31 Day Author Platform Challenge Day 8: Conference Research

Conferences and workshops and training oh my

We’ve worked on the wording about ourselves this challenge. Now let’s look outward on how we can interact with others. We’ll do that by being of service. Today we broaden our view and help our fellow writer or reader grow, so that our own author platform can grow.

There are a ton of conferences, webinars, retreats, and training courses out there. Most are online. As a writer, you should already be aware of writing conferences yourself, so talking to fellow writers makes this a snap (and if you’re not already aware of the events, you’ll be helping yourself today too). Or maybe you want to look into conferences that can help your reader, like ESL or Book Fairs, or things your main characters are interested in, like whales or shyness. Maybe you write non-fiction and can look into events based on that topic.

Research educational opportunities for your followers.

Day 8 entails searching for conferences/classes/workshops et al that are specifically, say, for your audience’s age range and your genre. It sets you up as a reliable resource.

Google, for example, “2024 nonfiction picture book conferences” and see what comes up. Do the events look legit? Only mention what you think looks decent. It can be hard to tell, I know. Be careful when looking up classes and sessions. Scan through what you think might be the highest-quality training based not only on who is hosting the conference/event but who is presenting. Look for tried and true, national author groups/clubs like Children’s Book Insider, SCBWI, Authors Guild, Serious Writer, etc. Contact people you know that have attended the events and get their feedback before posting. Don’t blindly hand your recommendation (or suggest readers hand their money over).** (see Note)

Once you get a feel for what’s out there, in that first search, keep going and google variations like “2024 nonfiction picture book webinars,” “…online classes,” “…online training” etc., and do the same vetting process. Read carefully. Ask yourself…Which might offer the biggest bang for the buck? Do they offer refunds? (I’ve honestly found those that do tend to be the worst offenders for some reason. Could just be my experience.)

I bet you’ll find events you never heard of, or events you’ve been meaning to try but completely forgot about. Yeay you!

**A note of caution:

It’s easy to make yourself look good online. It’s easy for people with no experience to convince you they have it, and convince you to give them your money for a consult or class. It can be hard to verify what they say about their qualifications is true. It might never occur to you to verify it.

For example, I was surprised to find a writer’s service that has a quote from me on their home page, as if I am endorsing their training. I have never taken their class, I do not know them, they did not ask me for permission. BUT — they must have looked up public quotes that fit what the training covers, and since it’s public, they are legally allowed to use it, I guess. If you look carefully, it does not say I took the class. It does not say I am referring to their training in that quote. So it’s not “false.” Is it ethical, though? No.

In another example, I know an online business that claims to have launched MANY careers when in fact those authors’ successes had nothing to do with those classes–the authors were published before taking the classes!

A third example is actually something I come across almost daily. First-time authors and even those NEVER PUBLISHED are offering consults, sessions, and conference-like courses on how to get published. It baffles me they get away with it. They look so good online. They might be OK. But are they really the level of expert you want to listen to?

Do your research. Beware “post hoc ergo propter hoc.” Shop wisely.

Recap: Research conferences, workshops, and learning opportunities that are of interest to you and/or your audience. Make a list of the ones you would want to or would want to suggest they attend. Add them to your handy notebook (as noted in the prep post). Publish that list, or a link to that list, across your social media outlets.

You’ll look like a hero!

Your friends will thank you.

And you will thank yourself.

[Oh, and don’t forget to follow 10 new people today!]

Pay to Enter a Writing Contest?


There are some sneaky things going on in the writing world that you might not find sneaky. But I do. And I’m calling it out.

Writing contests. Mostly the kinds where you send in unpublished works.

It seems everyone and their mother, literally their mother, has some sort of reader’s or writer’s choice award. All you have to do is pay a small fee, say $19 to enter your manuscript or book into the contest. WHY ARE YOU PAYING MONEY TO ENTER A WRITING CONTEST? At least at the state fair you get a free fair pass in exchange for your peach pie entry fee. If it’s for charity, of course, yes yes pony up. But otherwise NO. As in NO.

What do you win? Let’s dissect a bit.

It might be bragging rights that you won a writing contest. That’s OK. It doesn’t have to be a trip to Sweden to accept the award.


