JulieHedlund.com http://www.juliehedlund.com Author, Freelance Writer Tue, 06 Feb 2018 20:41:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 35673989 PENGUINAUT Takes Off! http://www.juliehedlund.com/penguinaut-takes-off/ http://www.juliehedlund.com/penguinaut-takes-off/#comments Tue, 06 Feb 2018 20:41:15 +0000 http://www.juliehedlund.com/?p=14490 Marcie Colleen is having the cover reveal of her book, PENGUINAUT, on the 12 x 12 blog this week!

Marcie is one of the inaugural members of 12 x 12 from back in 2012 and PENGUINAUT is the first draft she wrote in January of 2012.

It’s a true 12 x 12 baby and I couldn’t be happier to host her cover reveal! Plus, Marcie shares 10 Things about PENGUINAUT. Who doesn’t love a top 10 list?

Don’t wait any longer! Go check out the adorable PENGUINAUT here.

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Starting the Year Off with Susanna Leonard Hill! http://www.juliehedlund.com/starting-the-year-off-with-susanna-leonard-hill/ http://www.juliehedlund.com/starting-the-year-off-with-susanna-leonard-hill/#comments Tue, 02 Jan 2018 18:00:26 +0000 http://www.juliehedlund.com/?p=14475 Over on the 12 x 12 blog today, Susanna Leonard Hill is kicking off the year. You may know Susanna from her popular kidlit blog with features like Perfect Picture Book Friday, her Annual Holiday Contest, her Halloweensie Contest, or her Making Picture Book Magic course. She is a wealth of information on picture books with her fourth picture book WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT coming out TODAY!

Her post is so perfect for the start of the new writing year, I don’t want you to miss it. Here’s a snippet:

“So.

I want to ask you a question.

Let’s say you run into an acquaintance you haven’t seen in awhile at the grocery store, or go to a high school reunion, or meet someone at a party, and they ask you what do you do?

What is your answer?

If you’re like me, your answer is probably some kind of mumbled jumble of being a mom, maybe doing some other kind of work in the home or outside it, volunteering in the community, etc. But the words, “I am a writer” stay locked up tight in your heart, too precious to speak aloud lest the person you’re talking to dismiss your answer, disbelieve it, demand some kind of proof, make light of, belittle, or make fun of this thing that is essential to what makes you you.

Because let’s face it: for writers it’s not really what you do.

It’s so much more than that.

It’s who you are.

But a lot of us have two problems.”

What are those problems? How are we going to solve those problems in the coming year? Check out her post and you’ll be feeling confident and encouraged as you head into 2018!

In case you’re not a regular follower of the 12 x 12 blog, you can find it here.

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Anti-Resolution Revolution 2017 http://www.juliehedlund.com/anti-resolution-revolution-2017/ http://www.juliehedlund.com/anti-resolution-revolution-2017/#comments Thu, 28 Dec 2017 16:35:30 +0000 http://www.juliehedlund.com/?p=14471 Six years ago I wrote a blog post that garnered quite a bit of attention. It was titled, 2012 Anti-Resolution Revolution. I skipped 2013, but got back on track in 2014 and have stuck with the tradition. Now it’s time to reveal successes from 2017, and I’ve asked participants in my 12 Days of Christmas for Writers program to do the same.

Here is an excerpt from the original post:

It is so tempting to start listing all the things one wants to accomplish at the start of a New Year, but in my experience, the process (and thus the result) is flawed.

I believe the reason resolutions often don’t work is because they start from a place of lack, of negativity, of failure.  We think about all the things we weren’t happy with in the previous year and set out to “fix” them in the new one…  Lose weight = I weigh too much…  Make more money = I don’t have enough money.  Write more often = I don’t write enough

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals, and achieving them is even better.  However, the goals need to be set on a strong foundation… Let’s first celebrate success and then determine how to carry that forward into the New Year rather than berating ourselves for what did not get done

It is CRITICAL to reflect on what you DID accomplish in the previous year. How else can you build from the base you already have? If you don’t take the time to tally up and celebrate what you’ve already accomplished, your resolutions will crumble. You’ll be starting from scratch in every category, and starting from scratch feels scary.

Here is what GOALS (vs. resolutions) look like when crafted this way. Lose weight = What did I do last year to improve my health, and what can I do to continue that progress? Make more money = How much money did I make last year, from which sources, and how can I increase output from those sources and add new ones? Write more often = What did I write this year and how am I going to use that writing in the new year while also writing new stories/articles/books, etc.?

Because I am a firm believer that it takes far more courage to celebrate and compliment yourself than it does to criticize and berate yourself, I’ve invited 12 Days of Christmas for Writers participants to post their successes on their blogs and websites too. Feel free to share links to your posts in the comments here!

Allow me to be real for a moment and say that every year that goes by without a new book release or book deal initially feels like a failure (and it’s been three years, people!). However, in past years, that sense of failure has caused me to enter a state of paralysis where I couldn’t write at all. Not this year! I have three books on submission right now, and although I’ve stacked up quite a few rejections, I’ve been about as prolific as I could possibly be with my writing. I’ll save it for my list, but for once, my angst about not getting a book contract didn’t prevent me from accessing my creativity. If anything, it made me MORE motivated. That, my friends, is what we like to call a HUGE win. It means I’m placing myself in a position to receive success the minute it comes, and that I recognize it’s inevitable. No wallowing for this cowgirl. Not this year. I have too much to contribute.

When times are tough, when you start feeling as if your dreams are eluding you, it becomes MORE IMPORTANT to reflect on your accomplishments and give yourself credit for all that you DID achieve. 2017 held a great deal of contrast for me. I had more books than ever on submission, but no offers. My personal life ascended in big ways, but I also faced some of my most difficult challenges thus far as a parent. I sometimes felt unbearable despair at the political landscape, and yet it inspired me to write more than I ever have in years prior. And so on.

I offer you my list this year as proof of nothing other than my conviction that the only way to truly fail is to give up altogether.

