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Kim Tomsic

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Preeminent Opportunity for Picture Book Writers and Illustrators

Today I would like to introduce you to Julie Hedlund, owner of the blogsite Julie Hedlund, Author, Freelance Writer . Julie is also the founder of the sensational picture book writing event and community 12x12

If you are an aspiring picture book writer or illustrator, listen up! This event could change your career quicker than a conference! You'll hear how you'll be inspired, motivated, and even discovered (you'll read about the agents involved at the end).
Hi, Julie!

Welcome! And thank you for agreeing to this interview about your 12x12 event. You’ve created an incredible forum and opportunity for picture book people, and I’m excited to share this knowledge and chance with aspiring authors.

Thanks to YOU Kim, for having me. You always give so generously of your time and talent to other writers, so it's an honor to be here.

Let's start with the basics: What the heck is 12x12?

We are a group of  picture book writers who've come together with the goal of writing one picture book draft a month - hence 12 x 12. There are other fringe benefits (see answers to your questions below), but at it's heart, it's all about motivating each other to write more picture books.

I've heard 12x12 participants refer to this as a "community".  What makes it a community?

We're a group of 400+ writers with a passion for picture books. We share resources and opportunities. We cheer for each other when there's good news and support each other when there's bad news. It's a 24x7, 365-day a year writing community that never closes. Have a question? Post it and you'll have 5 answers in an hour. We encourage and nurture each other's creativity.

Why should I participate instead of just getting the BIC (butt in chair) and doing it alone?

Last year, I conducted a survey of 12 x 12 participants. Of those who responded, 90% said they wrote more in 2012 than they would have without the challenge. Those monthly check-ins and the encouragement of fellow participants helps provide the motivation to get it DONE.

But I think participant Tim McCanna summed it up nicely in this video he created for me last fall!
Can illustrators participate, too?

Of course! 12 x 12 has a thriving illustrator community. Some of them have even formed their own illustrator critique groups.

How did 12x12 get started?

It started when, at the end of 2011 and my second year of participating in PiBoIdMo, I realized I'd only written one PB draft over the past year. I knew I needed a much higher output if I was ever going to succeed at this writing thing. So I challenged myself to write 12 in 2012. Then it struck me that I should invite others to join me. I never could have imagined the response I got with more than 400 people signing up! Clearly there was a need for a picture book community and I happened to tap into that need at the right time.

What success was met when you launched 12x12 last year and how has it expanded in 2013?

I keep going back to videos, but I think this one I put together celebrating the 2012 challenge winners shows the success better than anything I could say. Think of all the picture book drafts written in one year and all the writers who now feel confident and proud to call themselves such. That's the greatest reward, for me.

In 2013, the challenge has expanded significantly. One of the features participants liked best last year was the Facebook group. It was a place to commune, share resources, and chit chat at all hours of the day/night. But not everyone is on Facebook. So I created a Membership Forum this year that allows everyone to partake of the great community. The Forum also includes areas where members can post their queries, pitches and excerpts of their own manuscripts for direct feedback. So it's also become a virtual critique group.

For Little GOLDen Book members, there is also the option to submit to one agent or editor per month outside of the slush pile.

Who are the agents whom you will feature in this year’s 12x12 promotion, and what can you tell me about the depth of their involvement? 

I'll reveal a few of the agents, since I don't want to spoil all the surprises. :-) Stephen Fraser of Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency is this month's agent. Tricia Lawrence of EMLA is up for March and Susan Hawk of the Jenny Bent Agency is on deck for April. 

The agents are accepting submissions from 12 x 12 members through a special email address so they rise above the regular submissions/slush pile. Although the participating agents are not required to respond to each and every submission, they did commit to reading each one. Stephen Fraser has been very responsive so far, and several members have already received requests to send more!

What do past/current participants have to say about their experience?

I've been lucky in that past participants have been so effusive in their praise for 12 x 12 that I have a whole page of testimonials! Some of this year's members also helped me to create - you guessed it - a promotional video urging others to join.

How do I register?

Right here! http://www.juliehedlund.com/registration-for-2013

Deadline??? When does registration closed?

February 28th. After that, you'll have to wait until next year!

Thank so much for hosting me, Kim! I very much appreciate you helping to spread the word about 12 x 12 and all that you do for us kidlit folk. 

Awwww, shucks (insert photo of me blushing) 


Julie Hedlund said...

Thank you so much for hosting me Kim! I'll be standing by in case any of your readers have questions! :-)

Stacy S. Jensen said...

Participating in 2012 prompted me to write and write some more. This year, I'm still writing and now revising. It's a group with a fun/serious mission — to write for children.

Richa Jha said...

Won't be able to join the fantastic 12x12 this year, Julie, but it'll be top most on my to-dos next year. I keenly follow the amazing amount of learning and fun that the team has in the process; makes me acutely aware of what I'm missing out on:)

Robyn Campbell said...

I wrote way more than I would have and this year I'm pushing ahead full steam again. It's a bodacious opportunity for anyone who dreams of being a picture book author. Thanks for hosting Julie, Kim!

Cheryl said...

Great interview. 12 x 12 has been great for me. So far I've already written 2 picture books in 2013. I'm looking forward to the rest of the year.

Julie Hedlund said...

That's okay Richa, we'll be there for you next year!

Julie Hedlund said...

Nobody can say bodacious quite like you Robyn! So glad you're back! :-)

Julie Hedlund said...

Wow Cheryl - you're ahead of the game. So glad you're enjoying 12 x 12!

Anonymous said...

Great interview Kim! Julie really pulled together a fantastic group last year, right on the cusp of my serious pursuit of writing for children. I got 12 draft PB manuscripts last year, but the real benefit was networking, learning, listening and discovering wonderful things through the on-line connections with other writers in our craft. I've joined this year too, and can't imagine my writing life without the 12 x 12 community.

Julie Hedlund said...

Damon, I am humbled and honored by your statement that you can't imagine your writing life without 12 x 12. It's folks like you who make running this program so rewarding and worthwhile.

Jess@Fairday's Blog said...

This is such an excellent post! I have a friend that I am going to pass this on to asap. She writes PBs and this would be perfect for her. It sounds so exciting. Thanks for sharing!

Kim Tomsic said...

Thanks, Julie! I love how your inspired idea is motivating a community of writers. I can't wait to see a Caldecott winner emerge from this group!!!

Kim Tomsic said...

I'm with Julie...Robyn, I can't wait to see what you create!!

Kim Tomsic said...

Cheryl! That's fantastic!

Kim Tomsic said...

I agree! Writing is a lonely sport...unless you team-up with a community. It's awesome to learn from others, almost like going to a conference!

Kim Tomsic said...

You bet! I'm impressed, too. It is so well organized!

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