Day 29: Dos and Dont's

Tomorrow is my last day in my 30 Days to a Book Launch series, and I have a big finish planned so I hope you’ll come by and see! And for those of you who followed along in this adventure, I thank you from the bottom of my heart to the tips of my sore fingers! I learned a lot from this project.
It seems fitting, at this point, to share some dos and don’ts, and in fact, I gathered other writers’ dos and don’t too, because as I always say, the more you give the more you get.
Here are just a few of my own dos and don’ts:

  • Do: take on a project you announce to the world so if you don’t complete it you’ll look like a total idiot!
  • Don’t: worry if you look like a total idiot.
  • Do: write something every day. This part of the project was an amazing experience. Yes, I felt enormous pressure because I had to have content every day that would be worthy of bringing people back. But once I was in the groove of it, I was reminded every day that I could do it and it zapped the fear right of me. I encourage you to try it!
  • Don’t: forget you can do it!
  • Do: be generous in your reciprocity, even when it’s a hassle.
  • Don’t: be scared.
  • Do: do it—whatever “it” is for you—anyway even if you are scared.
  • Don’t: feel pressured to do things you don’t like doing or feel uncomfortable about.
  • Do: love what you’re doing, whether it’s writing a book, a blog, or a tweet!
  • Do: (yes, two dos in a row, because I like the positivity of that) use the internet to connect, not just sell.

I got some great, great dos and don’ts from many of the writers and illustrators whom I am privileged to know. They are all good tips, but remember, you’ll learn the most don’ts from experience, and we’re all learning this stuff together so don’t be too hard on yourself if you mess up!
From Sue Corbett:

  • Do: Make a book trailer! It’s another way to let your creative freak flag fly!
  • Don’t: Hang on to it until the day your book launches. Make it several months in advance and make sure the sales reps at your publisher get it FIRST. A good trailer will get them jazzed about your book and give them something to show booksellers that will explain your book quickly and effectively.

Here is Sue’s trailer for The Last Newspaper Boy in America
From Brian Lies:

  • Do: Focus on your craft— your writing and/or drawing can always get better, and you want to keep pushing yourself to learn.
  • Don’t: Focus so much on publication, because the most important part is the time you spend creating a story, and publication is something which happens when you’ve been successful at working hard on your craft.

Liz signs with pianos in background
From Elizabeth Rusch:

  • Do: Dress in costume! It’s more fun for you and your audience. Kids love it!
  • Don’t: Forget to include a picture of yourself in costume in promotional materials.

Liz Rusch
Beautiful OopsFrom Barney Saltzberg:

  • Do: Write every day. Brainstorm. Noodle. Journal. Take notes. Get in the habit of writing every day. Take risks.
  • Don’t: Give up. Don’t try to write about something you “think” will sell. Don’t assume that if a child likes what you have written, that you have necessarily written the next bestseller. Don’t rhyme, unless you actually know what you are doing. Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein have a habit of making us ALL think we can do that. It’s hard to rhyme with the correct rhythm and meter. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do. (Including me!)

From Jennifer J. Stewart:

  • Do: If you pester a reporter for an article about a story, and he/she doesn’t bite, pester another with another angle; just don’t be a pest.
  • Don’t: Don’t let anyone talk you into doing a book signing on Jan. 2nd when yours is a Christmas book.

CHICKEN BUTTFrom Erica Perl, author of Chicken Butt

  • DO: (When creating a book trailer )Keep it snappy (one minute or less), peppy, considerate (get permissions for filming, images, and music), and clever so people will want to check out your book!
  • DON’T: Just plain read or explain the book on film (it’s called a “trailer”—as in movie trailer—for a reason)
  • AND WHEN IN DOUBT: add a chicken.

From Liz Garton Scanlon:

  • Do: Visit schools, interact with actual kids, laugh
  • Don’t: Wear tight shoes, skip lunch, or do 6 presentations a day

From: Elizabeth O. Dulemba:

  • Do: Bring giveaways to all events—they always go over well.
  • Don’t: Wear low-cut shirts to speaking engagements. With kids as your audience, you tend to lean over a lot. Ha!

From Peni Griffin:

  • Do: Treat it as a job.
  • Don’t: Treat it as a chore.

Tales of the Cryptids
From Roxyanne Young:

  • Do: Think way, way, waaaaaay outside the box.
  • Don’t: Forget that you’re a professional, all the time, no matter the venue. Act like one. (The Internet never forgets.)

From Lee Wind

  • Don’t: Call Yourself A Book Reviewer

If you’re a writer or illustrator of children’s literature and you talk about other people’s books on your blog as many of us do, I think it’s important to consider that you might want to be a book recommender rather than a book reviewer. Here’s the thing—a real review weighs the pros and cons of something, and gives an honest, forthright personal opinion. Some of the most fun-to-read reviews crackle with wit as they point out a work’s flaws. But this is a small world made smaller by blogs and twitter and Facebook and Google searches, and children’s publishing is even smaller still. I’ve heard editors say flat out that if they’re interested in acquiring an author’s work and then while they’re doing their Google search on the author they discover that the author—in a review—panned some other project that editor worked on, they won’t go ahead with buying the book. To use the first grade vernacular: Don’t poop where you eat.
On my blog, “I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell do I Read?” I got around this dilemma by having my readers post their reviews of the books in the comments section for each book post—and I just provide a summary, what’s GLBTQ about a work, a link to the author’s website, and another to buy the book. And the few reviews I’ve done on my blog (mainly for the section “picture books I wish had been read to me when I was a little kid”), and other blogs like Guys Lit Wire and Prism Comics have all been raves, and I can tell you that I sweated over each of the “constructive” comments I made.
So for those of us who create Children’s Literature, let’s call ourselves book recommenders.

  • Do: Blog (And Write) From Your Passion

I think if you’re going to be blogging, figure out what your passion is and run with that. Building an audience and a following takes time. When I started blogging three and a half years ago, if I had 35 visits in one day I was thrilled! Thrilled, I tell you. Now, over 1,000 blog posts in, I get excited when it’s over 900 visits in one day. It’s your passion that’s going to sustain your interest in keeping up with it over the long haul. It’s also your passion that’s going to infuse every post you do, and that’s going to make you a destination for those who share that passion. If you find yourself struggling to figure out what’s your niche—what sets you apart from other bloggers—know that delving into the stuff you really love is the answer. (

Recent Comments

  • Lee Wind
    April 19, 2011 - 10:51 am · Reply

    Hi Katie, love this list of “dos” and “don’ts” – and am honored that you let me share my own with your readers! Also, love the positivity of two dos in a row! (And have I mentioned how much I love your book trailer? It’s awesome!)
    thanks and a Hug,

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