Special post today.  Gratitude Sunday will be back next week.

ETA: IMPORTANT! PLEASE LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS IF YOU ARE ENTERING THE CONTEST. Some people may vote just to vote (not to enter), so I want to make sure I count everyone who does.  Thank you!

Alright everyone, I may not know a ton about marketing, but I do know when to pull out the big guns.  Luckily I have one of those in my arsenal.  Her name is Laura Barnes at Laura B Writer.  Laura is a marketing consultant and children’s book writer who helps authors build their online media presence.  A while back, I signed up for one of her blog critiques through her Monday series From A Marketing Perspective, and she scheduled it for this week.  While evaluating my blog, Laura noticed that I was in the middle of promoting my entry for the MeeGenius Children’s Author contest, and offered to help with that instead.  I’m sure she could see me sweating, struggling and even floundering straight through the Internets.  Needless to say, I jumped on her offer.

Be sure to visit Laura’s blog tomorrow because she’s providing the juicy details behind all of the suggestions she gave me (awesome).  Meanwhile, I am using this post to implement one of her suggestions – to run a contest to help me spread the word about my story. (For background on the MeeGenius contest, please visit the How It Works page.  For background on my entry, please read this post).

Why I Need to Reach Out

People within my own Network, both offline (friends and family) and online (blog followers, Facebook friends and Twitter followers), have been immensely supportive, and a great percentage of them have voted for my story.  I’ve been in the Top 50 (out of 400+) since the contest began on November 28th.  While this is fantastic (THANK YOU), Laura pointed out that for marketing to be truly effective, you need to reach beyond your own network.  In other words, you need people to help spread the word to their networks.  One way to do that is to run a contest with prizes that are of value to the people you are asking to help.  I wouldn’t want to ask for help without offering something in return, so that works perfectly for me. Here goes.

The Contest: What’s In It For You?

Grand Prizes

I know that many of my blog followers are writers, so I am offering up what I call the Big Kahuna.  For the past 18 months, I have kept a spreadsheet to track children’s book agents, especially those who represent picture books.  On this spreadsheet, I have the agent’s name, company name, website (both personal and corporate), email address, Twitter, Facebook and blog information (if applicable), submission guidelines, which genres they accept and any notes I’ve taken on who they represent, specific interests, etc.  There are more than 100 agents on this list who are currently accepting submissions.  This will be one of the Grand Prizes.

I also wanted to have a Grand Prize for non-writer followers and/or writers who already have agents and therefore would not benefit from my spreadsheet.  So the second Grand Prize is a brand-new iPod shuffle.  I figure everyone could either use one or find someone on their list to give it to this holiday season.  If not, it would make a great donation to a Toys for Tots-type organization.

Note: If both Grand Prize winners want the spreadsheet, I am willing to give two of them.  I can only provide one iPod shuffle, however.  The first GP winner will get first choice.  If that winner chooses the iPod shuffle and the second GP winner also wanted that, they can be moved to a First Prize position and I’ll draw another GP winner.  To speed this process along, if you plan to participate in the contest, it would be helpful (although not mandatory) to leave me a note in your comment letting me know which GP you would prefer if you win.  Make sense?

First Prizes

I will give away two first prizes, which will be the winners’ choice between a critique (of a complete Picture Book manuscript or the first 10 pages of a manuscript in any other genre) OR a $25 IndieBound gift certificate.

Second Prizes

Three lucky winners will get a brand new picture book of their choice.  That’s right. ANY picture book the winner wants will be theirs.

I will ship any prize internationally.

What is the Timeline?

The contest starts today – GO! – and will end when the MeeGenius contest ends, at midnight EST on Sunday, December 18th.  I will give myself a day to sort out the winners (selected from, and will announce them on Tuesday, December 20th.  Happy Holidays! 🙂

How to Enter

You may pick and choose from the following activities to enter the contest.

  1. Vote for my story on the MeeGenius contest page. (2 points – one time only).  You do need a Facebook account in order to vote, but even if you don’t have one, you can do any or all of the other activities.  I know many of you have done this already, and I am aware of most of them.  If you left a comment with your vote and I replied to you (via Facebook), you do not need to take any additional step.  I will be able to count your vote.  If you simply “liked” without leaving a comment, please let me know that you voted in the comments of this post.
  2. Promote my entry via Facebook. (2 points – one time only) Note that this step can be combined with #1.  If you leave a comment with your vote promoting the story, that comment will appear on your Facebook Wall.  I am checking these regularly, and I will reply to each and every one.  That way, you will know your FB promotion has been counted toward the contest.  Same for those of you who have already taken this step.  There is no need to repeat it (unless you want to of course!).  If you voted anonymously and would now like to promote via Facebook for the points, you can do so by sharing a link to my entry and urging people to visit and vote.  Here is an example of the type of comment that’s most effective, left on my entry from my daughter’s teacher.  “Please “like” this story to help a parent in my class get her phenomenal children’s book published.”  If you are promoting separately from your entry vote and we are not connected on Facebook in any way, please leave a link in the comments section of this post.
  3. Tweet to your followers asking them to vote.  (1 point per day, starting today, for a total of 8 possible points) In order for these points to be counted, you MUST use the hashtag #JHMeeGenius with your tweet.  That is how I will track and count them.  You must also provide a link to my entry in each tweet.
  4. Blog about the contest. (3 points – one time only) In your post, you must provide a link to this post, a link to my entry, and a link to my post providing background on the story.  In order to receive the points, you must leave a link to your blog post in the comments.

