How can you help an author? I’m so glad you asked…

Several people have asked me how they can support Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast now that it’s out in the world, so I decided to share this info with everyone. If you have a few spare minutes to do any of the items below, that would be greatly appreciated and hugely beneficial.

*Please note that the following information applies to all authors and all books*

  1. Talk about the book with your indie booksellers. Next time you’re in your local indie, ask if they have the book. If they do, it’ll bring it to their attention. If they don’t, maybe they’ll order it or remember next time they’re ordering.
  2. Request that your library purchase a copy. Many libraries have online request systems. But asking your children’s librarian always works (it’s ok. they won’t bite – unless you run. then maybe they will).
  3. Rate and review the book on Amazon here. The more Amazon ratings a book has, the more it will get recommended to others. And if you have time to write a text review, it helps even more.
  4. Review the book on Goodreads here. Similar to Amazon, the more Goodreads reviews received, the more potential readers it will reach.
  5. Share the book with your friends. Whether in conversations with real friends or sharing online with e-friends, letting people know about the book is a great way to get it on their radar. Next time they’re in the market for a picture book, they’ll already have one in mind!

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I wrote a more in depth post about ways to help authors here if you REALLY have lots of spare time. And THANK YOU for your help and support!

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How to Buy a Picture Book (without Buying a Picture Book)

My first book comes out on Tuesday. Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast. You’re probably tired of hearing about it by now, so lucky for you, I don’t plan on talking about it in this post.

Today it’s how to support picture book authors and illustrators.

One of the best things you can do is buy their book(s).

But what if you’re not in the market for picture books at this time in your life, so the idea of buying one doesn’t really interest you? Maybe it doesn’t fit your budget. Or maybe you have an irrational fear of cute animals and anthropomorphic breakfast foods.
Book Shelf with Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast

Here are ten ways to support picture book authors and illustrators:

  1. Give the book as a gift. You probably know someone who might like it. Give it to her/him. Or donate it to your library.
  2. Request that your local library purchase a copy. This can be done in person or often in an online form.
  3. Reserve and borrow it from the library. Increased circulation of books is noticed by librarians. They are smart people.
  4. Review the book. On goodreads. On Amazon. On bn.com. Text reviews are even more valuable than just star-ratings.
  5. Talk about the book with librarians and booksellers. There are a lot of great books out there. Get this book on their radar.
  6. Talk about the book with friends. Or parents of your child’s friends. Or your child’s teacher. Or strangers on the street.
  7. Share the book on social media. Tweet about it. Blog about it. Post on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, MySpace, etc. about it. Share the cover image. If you see it in the wild, snap a picture and share that. And tag the author or illustrator (or both). We love that!
  8. Share the author or illustrator’s posts on social media. Follow them on social media sites and share with your networks.
  9. Read the book in public. Like at the park. Or in a restaurant. Or the airport.
  10. Make your own fan book trailer. And post to YouTube. If that’s your thing.

Note: I’m not the first to write a post like this. Here are a few other posts which have similar and more detailed info. Please check them out:

Also Note: These ideas can apply to any type of book, not just picture books.

Thanks for reading. And thank you very much for supporting picture book authors and illustrators, however you choose to do so.

Networking Is Half the Battle | via Writers Rumpus

This post originally appeared on Writers Rumpus on March 25th, 2014:

It’s hard to get up the nerve to network. But networking is so incredibly helpful on the road to publication. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to have talent, work hard, and get a little lucky. A publisher probably won’t buy your book simply because you’re good at networking. But a publisher will never buy your book without seeing it.

A lot has happened to me since I last guest-posted here at Writers Rumpus. In the past 5 months, I became represented by a wonderful literary agent and have received offers on 2 picture book manuscripts (I also dropped the pseudonym Papa J Funk). And I’m not going to say my success is because I guest-posted here. Well, actually, I am … a little bit.

Beginning at the 2013 New England SCBWI Conference, I started rubbing elbows with everyone I could. I volunteered. I read a working manuscript at the open mic. I walked up to strangers to introduce myself. I’ll be honest, it was scary at times. But I returned home with a huge collection of business cards (and shared dozens of my own).

Papa J Funk Old Business CardOne strange fellow I met was Rumpus Writer Paul Czajak. Long story short: here I am, guest-blogging … for the 2nd time.

Paul Czajak, Author of Monster & Me Series

That collection of business cards led to an increased digital network on Facebook and Twitter. Those e-friends shared publisher open submission windows, and one even gave a glowing personal recommendation to that splendid literary agent.

Volunteering and hobnobbing helped me find and found new critique groups. Those additional critiques led to improved manuscripts. And that manuscript I read at the open mic? LADY PANCAKE AND SIR FRENCH TOAST is currently scheduled for a September 2015 release from Sterling Children’s.

I can’t tell you how to network. You’ll have to find what works for you. But here are some tips and options:

  • Personal: Get out there.
    • Go to conferences. Go to writing retreats. Go to workshops.
    • Introduce yourself to everyone. Pick a lunch table with people you don’t know. Force yourself to meet new people. Push yourself to get out of your comfort zone a little. Most people (at least in the kidlit world) are usually pretty friendly.
    • Make sure to bring business cards so you can stay in contact.
    • Have an elevator pitch ready.
    • Chuck Sambuchino of Writers’ Digest suggests these five in-person networking tips for writers
  • Virtual: There are virtually (hee hee) an unlimited number of ways to connect with people online. Some say “do them all!” But I find it can be overwhelming with all the choices. I’d personally recommend starting with Twitter and Facebook. Regarding all the others, I’m of the mind that you should only do what you feel comfortable doing.
    • Twitter (at least nowadays) is the forum of choice for many literary agents, publishers, and librarians. I’ve heard countless stories of writers and agents finding each other through twitter.
    • Facebook is a great way to stay in contact with others after those conferences and retreats are over. Via Facebook friends I heard about agents and publishers accepting submissions, awesome workshops to attend, and could even post questions when needing advice.
    • If I had to pick a third, I’d say GoodReads, as it is book related.
    • Other Social Networking: It doesn’t hurt to try Pintrest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Google+, Mammoth, WordPress, or any of the other ones you find out there. But only do what you like. I’ve been told it’s better to very involved in one than not very involved in many.
    • Social Networking specifically for Writers: I don’t participate in any writer-specific social networking other than SCBWI. But there are lots out there. I’ll leave it up to you to google them.

Writers are shy. That’s why we write, rather than act, dance, or ride bulls in rodeos. But talent, hard work, and luck account for only half of the road to publication. The other half, at least in my opinion, is networking.