Thinking Thursday: Storyboarding

BLOG- StoryboardingStoryboarding

When I write a picture book the one thing I make sure of is page breaks. Are there enough? Page breaks can be scene changes or a climatic pause in the story. Think page turners. What will make the reader excited about turning to the next spread?

One way to make sure I’m covering the basics is I will map out a story. Or STORYBOARD it. This is where I will take chunks of text and begin to pace the story over pages.  Here are several ways I storyboard.

  1. I usually start on a piece of paper.

    Picture A

    I will create small thumbnails of my story as I go along. Each time I come to a break I’ll go to the next block. It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw a lick, this technique will help you visualize your story.
    I usually use this piece of paper once. When I have another story ready, I will follow the same format as Picture A.

  2. I also work a presentation board.

    Picture B

    Think of this as thumbnails on steroids. I create a bigger version of my thumbnail and I will also cut up my manuscript and put the words with the pictures they belong to. This will help me see if my pictures match the pacing of my story.
    I mark up the board with the same format as Picture A. Then I use post-it notes for my pictures and words. By doing this, I can reuse this board over and over again.

  3. I have made a small book too.
    Picture C

    Picture C

    Once I have my story where I like it I do the ultimate storyboarding. I create a book! What better way to experience your story??? This is the best test to page turns, story climaxes, and scenery changes. You will see the flow and pacing as a read will.

Now it’s your turn.

Pick up your current ms that is ready to go. Begin to storyboard. See where your breaks fall.

I know for me, I usually have a revision of two to do to make sure the pacing matches the page turns.

Happy Writing!

Until next time,


What do you think of this post?
Do you storyboard?
Do you use these techniques? Have any different ones you would like to share?
Post your storyboard on Twitter or Facebook and tag me in it! I would love to see what you are doing.


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Monday Marketing: Librarians

Blog- LibrariansLibrarians
by: Tracey M. Cox

Marketing through librarians?



Why not???? They have a finger on the pulse of publishing. Librarians know what is out there and what is needed. Really and truely, they are a valuable resource you should include in your arsenal.

Many of them can open doors for you for school visits or other programs that are offered in your area.

If you live in Georgia, USA, The Georgia Pines system offers #SummerReadingProgram with a theme for you to wrap a performance around. This year (2015) is Super Hero. I decided to offer a program this year and was able to book a few public libraries. I am really happy to report that I am loving it and have one more to do. I also visited my local library when other performers were there. I wanted to see what they did and how they handled their program and any situations that came up.

Here’s my super hero:




Also in Georgia, School librarians (media specialist) are your contact person for school visits in most schools. I make a point to email them at least twice a year to introduce myself to new ones and to remind those established that I offer school visits.

authorvisit1       authorvisit3       authorvisit2


Here’s another thing librarians do… BOOK AWARDS. Yes, some of them are on committees or go to conferences where they nominate books. If they like you and your book enough, it will get talked about.

They will also talk about you and what you have done with them, in your community, and with your writing. Word of Mouth!!! Remember that marketing tip? You can’t pay for this, but it is one of the most crucial boosts to your marketing. Do the right things and give them something positive to talk about.

So make friends with you local librarians (school and public), see what they are interested in and what is needed, volunteer to read, really invest some time with them. They can be your biggest cheerleaders!


Summer Sparks#SummerSparks writing challenge will be wrapping up July 11th, 2015, at 11:59 pm et. You still have time to complete the challenge.   🙂   You will need to make sure you have:

  1. Commented on all blog post that list a prize.
  2. Comment on Day 14 post by promising you have at least 14 sparks and leave your name.

Need to see a list of blog post? You can visit the Summer Sparks page. You’ll see all bloggers and their corresponding blog posts.


What other resources have you found with your librarians?
Do you know of another marketing tip you would like me to go in depth on?


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Thinking Thursday… Getting Established

Getting Established

Getting established (or re-established) can feel overwhelming. There are so many things we need to do or can do.

  1. Website
  2. Blog
  3. Social Media
  4. Word of Mouth

First thing first though!