Here is my list of my major professional accomplishments for 2017.

  1. I wrote seven new picture book drafts this year, which is a personal best for me.
  2. My agent saw fit to put three of my manuscripts on submission. They are still waiting to find homes, but I am keeping the faith.
  3. One of my manuscripts got close to selling a couple of times. No cigar, but I enter 2018 with a renewed purpose around revising it (AGAIN) so it will find its home.
  4. I found a way “back in” to an old manuscript I thought was on permanent retirement. I got an encouraging critique from an editor and believe it will be back on submission in 2018.
  5. I was accepted in the Denver Children’s Festival of Stories, to be held in March.
  6. I presented at the North Texas SCBWI conference in September.
  7. I presented as part of the Boulder Public Library’s Once Upon a Time: Children’s Book Writer’s & Illustrators of Colorado exhibition.
  8. Emma Walton Hamilton and I fully updated, rebranded, and re-launched our Complete Picture Book Submissions System course.
  9. I once again shepherded the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge participants through a year of writing, revising, submitting, and SUPPORTING. With a record 950+ members in 2017, I take pride in the fact that the community becomes MORE of a family each year even it as it grows. We celebrated a staggering number of success stories this year, and for the first time, ALL of our featured authors were published 12 x 12 members.
  10. Once again, hosted 12 fantastic and inspirational webinars during the 12 x 12 challenge.
  11. Officially launched my Teachable website to offer past webinars for purchase to non-members.
  12. With my partners Emma Walton Hamilton, Katie Davis, Jon Bard, and Laura Backes, hosted the third annual Picture Book Summit online conference.
  13. I developed what I think is a groundbreaking presentation (for the Picture Book Summit) on layers in picture books. I will be working in 2018 to make that content available to more writers.
  14. Thanks to the generosity of 12 x 12 members, we are able to provide six scholarships to 12 x 12 in 2018.
  15. I tried a few new (to me) and unconventional story structures for picture books. I don’t know if they’ll go anywhere, but it is fun to experiment.
  16. I treated myself to two magical, inspirational, and creatively rejuvenating writing retreats. One to St. Andrews, Scotland, where I got to stay in none other than my mentor/hero Jane Yolen’s house! The second was to The Writing Barn in Austin, TX for a picture book intensive. I recommitted to “nurture and honor” my muse by taking her places and giving her room to breathe outside the pressures of ordinary life.
  17. Perhaps most importantly, I didn’t let my disappointment over rejections put me into a major funk like it has in years past. If anything, I used the disappointment to strengthen my resolve to write more books, better books, and books from MY heart.

Now it’s your turn to make YOUR list! Share in the comments if you’d like! 🙂

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How I Got My Agent – Rita Hubbard http://www.juliehedlund.com/how-i-got-my-agent-rita-hubbard/ http://www.juliehedlund.com/how-i-got-my-agent-rita-hubbard/#comments Tue, 28 Nov 2017 08:43:03 +0000 http://www.juliehedlund.com/?p=14250 12 x 12 member Rita HubbardOur guest for “How I Got My Agent” today is a Renaissance woman! Author in multiple genres AND an inventor! Not to mention a lovely individual who took her writing seriously enough to stick it out for years until she got her agent and first publishing contract. She proves it’s possible. Please welcome, Rita Hubbard!

How long had you been writing before seeking an agent, and what made you decide it was time to look for one?

I’ve been searching for an agent off and on for several years, but I didn’t get really serious about finding an agent until I joined 12 x 12 a couple of years ago. I had been hearing from various pros that my work is great and I’m “close to being published,” but nothing was materializing and I was getting tired of reading “gentle rejections.” I wanted something new so I knew I had to try something new. That’s where 12 x 12 came in.

What kind of research did you do before submitting?

I read all of the articles that Julie and Kelli included on the site. I also visited each agent’s website and not only read about the agent, but about his or her fellow agents, the agency’s mission, and their wish list. I also studied their manuscript wish list from Twitter to see if there was anything I had overlooked. I also checked out Publisher’s Weekly, which listed their latest projects (if they had any), and whenever possible, I checked out those books from the library so I could get a feel for what these agents were looking for. I joined ReFoReMo (Reading For Research Month), which is like a distant cousin of 12 x 12, and I worked to learn what’s out there and what publishers (and by default, agents) are looking for.

The dreaded questions: How many queries?  How many rejections?

Well…before signing with my agent, I had queried other agents and collected enough rejection letters to  fill one of those mega 3-ring binders. But honestly, my experience with my agent was different. I subbed one 132-word story to her. I received a response in a couple of days later asking me to send a couple more projects I was working on. After that, I ended up chatting with her a week or two later (I could be off by a week, but it wasn’t a month). She then wrote to arrange a telephone call, and during the call, she offered representation.

Was it difficult to find an agent who wanted to represent an author focusing solely on picture books?

No…from what I remember, my agent’s specific goal was to build a picture book and middle grade list, so she was right down my alley and I was right down hers.

Who is your new agent? Tell us about getting the news.

Her name is Tracy Marchini at BookEnds. As I mentioned, the entire process of subbing and then getting an email to arrange a conversation went very quickly.  We chatted about the books I had subbed. By the way, I sent a picture book, a middle grade, and the latest version of a picture book that’s already under a publishing contract. I seem to remember I also sent a YA reference dictionary too…but I could be mistaken.  I wasn’t aware that when an agent asks to call you it means you’re about to be offered representation. I had spent so many years dealing with paper rejections and trying to finally write the perfect query, I thought she was calling about one of my submissions to get a clearer understanding of what I was trying to say. When she offered representation, I was stunned. You know how they say your life flashes before your eyes when you’re about to go to the great beyond? Well, my life didn’t flash, but my years and years of rejected queries flashed before my eyes, page by page, in what seemed like an endless procession.  Lol.

How did you know your agent was “the one”?

