Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Weekend Writer: Submit, Submit, Submit

A few months ago, I did a Weekend Writer post on creating a writing portfolio before submitting. But once you've done that, submit. Years ago, they used to say "Nothing gets published, if it's sitting in your filing cabinet." Now we'd probably say, "Nothing gets published, if it's sitting on your hard drive."

Earlier this summer Kim Liao's essay, Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year, got a lot of attention on Facebook and Twitter.

"Set rejection goals. I know someone who shoots for one hundred rejections in a year, because if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.”

The point here is that you can't get rejected, if you don't submit. And, of course, you can't get accepted, if you don't submit.
Submission Chart

There may be something going on here with odds, too. The more you play, the better your chance of winning. The more you submit, the better your chance of acceptance and publishing.

While I don't have any expectation of making one hundred submissions this year, I have been making an effort to submit. I've done eighteen so far, with two more planned for next week.

And I do have a better way of tracking submissions than that board on a cupboard. But a board on a cupboard is fun. I'll be going on to the second board soon.

Friday, July 22, 2016

What Did You Do This Week, Gail? July 18 Edition

Goal 1. Adhere to Goals and Objectives. Oh, July, you are kicking my butt. And you're not done yet.

Goal 2. Prepare Mummy Hunters for Submission. Ah...ten minutes?

Goal 3. Generate New Short Work/Programs. Found a new place to make a submission.

Goal 5. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding

My eBooks Sales Post--Promoted blah, blah, blah
Time Management Tuesday Post--Promoted blah, blah, blah
Environmental Book Club Post--Promoted a couple of times
Goodreads Blog Post published.
Call for CCLC
Began work on CCLC

 Goal 6. Generate New Work: Submitted the picture book I've been talking about forever.

Have I used anything from the NESCBWI conference in April? Why, yes. I used something from the workshop on writing cover letters. Also, I used something one of my colleagues in in writers' group learned at the conference. Thank you, Nancy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Time Management Tuesday: Did I Waste Weeks Of Summer Evenings On Pinterest?

I've written here before about the time issues involved with social media. Yes, social media is important for marketing writers' work and for marketing themselves. It can keep your name alive between publications. But it's important to remember that you don't want to be spending more time marketing your work then you do on creating it. That's particularly important to keep in mind as new social media platforms are created. We should have a logical reason for jumping to something new, a logical justification for the time we're spending learning how to use the new platform and then maintaining it.

How I Got Excited For Instagram


An entire year ago, the artist who did the cover illustration and design for the Saving the Planet & Stuff  eBook told me I should be in Instagram. He suggested I build a presence around my author appearances. In addition to being an artist, he was then working at an advertising agency in New York. He was a mad man, as a family member said. We're not talking one of the neighbors raving about Instagram. I began to feel enticed.

It took  nine or ten months to get fully there, though. What little I knew about Instagram suggested that it is all about images, making it different from the other social media platforms I use that are primarily about text. Even Twitter is built around text--very little text, but text nonetheless. Images are important for blogging, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter because the images attract people to your text. But IF I understood Instagram, image came first there.

That would make Instagram different from other social media I use.

But would Instagram be a way for an author to reach a new group of people, people who are interested in image first? I liked the idea of using pictures from author appearances in some way, and I also had an idea for using photographs from the author homes I like to visit and have written about here. And could I link blog posts to Instagram, drawing new people to the blog? To me?

Well, So Much For Instagram

I was pretty psyched for this Instagram thing until I actually looked at it. It just appears to be a mass of pictures. I may be wrong about that, of course, but there was a bigger issue. My reading and questioning indicated that you post to Instagram from smartphones. That would have been fine for the future, but I wanted to use pictures stored on my hard drive. There was probably a way to manage the job, but there was a limit to how much time I wanted to commit to this job.

Time. If this couldn't be easy and fast, I didn't think I should be doing it.

But by that point, I was really pumped for doing something with my literary tourism pictures. I can't remember what made me think of Pinterest, which I believed to be image heavy.

But I Did Think Of Pinterest

Okay, so I looked into Pinterest. The two issues I considered:
  • Can writers use it for marketing?
  • Is it easy to use? 
Well, I haven't been able to find much about writers using it for marketing, and I wasn't able find many writers there. But I was able to figure out how to use it. And, it turns out, there is a curation aspect to Pinterest that attracts me.

So for many, many evenings this summer I played with Pinterest. I spent a lot of time on this shiny, new thing.

What I'm Doing On Pinterest

So what I'm doing on Pinterest, besides looking up recipes and weird historical boards, is pulling content out of my 14 years of blog posts and repurposing it on Pinterest boards. The Gene Stratton-Porter's Cabin board you see here is an example. These literary tourism boards are made up of photographs, but there's also one pin from my blog. Thus the littourism boards do have the potential to draw, or drive, people here to Original Content and, thus, to me.(Yeah. I am the blog.)