Google yourself to see what (or who) is out there.  Check out websites, social media outlets, and blogs to see what is available. You want to become consistent with your name throughout your visual presence if possible. I was very fortunate, I have:

  1. Website
  2. Blog
  3. FaceBook
  4. Twitter     or
  5. Pinterest
  6. YouTube
  7. Skype

Just to name a few.  As you can see, I was able to keep my name “Tracey M. Cox” in the search.

What if my name isn’t available?

You can do a variation. [Your Name] writes or [Your Name] author/illustrator. Or do the reverse. Maybe you have a pen name or a quirky name you want people to remember you by. Use that.

Be Consistent! Be, Be Consistent!

Not everyone will be coming from your website. You do have all your links on your website, right? Some people will be searching for you from a search engine. Some can be coming from another link, perhaps from someone else’s blog or website. You want them to recognize you!

Not only should you have your listing match, try matching or similar pictures too. This will help visual recognition! I’m more visual than anything. I can remember a face. Names??? Can be sketchy.   😉   That doesn’t mean you can’t change your pictures. Just remember to do it with all of them. Or have a few grouped together and a few others grouped together. You want people to know it is you when they are searching.

Putting your best foot forward

Your website is your face on the internet. You want to be presentable and allow people to get to know you.

Blogging is a great sound board. It allows you to talk about what you are passionate about, what you stand for, what you want in life. It is a great building block of your platform and branding. Remember to bring your message forward. We all have bad days and you can sound off about it too… just try to do it in a constructive way. Remember people will be reading your posts. Hopefully, some will be agents and/or editors that you will want to present a good image to.

Social Media is a handful! (Zoinks! There goes that constructive whining!!!   😉   ) It can be time consuming and overwhelming. I took it a little at a time. I researched each outlet and gave it a whole-hearted try for at least a week solid before I decided on it. Do I like them all??? NO! Do I use them all? NO! There are a few I’m on, barely. There are some I’m learning to like too. Then there are the ones I wish would be better, because I really like using them.

Word of Mouth is probably one of the best! Really. I think it is, because that means someone else thinks enough about you to pass your name on. To me, it’s one of the best compliments one person can give another. “Oh, so-and-so is really good at (blah). You should check them out!” Or there is “Such-and-such has a new book out called (TITLE). Go read it!” When you say good things about people, they notice.   🙂
While on Social Media, I try to keep it a 1:5 ratio, if not more. Which means for every one promotional post, I will post at least five other posts about somebody else or something else.

Be Friendly

One thing I will say is this…

Don’t constantly talk about yourself!

Talk about others… in a good way!!! Lift each other up. Promote someone who does something really well. Reciprocity RoCkS!

So get out there and let people know you, know what you are about, and who else you like.

Let me know what you think about this post.
What are some of the steps you’ve taken to get establish?
What are some ways you would like to learn about?

Until next time…

Happy Writing!

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Marketing Monday – Have a Website

Why You Should  Have a Website

In my video, 12 Marketing Tips to Marketing Yourself with Little to No Money, my #1 tip is to have a website.

It doesn’t matter if you are pre-published or published. If you are in an industry where you are submitting your work,as we are, people will look you up. You want to be visible and have a good presence. Trust me, chances are you are not the only one with your name.

Here’s a little test:

  • Click here to go to GOOGLE
  • Type in your name
  • Hit enter
  • See what is on the first few pages

Were you there?    Did you see others?

When I did this (after I had a few magazine articles under my belt), I was shocked and began blushing on who was pulled up.  SPOILER ALERT: It wasn’t me. Or a the little green men. Let’s just say, it wasn’t my genre. I wanted people to know me for what I do, not for what someone with the same name does.

“But I’m not published yet…”
I wasn’t either when I started my own website. And you should too, if you haven’t already. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy. In fact, most people get aggravated by the bells and whistles. You have to think of the ones who, like me, live in the boonies and don’t have the best internet connection. It can be slow, people.

You can have as little as one to two pages to start with. Something simple.

