Julie Hedlund's 12x12 Picture Book Challenge


What am I excited about right now? 

Being part of Julie Hedlund's 12x12 in 2013 picture book challenge. The premise is simple. Write a picture book manuscript a month, and end up with twelve by the end of the year. The goal is to have a good start on twelve ideas, some of which can be polished into pieces worthy of submission.

I managed to complete four to five manuscripts last year. This year, Julie stepped it up, and has aptly nicknamed it, "12 x 12 on steroids." There is a charge to participate, with three levels, ranging from Bronze to Silver to Gold. It's only been a few weeks, but I am loving it:

1. The Facebook group is a great source of information and support. 

All participants can join the Facebook group, which is a great place to exchange ideas, links to resources, and provide encouragement and support. I'm a member of several creative Facebook groups and this one may be the most friendly and welcoming. If you want to know what is happening in the picture book world, this is the place to be.

2. I'm getting incredibly valuable critiques for my manuscripts. 

One of the benefits of being in the Silver or Gold levels is the ability to post 250 words of one's manuscript in a members' Forum and receive feedback on it. Although I have a couple of excellent critique partners, I recently posted a couple of my manuscripts and received many insightful suggestions.   

3. The illustrator's critique spinoff is also invaluable.

I started a spinoff Facebook group for 12x12 members who are also illustrators to have a place to critique each others' illustrations. The talent level of the 30-some members is both intimidating and inspiring. So far, it's off to a great start, with lots of critiques and links to illustrator resources.

4. I'm excited about the extra benefits: query reviews and agent submissions.

Participants have access to several excellent opportunities this year. This week, for example, picture book author Emma Watson Hamilton is critiquing query letters by Gold level participants.

Each month, Gold level members can submit manuscripts to select agents. Of course, anyone can do this at any time. But like registering for a writer's conference, 12x12 allows participants to bypass the slush pile and shows that the participant is serious about her work.

© 2013 Sylvia Liu

What's the Catch?

If you're not ready to be inundated with information, 12x12 may not be for you. If you're easily distracted by Facebook and blog posts, it may be difficult to focus on your own work while so much interestingness flies by. But if you're semi-disciplined and can limit yourself to small doses of inspiration and camaraderie, be sure to check out 12x12 in 2013. (Hurry, registration ends at the end of February).

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  1. Wow Sylvia! I'm so touched by your comments and equally glad that you are having such a great experience with 12 x 12 so far. And as you said in your video, if you've gotten this much in just a few weeks - imagine what your writing and illustrating will look like by the end of the year!! :-)

  2. A good summary of all that is great about 12x12, Sylvia...see you around!

  3. All of what you say is true, Sylvia! And I have to add that the 12x12 group of people are just so nice, it is a wonderful experience.

  4. Great post! I love 12x12 too. Wonderful group and information. You summed it up perfectly ... including the 'what's the catch'! :-)

  5. I almost wish I were an illustrator so I could join your 12x12 illustrator spin-off group too! :)

  6. Right on target Sylvia. It's the best of best.

  7. Really interesting - happy to have it explained so clearly, and glad it's so beneficial for you and others! Thanks for sharing, and thanks as well for being part of the 2013 comment challenge!


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