anti-resolutionTwo years ago I wrote a blog post that grabbed the attention and touched the heart of none other than Katie Davis, who is now one of my very best friends. It was titled, 2012 Anti-Resolution Revolution. Katie was so inspired by that post, she created her own special tool to capture her accomplishments throughout the year and evaluate them at the end. She has graciously offered to share this workbook with you – click here for more info.

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.  So I figured, why not start with what I did accomplish this year and set goals from there.  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..

I didn’t write a similar post in 2013, but I should have. 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.?

Here’s an example from my own year. All year long, in my head, I lamented how little writing I got done. So much so that by the end of the year I was sure I’d done almost nothing. Yesterday, when I tallied it all up, I was pleasantly to find I’d written far more than I thought I had. I had written full drafts that I’d completely forgotten about. Drafts that I can continue revising and working with this year.

I am a firm believer that it takes far more courage to celebrate and compliment yourself than it does to criticize and berate yourself. So let’s get started.

Here is a list of my major professional accomplishments of 2013. 

In addition to this list, I ran the 12 x 12 challenge all year, wrote new drafts and revised existing ones, and continued to contribute to Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books podcast. Whew! I’ll be sure to come back to this whenever I feel discouraged about how much I “don’t get done.” 🙂

Now it’s your turn to make YOUR list!

Categories: 12 x 12, A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Agents, Apps, Authors, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Brain Burps About Books, Children's Books, Crowdfunding, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Florence, Goals, Holidays, How I Got My Agent, Italy, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Social Media, Storybook Apps, Travel, Video Idiot Boot Camp, Works in Progress, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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At last I am able to reveal the BIG NEWS I’ve been alluding to regarding the publication of my next picture book. I will be crowdfunding the illustration, production, design and first run printing through Kickstarter.

Furthermore, I am inviting my fellow writers to come along with me in this journey. I know many of you are interested in crowdfunding but aren’t sure where to start, what the benefits and risks are, or how to set up a campaign for success.

As part of my role as the “Field Guide to 21st Century Publishing” for Children’s Book Insider, I am putting my own rear on the line so you don’t have to. Follow along as I share successes, failures, decisions, and outcomes. And at the end of this journey, whether I succeed or fail, the entire experience, in collaboration with CBI, will be consolidated into some type of “How To” guide to crowdfunding for children’s authors.

Watch this short video for all the details (cliff notes version below), and be sure to come back every day this week as I continue the Why Crowdfund? series. Oh, and WISH ME LUCK!! 🙂

Cliff Notes version for folks who can’t/won’t watch the video

  • I am crowdfunding the initial production and printing of my next picture book.
  • This is NOT a self-publishing project, but rather a HYBRID publishing project. The video explains this in more detail, but essentially, although I put the team together, I had an agent help me with the contracts, and I have a publisher for the book.
  • The personal reason I decided to experiment with crowdfunding for this particular book is because, although I believe it is a beautiful book and will resonate with many readers, it is probably a tough sell in NYC right now. The video explains in more detail.
  • The professional reason I decided to run this crowdfunding experiment was to do something unique, exciting, and beneficial to other writers as part of my role as the “Field Guide to 21st Century Publishing” for CBI.
  • Will I succeed? Will I fail? Come along for the journey and see for yourself!

Be sure to come back each day this week as I take on Why Crowdfunding Parts II – V. Here are the list of topics.

Tuesday, Why Crowdfunding Part II: Creative Control

Wednesday, Why Crowdfunding Part III: Experiment with New Publishing Models, Teach and Share with Fellow Writers

Thursday, Why Crowdfunding Part IV: Timing

Friday, Why Crowdfunding Part V: Demonstrating Demand PRIOR TO Publication

Have questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. Hope you’ll join me for this crazy adventure!

Categories: Agents, Children's Books, Creativity, Picture Books · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. The short film version of this app (which is also a storybook app) won an Oscar this year. I think that

ETA 8/12 — This post is still relevant today, but I have answered quite a number of my own questions since its publication. The best of my knowledge is now contained in a template I wrote for authors and illustrators to help them organize their thinking in order to write, illustrate (if applicable) and submit a storybook app proposal to an e-publisher, a developer or to use an app creation tool to develop it themselves. It’s called Julie Hedlund’s Template for Storybook App Proposals. It includes, as a bonus, a list of e-publishers accepting submissions and companies offering app creation tools. 