“I’m published!!!…”
All the more reason to have a website. You can begin to expand with a ‘books’ or ‘credits’ page. You can be published in a newspaper or magazine and give links back to them. When you have books out, give each of them their own page. Include book trailers, awards, and reviews on their individual pages.

What Should A Website Contain

  • Picture of you
  • Description of you
  • Credits you have pertaining to your field
  • Video
  • Supporting material
  • Extra

~Have a good headshot. It doesn’t have to be done professionally. The one on this blog of me is a selfie. Yep, I took it and added a little bit of editing.   😉   The one on my website that I use for flyers, my son took when he was 13.   😉   I paid him in gum.  Yes, I paid BIG BUCKS!!!! Hahahahahahhaa!
~SMILE in your photo.  Seriously, don’t be a sourpuss.
~Good lighting always helps… editing does too.

Use your own judgement and go with what you are comfortable with. If you look over my ‘about me’, you’ll see I have the month I was born in and where. You’ll also read that my papa would tell me stories and started my love of learning.
This is where people will get to ‘know’ you. What do you want to be known for. What are your dreams? Are you involved in anything associated with your field?

Don’t sweat this one too much. Do you have a newsletter you publish? Do you contribute to a well-known newsletter or podcast or (something)? Newspaper articles? Magazines? Volunteer reading or teaching art at a local school? All these can build you as a credible person.
You should include any organization you are involved in that is helping you further your field. This can include: SCBWI, 12×12, etc. You should also include any formal classes you have taken. This can include a number of professional artist or classes from the Institute of Children’s Literature (ICL).
Give your BOOKS a shout out when they come out. I have a ‘books’ page and from there you can go to the individual pages.

Welcome people to your website. Invite them to read about you and explore your other page(s), read your blog, etc. Tell them you are a writer/illustrator and how excited you are to be pursuing your dreams.
By having a video you use sight and sound to make a connection. Again, SMILE while you are taking your video, make it genuine. Let your personality come through.

Supporting Material:
This could go with extra depending on your experience.
You can include links to your favorite websites.
You can have links to material that support your books too, such as teacher guides, and coloring and activity pages.

This is only a suggestion and not a ‘you have to do this’ format. As you gain experience, your website can expand.

Where Can I Have A Website?
There are tons of places you can begin a website.
FREE- WordPress is an option. You don’t have to have a blog to do this. Although, you can tie the two together nicely here. I use them for my blog.    🙂
FREE- Wix & Weebly are a couple of other ones off the top of my head too.
FEE- Yahoo is what I use. I’ve been there for over 10 years and have never had a problem with my website. There is a fee for being at yahoo though.
FEE- Any server will have website service, with varying amounts.


Just Remember…   This is you we are talking about. Build your website to suit you, your needs, and your message. By doing this, you will begin to have a foundation to market yourself and the products you produce.

I hope this helps you see how important having a website is.

Let me know what you think about having a website.
How important is it to you?
Are there things you include that I don’t? WHY?
I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

Until next time…

Happy Writing!

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~ HAPPY NEW YEAR ~ from Tracey M. Cox

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~Happy New Year~

Welcome to 2015!

I know many of you are focusing on your New Year’s Resolutions, and I do have a few of my own, but today I like to reflect back on the past year and see where I have grown and what I have accomplished.

  • Platform Building
    My goal for 2014 was to establish myself on the internet and become comfortable with what I stand for. Pre-2014 when you did a search on “Tracey M. Cox” you would find a different author. Now I have at least 2 pages full of articles, videos, social media contact, etc where you can find me. My platform? How to market with little to no money is still in its infancy, but I know the direction it is heading in and I feel confident in where it is going.
  • Better Content
    I’ve done research and feel my output is so much better this year. I hope others learn from me and can pass it forward too. Better content also builds on platform. I hope to be known as a trusted source and someone who loves to bounce ideas off with.
  • Marketing
    THIS was a biggie for me. I’ve learned to toot my own horn. Carry business cards and books with me. Not to be shy about telling others I write AND love it!  🙂  I also am learning the fine line of marketing and being pushy. Nobody wants to be battered over the head and I don’t want to be the person you see and want to run from.  😉
  • Writing
    My writing has improved so much this year. Researching again and again. Critique groups!!!!!!!!! Taking classes. All this, and an open mind, has contributed to my writing this year.
  • Friendships
    I’ve lost some this year. Some by death, others by their choice. I don’t know which is harder. Still, you have to learn to let go.
    I’ve gained some this year. There are some wonderful people I can’t wait to get to know better.
    Then there are the ones who have remained a constant in my life. I’m thankful for all they have given me. I only hope they feel the same about me.