Well, my first instinct was to say yes. After hearing “no” for so many years, who wouldn’t want to blurt out the word “Yes!!!” But since everything you read out there says to NEVER say yes right away, I didn’t. I simply compared her to all the agents I had queried before her, read her bio again, found everything I could about the literary agency she worked with, and then waited a little longer for good measure. Then I took the plunge. I haven’t regretted it! She got to work right away and has already sold one of my picture books.

If 12 x 12 helped you in any way during your agent search/development of craft, can you tell us how? (P.S. It is TOTALLY okay if the answer is no. I am not trying to “lead” you 🙂 )

Yes, 12×12 helped. The community is super-helpful, especially the careful selection of agents that participants can query to. Subbing to these agents was a hands-on learning process, and only made my queries and presentation better. However, it must be mentioned that my agent wasn’t one of those on 12 x 12’s monthly list.  What happened is that someone on the 12 x 12 Facebook page mentioned that Ms. Marchini was taking submissions. This generosity and willingness to share info to help others in the community is what led me on the path to connecting with Ms. Marchini.

Has your writing process changed at all since signing with an agent?

I can’t tell you a specific way that the writing process itself has changed. But mentally and emotionally, the fact that writing is “a business” has become more of a reality to me.

What advice would you give to picture book writers looking for agents today?

First, join 12 x 12! Just do it—you won’t regret it for one moment. Then join the 12 x 12 Facebook community, participate in the forums and in the occasional pb pitches. In other words, interact with other writers, seek out opportunities to make your work and your technique better, and put yourself out there. Lots of times opportunities come through venues you hadn’t planned to engage in (or you may have never heard of before), but when you put yourself out there, you’re more apt  to stumble upon them.

Do you think your platform (blog, social media) helped you find your agent?

Not sure if it actually helped, but I would think it didn’t hurt.

Tell us something that is on your “bucket list.” Something you’ve dreamed of doing all your life but have yet to accomplish (besides publishing a book, which is inevitable at this point 🙂 )

Well…I’m an inventor, and I’d like to see some of my inventions get out there. For example, I invented an interactive toy back in 2001 that was a bit before its time in that there was no technology to do the things I wanted it to do. There was also no money to develop said technology…but that’s another story. Now the technology’s everywhere—it’s coming out of society’s ears, in fact—so I’m quite sure it’s too late to pursue that particular avenue. HOWEVER…I commissioned a stuffed animal version of the toy, and it sits on my bookshelf and scowls at me every day as if it’s saying, “Well, is it time yet?” I would love to give my interactive toy its own platform via children’s books!  That’s all I can say about it right now. If the project ever picks up steam again I’ll be glad to keep the community posted.

What’s up next/what are you working on now?

Right now I’m tweaking two children’s books. One is historical nonfiction about the life of a formerly enslaved man who lived 130+ years. The other is historical “faction” about a wonderful experience a little boy had in the south in 1938.

 

Not a 12 x 12 member? We’d love to have you join us! Registration opens in January for our new year where we’ll challenge you to write 12 picture book drafts in 12 months. Plus, you’ll get the support and encouragement of a writers group like no other! Click here to join our notification list!

Rita was a 12 x 12 scholarship recipient. The 2018 scholarship opportunity is open until December 1, 2017. Find out the details and apply here

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How I Got My Agent – Jess Townes http://www.juliehedlund.com/how-i-got-my-agent-jess-townes/ http://www.juliehedlund.com/how-i-got-my-agent-jess-townes/#respond Tue, 21 Nov 2017 08:37:24 +0000 http://www.juliehedlund.com/?p=14245 12 x 12 member Jess TownesI LOVE the spirit of today’s “How I Got My Agent” author. No wonder she’s had such success. I think we’ve all felt, one way or another, that authors and opportunities are passing us by and we’ll never “get there.” It’s stories like these that make you remember there is room for everyone, and you WILL get there if you don’t give up. Please welcome, Jess Townes!

How long had you been writing before seeking an agent, and what made you decide it was time to look for one?

I’ve been a life-long writer. I used to write sequels or new endings to my favorite books when I was a child, before I knew there was a term for that! There have been very few seasons of my life when I wasn’t writing, at least privately, but I started focusing on the craft of writing for children about two years ago. I waited eighteen months before submitting any of my writing to agents or editors. It took that long before I felt I had a body of submission-ready picture book work that was somewhat representative of my voice and style.

I knew I wanted to seek an agent on the path to publication, not only because so many houses are closed to unsolicited submissions, but also because I value the industry knowledge an agent brings to the table. I invest a lot of time in learning the craft, reading in the genre and the creative process, but am still very much learning the ropes of the publication side of the industry. I’ve been fortunate to have some strong critique partners and fellow writers guide me in this process, but I still felt my career would be better served if guided by a literary agent.

What kind of research did you do before submitting?

Goodness. So much! Thanks to the internet, and great new sites every day like Manuscript Wish List, it is not that difficult to identify agents that are interested in representing picture books. I also write middle grade, so I kept that in mind when considering agents. I knew I wanted an agent that was interested in representing my career, and one that is at least moderately editorial in nature. Most importantly, I looked for key words that indicated my work might resonate with an agent, like “funny, sweet, heart and humor, quirky” and made a short list of those agents.

Next I read interviews with the agents, researched their current clients, and tried to gain an understanding of what kinds of projects they represented.

The dreaded questions: How many queries?  How many rejections?

In total, I submitted to nine agents. My agent was actually the first agent I ever submitted to, but it wasn’t my original submission that sparked her interest. More on that later. I received four requests for additional manuscripts, two requests for revisions and resubmissions and two offers. I received five written rejections during the process, and one agent stepped aside after I had received the offer, and two I never heard back from. I had to pull out my notecards to answer that!

Was it difficult to find an agent who wanted to represent an author focusing solely on picture books?

I didn’t find this difficult at the time, but I do see a trend in the industry away from representing authors that only write picture book manuscripts and/or don’t also illustrate. There are still agents that take on picture book author-only clients, you just have to do your research!

Who is your new agent? Tell us about getting the news.