Maybe it’s simple a ribbon or actual award/plaque. Fine. Still not a reason to cough up dough. Don’t tell me they are charging you to cover the cost of the actual award. Oh please.

Why would you pay money to say someone liked your unpublished story? Will it help you move forward, professionally, in some way? Really? Don’t fork over cash just to have your ego massaged. Volunteer somewhere if you feel the need for that kind of ego boost. Or I can tell you: You are a good person. You have value. Your writing is great. I think you’ll amount to something someday. Really. I believe in you. Please don’t waste your money.

Ask yourself these questions:

Continue reading

Revision: Taking A Step Back


Image result for image person asking help

Have you ever been asked to read a friend’s manuscript, and, well, their work was borderline horrible? But that friend is so clueless that he/she thinks it’s PERFECT and is honestly thinks a movie deal will be offered any day now?

Well I’ve been that friend. My first drafts were horrible. In fact, I didn’t even know they were drafts. I thought I had a final product. And I thought I had a GOOD final product.

After the first pieces of feedback, I got busy rewording a few things here and there, changed a description or two. What I didn’t realize is I was waaaay off the mark in what needed to be fixed. It wasn’t a matter of copy edits. It was the story overall needed some attention. “Revision” was something that needed to sit tight while bigger issues were figured out.

Here’s what I wish helpful folks would have told me:

Dear Bitsy,

Thank you for the chance to review your manuscript. It’s a charming concept with some wonderful moments. But it needs a bit of work.

A book is a story, a destination. HOW you tell the story is almost more important than WHAT the story is. Both need to be solid.

A simple question to ask yourself is: My books is about _______ but underneath it’s about ________. Wanting to dance, for example, is really a story about wanting to find a partner, or wanting to belong. Knowing what your character wants is what your story is about. Continue reading

8 Writing Tips in 8 Minutes: Bitsy’s tips for the newbie picture book writer

Are you one of the over 200 peeps headed to the SCBWI CA North/Central 2015 Spring Spirit writer’s conference? (wow, that was a mouthful) Are you looking for some beginner’s tip? Take a look here…”8 Writers Tips for Beginner Picture Book Writers” (uh,yeah, that was a mouthful too…don’t that that sway you on my mad writing skillz)


Hope to see you Saturday!

Presenting at SCBWI Conference, April 2014


Oh the joys of being part of a tribe. I had a great time presenting “Marketing the @#&! out of Yourself with Twitter” at the Northern CA SCBWI Spring Spirit conference (#SpSp14) on April 5, 2014, held in the Sacramento area. I was surrounded by greatness and the common love of writing children’s books. Being “on faculty” had its privileges too…allow me to show, not tell:

Here I am signing books right next to NYT best-selling YA author Jay Asher (@JayAsherGuy), as he enjoys a laugh with a conference attendee that just bought his book:


Here I am next to author & illustrator extraordinaire Dan Yaccarino (of Oswald, Backyardigans fame as well as lots and lots of picture books) as he shakes hands with one of his many fans:


Here I am in front of Chad W. Beckerman (Creative director and cover designer for Abrams Appleseed, Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books, as well as Mishaps and Adventures blogger) (@chadwbecks and @abramskids) and Louise May (Vice President/Editorial Director of Lee & Low Books) (@LEEandLOW) as they talk shop, with Dan Yaccarino and Northern CA SCBWI Regional Advisor Patti Newman (@PatriciaNewman) recapping conference success in the background:


Here I am as Tricia Lawrence (@authorblogger), associate agent at the revered Erin Murphy Literary Agency, has a conversation with someone else at the after party:


Here I am next to with the amazing, multiple award-winning, NYT best-selling author & poet Nikki Grimes (it’s almost like she doesn’t know I’m there):


Here I am as Deirdre Jones (assistant editor and rising star at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) (@DeirdreEJones) talks to BMOC Jay Asher (@jasasherguy) about his success with the hot selling Thirteen Reasons Why YA novel:


As you can see in my rear-view mirror, here are art director Chad Beckerman (@chadwbecks), author Jay Asher (@jayasherguy), and associate editor Deirdre Jones (@DeirdreEJones) as they get ready to head to the airport:


This may or may not be Chad approaching my car asking me to leave them all alone already:


Ah, good times.