So what is up with this year?

I’ll be keeping up with the same schedule:
Monday – Marketing
Tuesday – Tips
Wednesday – www.
Thursday – Thinking
Friday – Features (when I have some volunteers)
So two to three posts a week.  🙂  I plan on going into better depth and expanding my knowledge on marketing and kidlit. I hope to have a few surprises this year too. *fingers crossed*

What I hope to accomplish past this blog?

  • Learn to use social media more effectively.
  • Get an agent
  • Book contract
  • Work on writing
  • Work on illustrating
  • Books Love & Taters Book Festival (4th annual) to be bigger and better this year

I hope to see you into the year too!

Let me know what you would love to achieve this year.
What are some things you accomplished in 2014?
How do you plan to build on last year?

Until next time…

Happy Writing!

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Marketing Monday… Showing Support

Show Support – Market Yourself by Supporting Others

I know I’ve said this thousands of times, but NO ONE likes to be bonked over the head with a “Buy Me!” attitude. So how can you get your name out there? Show support of others. Yes, talk about them. What have they produced as far as content? Do they give great advice on their blog? What about classes or community awareness?

But you would like to be known better locally too, right? So go to those mom & pop stores, get to know what they carry, and how they come across to their customers and community. What about finding something for your town/city to rally behind? Find a common cause and gather some people together. Make videos, common posts, create hashtags to go with it, and use social media to your benefit.

Chances are, if you start talking and supporting others, they will want to do the same for your. Let’s face it, reciprocity rocks! Another plus is that you will be building a part of your platform. Think of it as a support group. The more people involved the more they can share and communicate with. This will help get your name out there into the public’s eye and social media.

What suggestions do you have to support others?
I am planning on offering a free mini-commercial for the local businesses in my town. What better way to say Happy Holidays?!?
Are you proactive in your own marketing?
This will help others see that you are not afraid to post and have a good following.

Until next time…

Happy Writing!


I have decided to take the last two weeks off this year. I want to take some time for myself, focus on family, and the true meaning of the season. My last bloggy post will be next Thursday, December 18th.  🙂


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www.Wednesday… Your Appearance Matters

Your Appearance Matters


I know several people have asked about setting up for video and what they should do. I thought, being the picture book writer that I am, I could SHOW better than TELL. *wink, wink. You see what I did there, right?!?*

So here is a video of how you don’t want to come across:


Yes, I went out on a limb. Nooooo, I don’t like everyone seeing me frizzy do.   😉    But I did it so you can see some big ol’ no-nos.

NOW, onto better things. What do you need to do and how do you want to come across? Let’s see if this is any better?

Better? I hope so.  🙂

Well you heard the video…

Let me know what you think of the videos. Did I do a good job???
What else do you do with your videos?
Questions and comments are welcomed!

Until next time…

Happy Writing!

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Tuesday Tips: 7 Different Types of Presentations

presentation_01.svg.med7 Different Types of Presentations


Today I’m continuing my block of post on…



 As I begin winding down my SCHOOL VISITS blogging block. I thought I would touch on the seven presentations that come to my mind when I try to make up, or revise, one of my presentations.