My agent is Stephanie Fretwell-Hill from Red Fox Literary!  As I stated above, the first query I sent was to my agent, when I read that she was closing earlier than she had hoped to submissions last May. I was working on a goal of being submission-ready by the end of the year, but Stephanie was at the top of my list of agents I was interested in querying and I didn’t want to miss an opportunity. While my query was still in her inbox, I had an opportunity to participate in a critique through my SCBWI region with her, so I sent a different manuscript in June. She sent back a largely positive critique and requested that I submit the revision to her if I would like. I did, and she liked that as well and asked to see additional work. I sent her several more manuscripts, and then we scheduled a phone call, where she made an offer of representation. I was elated, and got off the phone feeling really excited about working with her, but since I still had work out with other agents, I did follow up with them all, as well as talk to several of Stephanie’s clients by phone before officially accepting her offer.

How did you know your agent was “the one”?

Stephanie is incredibly knowledgeable about the publishing industry as well as warm and personable. Her taste in books is similar to mine, which I think it is important since what we read tends to inform what we write, and she places a high value on the heart of a story, even in a funny picture book. I’m always looking to balance humor and heart in my work, so this is important to me. I also found that working through a revision with her helped me understand her editorial approach, and allowed her to see how I applied her feedback. If you are going to be working with an editorial agent, I’d recommend working through a revision together to see if your approaches work well together, on both ends.

If 12 x 12 helped you in any way during your agent search/development of craft, can you tell us how? (P.S. It is TOTALLY okay if the answer is no. I am not trying to “lead” you 🙂 )

I can’t underestimate how much 12 x 12 helped me in both my agent search and my craft development. Prior to joining 12 x 12, I did not really share my writing for children with anyone but my husband (and even then, only occasionally). I had reached a point where I needed feedback on my work in order to grow, and 12 x 12 helped me find strong critique partners who push my work to the next level. Also, the Critique Ninjas on the forum are such great teachers, the webinars are super informative and the community in general is beyond welcoming. I joined 12 x 12 for accountability (and that accountability piece worked for me better than I expected) but I found so much more, and will be forever grateful.

Has your writing process changed at all since signing with an agent?

In terms of my creative process, not really, but in terms of prioritizing projects, yes, a little.  I still set aside daily time for writing, but if I’m working on a revision for my agent, or readying something for submission, I will prioritize that over new work if time is limited.  It’s been really wonderful to have an extra sounding board for ideas, and Stephanie has been great about helping me decide which idea to pursue next.

What advice would you give to picture book writers looking for agents today?

Take your time. If you are involved in an online community like 12 x 12 or another group of writers, it can start to feel like you are falling behind as other writers sign with agents, or agents close to submissions. But it’s not true. There will always be agents seeking new clients, and there will always be readers seeking new books. Take your time, study the craft, READ a ton of recently published picture books, and write. Keep writing until you have a collection of picture book manuscripts that represent the kind of work you want to put out in the world, manuscripts that showcase your voice and your heart.

Do you think your platform (blog, social media) helped you find your agent?

I should ask her! I don’t think so, at least it wasn’t something we talked about before I signed with her.

Tell us something that is on your “bucket list.” Something you’ve dreamed of doing all your life but have yet to accomplish (besides publishing a book, which is inevitable at this point 🙂 )

I’ve never written a bucket list! But when something tugs at my heart long enough, I tend to listen and go for it, for better or for worse. I love to travel, and have visited 42 states and 9 countries at current count. I’d love to see all fifty states.

What’s up next/what are you working on now?

Right now I’m revising a picture book for submission this month, I’m in the early stages of research for a non-fiction picture book idea that is near to my heart, and I’m about halfway through the first draft of a middle grade novel. I’m always working on something!

 

 

Not a 12 x 12 member? We’d love to have you join us! Registration opens in January for our new year where we’ll challenge you to write 12 picture book drafts in 12 months. Plus, you’ll get the support and encouragement of a writers group like no other! Click here to join our notification list!

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How I Got My Agent – Elizabeth Brown http://www.juliehedlund.com/how-i-got-my-agent-elizabeth-brown/ http://www.juliehedlund.com/how-i-got-my-agent-elizabeth-brown/#comments Tue, 14 Nov 2017 08:32:39 +0000 http://www.juliehedlund.com/?p=14242 12 x 12 Member Elizabeth BrownI’ve loved having today’s “How I Got My Agent” author in 12 x 12. She is talented, generous, and knowledgeable. As such, the advice she shares here is quite possibly my favorite, ever. “Have stunning manuscripts and a fantastic query letter. Period.” Please welcome Elizabeth Brown, who sets a phenomenal example of patience and making sure you work on your craft before seeking an agent.

How long had you been writing before seeking an agent, and what made you decide it was time to look for one?

I have always been writing, even as a young child. When I went to college, I majored in music and afterward pursued a career as a professional violinist and violin teacher, but I missed writing A LOT. I kept writing on the side, actively taking classes and workshops and publishing stories, articles, and essays. I went back to school for my MFA in Creative Writing. Very soon after graduating, I landed a position teaching college writing and literature. In between teaching classes and caring for my young daughter, I kept on writing. I knew I needed to seek an agent in order to publish my books, so I took the plunge and began querying!

What kind of research did you do before submitting?

I feel it’s essential to do your research and submit your manuscripts to agents who represent the type of books you write or who would be a very good fit for your work. I researched agents online but most of my submissions to agents were through courses with submission opportunities, workshops or critiques, or through 12 x 12.

The dreaded questions: How many queries?  How many rejections?

Once I began submitting, it didn’t take long. I feel this is because I spent many years writing and working on craft before I actually considered submitting.

Was it difficult to find an agent who wanted to represent an author focusing solely on picture books?

Absolutely not! There are many agents open to picture book authors.

Who is your new agent? Tell us about getting the news.