Here is a key thing with Pinterest and me--pinning my blog posts is easy. Look down to the end of this post. You'll see a row of icons representing various social media platforms. My posts can be shared with any of them. And, yes, they can be pinned to a Pinterest board.

Once I realized how easy it is to do that, I began thinking of all kinds of Pinterest boards to make with my blog content.
All I need is blog posts with images and an organizing theme.  I can go on and on with this!

But So What?

Well, there's the time management question. Am I going to get any bang for my time spent? For Pinterest to work for me, it will have to promote me, just as this blog promotes me. However, because there are now so many, many blogs, I have to promote it to attract attention. I expect to have to do the same for Pinterest.

Let me repeat that in bold:

  • These days, I have to promote the blog, which only exists to promote me.
  • I expect to have to promote my Pinterest boards, which only exist to promote me. 

If there are people on Planet Pinterest because they prefer images to text, I may be able to reach them there. I may be able to make myself known to them. But maybe I won't.

I'm gambling here, people. While I'm gambling with my time, you'll be seeing Pinterest boards here from time to time. Hey, they'll be images for the blog, right?

This is why I don't care for casinos. I do enough gambling with my life, thank you very much.

Monday, July 18, 2016

So Children's eBooks Do Sell

G. P Putnam
Published by moi
I have four eBooks out in the world. Three were published by G.P. Putnam's Sons at the same time the company published the hardcover editions of my last three books. I published the fourth one, an eBook republication of one my earlier out-of-print books from Putnam. Nonetheless, my impression has been that children aren't big eBook readers. I've heard speakers say eBooks are the next big thing for children. But when visiting schools, speaking with librarians and parents, and in give-and-take on-line, I haven't seen it happening. In fact, I've read that eBooks are very much a middle-aged woman reader thing. Not a kid thing, at all.

G. P. Putnam
Then last month I received my most recent statement from Penguin Random House.  They've revised the statement, so it's a little easier to read. (Hey. It's not just me who has trouble with those things.)  I was surprised to discover that I've  sold a few copies of each of my eBooks during the period the statement covers. What was more surprising was how many eBooks I've sold overall.

Now, we're not talking bestselling numbers here. The numbers are just higher than I expected. When I told a family member how many eBooks of Happy Kid! have sold...Well, let's just say I got a reaction. Our expectations were that low.
G. P. Putnam

Of course, children don't buy many books of any kind. Adults buy books for them. No doubt adults are buying these. Are they buying them for their children's e-readers? Are they buying them for their own e-readers, so they'll have some child reading available for child reading emergencies in cars, doctors' offices, etc.? (I can see myself doing that.) Are they buying them for themselves to read? (I have done that.)

Whatever the reason, someone is buying these particular children's eBooks. I assume that means they're buying other children's eBooks, too.

Friday, July 15, 2016

What Did You Do This Week, Gail? July 11 Edition

Goal 1. Adhere to Goals and Objectives. A little bit.

Goal 2. Prepare Mummy Hunters for Submission. Did a little work on this.

Goal 3. Generate New Short Work/Programs. Made a submission. Submissions are good.

Goal 5. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding
Goal 6. Generate New Work: Read a little more of Stephen Leacock's Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town in relation to the NaNoWriMo project I'm considering. Though that was connected to the workshop proposals I'm not going to be making. The more I read of Sunshine Sketches, the less likely I think it is that I'll be able to use it as a frame for a contemporary story. So I've changed my mind about the setting, which means I've also changed my mind about the characters.

Discussed the picture book that seems as if I'll never finish at writers' group Monday night. The draft I brought them was a huge change from what they'd seen before. I came away with some major tweeks. But they are just tweeks. Except one is a climactic tweak. Those are always hard.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Janet Lawler Brings The Games To Connecticut, Not Rio

Author Janet Lawler brought a program developed around her book, The Prehistoric Games, to the Cragin Memorial Library this evening. It was an impressive event that included a traditional reading and PowerPoint presentation related to how Janet came to write the book. And then there was everything else.

An Olympic Torch!

We're talking an Olympic torch, a parade of athletes, and an array of games for child audience members to play. And they did. At length. The dino dig and long jump were particularly popular, but there were more things to do. The evening concluded with a medal ceremony.
Dinosaur Dig

What Janet has created for The Prehistoric Games is a fine example of what Kirsten Cappy of Curious City discussed at a NESCBWI program last month. Janet is marketing her book by providing the adults in children's lives (librarians and parents this evening) with engaging materials for those children.

Coming soon to Janet Lawler's website: How to use The Prehistoric Games as part of a birthday party.
Long Jump
Medal Ceremony


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Time Management Tuesday: Buffer Time? Unit System? Buffer Time? Unit System?

Buffer Times Builds Better Performance at Coaching Positive Performance argues that packing a day with tasks isn't necessarily going to lead to top productivity. It's hard to make the mental transition from one task to another, if you move too rapidly. What to do? Plan some buffer time between tasks.

