One thing marketing professionals agree on is that word of mouth is very powerful. I can tell you that if I follow a link to your book and I’m interested, it goes on my Goodreads list which I pull up on my phone every time I go to the library or  bookstore. That’s social media in action.
  4. Set some limits for yourself. You can set time limits. (ex: I will look at Twitter for 15 minutes three times a day.) Or day limits. (ex: I will make Monday and Friday mornings my marketing time.) Or carrot limits. (ex: If I write 1500 words today/ finish the color study on this spread, I will go online.) If you don’t have this kind of self-control, there are productivity programs that you can set to block your own internet. Freedom. Or you can literally unplug your router. Remember, if you don’t DO THE WORK: write, read, draw, paint, focus on craft– there will be nothing to market.
  5. The party goes on without you. I distinctly remember when my parents would have parties (I was about five years old) and I wouldn’t really want to go to bed. I’d sit on the stairs and watch them talk until I got so tired I’d fall asleep on the landing. At some point, Dad would take me up to my bed, but the party went on. In the social media party, you will always miss something. Make your peace with it. Look at whatever is on your screen at the time, set your limits and then move on with your life. Cyber space is vast. Don’t fall into a black hole.


Member Monday: Google Me, Baby

Come on, you know you want to….
Everyone is doing it…

Google yourself.

If you haven’t taken the time to type your name (in all its forms including any screen names you use on bulletin boards and listserves) into the massive internet search engine Google, then you are missing a chance to control your brand as an author. Take a look at the web search. Ideally you want your name to result in a top hit for your professional blog, website, twitter, etc. If it isn’t you, you may want to consider adding a middle initial or name or re-titling your blog to something catchy and memorable. Remember to Google those too before you make the change. You want to stand out, be true to the brand you want to project (in tone and content), and be easy to find.

If your web presence is there but below the fold, there are a few things you can do to optimize your place on a search engine but they all take work. By the way, this is called SEO or Search Engine Optimization.

  1. Update content often. Make it well-written and relevant.
  2. Inbound links. When others link to your content or put you on their “blog rolls” that drives traffic to your page, which optimizes the search.
  3. Use key words. Tag your blog posts. Be consistent.

If unprofessional images come up in your image search, click on them to see where they are posted. If it is on your own social media pages, check and tighten your privacy settings and tighten your self-control. Never post what you wouldn’t want on the front page of the New York Times. Contact others and ask them to remove images from their site– especially if you didn’t give them permission to post in the first place.

There are companies that help people with their online reputation, but I have no experience with these. If anyone does, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

FMI check out these resources:

Google article about online identity.

Info about Google dashboard app: Me on the web.

Mashable article: Five ways to clean up your social media identity.

Have a great week, and happy writing & illustrating!

Member Monday: Quick Links Version

Good morning friends!

I’m on a final push with my WIP so I’m keeping today short, and informative with links to other important stuff.

1. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the upcoming call for proposals for the 2013 NESCBWI Annual Conference and gave some tips here. The actual CFP document is now released and can be found here.

2. If you are a PAL member and have a book launch or release coming up, take a look at the SCBWI Book Launch Award Winners. With the award, fellow SCBWI members Hilary Graham and Sherry Shahan were free to explore creative marketing ideas to help their new books succeed. Need money to help with your launch, take a look at the requirements here.

3. Nominations are now being accepted for the SCBWI/ Jane Yolen Mid-list Author Awards. Any current SCBWI member can nominate another current member who has published at least two PAL books but has not sold anything for at least two years.

4. Are you going to SCBWI LA this year? (I’m not because I’ll be in Florence, Italy researching a book  seeing my husband!) I LOVED when I went in the past though. It is laid back in a California way that New York is not. It is warm. There is a pool. There is dancing. And there are great and helpful workshops. FMI here.

Procrastination

Hello. I should totally be writing as I had an extremely successful writing day on Tuesday and this is my other big chunk ‘o time day. But as usual, interesting cyber stuff keeps creeping into my time. (Often thanks to the NESCBWI listserve.) Today it is Mitali Perkins and her amazingly original marketing/political blog written by her fictional main character, Sparrow, who is reporting from a teen’s point of view on the 2008 elections. I am a constant supporter of anyway we can enfranchise young people. Register and Rock the Vote! Go Mitali.

Cyber interruptions, beautiful sunny Maine day… I will get chapter three written. I will, I will.