My agent is Sean McCarthy of Sean McCarthy Literary Agency. Sean saw a pitch for a picture book I wrote through a submission opportunity in a course I was taking. He requested the manuscript which I sent to him promptly, and soon after, he requested additional manuscripts. Sean emailed me after he read my additional manuscripts and said he wanted to talk about representation. Once we talked, I knew that he was the agent for me. The day I officially signed with him is one of the best days in my writing life so far!

How did you know your agent was “the one”?

There was no question in my mind Sean would be the right fit. We shared the same visions for my manuscripts, and I felt his personality and communication style were excellent. Also, I liked the fact that he studied creative writing and that he really knows the business of children’s books! I am thrilled that Sean is my agent!

If 12 x 12 helped you in any way during your agent search/development of craft, can you tell us how? (P.S. It is TOTALLY okay if the answer is no. I am not trying to “lead” you 🙂 )

Yes, 12×12 DEFINITELY helped me during my agent search by offering a community within which to write drafts, revise them, and revise them some more! Through this community, I have made connections with others that will last a lifetime.

Has your writing process changed at all since signing with an agent?

My writing process hasn’t changed but having an agent is very inspiring for my creative output. It makes setting writing goals and achieving them easier!

What advice would you give to picture book writers looking for agents today?

  1. Work on developing your writing. Focus on craft…for as long as it takes, even if it takes years. Never submit to agents before you are ready. Make sure you have an arsenal of 3-5 polished, submission-ready picture book manuscripts before you begin querying. Show you are a career writer, not just a one-book wonder!
  2. Know yourself, your writing style, and your writing process. This will help you in your agent search. Research agents before you submit to them. Don’t blindly send out queries. Know who you are querying and why.
  3. Have stunning manuscripts and a fantastic query letter. Period. These are the MOST important things!
  4. Don’t be in a rush. Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. It will be a more enjoyable ride that way. I think one must enjoy the process and keep envisioning success!
  5. Believe in your stories and never stop revising. Develop a love for revision. Try to always see other ways and possibilities to write your picture books. There are so many ways to tell one story!
  6. Get comfortable with rejection. Learn not to fall apart with rejection. Create and write despite rejection.
  7. Be patient!
  8. Keep believing in yourself! You can do it!

Do you think your platform (blog, social media) helped you find your agent?

No, not really. I feel it’s important for writers to have a website and some social media presence, but the quality of the manuscripts are the most crucial in finding an agent.

Tell us something that is on your “bucket list.” Something you’ve dreamed of doing all your life but have yet to accomplish (besides publishing a book, which is inevitable at this point 🙂 )

I want to travel more, especially to continue visiting as many art museums and galleries in Europe as possible. I will continue to attend more SCBWI conferences in the future, and of course, continue writing. Also, my daughter wants a puppy!

What’s up next/what are you working on now?

Submitting my manuscripts and working on new books as well!

 

Elizabeth Brown is a writer, college writing professor, and an independent film producer and screenwriter. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Her debut picture book, DANCING THROUGH FIELDS OF COLOR, a biography of artist Helen Frankenthaler, will be published by Abrams (Spring, 2019). Elizabeth’s website is www.elizabethmbrown.com and follow her on Twitter: @ebrownbooks.

Not a 12 x 12 member? We’d love to have you join us! Registration opens in January for our new year where we’ll challenge you to write 12 picture book drafts in 12 months. Plus, you’ll get the support and encouragement of a writers group like no other! Click here to join our notification list!

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How I Got My Agent – Rosie Pova http://www.juliehedlund.com/how-i-got-my-agent-rosie-pova/ http://www.juliehedlund.com/how-i-got-my-agent-rosie-pova/#comments Tue, 07 Nov 2017 08:26:21 +0000 http://www.juliehedlund.com/?p=14217 12 x 12 member Rosie Pova I had the good fortune of meeting today’s “How I Got My Agent” author recently, and she is as lovely, hardworking, and humble in person as she is in this post. I absolutely love what she says about trusting your own process (something we ALL can do more of) and not giving up no matter how many rejections you receive. Please welcome, Rosie Pova! 

How long had you been writing before seeking an agent, and what made you decide it was time to look for one?

I’ve been writing since childhood–poetry, short stories, essays–in any language that I knew. Then, adulthood happened and life took me in many different directions before I revisited my passion for writing in 2004 when I was a new mom.

I’ve queried agents for many years with my picture books, even back when I wasn’t ready. Needless to say, I’ve collected tons of rejections over the years. I didn’t know anything about the business at first, but I was so impatient, that after a little research, I self-published four picture books. In retrospect, I should’ve waited. But I learned a lot from the experience and moved on. I kept writing, learning the craft and little by little, learning about the business, too. The more I knew, the more I realized how much I didn’t know and needed to learn further. Apparently, there were no shortcuts. Especially for someone like me for whom English is not their first language.

In 2013 I did sign with my first agent for my middle grade novel. We’ve gotten some great, encouraging feedback from editors, but the timing wasn’t right, so when the book didn’t sell after months of submissions it was time to stick it in the drawer and move on. My agent wasn’t interested in representing my picture books though, so we parted ways, very amicably, when the contract expired.

What kind of research did you do before submitting?

Any type of research you could think of! Online interviews, workshops, conferences, writers’ groups etc. I would devour any piece of information I’d come across and collect notes and lists that were miles long.

The dreaded questions: How many queries?  How many rejections?

Over the years? A few hundred, but I don’t have an exact count. My first agent used to tell me all the time, ‘Well, Kate DiCamillo got over 400 rejections before she got published,’ to which I’d reply, ‘Well, I don’t want to compete with Kate DiCamillo in that department.’ But I’m pretty sure I beat her.

Was it difficult to find an agent who wanted to represent an author focusing solely on picture books?

Picture books are not my sole focus, so I was looking for someone who represented all kidlit age groups. I also write middle grade and young adult, although picture books are definitely my soft spot and my favorite to write! Honestly, it has been definitely more difficult to get any type of response whenever I queried with picture books.

Who is your new agent? Tell us about getting the news.

