Today I’m saying something out loud that I’ve been thinking for awhile–I’m committed to my growth.
One of the many ways I’m honoring this commitment is by spending less time on the internet and attached to my phone. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you, my fabulous cyber friends, but the more I look, listen and learn, the more I realize that the internet isn’t the best place to spend my time. Let’s be honest–a lot of bullsh*t goes on over there–a lot.
So, I’ve decided I’m not committed to my bullsh*t. Instead I’m committed to my growth.
What does that mean?
It means I’ve watched my writing productivity sky rocket when I prioritize deep work over shallow work. Read DEEP WORK: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport if you want more information about what that entails.
I’ve also realized that I love this blog and very much enjoy writing it–when I organically have something to say. But, if I have to spend too much of my quality writing time and family time thinking about what to pen–I probably didn’t have to struggle with a post that day. And I don’t need to apologize for it. If it was that hard to write, then you probably didn’t want to read it anyway.
And yesterday I saw a great quote on Elizabeth Gilbert’s FB page that resonated with me…
“Nothing will bring you greater peace than minding your own business.”
It’s come to my attention lately that when I’m too engaged in social media, I feel the need to have opinions and give commentary on things that really aren’t my business. This is especially true in this political climate. The truth is, I never walk away, from minding other people’s business, feeling welcome or believing I made positive change. In fact, I usually feel anxious and frustrated–occasionally a little sick to my stomach. And internet trolls are horrifying. I’ve decided I want to limit my exposure to that kind of stuff.
And then there is that insane addiction going on where you can’t talk to a person without them having their face in their phone. It’s so disheartening when you’re at a restaurant and their right in front of you on FB. Or your having a conversation with someone and you lose the face off. But, since I’m more dedicated to trying to mind my own business, I’m not going to talk more about what kind of bullsh*t that is. I’m just going to say that I don’t want to be that person. I can’t change them and I’m aware of that. But I don’t have to be rude–that’s my choice. I want to be a listener. I want other’s to feel valued when they are around me. And I’m also trying to stop using my phone as a mental pacifier. I used to be able to be with myself for more than 30 seconds without needing to be entertained. How can I grow when I’m not thinking? When I’m not day dreaming? And putting my phone away is another opportunity to pull out a book and read!
And then there’s the hype about needing a crazy social media presence. And I hate to admit this… there are a ton of fabulous authors that blog and do crazy social media–and I read their posts and follow them–but I’ve never bought or read their books.
I am skeptical about how social media translates into book sales and success as an author. I’m not saying it can’t happen or that a strong presence doesn’t have some beneficial side effects, but I’ve become convinced that it’s not the best way for my growth to occur. If time on social media directly translated into book sales and followers–I probably would have sold more books. #hardtruths
Do you see what I’m declaring here?
I’m still going to be on social media, write a blog, have a smart phone and adore my laptop. But I need to make sure that I’m functioning like an intelligent human being. I need to use these things as tools. I do not need to let them use me. I must be sure they aren’t ruling my life. Instead, I have to be running the show and doing productive things that matter.
Today I’m taking another step towards balance and sanity.
I’m committed to my growth.
Share your thoughts if it resonates.
I’ll see you when I see you.
It’s here, it’s here–it’s finally HERE! The #NY16SCBWI Winter Conference. And while we froze our writer and illustrator parts off this year–you know we still had a blast. Right along with the arctic blast. Here’s the highlights of the weekend…
I was thrilled to be able to head down bright and early–very, very early…
…for The Professional Author’s Forum Intensive. For all you PAL members of the SCBWI, this was such a lovely addition to the weekend. You should absolutely look for more of these PAL events in the future.
We started off the day with the fabulous and hysterical Lin Oliver and the chance to introduce ourselves and state our questions and goals. It immediately cemented us into a workshop style, intimate group instead of an audience in a lecture.
Lin Oliver, SCBWI Executive Director
Half the room of the PAL Intensives
After the intros, we got down to business with the very informative Agent, Ruben Pfeffer talking about PUBLISHING WITH MULTIPLE HOUSES (INCLUDING WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR EDITOR LEAVES)
This was a very informative session, focusing on the reasons to publish or not publish with multiple houses. He hit upon the strategic, contractual, our preferences, economic need and circumstantial factors.
