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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