Guest Blog By Kate Narita
“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all,
and then stands back to see if we can find them…
The often surprising results of that hunt--
that’s what I call Big Magic.” - Elizabeth Gilbert
24 Carrot Writers set one writing goal and one craft goal a month. In her January 4th post, Kelly Carey defines a craft goal as the following: “A craft goal needs to focus on the business side of writing.” People don’t often equate “the business side” of writing with magic, at least I never did. But as a result of 100 BOOK TRAILERS, that’s changed. I now realize that the journey of marketing can be as wonderful and as magical as writing.
After the euphoria of selling 100 BUGS! A COUNTING BOOK waned, reality set in. One of the things I had to do was create a marketing plan. Gulp! A marketing plan? I’m a teacher and a writer. I create lesson plans and stories, not marketing plans. I have an MFA, not an MBA. How do I create a marketing plan?
Luckily, I’d taken an event planning class with Allison Pottern Hoch at The Writer’s Loft https://loftingsblog.com/2017/10/25/how-to-pitch-your-book-event/ during which many people had shared various marketing ideas. In addition, at the NESCBWI 2017 Conference, Janet Reynolds from The Blue Bunny Bookstore http://www.bluebunnybooks.com/ presented some extremely helpful marketing tips. Finally, Suzanne Kaufman, http://suzannekaufman.com/about/ the illustrator of 100 Bugs!, shared some of her past marketing plans with me. So, I had a small knowledge base. Now, I just had to move forward.
Here’s where the business side of the Big Magic began. It sounds silly, but the number 100 makes me giddy. Maybe it’s a result of teaching elementary school for over ten years. After all, as many kindergartners will tell you, the best holiday after Christmas and your birthday, is the 100th day of school. So, I started thinking about what I could do with the number 100. That’s how I took the first step, I invited the treasure in.
Well, it turns out I had just finished filming the book trailer for 100 BUGS!, which is another Big Magic story for another time. All of the book trailers I’d watched before filming mine, were scrolling through my head. Then, the Big Magic happened—a marketing idea sparked in my mind. Why not feature 100 book trailers, a different trailer for the first 100 days of 2018 and since BUGS has 100 in the title, release your book on the 100th day of the year? So, I proposed the idea in our marketing plan, and the 100 BUGS! team loved it. Great, right?
GULP! Now, I had to do it. All the negative self-talk began. It sounded something like this: “Are you crazy? Who is going to want to be featured on your no-name blog? Do you even know 100 authors? Have 100 people even visited your site?” and so on. But over the years, I’ve learned to turn down the volume on those soul-killing thoughts, and turn up the volume on what is the next small step I can take to reach my goal. Second, I had to uncover the treasure chest.
So, I shared my idea with my friend and mentor, April Jones Prince http://www.apriljonesprince.com/ . She liked the idea, but pushed me even further. “You need to tie those trailers into the classroom.” She was right once again. Featuring trailers wasn’t enough, I needed to create a resource for teachers to have at their fingertips. Useful activities educators could download without having to find time to read a teacher’s guide or sift through ineffective resources on the internet. Third, I had to find the time to crack the code.
Time. I’m a full-time fourth grade teacher, I have two teenage sons, and my husband sometimes like to have a conversation with me that doesn’t revolve around who is picking up who at what time and who is coming home for fifteen minutes in between work and providing Uber service to walk the dog. Oh, and I try to write and exercise as many days as possible. So how in the world was I going to find the time to do this? Gratefully, Melanie Linden Chan of Epic Eighteen https://epiceighteen.weebly.com/ took some time out of her schedule to share tips about how to schedule blog posts. Eureka! I didn’t have to write a blog post every day. I could write ten blog posts on the weekend, and schedule them to be released on a daily basis. The task began to feel manageable. Fourth, I had to open the treasure chest.
What treasures are in the kid lit world? So many. I reached out through social media, word of mouth, and personal connections to find them. As Elizabeth Gilbert writes, “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all.” https://www.elizabethgilbert.com/
There had to be people who wanted to shine a light on their jewels, right? Yes! There were. Finally, it’s time to treasure the beauty of each and every jewel:
Rubies: Celebrating the tremendous talent of the authors and illustrators in the kidlit
Opals: New books that I can enjoy and share with my students.
Sapphires: Meeting people I never would have met.
Emeralds: Lessons I never would have thought of that I can share with my class.
Topaz: Rejoicing in highlighting the success of people who have supported me over the
Pearls: Providing resources to teachers, the hardest working people I know.