My new agent is Marisa Corvisiero of the Corvisiero Literary Agency. Prior to signing with her, I had actually received three offers of publication from a small publisher for two of my picture books and my middle grade novel. As the etiquette requires, I notified all of the agents who had any of my work under consideration and the ones I had queried. (Before the notification, I had gotten interest on a different picture book with a request for two more by another agent.)

Surprisingly, it didn’t make it any easier to find representation even with three offers of publication on the table. At that point, I started to suspect I had an agent curse upon me! But of course, before an agent takes you on, they still need to love your work and the timing needs to be right.

The agents who did reply either said they’re not the right agent to represent the work or their lists were too full at the moment. Marisa, on the other hand, said she would love to represent me. I couldn’t believe the email when I read that and it was a great thrill!

How did you know your agent was “the one”?

When I first notified Marisa of the offers, she promptly communicated asking to see the manuscripts and emailed to tell me straight out that she would love to represent me! Shortly after that, we set up a phone call. Marisa was easy to talk to, she was excited to work with me as a career agent and that was very important to me. She also represents all age groups I write in and that was another must of what I looked for in an agent. She was just great. Marisa is well known in the industry and very successful. She had been on my radar for a long time, and I had the feeling she was the one.

If 12 x 12 helped you in any way during your agent search/development of craft, can you tell us how? (P.S. It is TOTALLY okay if the answer is no. I am not trying to “lead” you 🙂 )

I’m shouting out to say here that yes, 12 x 12 absolutely and positively helped me be where I am today! In terms of craft, support, encouragement, resources…the list is long and every step invaluable. 12 x 12 was a constant reminder for persistence. It was a big part of the force that pushed me in the right direction. The motivation that kept me going came directly with the challenge to keep up with drafts for each month (I am sooo very competitive!). Some months, I wrote more than one draft and I could see my craft and techniques improving with each one. It is such a great feeling, the satisfaction of creating something I feel proud of. It really flipped a switch in me and I found myself writing to get more of that same feeling, not thinking so much about publication anymore. If I felt confident in the stories I created, I suspected it would happen for me one way or the other. I kinda relaxed and trusted the process because of my 12 x 12 family and all the other writers’ groups that did the very same for me: PiBoIdMo, ReFoReMo, Kidlit411 to name a few. But there are more.

Has your writing process changed at all since signing with an agent?  What advice would you give to picture book writers looking for agents today?

At this point, I’m revising more than I’m writing, though I do try to keep up with my monthly draft. I am currently more focused on production and a marketing plan for my three upcoming books in 2017. It’s a dream come true and a bit stressful as I’m such an introvert so this part will be challenging. I am planning for events, setting up my new online presence and gathering materials for the launch.

My advice for writers looking for an agent is to make sure you’re ready and your manuscripts are ready, too. Don’t rush and submit randomly, but research a lot to make sure the agents you query are a good fit. Don’t get discouraged by rejection (and here’s where I’d roll my eyes when I read that before because I know how much it stings!) but change your mindset about it: it’s not the right time and not the right story for this particular agent, therefore it’s better to continue the journey to the right destination. To paraphrase a saying, if you’re going through Rejection Land, keep going!

Admittedly, some people are just plain lucky and wonderful things happen to them easier. But for the rest of us, I’ll share one of my favorite quotes, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” So go ahead and create your own luck through commitment, persistence and yes, hard work.

Do you think your platform (blog, social media) helped you find your agent?

No, I don’t think so, simply because I don’t really have any to impress with. But when my agent and I talked on the phone, she shared that she “stalked” me a little on social media to make sure nothing crazy or negative was going on so it helped that my online presence looked good.

Tell us something that is on your “bucket list.” Something you’ve dreamed of doing all your life but have yet to accomplish (besides publishing a book, which is inevitable at this point 🙂 )

I don’t really have a bucket list simply because I don’t want to limit myself with a number of things that when I accomplish, I’d consider myself “done.” So I make goals as I go and have continuous lists. When I reach my goals, I just check them off and make new ones, keep challenging myself, keep growing.

I do hope that Marisa and I will sell many more books together and maybe at some point, I’d win a literary award? My fortune cookie once told me so 🙂

What’s up next/what are you working on now?

I’m still working on my craft, on my personal growth and taking daily action toward realizing my dreams as a writer. I have a long way to go and to me, every accomplishment is a new beginning in a way.

It’s been a long journey for me and not an easy one. Once again I’d like to encourage writers to trust in their own journeys and have faith in the process. If you’re not there yet, that only means you’ve got more work to do. Also, if you’ve ever considered quitting and you can actually go through with that for more than a couple of days, maybe you should reconsider your dreams, your passions and your calling. If you can resist writing, considering what you have to overcome, maybe your fire for it isn’t powerful enough. Just think about the reasons behind the path you’ve chosen.

And finally, I’m going to share another story here to make a point. Whenever I first immigrated to North America in 1998 (we lived in Canada first), I had a job working as a security officer at the Vancouver International airport check point. There was a passenger one time, who told me to go back to where I came from because my English wasn’t good enough. So going from pushed away to published didn’t happen overnight, but I got there. And wherever you are right now on the road to publication, you, too, can get there.

As for what’s next, I hope that I will reach many readers and whether I make them laugh or think or feel special in some way, I’d like to be able to touch them with my words and make a difference.

UPDATE FROM ROSIE: [Since writing this post,] I just found out a couple of days ago that my first PB, If I Weren’t with You, is now on the SCBWI Official Recommended Reading List for Texas and Oklahoma so that was great news!

 

Not a 12 x 12 member? We’d love to have you join us! Registration opens in January for our new year where we’ll challenge you to write 12 picture book drafts in 12 months. Plus, you’ll get the support and encouragement of a writers group like no other! Click here to join our notification list!

