Quick and Dirty Events—Ask an Event Coordinator!

by Allison Pottern Hoch

ABOUT A MONTH BEFORE AN EVENT with a debut author, I’d get a call from them. They would be bursting with enthusiasm—and terror. They were about to get up and do…what? For how long? Would anyone be there? We would take some deep breaths together and I would answer their questions. Here are some of the most common queries:

Do people even come to book events?

YES!

How do I get people to come?

People will only come to your event if they know about it. So make sure to pick a venue/date/time that will appeal to your audience and then get the word out. Send out invites to the people you know and post flyers and promote through co-sponsors and social media to the ones you don’t.

Should I dress-up?

Wear something you feel good and comfortable in, with an eye towards looking professional–unless you’re dressing to match your book. I’ve worked with authors dressed as pirates, lighthouses, you name it. That works too! Continue reading

“Echo” by Pam Muñoz Ryan: A Discussion Guide for Writers

by Kelly Carey

Echo.png

Pam Muñoz Ryan’s middle-grade novel Echo weaves three historical fiction stories together with a flick of fairy tale magic. A witch’s curse and a magic harmonica travel from Nazi Germany to Depression-era Pennsylvania and to Southern California amidst World War II before colliding in New York City. Writers can use Ryan’s novel as a mentor text for exploring the tools and pacing needed to bring different story threads together, evaluating the balance between story and history in a historical fiction novel, and examining how endings affect a reader’s experience.

Use the discussion questions on your own or with a book group to investigate Echo.  As you consider each question, take note of how your own manuscripts apply Ryan’s methods. Continue reading

Under The Skylight: Revision

by Erin Dionne

I FULL WELL ADMIT IT: I’m not a great writer. I’m an okay one.

But I’m a great reviser.

Having the ability to revise, to not be precious about your words so that you can clearly execute your book’s idea, is one of the single best skills you can cultivate as an author. Strong revision skills make your writing go from good to great, and so on.

Being a strong reviser requires three things: objectivity, persistence, and desire to create the best story you can. Let’s take a closer look at each: Continue reading

Couch to 30K

by Laura Woollett, PMP

NOVELISTS ARE OFTEN TOLD that the way to get the job done is through many hours of “butt in chair.” There’s truth to this. You can’t write a novel without writing one word at a time. But where to start? And how to gain momentum, especially when you’re just beginning a new project?

Try thinking about the process of writing a novel in a different way—like a runner. Novice runners sometimes follow a plan called the “couch to 5K,” which allows for someone who is pretty sedentary to work their way up to running a 5K race. Writing is similar in many ways to running. It’s REALLY hard to run a race only days after deciding to do it, especially if you’ve never run any farther than from your car to Dunkin’ Donuts on a cold morning. (Guilty!) In the same way, it’s REALLY hard to write a novel without building your writing muscles and stamina over time.

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Aiming High and Aiming True: Finding Your Book’s Audience

by Allison Pottern Hoch

WHILE WORKING ON YOUR BOOK, you probably imagined your ideal reader. Maybe an eager young bookworm so drawn into your story they miss their stop on the subway. Or a retiree relaxing by a pool, cracking the spine on your newly minted tome. While this is a great tool for crafting your novel, when it comes to marketing, you need to think bigger. I guarantee you have other readers beyond that ideal, readers you may have not even thought about yet. The key, of course, is getting those readers to show up.

If you read my first post or attended one of my workshops, you’ll know how strongly I believe in preparation. When it comes to marketing yourself, it’s important to have both realistic expectations and a sound plan. Knowing your desired audience before you lift the phone to make a cold call is critical. “Readers” or “fans,” even “children” or “adults” isn’t sufficient. In pitching yourself to any venue or media outlet, they’ll want to know who is going to tune in and how many.

Audience is key to everything: it’ll help determine the best venue, event style, promotional partners, and event date and time. Most books have more than one audience; that’s representative of a rich and varied narrative, bravo! But trying to aim for all those different audiences at the same time, while not impossible, can stretch you thin. By identifying the key audience for an event or marketing strategy, you are focusing and amplifying your energy to reach those specific readers. You’re designing a program in which a consumer can easily see themselves and their interests. And if you know who you’re marketing to, your venues and media outlets will too.

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Stealing the Cat: How My Theft Led Me to The Writers’ Loft

by Lisa Rogers

MY CONNECTION TO THE WRITERS’ LOFT began when I stole Heather Kelly’s cat.

I didn’t intentionally commit a crime: my husband, daughter, and I were on our daily hour-and-a-half walk with Tucker, our 90-lb. Treeing Walker Coonhound. After our Dalmatian nearly had his ears cut off by a cat crouched in some bushes, we’d been wary of letting this dog nose his way into shrubs. So when Tucker’s sniffer started eye-deep into a patch of greenery near a baseball field, we pulled him back.

What was in there turned out to be Heather’s cat, Jelly.

I’m allergic to cats, but my daughter isn’t, and she reached in and snatched up a beautiful calico female. We figured she was lost, so we took her home and safeguarded her in Tucker’s never-used crate.

Days later, I connected with Heather, and she claimed Jelly as her own.

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Anticipating My First SCBWI Conference

Eager but anxious, this first-timer will rely on The Writers’ Loft light-blue lanyards to find family.

by Cathy Stenquist

I WAS NOT OFF TO a good start. I had forgotten to scribble the SCBWI conference registration date on my calendar and to pre-read the course guide. I quickly ran downstairs to the computer, sure that it was too late. Missing the sign-up meant I’d need to wait till next year; but on the other hand, I could save some money I really didn’t have. That honestly didn’t sound so bad.

Then I had a second thought…I had worked hard over the past couple of years to learn about the craft of writing picture books. I knew deep down that I should go, that I was ready to go. Continue reading