Diamonds: Being showered with gratitude for simply shining a light on other people’s
Looking back, I should have known marketing could be Big Magic. After all, everything in life can be magical, or it can be mundane. It’s a choice we have. Want marketing magic? Follow these steps:
So print out those 24 Carrot Writing Goal Worksheets posted on January fourth by Kelly
Carey, and don’t look at the craft goal as some mundane task you have to complete in order to color in the carrot. No, write the craft goal, invite the treasure in and Big Magic will come your way. Keep your sparkly, orange gel pen nearby because you’ll feel sparkly when you color in that craft carrot!
Author of 100 Bugs! A Counting Book!
Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman coming June 12, 2018
Have you written or illustrated a book that’s easily accessed by elementary teachers and librarians through the public library system? If so, please go to www.katenarita.com and fill out her contact form so that she can feature your treasure. Please include the following information:
by Annie Cronin Romano
It’s a word that’s thrown around quite a bit, isn’t it? We are always supposed to have a plan. We need to know where we’re going. We have to visualize the finish line.
At 24 Carrot Writing, our primary focus is to keep you motivated and on track via solid goals and self-recognition and to give you the support to do this. The importance of goals and the skill of goal setting has been the thread of this month’s blogs. But what if the idea of setting writing goals makes your stomach churn? What if you are one of those folks who won’t make New Year’s resolutions for fear of breaking them? You’re probably not about to set any specific writing goals because you may not meet them. Setting writing goals can be intimidating. But it is a vital step in the writing process, because it sets the tone of accountability.
So if you were not planning to set any writing goals this year, I urge you to rethink. Don’t be afraid. We are not going to let you out of it. Strive to be realistic in your goals. As Amanda Smith wrote in her blog (“Doing the Necessary” January 12, 2018), look carefully at where you are now in your writing journey and what is a realistic next step.
And I am going suggest one additional step for those fearful of the goal setting process. Add a forgiveness clause at the end. Yes, you read that correctly. Forgiveness clause. This clause should state that if you do not completely meet any of your goals, you will not self-flagellate, wail, or grind your teeth. You will not put yourself down or state that you should give up on writing because you’d have better success selling steaks to a vegan grocery. Basically, this forgiveness clause will cut you some slack for any twists and turns that may take you off your intended path and keep you from sitting down on that pity pot.
You may not meet all your writing goals. I may not either. But if you don’t set them, you have no plan. No direction. You won’t know where the finish line is. And that can make starting the race pretty disconcerting. So give yourself the gift of a plan for your writing this year. Do your best to stay on track. But know that even if you don’t meet every writing goal you set, you are moving closer to the finish line by drawing yourself a map of how to get there. And that is a key step in your writing success.
~ by Amanda Smith
This sparkly, brand-spanking-new year is just begging for some bright, shimmery writing goals. With goals we will soar. We will fly! We will publish all our lovely books!
We will crash and burn if we neglect to take a moment to root our new goals in our current progress. For success it is paramount to build a bridge between last year’s product and this year’s dream. How do we construct this bridge?
St Francis of Assisi said, "Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
Ask yourself, from where you are right now, what is necessary to move forward. Towards the end of December, I pulled out my yearly goals and checked off the tasks accomplished. I reflected on what worked, and what didn’t. I took a moment to acknowledge and celebrate the big-ticket items – a novel revised, a synopsis written, a second draft of a new novel completed. I contemplated the items that didn’t get checked off. What will these projects look like in the new year? Are they still a priority?
Asking these questions helped me determine what is necessary for me to move forward. These immediate tasks include final revisions on a YA novel; deep revisions, even possible rewrites on two picture book manuscripts after input from critique groups; and revisions on a middle grade manuscript.
Once I have finished these tasks, what will be possible? What is the practical next step? I could submit the picture books and the YA novel. So, another goal is to come up with submission plans for those manuscripts.
Then there is the dream, the challenge: What is the one thing you want to accomplish this year, but the sheer thought of it scares you to death? What is the impossible? Make that a goal. Mine is to plot and write the remaining two books in a middle grade trilogy. Yup, my boots are shaking.
Now that you have dreamed necessary, practical and are-you-kidding-me?, it’s time to fit those goals into the year. I use a goals calendar.
Don’t forget to reward yourself with proper, meaningful carrots along the way!
Yes, we will soar. We will fly! And we will do the impossible.
By Kelly Carey
It’s that magical month of January when an entire year of possibilities lies before you. The perfect time to set your writing goals and become a 24 Carrot Writer.
Remember, to become a 24 Carrot Writer, you need one writing goal and one craft goal each month.