Agent, Ruben Pfeffer (Ruben Pfeffer Content, LLC)
Next up was the I always get nervous around him even though he gives me no reason to, but come on he was the editor for the Harry Potter books, Arthur Levine chatting with Lin Oliver about LONGEVITY; HOW TO SUSTAIN YOUR CAREER.
Arthur Levine, Publisher, Arthur A. Levine Books and Lin Oliver
Here are some of my favorite bits from the conversation…
*What is essential about people doesn’t change despite our fears about publishing.
*Produce a BODY OF WORK–stop flogging just one thing.
*Find contemporary analogies to your book AFTER you’ve written it.
*When we get sucked into our anxieties, we lose track of what stories we can write and who wants to read them.
The next fabulous collaborator for the Intensive was Martha Brockenbrough, author and SCBWI TEAM BLOG talking about DEVELOPING A SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM THAT’S APPROPRIATE FOR YOU.
I’m not kidding–I’d love to see Martha do a detailed, whole day intensive just on this topic alone. She is a wealth of information and there were more questions than time to hear all her answers.
Martha started off by reminding us of our tendency to believe that when it comes to social media–If we build it they will come…
That would be a NOPE.
But don’t worry, she gave everyone a wealth of advice on building relationships, finding your audience and focusing on platform, being positive, looking long term and being authentic. She was also able to compare and contrast FB, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Goodreads. And this was followed by tips on how to keep it all manageable. If you ever get a chance to take a workshop with Martha, I highly recommend you take advantage of it.
After a quick and yummy lunch break, we were back in the saddle again hit the iconic kid lit author, Jane Yolen–ISSUES IN BEING A MID-LIST WRITER.
Among a plethora of informative and inspirational information, Jane reminded us that as Mid-list authors, we could be writing three kinds of books…
- A Head Book-The book you’ve been thinking about because research or experience had made you curious.
- A Heart Book-You don’t know why you have to write it, but you just do. It’s about you, but it’s also about the kids too.
- A Pocketbook Book-You know you can sell it $
She also reminded us to write the best book you can and don’t forget to nudge yourself in the path of luck.
Next up, was BRANDING YOURSELF: CHALLENGES IN WRITING MULTIPLE GENRES AND CATEGORIES with Linda Pratt Agent, Wernick and Pratt Literary and Jacquelyn Mitchard Author and Editor-in-Chief of Merit Press.
Jacquelyn Mitchard (Deep End of the Ocean–Oprah’s Book Club)
Here are some of the highlights…
*YA is not a genre, it’s a category.
*Being Branded means that you’ve gotten to the point where readers will buy your book in any category or genre because it is recognizably YOU!
*There’s nothing you want more than to be a habit.
*If you wanted to be careful, you should have been a dental hygienist ROTFL!
Bonnie Bader was up next and I forgot to take her picture! What? But you don’t need to see her to benefit from her talk on SUPPLEMENTING YOUR INCOME. Bonnie gave us valuable information on Packaging, Work for Hire, License work and Ghost Writing. But you can see Bonnie sitting next to Arthur Levine during our Summary, Conclusion and Questions time. And of course they had to kick us out after 5pm because there was so much to discuss with the faculty of the day. It was an amazing group.
And I’ll leave Friday behind with this great reminder from Arthur Levine…
“Our job is not to start trends, it’s to write books.”
After lots of meet up hugs with friends, a large group of us heading for dinner at Grand Central’s Oyster Bar (picture to come when Zainab figures out how to send it LOL!) the typical behavior of Lobby Rats hanging out in the lobby and not enough sleep (I can’t help but talk to my roomie Jodi Moore for half the night) it’s time to OFFICIALLY kick off the conference.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2016
This group is more than ready…
For Lin Oliver’s conference stats:
*337 Published authors and 815 pre-pubbed
*48 states were represented. Considering the weather in NY we excused Hawaii for ditching us. But we also decided that maybe the reason North Dakota was ditching us was that no one lived there. :o)
*19 Countries in attendance including the USA
*Our ranks included a micro biologist, coffee roaster, oil trader, ventriloquist and a psychic!