This sounds a lot like what I call the unit system--the breaking of a workday into units of time with periodic short breaks from work. Time management researchers recommend this work method because, among other things, it gives the brain an opportunity to "reboot" and think it has returned to early in the day when self-discipline is strongest. And research is suppose to support this system as making workers more productive than trying to work intently in one spot all day.

The main difference between what is described as buffer time and the time management break-into-unit technique appears to be that the unit system involves actual planning of the amount of time you're going to spend on a task and the break/buffer. You use a timer as an external support for willpower. The Coaching Positive Performance article doesn't mention anything like that for buffer time. How long you work and how long you spend in "buffer time" is up in the air.

Can We Use The Concept Of Buffer Time In A Different Way?


I like the idea of planning buffer time between completed projects. I'm not sold on using it off and on all day, every day between the many tasks we're working on to complete those projects. Especially since the buffer time article suggests using it in the following ways:
  • To organize administrative details, meaning filing documents for completed tasks and creating files for new ones. In my personal experience, this is hugely important. Poor organizing can mean time problems down the line.
  • To provide you with fallback time in case what you're working on runs long.
  • To use for low-energy work in case you really don't like the idea of taking a break from work.
Those things could be done off-and-on every day, but to me they say "end of project."

Also, if our concern is making mental transitions between different types of work, it seems that we'd need that most when we're shifting from one completed project to another rather than from one task to another during the day.
  • I'm talking making a transition between, say, completing a draft of Project A and starting an entirely new writing project and not between working an hour on Project A today (a task) and then working another hour on Project A today (a task).
  • Or, if we're juggling several projects, we might not be interested in buffer time between working an hour on Project A today (a task), then an hour prepping for an appearance today (another task), then going back to Project A today (still another task). But buffer time after Project A is totally completed (a project) a few weeks down the line or after the appearance prep is done (a project) might be very useful. And desirable.  


On The Other Hand


If you like the idea of breaking your day into blocks of time without any formal time keeping, adapting some kind of buffer system could work for you.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Podcast And Baking Binge. You've Missed This, Haven't You?

Wow. It's been a while since I've done a weekend baking binge. Just this past Friday I was talking with a family member who made me aware of people we know who like a TV in their kitchens. We're
only talking two people, but, still, it reminded me of my kitchen work. I would never bother with a TV in a kitchen, because what I want when I'm working is sound, not something to look at. Music or some kind of talkie thing, a way to suck up info.

But as I said the last time I cooked and wrote, the podcasts I'd been so fond of for so long are getting old for me. I'm getting close to doing an abrupt turn to music. Hmm. I heard a Rhiannon Giddens' concert Friday night. Maybe something like that.

But not quite yet.

Not a big binge. Seriously, I'm a little embarrassed.
Saturday I switched from marketing and littalk podcasts to short story podcasts from Slice Magazine. These were stories from one of its issues, read by their authors. I'm always trying to check out the work in literary journals, and this was a good opportunity to do that while baking biscuits, rolls, shortbread, and pear crisp.

And listening to short stories gave podcasts a little new life.

We All Come From Somewhere by Kristian Mecom  Listening to this illustrated the problem with listening to podcasts--someone came into the kitchen at an important moment, and I don't know how the main character got to the place she ended up. Or if she ended up there at all. Maybe something metaphorical was going on.

Regret by Erin Sommers On the one hand, I'm thinking, This character would risk her good life for that guy? On the other hand, I'm thinking, Okay! This character would risk her good life for that guy!

For the time being, I'm going to try to limit myself to podcasts of published work, both fiction and essays. If I can find them. But I'm sure music is in my future.

Also, I've baked a lot of biscuits, shortbread, rolls, and pear crisp these last six months. I need to do something else.

I need something different to listen to and something different to bake.

Weekend Cooking Meme hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

Editing Note: While trying to edit a tiny error the day after publishing, I deleted an entire paragraph and had to rewrite it. So if anyone is into rereading, you may see some minor differences. Trials of blogging.

Friday, July 08, 2016

What Did You Do This Week, Gail? July 4 Edition

Goal 1. Adhere to Goals and Objectives. I told you to expect more more whining this week. It was a rough one. The two days I expected to be able to work? I ended up spending part of them with Andy the Plumber. Low performance week. I wasn't even able to get much exercise in. I was kind of humiliated in tai chi class yesterday, too. Self-esteem not at a high point. In fact, not even sure where it is.

Goal 2. Prepare Mummy Hunters for Submission. That new draft I started was all about voice. I thought I found it. Was quite excited. But I wasn't happy about the structural changes I'd made and would have to continue making. Waily, waily. To get myself up off the mat, I'm going to try to force the voice into the last draft. That could work. That's what I'm telling myself this weekend, anyway.

Goal 3. Generate New Short Work/Programs. I made a pitch. Pitching is good. I'm probably not going to be pitching the workshops I'd been thinking about.

Goal 5. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding