Monday, August 1, 2016

The Power of Social Media: Summer Camp at Highlights Part I

Congratulations to Rosi Hollinbeck, who won The Last Cherry Blossom. I think of Rosi as my west coast counterpart. She reviews and gives away books on her blog, as well as provides great links to other writing sites.
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I was fortunate to attend Summer Camp at Highlights Foundation and in upcoming posts will share many of the writing tips I learned. But first, I have to tell you a story about the power of social media. 

One afternoon we took a tour of the Highlights and Boyds Mills Press offices. We all rushed to get our pictures taken under the Highlights banner. Here I am with my new friend, Kesha Grant, who I plan to exchange manuscripts with.

We met different editors, heard about the submission process, and were introduced to the new Hello magazine for 0-2 years. (A great shower present for new moms!)

Who doesn't remember Highlights from their dentist's or doctor's office as a kid? 

Now they publish Bilingue, which is in Spanish! 



After the tour of the editorial offices, we were ushered into Boyds Mills Press and saw the table around which editorial decisions are made. 



Assistant editor, Cherie Matthews, showed us several new releases including the award winning fun book, One Day, The End by Rebecca Kai Doltish and illustrated by Fred Koehler
I expect to see Jan Davis-Castro,
my fellow writer from the Carolinas,
at our next SCBWI Carolinas conference.

At the end of her presentation, one of my fellow conferees asked, "What happens after the book is published? How do you get reviews?" Cherie explained how the book is sent out to hundreds of reviewers including Publisher's Weekly, the School Library Journal, as well as to bloggers who review books. 

Then she said, "Carol Baldwin has a wonderful blog that I follow." 

Everyone looked at me. "I'm Carol Baldwin," I said.  

Cherie said, "No. You can't be the Carol Baldwin. She lives in Charlotte, NC."

"Really, I am Carol Baldwin." Then I explained when I moved from Charlotte to Greenville, SC I forgot to update my blog. 

I was thrilled that an editor from Boyds Mills Press followed me! Everyone laughed, I changed my personal information on my blog as soon as possible, and we all saw first hand the power of social media. 
Cherie Matthews and I.
I asked Cherie how she came across my blog and why she read it. She said, "We met through Joyce Hostetter. I was at the Barn during one of Carolyn Yoder's retreats and Joyce was telling about the Talking Story newsletter, which the two of you publish. This led me to sending Calkins Creek titles for you and Joyce to give away. I follow your blog and others to keep informed and find out what the community of bloggers are chatting about. I learn what bloggers are reading, who they admire and want to emulate, what causes you angst, and how you encourage and support one another. It's a good way to be with like-minded people who I may otherwise have never met."

Earlier in our week at camp, Mitali Perkins had given a keynote on the importance of using social media. "It's a great opportunity for you to showcase your writing! Make your voice pop!" she said. Writing 140 character tweets (nouns! verbs!) helped her write picture books.

In addition Mitali highly recommended that we:

  • Register a domain name ASAP. GoDaddy was one site that was mentioned.
  • Create a Facebook author page, even if you're unpublished. Populate it with posts from other pages such as publishers, libraries, and professional organizations related to the content of your book. "You'll be branding yourself by finding organizations with similar interests. Recommend free content for your followers." 
  • Organize your Facebook friends into lists. You can then target this list when you are creating an event.
  • "Gather your courage. Be passionate. This must come from your personal vocational mission, or else it won't work."
  • Create Twitter lists for "tuning in, research, and promotion."

I met with Mitali and she gave me
 terrific ideas for Half-Truths.

After the interchange with Cherie Matthews, Sid Reischer, one of my fellow campers who is new to social media, asked me why I blogged and what I hoped to accomplish. Although some people think blogging is dead, I told him it has helped me create an online presence. 

I've been blogging since May, 2007 when my editor at Maupin House, Emily Gorovsky Raj, suggested it might be a good idea. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I learned. 

As my fellow campers and I laughed about Cherie's comments, I realized that I blog because I enjoy it. It's not for everyone and it certainly takes time, but I like recommending books and giving them away. I like sharing what I'm learning as I write Half-Truths or from other websites and writing conferences. Plain and simple: blogging fits who I am. A good lesson for me to remember on my writing journey. 

I named my blog in an impulsive moment of "let's get this done and move forward." Since then I've envied my friends who have come up with much more creative names for their blogs. But guess what? Now I'm glad I kept it simple. 

It seems to have worked for Cherie!

36 comments:

Theresa Milstein said...

Carol, it was great to meet you and everyone else at Highlights. What an invaluable week!

That whole exchange at the magazine about your blog was too funny! To those of use who were there, you will always be THE Carol Baldwin.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Theresa! Your comment made me smile!!

Emily Raij said...

What a great story! So happy to have worked with you and seen your success grow, Carol!

Carol Baldwin said...

It's all because of you, Emily! I don't know if I would have thought about creating a blog then. But I sure am glad I did!

Bonnie J. Doerr said...

Carol, I have enjoyed your blogs for ages. I only wish I'd enjoyed blogging. At first I did, but then the Internet seemed so full of bloggers who had much more to offer than I did and were also much better at it. It's wonderful that you didn't give up because look where it's taken you. Plus, you are amazing at getting worthwhile information and valuable thoughts out to readers and writers. I enjoyed this particular blog so much that maybe I'll just have to give another go at it. But Twitter... eegads. I may never be able to master that world. Thanks for all you do!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Bonnie. You're not alone in not liking blogging. It just happens to fit me. Thanks for supporting my blog! And let me know when you have news to post and a new book to share!

jilannehoffmann.com said...

Great post, Carol! I, too, blog, but my posting runs in fits and starts. It's not my highest priority, but I love the people I've met in the process! I often take part in Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday, a Susanna's coordinated effort to spotlight both fiction and nonfiction picture books. I've also started to focus more on recommending books with diverse characters. In any case, I look forward to reading more of your blog!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Jillanne. Yes--it's tricky to balance it all, for sure, especially when you want to be writing a book! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on mine!

Vijaya said...

You made me laugh with your story, Carol! I agree, blogging has been a wonderful way to connect with likeminded folks. It's not for everybody though. Ummm, I might be the second-to-last person to join FB and I'm still a bit overwhelmed. But it's been good to catch up on some friends.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Vijaya! It's a way for us to express our voice, that's for sure!

Linda Vigen Phillips said...

I'm proud to announce that THE Carol Baldwin is my BFF, so go ahead and be jealous! And as you might guess, she taught me everything I know about blogging. Kudos to you, Carol, and I can't wait for the novel to enter the world.

Carol Baldwin said...

Yep, that is right!!! And Linda and I have been working on each other's manuscripts for a loong time...except she beat me to being published in the YA world! And if anyone is reading this, just search for "Linda Phillips" on this blog and you'll see how often I've blogged about her!!

sheri levy said...

Another super post, Carol. So happy you got to experience Hightlights camp. I'm snxious to hear all your great information. Very funny sbout finding out you are The Carol Baldwin! I've enjoyed your blog for years and find your information and books you choose to review so interesting. I appreciate the time it takes for you to poet.
Thank you, Sheri

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Sheri! You are one of my faithful followers!

Sandra Warren said...

Another great post, Carol! I love your blog and admire your ability to keep them coming on a regular basis.

Congratulations on the super comment from an editor about your blog. Awesome! Now take all that Highlights knowledge and get that novel done!

S

Rosi said...

I received The Last Cherry Blossom in today's mail! Thanks so much. And I'm heading off to Highlights for a workshop soon. Can't wait. Thanks for a fun post. I hope some editors are following me.

Barbara Younger said...

What fun and a lovely compliment to your blog! Love following your camp adventures!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Ha! So glad you and Cherie sorted this out! Does she know you are the cruel taskmaster who keeps me plugging away at Talking Story when I just want to let the work get crowded out by other pressing concerns?

Your consistency pays off Carol. I am so blest to be partnering with you! As for this blog, I'm always impressed with how you take the time to analyze and break down story structure for us. But you also sprinkle the site with grand child pics and funny moments like this. Great balance!

I'm thrilled that you experienced a Highlights week and met the fabulous people there!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, friends. I appreciate ALL of your support. Hey, this blog wouldn't have gotten where it is if I didn't have followers like all of you! Rosi, I am so glad you are attending Highlights. You will LOVE it. Make sure you let the powers-that-be know you review books on your great blog too!

Reischer's Reading Writing Studio said...

The power of social media, the virtual outreach to a wider world, has appeal. Carol, you are bringing me out of my cave. Perhaps I'll come out more often. Perhaps...
Keep blogging and I'll keep reading... and one day, well, we'll see... Thank you Carol.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, SId. I believe you were also the person to ask, "What happens after the book is published?" You're now a part of my story--as I hope I'm a part of yours! Keep me posted on your journey out of your cave!

Creations By Mit said...

Great story, Carol!!!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Mit. Glad to encourage other who are working on their publishing journey!

Jo Hackl said...

Great post, Carol! You'll always be THE Carol Baldwin to us!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Jo. You are so sweet!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
It was fun to read how you discovered that you are THE CAROL BALDWIN. I am ever so grateful for all of your posts about books and writing skills and about social media. It was fun to hear about your time in the spotlight at Boyd's Mills.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, JOan! It was a fun moment that I am still smiling about! Thanks for your kind words about my blog. You know how seriously I take blogging!!!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
You are very welcome. :):):)

Jolene Ballard Gutierrez said...

Wonderful summary, Carol! I loved meeting you at Highlights and appreciate this reminder of the social media homework I have. ;) I'm so thankful for connecting with THE Carol Baldwin. You're amazing!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Jolene. Do it a step at a time or else it is overwhelming! I'm still working on my author page!

Elena said...

Terrific, Carol!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Elena!!

Linda A. said...

Of course you are THE Carol Baldwin. So glad you learned this and in this special way! I appreciate the tips you shared here about social media. Always more we can do! I'm glad your time at Highlights was so rewarding. Go, Carol Baldwin.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Linda. Yes, there is always more we can do. I think part of the trick is figuring out what works best for you. And then sticking to it!

Janet Heller said...

Dear Carol Baldwin,

Sounds like a great event! Congratulations for having your blog recognized by good editors. Did the editors give you any tips for getting them to publish your manuscripts?

Best wishes!

Sincerely,
Janet Ruth Heller
Author of the award-winning book for children about bullying, How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Arbordale, 2006), and the middle-grade book for kids The Passover Surprise (Fictive Press, 2015).
My website is http://www.janetruthheller.com

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Janet, for stopping by. As you know, there are no short cuts to getting published. You need a great story, great writing skills, and the willingness to rewrite & persevere!