The first Keynote of the day was William Joyce–BOOKS ARE LIKE THE ICE CREAM SANDWICH: HOW NEW TECHNOLOGY DOESN’T CHANGE MUCH OF ANYTHING BUT IT’S KIND OF COOL
William immediately had us cracking up, telling the story of how he forgot why he’s picked that topic when he first agreed to be a conference speaker LOL! But he quickly found the original thread and sewed it all up for us.
*Books=Ice Cream Sandwiches–hard stuff on the outside and good stuff in the middle.
*When people put a book on an app or e-device they claim they are doing it because they want the story to be “interactive.” What the heck do these people think happens when you read a book? You interact with it *head thunk*–to call something interactive it has to be more than just reading it on a screen vs between a cover.
*On starting his own Multimedia company: “Don’t make anything crummy.”
*Strong and better realities of a start up: Having to tell new, young employees they had to pay taxes. LOL!
*I highly recommend winning an Oscar–it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my clothes.
Oscar Win – Moonbot Studios from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.
*Doing THAT (see above video) with all those young kids–amazing!
And if you want to see something fantastic…check out the app IMAG-N-O-TRON:The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.
But be sure to come back to this blog and keep reading because I’ve got a Panel Discussion up next. THE BIG PICTURE: CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING: NOW AND IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
MOD: Lin Oliver
MT: Megan Tingly–Executive Vice-President and Publisher, Little Brown Books for Young Readers
AP: Andrea Pappenheimer–Senior Vice-President, Director of Sales/Associate Publisher HarperCollins Publishers
ML: Mallory Loehr—Vice-President, Publishing Director, Random House/Golden/Doubleday Books for Young Readers
JF: Jean Feiwel—Senior Vice-President and Director, Feiwel and Friends/Macmillian Children’s Publishing Group
JA: Jon Anderson—President and Publisher, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
I hate to tell you this–but this was such a good session that I listened without taking as many notes as I should have. I apologize but I’m pretty sure Team Blog will have some excellent tweets and recaps for you.
Then it was time for the day’s first break-out session or workshop. There were so many great sessions to choose from, but I picked CREATING TEEN CHARACTERS with Martha Brockenbrough and Rainbow Rowell.
For this session I pulled up some rug in order to stretch my legs. Here were some of my favorite take-aways…
*Art inspires art
*I didn’t experience the events that happened in my books, but music got me to those places.
*It’s fiction, you get to make it up. (Oh, wait–Dragons ARE fake!)
In order to balance out my recap posts, I’m going to save the rest of the conference for your Thursday reading pleasure. While you wait, you can get a good laugh at all of us eating picnic style in the lobby.
And remember–if you’re there at next year’s conference–Debbi Ohi will share her cookie with you. She couldn’t get anyone to split it with her!!! If she’d only showed up BEFORE I ate all that chocolate. *sigh*
See you on Thursday with the #NY16SCBWI Conference Recap Part 2! While your waiting, tell me what session was your favorite if you were there. Or which one you would have loved to attend.
For the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to lump platform, marketing and social media into one big ball of extrovertedness. For short we can call it Publishing PMS. And believe me when I say there are days when publishing PMS is about as pleasant as a bout of the hormonal blues. *sigh* Putting yourself and your book out there isn’t always easy and it can often make you moody and irritable. Since I first signed my contract for TOUCHING THE SURFACE, I’ve tried out lots of PMS approaches to enhance my foothold in the world of publishing. There are some that I stand behind for their effectiveness. There are some that I have no idea if they benefit me, but I certainly enjoy them. And there are some things that have proven to be an epic waste of time. I don’t have time to go through every little detail but I thought I’d share a few Publishing PMS bits of wisdom with you…
*Have a website and keep it up to date.
*Blog only if you like to do it and you can show up regularly. It isn’t about how often you blog, but more about how reliable you are to your readers.
*Pick your social media outlet of choice (twitter, FB, Instagram etc…) and make genuine relationships on it. If you’re dong it right, you should be giving to that community more than you are taking.