  1.  Reading
    Read a book or two. It can be all yours or mix it up. Ask them what they liked about each book. This can help you in seeing what’s interesting to them too! Research. 🙂  This presentation works great for the younger ages. Although I have had high school students who love this too. I don’t think we ever grow out of liking to hear a story being told.
  2. Writing Process
    Take the students through your writing process. They will see that you have to do several things just like they do. This helps make the connection of carrying-through for life on what they are learning. This presentation works great for mid-elementary all the way through high school.
  3. Different Genres
    This type of presentation you can bring different books for each genre. You can go into word count and content on how each genre is different and how they can build on each other with information. I like telling them my ya version of a nursery rhyme and seeing if they can guess which one it is.
  4. How to Submit
    For this type of presentation you can go into revisions, researching publishing houses and magazines, show them what different rejections look like and what an acceptance letter looks like too. You can also let them know that the work isn’t done then. We market, promote, send in for awards and reviews, etc. This takes them into the business side of writing.
  5. Writing Workshop
    This type of presentation is where you can show them how characters need setting and conflict, how to pace and move the story along, and how to come to a conclusion. Most of these will have a ‘book’ that the students can keep. Here’s a video:

6.  Illustrating How To Draw
This type of presentation is where you can show students how a character develops.
Check out this video:

7.  Specialty Program
Do you have a book that is geared toward an event or something specific? If so, having a presentation which features this is a great way to get a message across. Maybe is it about the Underground Railroad, or Women’s Rights, or Native American oriented, or Stranger Danger issued. There are tons of topics that schools like to address and a great way to get your foot in the door.


So what do you think? Any of these get your brain buzzing with ideas for a presentation? Let me know what you think.

Do you know of any other presentation ideas?
Have any questions?

Until next time,

Happy Writing!

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www. WHERE Can You Hold a School Visit


www. Where Can You Hold A School Visit

Today I’m continuing my block of posts on…


A few people have asked me where am I able to hold a SCHOOL VISIT at? My answer to this question is literally almost anywhere! In today’s technology, we don’t have to physically be somewhere to be able to see and hear someone.

While I absolutely LOVE going to a school and holding an in person visit, that may not always be an option. Distance and school budgets can be a big factor.

Schools budgets are getting tighter and tighter. While they encourage interaction, they may not be able to afford an author’s honorarium, plus traveling expense.

I have had several schools in-state that want to book me, but because of the travel expense they cannot afford it. There is mileage rate. I charge $0.56/mile, which is Federal Standard Mileage Rate. For places where I have over 2+ hours driving time, I request a hotel for the night before. If there is an extended drive, authors can ask for plane tickets too.

???So What To Do???

Welcome to the internet! 🙂

You can still visit schools by offering online visits. I offer these through Skype or Google+Hangouts. If you do a Google+Hangouts On Air, you can record the event for later use too.

Set up is simple.

If you have a Google email account you are ready to go. Hangouts selection is on a column bar on the right-side of your screen. Add your contact person to one of your circles and you can connect with the via Hangouts.

For Skype, you’ll need to create an account and download the free software. Add your contact person and you are ready.

I always like to do a test run with the school. This helps get any bugs out, wiring difficulties, sound check, and visual components.

There is a website you can sign up with: Skype In the Classroom, where you can post your presentations.
PROS: Great place to get your name out there. You are seen world wide. Your not restricted by regions.
CONS: Your presentations have to be free. I do ask them to send home a few flyers. (One on me, my bio, and one about my books, which also includes my website.) I also send them a flyer so they can announce that I will be ‘visiting’ their school.

It’s a wonderful experience. I have visited New Jersey, Alabama, Texas, and a few other places with this great avenue.

If you choose to do this: For the free ones, may I suggest paring down one or two of your presentations. Maybe do a quick reading and then allow 10 minutes for q&a. Maybe send a form before-hand letting them explore the writing process and then you can go over it and give them 10 minutes for follow-up and/or q&a.

The point being, the only thing to stop you from visiting a school is your own creativity. So that shouldn’t stop any of you. We are writers and illustrators after all. 🙂

Hopefully this gave you some ideas and maybe got you thinking some too.

Let me know what you think about online visits?
What do you think about in person visits?
Do you have any questions about online or in person visits?
Let me know.

Until next time,

Happy Writing!