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How I Got My Agent – Lisa Katzenberger http://www.juliehedlund.com/how-i-got-my-agent-lisa-katzenberger/ http://www.juliehedlund.com/how-i-got-my-agent-lisa-katzenberger/#comments Tue, 31 Oct 2017 18:18:23 +0000 http://www.juliehedlund.com/?p=14286 Lisa Katzenberger Okay, a woman after my own heart — fellow Brady Bunch fan here, and I LOVE the Grand Canyon episode. But I digress… Please take note of the number of queries our “How I Got My Agent” author sent before signing with her agent. As she says, “It takes tenacity.” Luckily she has that in spades. Very happy to welcome Lisa Katzenberger today.

How long had you been writing before seeking an agent, and what made you decide it was time to look for one?

Um, forever? I remember writing my first story in third grade. I took creative writing courses whenever I could in school, all through college. After college, I began writing adult fiction, mostly short stories. Then I wrote and queried two (really bad) novels with no luck. It wasn’t until I had my kids and started attending story times at the library that I switched to writing KidLit. I probably started querying after writing picture books for 9-12 months (i.e. way too soon) because I had been familiar with the querying process.

What kind of research did you do before submitting?

So, so, much. I am active on Twitter and follow a lot of agents there. I also scoured the #MSWL hashtag and www.manuscriptwishlist.com. I have copies of The Writer’s Market dating back to 2003. And google, google, google.

The dreaded questions: How many queries?  How many rejections?

I love this question, because it shows that you really need tenacity. The query that snagged my agent was number 106! I sent out 113 queries in all, for 8 different picture books. For the book that got my agent’s attention, I had sent out 49 queries in total.

Was it difficult to find an agent who wanted to represent an author focusing solely on picture books?

No! There are so many of them out there. At least 100!

Who is your new agent? Tell us about getting the news.

I found my agent through a contest called #PBParty, where you submit a query and first 50 words of your story. The entries that make the final round are posted online. If an agent likes it, they will request to see the manuscript. I received requests from five agents for that picture book, and that turned into two offers of representation. I was lucky enough to sign with Natascha Morris of BookEnds Literary.

How did you know your agent was “the one”?

First, I did my research. I had been following Natascha on Twitter when she was an editor with Simon & Schuster, and saw her announcement that she had switched to agenting. And of course I researched her more and then queried her, and she kindly passed. So when I saw she was an agent for #PBParty, I was already familiar with her work. When she liked my #PBParty story—a different picture book from the first time I queried her—I was super excited.

I ended up getting another offer first, and followed up with all agents who had either requested a PB from me, or I had only just queried but not heard back. Natascha responded a few days later that she wanted to talk! I read everything I possibly could about her online. I liked her background in editing and I had been following BookEnds for years, so I knew that even though she was a new agent, she was at a strong agency.

When we spoke, it really came down to enthusiasm and personality. She was high-energy and easy to talk to. In fact, I said to her that I could ask questions about contracts later, but I was curious about her as a person, what does she do in her free time? Turns out she loves to make her own cheese. I love that she shared something personal with me, and well, who doesn’t love cheese?

If 12 x 12 helped you in any way during your agent search/development of craft, can you tell us how? (P.S. It is TOTALLY okay if the answer is no. I am not trying to “lead” you 🙂 )

I would not be where I am without 12 x 12. Period. After a few years of non-writing once I had kids, I was a bit dejected. Getting my energy up to continue to follow my dreams of writing took quite a bit of work, and here I was starting to write for a completely different audience. It was December of 2014 when I made the commitment to write again, and I found 12 x 12. The monthly goal made me write frequently and also try new things. I met critique partners, bounced questions off people in the Facebook group, and learned so much from the monthly webinars. It is this goal of sitting down and writing something fresh every 30 days that keeps me going. It is so much a part of my life that my kids ask me what my story is for each month.

Has your writing process changed at all since signing with an agent?

Not so much. Lately, I’ve been working on revisions (lots and lots of revisions) to get my picture book ready for submission to publishers. I still wrote my June 12 x 12 draft. I am still revising other works in progress, swapping stories with critique partners, and getting professional critiques when I can.

What advice would you give to picture book writers looking for agents today?

Don’t stop. Query widely. It really can be a numbers game. If you can send out one query, you can send out one hundred.

Do you think your platform (blog, social media) helped you find your agent?

I don’t think it helped Natascha find me—in fact she said she didn’t even check out my social media. “For me, writing is king,” were her exact words. But Twitter certainly helped me find her. Debbie Ridpath Ohi (@inkyelbows) keeps several Twitter lists of kidlit agents and editors. That’s how I found Natascha when she was an editor.

Tell us something that is on your “bucket list.” Something you’ve dreamed of doing all your life but have yet to accomplish (besides publishing a book, which is inevitable at this point 🙂 )

Going to the Grand Canyon! I was obsessed with it from watching the Brady Bunch so much growing up. But you are not getting me down to the bottom on a horse! But, if you mean writing-related, I am aiming to get myself to a Highlights Workshop some day!

What’s up next/what are you working on now?

I just hung up with Natascha who okayed my final revision of my first picture book, and it is going out on submission to editors in a few days! Then we identified the next project to submit. I am very grateful to have a good handful of manuscripts to choose from. In the meantime, I just keep writing! I don’t know what to expect in the future, but I hope I have a lot of fun figuring it out.

 

Lisa Katzenberger is a Fiction Editor for LITERARY MAMA and a member of SCBWI, where she serves as the Social Media Coordinator for the Illinois Region. Her work has been published in 2017 CHILDREN’S WRITER’S AND ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET, CHICAGO REVIEW OF BOOKS, CHICAGO PARENT, AND POEM/MEMOIR/STORY. She lives near Chicago with her husband and twin children. Follow her online at www.lisakatzenberger.com or @FictionCity.

 

Not a 12 x 12 member? We’d love to have you join us! Registration opens in January for our new year where we’ll challenge you to write 12 picture book drafts in 12 months. Plus, you’ll get the support and encouragement of a writers group like no other! Click here to join our notification list!