Comments on this post should be used for letting me know you are entering, your Grand Prize preference, informing me of previous MeeGenius votes you need counted, and/or providing links to blog posts or Facebook promos.  The comments section can also be used to ask any questions you may have about the contest.  However, comments on this post do not count as points for the contest.  In order to enter, you must take at least one of the steps outlined above.

In Conclusion

Laura refers to her blog as an “experiment in author marketing.”  I think this blog contest is also an experiment to see how much of a difference social media can make in marketing and promotion within a tight time-frame.  As of this writing, I have 186 votes and my entry is ranked #48 overall.  It will be fascinating to see what happens to those numbers over the course of this week.  Of course I realize that if nothing much happens, it will be a bit embarrassing for me.  But it’s a chance I am more than willing to take.  Regardless of the contest outcome, I will write a post next week detailing my “lessons learned” from marketing and promoting for my MeeGenius entry.  Hopefully we can all gain from that.

So followers, start your engines!  Off we go!

Categories: Agents, Authors, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Giveaway, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, Publishing, Social Media, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. Aloha Julie,

    Thanks for your comments following my guest post about “following your dreams” on David Powers King’s blog.

    I’m not sure if you’re notified when someone responds to your comments, so here’s how I replied:

    “Your fear sounds familiar! But, so does the feeling of we need to get “it” out there. Good luck with all your future efforts:)

  2. Wow, I think it is awesome that Laura suggested to help you with this. Great idea for us all, as you say, to see what a difference it can make. Your first prize is super, too!! I have already voted, but need to get going on 2-4. Very happy to do this because, as you know, I DO truly think it is an excellent story and worthy of promotion.

    • Thanks so much Joanna! It makes me feel much better when I know people really do like the story too! 🙂 I so appreciate your support and encouragement.

  3. Hm. Cool. I just need general marketing help. We’re getting the word out there but I know that more is… well, more. Thanks for the tip, I’ll go vote in thanks 😀

  4. Vote for my story on the MeeGenius contest page.=I voted for ya.! I follow you on twitter and had been retweeting you when I saw you on, but will make sure I add a hashtag!

  5. Hi Julie,

    Wow, what a fabulous idea! I don’t know if you noticed, but I did already vote for you in the MeeGenius contest. I cast my vote 12/2 and also posted a comment on that site about how much I liked it, because, well, I really do. You nailed it! Thanks for sharing these marketing ideas. I will definitely be printing this post for future reference. Thank you for offering such an amazing grand prize! What a wonderful gift! It is surely the push I needed to create a writing blog and re-establish my twitter presence. Whoa. Thanks for that, too! Will all of the entrants with the highest possible number of points (15?) be entered into a random pool?
    Many thanks,
    Jennifer DuBose

    • Looks like I already promoted your entry on Facebook (12/2). I also just became reacquainted with my Twitter account, on your behalf 🙂 Now, for that writing blog I should have started a long time ago? No time like the present! Thanks for the motivation, Julie!!!

    • Hi Jennifer! Yes, I have you counted as having voted and promoted on Facebook. So that’s already 4 points! 🙂 I may have to give you extra credit if this contest gives you the impetus to start your blog this week. 😉

      All entrants will be entered into a random drawing. If you have 4 points, your name goes in 4 times. If you have 15 points, your name goes in 15 times. But yes, it is a random drawing. Does that help answer the question?

      • Haha! And yes, that sounds great. I’m glad that everyone, even folks without blogs, etc., will get a shot at the agent spreadsheet. I’ll let you know when mine is up!

  6. Julie, I enjoyed your story and voted for it. I also put a call out to my FB friends to get out and vote. Later today when I work on my blog I will add your link…good luck!

  7. Hi Julie,

    I’ve liked, posted and tweeted your information. Good luck to you. You deserve to win! If I win, since I don’t have a book, I’d like the iPod or gift card. Thank you and good luck!


  8. I voted for your fun story and put it on FB too!


  9. Entering the contest here.

    I already voted for your story. I facebooked, tweeted and will blog about it Tuesday. Do you want me to bring the blog link back here then?


    You got some excellent advice. *waving*

  10. I already voted, too, Julie, and “liked” your entry for FB, so it won’t let me do that again. Guess that means we can’t stuff the ballot box for you!! And I’ll get the tweet out right away! Good luck and do keep us posted!!

    • Diane, I have you down for 4 points already for voting and leaving a comment via FB. You can tweet each day (which you’ve already done today) and blog about the contest if you want extra points.

      Which prize would you want?

      Oh, and I’ll DEFINITELY keep everyone posted! 🙂

  11. Hi Julie,
    What a fantastic story! I am entering your contest, and would love the spreadsheet if I win. 😉 Best of luck, and I’m off to tweet about you!