If, after reading this post, you think the template might be helpful, you can find more information here.

As some of you may know, I am committed to taking the story I entered in last year’s MeeGenius Children’s Author Challenge and developing it into an app.  I’ve been doing quite a bit of research, yet I feel I’ve only just begun my descent into the rabbit hole.  In reality this post should be titled, How to start THINKING about Creating a Storybook App.  There is a huge morass of information out there, much of it inconsistent.  It seems nobody has written Storybook Apps for Dummies yet.  I thought I’d take a crack at the very basics.

First, authors who are also illustrators have a distinct advantage in app development.  One reason it’s been so challenging to find information is because there are precious few resources geared toward “authors only” who have ideas for apps, beyond telling them to partner with an illustrator.  The best information I’ve found so far has been at e is for book, a blog written by a group of traditionally published, professional children’s book authors and illustrators who are working on various digital book projects, and Digital Kid’s Author, author Karen Robertson’s website.

Karen wrote the app “Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island,” a treasure hunt adventure book.  Recently, Karen spoke on Publishing Insiders Blog Talk Radio series on Secrets to Creating Children’s Book Apps (the show is still available; you can listen for free).  On the show, Karen discussed 5 steps to app creation.  All of these steps assume the text is written, edited and ready to be developed into an app.

  1. Decide what kind of app you want to create: Think about how much interaction you want in the story. Think about what animation might enhance (vs. detract from) the story.  Do you want a “read to me” option, which requires narration?  Do you want touch-based animation?  Special sounds?
  2. Create a brief for your app: This is a document that details the text, illustration, sounds/narration and animation that goes on each page. Unlike a manuscript for a traditional picture book submission, here the author and/or illustrator does suggest page turns because they are critical to developing the interactive components of the app.
  3. Create art for your app: Again, this is where illustrators have an advantage because they can both write and illustrate the app.  If you are an author looking to partner with an illustrator, look for one that can work digitally.  Ideally, the art is created using digital layers to produce the best animation effects.
  4. Decide what narration, sounds and animation you want: Do you want music in your app?  Do you need to hire a narrator?  Do you have sound sprites planned (touch-based animation that triggers a sound, for example an animal noise or a drum beating)?
  5. Build the app: This is where the app developer comes in.  The developer creates the code that turns the static story and illustrations into an interactive app.  You can hire an independent developer or work with a company that specializes in app development.  An advantage of an independent developer is that they can usually create custom code for features specific to your app.  You might also be able to retain ownership of that code.  A disadvantage is being reliant on that person to maintain and update your app for its lifetime.  Development companies typically have expertise in app development, and will code your app based upon their platforms.  This might provide less flexibility for custom animation, but companies continue to become more sophisticated in their offerings.  Companies will almost always provide the maintenance and updates for your app on an ongoing basis.  Some companies even offer do-it-yourself drag and drop interfaces.

Our VERY favorite storybook app!

After listening to the radio show and skimming through Karen’s e-book, I am still left with the question of what authors are supposed to submit to app development companies in terms of proposals.  Is it just a manuscript?  A full brief?  Should it include a marketing plan?  I have Googled storybook app “template,” “proposal,” “submission,” “brief,” “specification,” six hundred ways to Sunday and still haven’t come up with a good answer.

In two weeks, I’ll be in Bologna, Italy attending the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference, focused exclusively on the children’s market.  I’m writing articles for SCBWI and The Children’s Book Insider.  Many industry thought-leaders will be in attendance, so I am hoping to dig much deeper into these issues on behalf of authors and illustrators.  Stay tuned!  I probably won’t be able to blog in real-time while I am there, but I will be tweeting and posting snippets and updates on my Facebook Author page if you are interested.

I know some of you reading already have experience creating storybook apps.  Any advice to share?  Does anyone have questions they’d like me to get to the bottom of in Bologna?  Leave feedback in the comments!

Categories: Apps, Authors, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Self Publishing, Storybook Apps, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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