Bird Face Wendy

Things relevant to reading, writing, publishing or marketing teen fiction.

Book Award Competitions, Part 2 (the second scoop)

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If you’ve landed here, you may be familiar with my post from December 5th,  The Real Scoop on Book Award Competitions, Part 1. If not, be sure to take a look and see why and how I began entering award contests for my historical novel, The Other Side of Freedom.

One thing I didn’t mention then but will share with you now is that I had unexpectedly received opportunities to earn a little extra money by editing others’ work. Divine providence, perhaps? They were small assignments, but I saved the money. Instead of spending my fund on travel, I chose to invest in the possibility of receiving an award for my book. Some might call it risk, LOL.

So, in Part 1 you learned about what happened with my first entries. Not all bad. And here are the rest!

Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews and Award Contest Before I even considered entering the contest, I had requested and received a free review for one of my other books. (Be sure to look into that on the website.) For the contest, I entered The Other Side of Freedom in the category Children – Pre-teen, submitting a mobi file online and paying a fee, to which I chose the option of adding $1 donation to St. Jude’s Hospital. To my disappointment, Readers’ Favorite did not announce the results by email, but I knew approximately when they were due. I searched every few days until I found them, and my book had won! Gold-medal Winner for Coming-of-age. This contest has perhaps the greatest number of categories and winners, but the prizes give the books good exposure. Some winners are considered for representation by Folio Literary Management and some for film production by Wind Dancer Films. Other winners are receiving publicity or marketing from a number of companies. There’s a lot of information to absorb, so plan to spend a while on the website.

Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Awards I entered this 2017 contest in December 2017 and still can find no results a year later. (See the 2016 winners at the link.) I was allowed to enter past the deadline because I emailed the address provided and was told they “need more YA.” I had to not only pay the entry fee but priority-mail three books. I cannot give this contest a recommendation.

Eric Hoffer Book Award Described as an “independent book award for the small press, academic press & independent press, including self-published books,” this one had one of the moderately-priced entry fees among those with fees. My book was a finalist, for which I was notified by email. The category was YA, which includes juvenile and teen.

Book of the Year Awards (Independent Author Network) This competition attracted me because of the categories, cash prizes, and gala awards ceremony. I paid a very affordable fee for the first category and a reduced fee for the second category. I entered my book in Historical and Juvenile. It won Outstanding Fiction Children/Juvenile and Second Place Book of the Year. It was also a finalist in Historical fiction. Unfortunately I was not able to attend the ceremony in Miami. You don’t need to be a member to enter this contest, but I joined after winning.

The Christopher Awards (Catholic, family literature) I almost forgot about this one! Presented to TV and cable, feature films, and books for adults and young people, it was established to “affirm the highest values of the human spirit.” Although achieving this award would be a long shot, I entered my book. If nothing else, it would be seen and perhaps read by other Catholics who recognize good Catholic literature. As you can see, only six books for young people received the award. I had to mail three books, but there was no entry fee.

Children’s Literary Classics Book Awards Earlier in the year, my book received their Seal of Approval. I took that as an indication I should enter. I uploaded one ePub book, mailed one book, and paid a fee. I entered in the upper middle grade level for ages 11 to 14 years. I chose Historical as a category, plus got a free entry into the Eloquent Quill Top Honors award for youth books. The results? Gold Winner in two upper middle grade categories: General and Historical. The awards ceremony will be in Rapid City, South Dakota in May, 2019, and I plan to attend.

Catholic Press Association (CPA) Book Awards I cherish the certificate I received for Third Place, Children’s. I have a newspaper background, and I know how greatly such awards from press associations are coveted. It being an award from within this Catholic sphere makes it even sweeter to me. As a non-member, I paid a higher entry fee than a member.

Catholic Writers Guild’s Catholic Arts and Letters Award (CALA)I am a Catholic Writers Guild member, so I was aware that competition would be fierce, especially because  there is only one category for books for young people: Children’s and YA (Young Adult). One of my familiar colleagues was bound to win, and one did! My book had to have received the CWG Seal of Approval. The fee was low, and I mailed three books.

Purple Dragonfly Award (Story Monsters, Inc.) This is a competition open to any year of publication, which is different from the other contests.  I entered an ebook instead of going for the print competition. I got the Early Bird special fee. Results will be known in June, 2019.

Best Indie Book Award With about a dozen categories total and few where my book would fit, I took a chance and entered my book in the category of Literary/Mainstream because a book with a young boy character had previously won in that category, and the Children’s category seemed won mostly by picture books or early chapter books. I did not win, and I don’t believe finalists were recognized. The entry fee was in the moderate range.