*The swag item I use the most is my bookmarks. Leave room on them to sign your name or add a small message.
*Create eye catching and informative displays for when you have a presentation table for an event such as a book fair.
*Try to find a unique and affordable supplementary piece of swag that helps you to stand out. (I used origami cranes with a sticker of my book and the phrase DARE TO DELVE written on the wings)
*Spend more time writing the next book than marketing the one that’s coming out.
*I think it’s worth the time to send out postcards to Indie Bookstores. Plan ahead and do a few at a time. If you are involved with a group of authors, pool your information and resources on bookstores and libraries.
*Join or create a support group for your debut launch or any launch for that matter. Banning together is great for publishing support, but also for emotional support.
*In retrospect, I would have taken the lions share of the money I spent on marketing, pre-ordered X number of books before my launch and then distributed them as charitable gifts to local or school libraries. While it’s hard to say if a book placed in a library will increase sales, it it likely to at least get your book in front of real readers. This may possibly create positive word of mouth and future fans who just might be looking for your next book. Plus–all those pre-orders don’t hurt either.
Those are just some of my thoughts. What tips would you pass along to deal with Publishing PMS? Do you have any questions about a certain PMS tactic? If time and money weren’t an option, what would you do to make your book a big ball of extrovertedness?
Yesterday I was talking online to a bunch of my writer buddies and someone said…
The more I learn about publishing the more I realize the best promotional tool is to write the next book and the next and the next…
That makes a HUGE amount of sense. It resonates with me on more than just the promotional level. I also connect to it on a deeper, more personal level. I use writing as a way to make sense of the world. The less time I have to write, the less the world makes sense to me.
I love my social media, but ultimately it is the writing.
To me blogging isn’t just a publishing tool. It’s a kind of journaling that works really well for me BECAUSE it’s interactive. So I really do love doing it. A lot. But I’ve been toying with this for awhile and I’ve finally come to realized that it’s time for me to adjust my blogging schedule a little bit. I need to do this partly because I DO NOT want to give up my membership in either YA Outside the Lines or the Bookanistas. I love those groups. And partly it’s because I also like to do guest posts, interviews and judge writing events whenever possible. Between the blogs and the extra posts, too much of my writing time is being eaten up.
For example: July 2013’s Projected Blog Schedule
Post due for my own blog–14
Post for YAOTL–1
Posts for the Bookanistas–1 or 2
Guest posts for Blog Tour–5
Other Interviews for blogger events–2
Interviews I had to turn down because I was at risk for losing my mind–More than one 🙁
That’s a grand total of at least 23 posts and or interviews. And on average these take me 60 minutes or more to brainstorm, write and add links/graphics. (There have been days they’ve taken longer.) That’s a lot of time I could and should be using to write.
And on a personal front…I HAVE THREE BOYS!!!! Yeah, that. And I like them enough to want to spend quality time with them as often as I can. And I’m moving in the fall. So I’m staging and showing and pretending I’m organized on a regular basis. Remember me? The one who doesn’t get the laundry done on a good day.
So, I’ve decided that I’m going to take a small two-week blog hiatus while I’m traveling with the family over the end of July. (July 22-Aug. 2) and then I’ll be back on TUESDAY August 6th followed by THURSDAY August 8th. This will kick off my official move to a Tuesday/Thursday schedule. By doing this, I will drop down to 8-10 posts a month on average. Much more manageable.
If you think you’re going to have trouble remembering to stop by on the new dates, please sign up to have my blog posts sent right to you. On the right hand side of my blog I have an RSS feed sign up and and email sign up. I’ll also do my best to put up some reminders for the two weeks off and the new schedule. I love you for understanding why I need to make the change.
Do you blog? And if you do, do you have a schedule? I recommend having specific blogging times, so people do know when to show up to connect with you, but flexibility is important too. You never want to get so frustrated you squeeze an innocent hedge hog puppet. Totally not cool.
Any other blog tips you want to share with me? Any questions about blogs? Fire away!
*No hedge hog puppets were harmed in the making of this blog post.