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Last Day for Writing Webinars at 50% off http://www.juliehedlund.com/last-day-for-writing-webinars-at-50-off/ Mon, 23 Oct 2017 12:17:30 +0000 http://www.juliehedlund.com/?p=14340 The new Julie Hedlund “school” on Teachable debuted last week and today is the last day to use code BOO and get 50% off any of the courses for writers available on the site.

It’s the last day to get 50% off and find out how agent-client relationships really work in:

The Insider’s Guide to Getting and Working with an Agent

This FOUR video bundle includes:

Insider Look at Agent-Client Relationships with Erzsi Deak

Find out what it’s really like to work with an agent during this 90 minute Q&A with Erzsi Deak, with Hen and Ink Literary Agency. You’ll learn what you should expect from your agent, when you should send your agent your newest manuscript, best communication methods and more!

Managing Your Agent and Editor Relationships with Marcie Colleen

In this 110-minute video, you will hear two professional authors (Marcie Colleen and Julie Hedlund) discuss their relationships with their agents. Marcie Colleen also addresses the dynamics of working with editors. You will learn:

  • How to develop and nurture the agent-client relationship
  • Questions to ask prospective agents
  • What you can and can’t expect from your agent
  • Differences between working with an agent and an editor

Plus MUCH more! This is a rare peek inside the inner workings of an agented, published author’s life.

What Agents are Looking for in Picture Book Submissions with Jill Corcoran (This video is ONLY available as part of this bundle.)

Agents get multiple submissions everyday. What makes them say yes to one manuscript and no to another? Agent Jill Corcoran pulls back the curtain and reveals what agents are really thinking when they read your query and your manuscript.

Do spelling errors hurt your chances of getting a reply?

Should you include art notes?

How perfect does your manuscript need to be to get an offer?

How many stories do have to have complete before you submit to an agent?

All these questions and more will be answered in this video.

The Importance of Agent Contracts with Marcie Colleen and Julie Hedlund (This video is ONLY available as part of this bundle.)

Authors Marcie Colleen and Julie Hedlund engage in a lively and frank discussion about the importance of contracts between literary agents and their author and illustrator clients.

This intimate, 30-minute conversation resulted after both were inundated with requests for help from authors who either didn’t have contracts with their agents at all or had contracts with questionable clauses.

It is critical for authors and illustrators to understand the risks they take if they operate without contracts and/or don’t understand the terms of their existing contracts completely.

And, that’s just one of the packages available through midnight tonight for 50% off when you use code BOO. See the full course list here including: 

And MUCH More!

A few things to remember:

You can use the coupon code, BOO, as many times as you like through midnight Monday, October 23, 2017 to get 50% off all courses.

All courses are LIFETIME access. Purchase once, keep forever.

ACT FAST! This deal disappears into the dark night at midnight, October 23rd.

CLICK HERE to see the full list of courses.

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Ready to Shorten Your Learning Curve? http://www.juliehedlund.com/ready-to-shorten-your-learning-curve/ Sat, 21 Oct 2017 14:38:06 +0000 http://www.juliehedlund.com/?p=14331 When you’re starting on your picture book writing journey, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Then you discover there’s a LOT you don’t know and you have a whole lotta learning to do!

A few years ago in 12 x 12, we decided to shorten this learning curve by hosting a webinar each month with an industry insider. We’ve hosted bestselling authors, illustrators, agents, editors, publishers, and more.

Here are three webinars that will shorten your picture book learning curve and get you closer to a publishable manuscript and they are on sale now through Monday, October 23, 2017. Use code BOO for 50% off HERE:

Picture Book Beat Sheet with Heather Preusser

Inside this course is a BRAND NEW way of evaluating the strength of your picture book manuscripts using Blake Snyder’s beat sheet tool from his book, SAVE THE CAT. Author Heather Preusser has applied the beats to picture books and teaches how to use them in both the writing and revision process. Specifically, you will learn:

  • How a book on screenwriting can help us with picture book manuscripts.
  • The 15 beats in most stories.
  • A hands-on way to apply the official “Blake Snyder Beat Sheet” to a model picture book text.
  • An impromptu exercise applying the beats to a picture book.
  • Where to find additional resources.

Picture Book First Pages with Deborah Warren & Erin Dealey

Deborah Warren & Erin Dealey - East West Literary

Agent Deborah Warren, owner of East-West Literary, and Author Erin Dealey (represented by Deborah and a second reader for the agency) join 12 x 12 to critique SEVENTEEN picture book first pages submitted by members.

In this webinar, you will get an inside perspective on how agents read manuscripts to evaluate whether or not they want to offer representation. You will learn:

  • the importance of titles;
  • how to incorporate pacing to create tension;
  • the critical role of illustrations in picture books;
  • how to ramp up your story arc;
  • why (every) word choice matters;
  • and more!

Building Momentum: Taking Your Craft (and Yourself) Seriously with Miranda Paul

Miranda Paul Webinar

Award-winning author Miranda Paul shares her TOP-SECRET (life-changing*) equation for:

  • Writing Great Books
  • Getting your Books Published
  • Building your Confidence
  • Knowing which Manuscript(s) to Submit
  • Keeping Doubt and Distraction at Bay,
  • And MUCH more

Here is your opportunity to learn directly from an author who has published six books in the past two years with more on the way. You will come away from this webinar with a whole new way to look at your writing career.

*This is a statement that I, Julie Hedlund, am making about this webinar. It changed my outlook and attitude toward my own work in meaningful, lasting ways.

Right now, all three of these courses are available for 50% off when you use code BOO before midnight October 23, 2017. Click here! That’s 50% off with lifetime access and a quicker way to creating submittable manuscripts agents and editors are looking for.

A few things to remember:

  • You can use the coupon code, BOO, as many times as you like through midnight Monday, October 23rd to get 50% off all courses.
  • All courses are LIFETIME access. Purchase once, keep forever.
  • ACT FAST! This deal disappears into the dark night at midnight, October 23rd.

CLICK HERE to see the full list of courses.

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