There were two other competitions I considered entering. One was Christian Indie Awards, formerly Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) Awards. I didn’t enter because, based on past winners, I couldn’t decide between Children’s and YA categories. I wish now that I had made a decision and entered.

Another was the Benjamin Franklin Awards (Independent Book Publishing Association). The author’s indie publisher must be a member, and mine wasn’t, so my fee would’ve been $225 instead of $99. That placed it out of my reach.

I hope I’ve provided some useful information for new and established authors. In addition to these contests, look for those open only to authors in your city, state, or country or to authors of your particular ethnicity.  So many opportunities to win exist. You just have to find them and enter!

 

 

 

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How can I get my book published? 10 Points of Advice

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Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

Perhaps every author who has one or more published books hears that question on occasion. Or the plaintive statement, “I need help getting my book published.”

My heart always hurts for the unpublished author in need because I remember being desperate for help and for answers myself.

The good news today, as opposed to when I was writing my first novel, is the Internet holds much of the information writers seek. The bad news is that a lot of time is still required to apply that information and get results.

My publisher is small and not associated with any of the big-name publishers or their imprints. And I know nothing about self-publishing or about writing and publishing non-fiction books. But I’ll share what I feel might be helpful in getting a first novel published.

  1. Read blogs by experienced people in the publishing industry. One I recommend is Jane Friedman. She shares her knowledge about getting published in fiction and non-fiction, traditionally (large or small) and through self-publishing. She even delves into fiction genres and sub-genres.
  2. Join one or more writers groups in your city or state. All the better if they are chapters of larger organizations like Romance Writers of America, Historical Fiction Society, American Christian Fiction Writers, or the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. If dues are not easy for you to pay, select only one group with a local chapter that has published authors as members. Don’t be afraid to ask if they do. You will learn from many of the members, but the published author will have even more to offer.
  3. Take advantage of critique groups available through the organizations you join. They may work in person or online only. The goal is to learn from one another and to share information from outside sources during critiques. In other words, why did something in a particular manuscript not work well? What would work? Critiques should not only tell you what is wrong with your writing or story but how to fix it. Leave the group if it doesn’t supply what you need, and find another one.
  4. Learn to write a good query letter and a short synopsis of your book. Look for information online (such as Jane Friedman’s blog) on how to do both. Practice. Ask for help from your critique group(s).
  5. Seek Facebook groups of writers and authors in your genre—and also groups labeled “indie” if you think you might want to self-publish. You’ll get the inside scoop on many aspects of writing and publishing your genre, and it won’t cost you a dime. (Note: Be sure you know which genre you are writing.)
  6. Read novels similar to yours. Know how to compare your story to those. What is it about your book that is similar to another one? What is different? Often, an agent or acquisitions editor asks for such comparables. If not in the initial query, in a full proposal if it is requested. (Proposals contain a lot more than can fit in a query letter. Research what to include in a proposal in case you must provide one.)
  7. Research the publishers of books similar to yours or those you enjoy reading in your work’s genre. (Check the books by authors in your favorite Facebook groups, too.) Visit the publishers’ websites, and look for their submission guidelines. Do those publishers accept queries directly from an author, or do they only work with agents? Sometimes you can learn an author’s agent by reading the acknowledgments in his or her book. Whom does the author thank? Sometimes you’ll see a whole name you can look up to see if that’s the agent.
  8. Before you query anyone, be sure your manuscript is finished. You must have a whole story—beginning, exciting middle, and ending. And not just the first rough draft. The whole manuscript might be in the second round of critiques and doesn’t need to be completely polished yet, but be sure the first few chapters are! What if you query a publisher or agent and receive a fast response requesting sample chapters? They’d better be as good as you can make them, or you won’t be asked for the whole manuscript.
  9. While in the query process, keep submitting chapters of your manuscript to your critique group(s). There’s always room for improvement. But don’t discard old versions of your manuscript. Rename new versions in case you want to return to an earlier one because you prefer the way a particular sentence or scene was originally written. (That happened to me.)
  10. If you receive any feedback from an agent or editor you’ve queried, seriously consider it. Take the advice and learn from it. The fact that they took the time to give you a personalized reply means your work might have potential. Then improve your work and query some more.

AND, especially if you are a young writer in your teens or twenties . . .