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Thinking Thursday: “WHY” Should Schools Invite Authors and Illustrators

authorvisit2“WHY” Should Schools Invite Authors & Illustrators

Today I’m continuing my block of posts on…


I want to touch on the WHY part for schools to schedule a visit.

WHY take the time out of classroom time?

While Classroom Time is extremely valuable, having a break in the routine can help snap students attention back into focus. Trying something different is a great way to increase your attention. Think about seeing and doing the same thing over and over again. Such as this simple example:


Did you spot the “7”? Stuck out didn’t it. Now you tend to look back at it to make sure it’s there right? Something different, something new. Can get the most out of you. Taking the time to see and/or do something out of the ordinary routine will help stick it into your brain better.

WHY you should encourage students to look into the presenter?

Here are two senarios:

  1. You book an author and tell the students they are coming. Then the presenter shows up. They look out into the crowd and see blank faces staring at them…
    Yes, I have had that scenario played out before my very eyes. They were told I was coming a month ago, but they forgot. Now all they know is they are getting out of class and I’m here for SOMETHING.OR….
  2. You book an author and tell your students they are coming.  The books your purchased are displayed where everyone will see them as they come into your library. You sent home the author bio and book order form flyers, so the parents can ‘meet’ the author too. There are extra author bio flyers available for the students to look at. They look the author up online, read their background, watch the book trailers, and read the books. Then the presenter shows up. They look out into the crowd and see smiling faces and a few students shyly wave and mouth, “Hi!”. They know who the presenter is and have a few questions ready, in case they get called upon.
    Yes, I have had this scenario played out before my very eyes too.

Guess which one the presenter is hoping for? By getting the students involved BEFORE the presenter comes will encourage not only a better session, but research, planning, and expectation.

WHY should you promote and sell the author’s/illustrator’s books?

Quite simply, you are showing support of them and their products. Authors and Illustrators work hard to get where they are and one way they get paid is in royalties from books sold. While we don’t make much, every bit counts.

WHY should you allow your students to meet an author/illustrator?

By allowing a presenter to come to your school it not only adds a new element for the day, but it also introduces them to someone who is knowledgeable in the field. Everyone likes to hear what experts say and do. So here’s your chance to allow someone with first-hand knowledge of the book industry into your school.

We can tell you the struggles of writing, editing, and just how scary it can be to see something you created go out into the world.

WHY will you see the effects of an author/illustrator visit?

I like to think of it as a rock being dropped into a still pond.

You have the immediate reaction of the presenter being there. Then after they have left you will see ripples as your students read more, talk about writing/drawing more, having to work hard for something you want to accomplish.

There are many ripples too.

This will expand to the outer reaches of their learning. Maybe even influence them in some way.

WHY you should incorporate this into your learning curriculum?

Bringing an author or illustrator into your school can be incorporated into the Common Core Curriculum. You can talk about where they are from (Social Studies), What background they have in their learning (Literature), How long it took to get their book published (Math), as well as many other things when you incorporate a book of theirs into the equation.

The learning never stops!  🙂


So what can hold a school back?
I’ll say it…


It costs money to bring presenters in. This is something not all people realize. But think about it…

WHY should you pay for them to come?

You wouldn’t expect a doctor to do their job for free. Or a police officer. Or a cashier. The same should be applied to an author and illustrator. They have spent years honing their craft, submitting to houses, and getting ready for this day. Plus this person is taking time out of their schedule to come. That can include writing time, drawing time, revision time, gas, dry cleaning, time while at the school, you get the picture, right?

BUT… budgets are tight and getting tighter.

Here are a few things to help out:

  • Fund-Raisers
  • Title I Monies
  • Bake Sales
  • Sponsorships from business/organizations
  • Donations
  • Grants

Check out my Fund Raising/Grants page on my website for more ideas and information.


So I hope I made you pause and consider WHY inviting an author or illustrator is important and I hope you will consider encouraging your local schools to invite one or two or three or more this year!


Do you know of any other WHYs as to why you should invite an author or illustrator?
Have a question? Ask in the comment section and I’ll do my best to answer it.

Happy Writing!


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