  12. Hi Julie – I already voted for you, so I can’t do it again. I’ll be interested to see how your contest plan works – I hope it puts you in the number 1 spot 🙂 So nice of Laura to help out! Good luck!

    • Susanna, I have you down with points for voting and commenting on FB. I’m assuming you’d want the iPod shuffle for the Grand Prize?

  13. Julie, Great idea for a contest. Already voted for A Troop is a Group of Monkeys–it’s clever and it’s fun! Now I’ll work on the rest of the list.

  14. Best of luck, Julie!
    I’ll feature your book on SLTW this Tuesday at 11:11 EST.

    Thanks for hosting such a great contest. Fab prizes!!!

  15. Just saying *hi* since I voted last week.

    The idea of the “Big Kahuna” made me laugh! My own spread sheet needs to pig out at a dozen or so more agent luaus until it is big enough to be called a ‘kahuna’! Check with me in 18 months or so!

  16. Exciting. I voted for you and hope you win! :O)

  17. I just voted for your story on Facebook. Would love to win your spreadsheet prize. Or any of the other prizes you are offering!

  18. Love your story, Julie! I can’t imagine there wouldn’t be a place for it in the market somewhere. And, wow, what a contest. If I were to win the grand prize, I would pick the agent list. I have a list, but nothing like you described! I have voted, shared on FB and blogged about your story at Best of luck! I would love to hear how this marketing approach works for you.

  19. Okay, I have no idea what happened, but my blog post is screwy in my comment above. If you go to, it is today’s post. Sorry about that! 🙂

  20. Hey, thanks for the shout out! And I have voted for you 🙂 and will be blogging about you tomorrow! And also I’m tweeting you right now. Good luck!!

  21. Voted and commented! Loved the story. If my name comes up for the grand prize, throw me back in the hat and choose someone else. The first prize critique is MUCH more interesting for this critique-group-less writer! 🙂

  22. I’d already voted for you, Julie. Does this still make myself and other early voters still eligible for this contest?

    Super prizes!

    • Lori – absolutely you are still eligible! I have you down as having voted and promoted via FB. To earn more points you can tweet and/or blog. Please just let me know which prize you’d want if you win.

  23. I’m late seeing this and no time today. Got family arriving from UK too. Yikes – I’ll make sure I get to FB and I could do a blog post on Wednesday. You have such a good chance. I’ll get back to you on points a.s.a.p.

    • Thank you Catherine! I know this is the worst possible time of year to have something like this going on. It’s making me crazy!! But alas I didn’t choose the time.

      I thank you for your optimism about my entry! It’s so easy to start self-doubting, so that’s helpful.

  24. Julie, Great idea and I’m returning to Laura’s post to read all of her tips. I added your contest on this post: I voted a while back on your story, but added a post on my regular FB and writer FB pages today. I don’t use Hootsuite that much, but this morning scheduled tweets for the remainder of the MeeGenius contest. So, we’ll see if I did that correctly. Good luck!

  25. Julie, I voted, commented and FB’d will follow up with twitter tonight.

    good luck Louise, who will take the agent list.

  26. I am happy to help! It’s super exciting. I believe I voted and commented on FB. You can let me know if I’m wrong. I will share this post too and tweet 🙂
    Good luck Julie–I am rooting for you!

  27. Julie…I thought I voted, but not sure I signed in to Facebook. Can you check without spending tons of time? Otherwise, I’ll do it again, but I don’t want to be counted twice. Thanks!

  28. Julie…I thought I voted, but not sure I signed in to Facebook. Can you check without spending tons of time? Otherwise, I’ll do it again, but I don’t want to be counted twice. Thanks!

  29. Voted and tweeted because I love your story! Hope it wins!


  30. I voted on MeeGenius! Best of luck, Julie!!!

  31. I’m in!! I voted, I placed it on my FaceBook wall, and I tweeted today. Honored to vote for such an engaging PB. Now the biggie…to figure out how to attach all the links onto my post. Challenges, challenges. But worth it!

  32. Have voted for you and put you on my fb page. Have a great day.

  33. I have voted and left you a comment of FB which you have already responded to. Also, don’t know if you are on Pinterest, but I started using it recently and have a FEW followers. I put it on there. I have had your blog on there for a while. I loved it the day I first discovered it. I hope this isn’t a repeat comment. I typed one up yesterday and hit some key on my computer and poof…gone…I think 🙂
    Good luck with your MeeGenius contest.

  34. Good Luck Julie, great marketing concept. Also great grand prize choice of your spreadsheet. I “liked” and commented to by FB account.

  35. I tweeted! I’m new at this, so I hope I did it correctly! I do want be entered in contest!

  36. I did it! My blog post is up: Hope you make #1! If perchance I win, the Big Kahuna or critique would be most appreciated…



    I am a non writer so fingers crossed for shuffle to exercise with!

    Julie, I hope the tweeting helped – I have alot of followers so am hoping they took the time and gave your book a ‘like’ it is super cute!

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