Keep reading advice on writing by your favorite author/agent/editor bloggers. Read books on the writing craft. Most libraries carry some on self-editing, story structure, dialogue, characterization, setting, description.  Purchase used books online that you can refer to again and again. One of my favorite authors of self-help books for writers is James Scott Bell. If you can afford a magazine subscription, you can’t go wrong with Writer’s Digest. If not, be sure to visit the website for helpful articles.

Many authors advise attending live writers’ conferences, which can be costly but often pay off when an author connects in person with an agent or publisher. I’ve attended only one conference, after I was published. I’d wanted to attend a number of them, but it just didn’t work out for me. Online conferences are available, too, at which you can pitch your project. Bottom line: It is possible to acquire a publisher or agent—or learn how to successfully self-publish—even if you cannot attend conferences.

 

 

 

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7 Ways to Make a Blog Host Happy

If an author or other creative has the opportunity to be featured on someone else’s blog, here are some tips to make the blog host’s experience as pleasant as possible—and get the guest invited back!

Whether for a book review, interview, guest post, showcase of a creation, or any other feature that recognizes a creative person or his work, there are ways to submit items to the blog owner that make his or her preparation of the post easier.

1. Create Word documents that are clearly labeled as bio, summary or description, excerpt, interview Q&A, etc. Email them and any requested images as attachments to your host. The email message should state what you are attaching, or simply say that you have attached the requested materials.

When I receive such materials for an upcoming feature, I set up a folder on my desktop labeled with the author or artist’s name. I place all necessary documents and images there within easy reach. The desktop folder serves as a constant reminder that the host must prepare the blog post for publication.

Don’t copy and paste any of your information into the body of an email because …

a. Emails get lost in the muck and mire of hundreds or thousands of other emails and require the host to search later on.

b. A host like me will copy and paste information into Word documents anyway to organize and save it in a folder. That means extra work for your host, which is not a good thing.

2. If a guest thinks of an additional small piece of information after sending the original email containing attachments, I don’t mind copying a sentence or two (if clearly marked as new copy) from an email and adding it to an existing, appropriate Word document. But, for example, if a guest must revise a lengthy article or summary, please send a new Word document of the same name as the original one. That way, the host only has to replace the document by the same name in the folder.

3. When emailing images, don’t send high-resolution files large enough for printing a poster! They take longer to load and use unnecessary storage space. A book cover image file around 300 KB is plenty big enough for digital use, although around 700 is still manageable. I often open larger image files in Photoshop and save them to a smaller size, but it would be better for the guest to do that before sending to the host.

4. Provide all materials to the blog host at least one week in advance of publication date or by the date requested by the host. In your email, ask the host to let you know when he or she receives the email. A response benefits both of you as a reminder that everything is received and okay for publication.

5. Remember to sign up for email notifications of the blog’s posts. That way, you’ll receive an email when your feature has been published, and the host won’t have to notify you personally or email you a link. Either the host or the guest might forget the date when it draws near. The guest can unfollow the blog later.

6. Forward the post email to friends and share the post on all your social media.

7. Encourage friends to comment on the post. Check a few times over the first week for comments and respond to them.

Of course, if a blog host requires you do something different from what I advise, do what he or she prefers. Just as when you submit to an agent, editor, or publisher, it never hurts to ask in advance for guidelines if they are not provided initially.

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Recreation for Re-creation

Credit: sw_lynne-warren, Snapwire

 

If you are dedicated to your career, you’re probably stuck in your office, in the store you manage, or in front of a computer more than 40 hours a week. A problem always seems to exist that requires your immediate attention.

But this time the answer eludes you.

It happens a lot to writers, too. Sometimes our focus can be so I intense that we don’t see the big picture, and we lose the creativity needed to find a solution.

As sports-columnist character Ray Barone said in the sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond:

“Sometimes you have to stop thinking about it so you can really think ABOUT it.” 

Ray was trying to pull a fast one on his wife, who popped in at the newspaper where he worked, but he spoke the truth in his own deceitful way.

We sometimes need to step back and view our work from a distance, perhaps as an outsider. Place some space and time between our problem or project and ourselves. Think of something else.

I can’t fill my time with nonsense, you might say. I don’t have time for a break. When this job is done, then I’ll relax. 

But recreation leads to re-creation, or creating anew. When we return to our problem or project, we might see it in a new way. And often, we are excited to get back to work.

The filler is sometimes the fanner of the creative flame. The break is sometimes the boost to our brains.

So eat a relaxing meal in a restaurant instead of fast food.

Volunteer for a few hours for the enjoyment of it.

Take a walk or go camping, and listen to nature.

Visit with family or friends.

The answer you seek might be out there somewhere.

 

 

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