Writing goals ask you to draft a new picture book, revise three chapters of your middle grade novel, complete a character bio on your main character, or outline a plot for your new young adult novel.
A craft goal needs to focus on the business side of writing and can include attending a SCBWI event, taking a writing workshop, reading in your genre, researching agents, or writing a query letter.
For a refresher on setting your two goals visit the 24 Carrot Writing homepage or read http://www.24carrotwriting.com/-blog/two-goals-a-month-lead-to-24-carrot-writing.
To help you stay organized and map out your 24 Carrot goals, you can use the 24 Carrot Writing Goal Sheet.
Here is a blank 24 Carrot Goal Sheet all ready for you to print off and populate with plans for each month, motivating carrots, and a whole crop of 24 carrots for you to earn. Use the link below to download the sheet to your computer.
To use the 24 Carrot Goal Sheet, first document your January goals and motivate yourself with a January carrot.
It might be tempting to go ahead and set goals for the entire year. If you do that, use pencil! Things can pop up, plans can change, and you'll want your writing goals to be flexible. You may wake up on the first day of March with a great new plot idea, and your Writing Goal for March should take advantage of that feeling. On the Craft Goal side, you may find out about a new workshop being offered in June, and that will become your Craft Goal for June.
You may also accomplish more than your two 24 Carrot Goals each month. If you do, that's great! But your 24 Carrot Writing Goals are your golden goals - the ones you do first, jettison last and strive diligently to achieve.
If you hit your monthly 24 Carrot Writing goals, color in the carrots next to that month.
In the example below, both January goals were hit and the writer colored in the carrots next to January. This writer is now a two carrot writer, and has set their February goals, and picked a motivating carrot.
If you miss a goal, just cross out the carrot and move that goal to the next month.
Don’t beat yourself up over missed goals. This industry can be tough enough and there is no need to let a missed goal derail your progress. Each month will bring the opportunity to earn two more carrots.
Keep the worksheet visible as a constant reminder of what you want to accomplish each month.
It’s still January and you have the chance to be a 24 Carrot Writer this year. If you finish the year a 14 carrot writer, or a 10 carrot writer, or a 2 carrot writer, we will be here to celebrate your accomplishment.
Use your 24 Carrot Writing Goal Sheet to keep track of your success.
Now go set those January goals!
By Francine Puckly
Happy New Year from all of us at 24 Carrot Writing! We hope your holiday celebrations were filled with laughter and joy, friends and family, and a little quiet time to reflect on all that you accomplished in 2017. We are excited to have you join us as we seek the possibilities 2018 holds for each of us!
One of my goals for 2017 was to give myself the gift of time to celebrate the holidays (sans guilt) and to muse about opportunities forthcoming in 2018. I spent many long morning walks, as well as afternoon teas, pondering this wonderful but oftentimes frustrating creative life I have chosen to lead.
I dug up two precious nuggets of truth over the many miles I wandered. The first is that I’m wildly inaccurate with my goal estimations as it pertains to the time a project will take. I mean, I’m not even close. I’m way off the mark when I guess at how quickly I can complete everything—a blog, an outline, a chapter, an entire draft. So laying out Gantt charts with detailed deadlines is no longer a practice I choose to embrace. It works for many, many people, but it results in failure for me. The second discovery is that I spend too much time alone. I need to be around people, even if we are all working independently and may never speak to each other. In order to grow contentment and joy in my life, these are my focus areas for 2018.
But what does this mean as I set my goals? It means that it is important to me that I be a writer. That I show up for work every day and take my job seriously. I have scheduled hours of work Monday through Friday. It’s my job. As long as I show up to my job, I will accomplish much. How much? It doesn’t matter this year. I’m just going to go to work everyday and see where it takes me.
And where, exactly, is my place of work? I have plotted out various writing locations that involve seeing other human beings (libraries, cafes, and bookstores). My portable office and daily packing list are ready to go (the-portable-office.html).
Keeping the 24 Carrot Writing categories of Writing Goals and Craft Goals in mind, my work falls accordingly:
2018 Writing Goals:
2018 Craft Goals:
That’s it! It’s simple, it’s thorough, and most importantly, it’s doable!
I wish each of you joy as you set your creative goals and the luxury of time to focus on all that you love!
Happy Goal Setting and Happy New Year!
Every year, the 24 Carrot Writing crew shares our yearly writing and craft goals. We hope that in reading our plans for 2018, you may find a starting point for your own 2018 goal list.
Our 24 Carrot Writing blog goal is that you set your 2018 goals, use the 24 Carrot Writing method to hit your targets, and find inspiration and motivation in our blog throughout the year.
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