Today I’m happy to share this conversation with authors Ryann Jones and Andy Chitty, about their wonderful project Storytime Sprint, through which they aim to support new authors by providing them a space to read their stories, interact with the audience, and get valuable reviews for their books in return. Let me tell you, getting reviews is really important for authors, since that inspires other readers to buy our books and also it makes them more visible. However, truth is reviews are sometimes difficult to get and out of the authors’ control, so the fact that Storytime Sprint promotes them makes it a great ally for writers.
This month Ryann and Andy are celebrating their 1st year Anniversary for Storytime Sprint, so they will tell us all about their amazing experience in the past months and they’ll also share about an exciting giveaway taking place right now and until the end of January.
A little bit about Storytime Sprint:
Storytime Sprint is a short and sweet, free, monthly Zoom storytime supporting debut authors. Authors read their book live, then answer questions from the audience. Participants then have 24 hours to leave an honest review to be entered into a drawing to win a prize from the participating author. Listen in! Review! Win!
Now, on to our interview:
M. Ryan and Andy, I’m so glad to host you here today to talk about Storytime Sprint. Congratulations on your first anniversary!
Can you tell us what inspired you to create such a wonderful project?
R&A. We wanted to give back to the kidlit community! There were already so many awesome contests out there, but we saw a need for garnering reviews and library requests. Storytime Sprint fit the bill!
M. It sure did! Reviews and library requests are invaluable for authors, I love that you thought about that!
How did you come up with the idea for Storytime Sprint and when did you start?
R&A. Ryann came up with the initial idea. We were close friends and critique partners already, so the idea to team up came easily. We both believed in the idea, started brainstorming, and ran (or should we say “sprinted”) with it! We launched in January 2023 with the hope that more people would review new books if they had access to them earlier, plus an incentive to leave a review within a short time frame.
We also wanted to keep each storytime short and sweet. There are already so many amazing things going on in kidlit, so we didn’t want to add a huge time commitment for our featured author and our participants. 20-30 minutes seems to be the perfect “sweet spot”!
M. Can you tell us who created the logo?
R&A. The incredible Molly Ippolito! Check out her services at mollyippolito.com!
M. I’ve worked with Molly before for the educational resources of Santiago’s Dinosaurios, and I absolutely agree with you. She’s amazing and she recently talked about her business and more on the blog.
Next, can you please talk about how do you decide which authors to host in Storytime Sprint? Do you invite authors or can authors reach out to you for an opportunity?
R&A. In the beginning we reached out to authors that had debuts releasing. But, as word got out, more and more authors contacted us. We are always happy to hear from authors/author-illustrators if they are interested in participating! Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
We try our best to accommodate as many people as we can, but we have had to start saying “no” to authors, which is heartbreaking. If our schedule is already full, we are happy to read/review any new picture book releases, and encourage others to read/review it as well!
M. How wonderful that now you have authors reaching out to you! That speaks highly of what you have accomplished so far. Congratulations!
What’s the process to make an episode of Storytime Sprint happen?
R&A. Once we have permission from the publisher and a date and time set up, we send an email to the author detailing the order of events that will take place during their Storytime Sprint, along with some questions for them. We spread the word on our socials and our email list at least a week in advance for people to register to attend. Typically, the meetings last about 20 minutes (they are not recorded). Participants then have 24 hours to review the book and email us proof to be entered into a drawing to win a prize from the author.
M. I haven’t thought about getting permission from the publisher. How thoughtful! And what a great way to incentive reviews!
What has been the most rewarding and the most challenging part of having this project?
R&A. Most rewarding- meeting and connecting with more of the kidlit community! It is also nice to help debut authors get a boost of reviews and feel supported right off the bat. Most challenging- not having enough bandwidth to do a sprint for all debut authors. There are so many amazing books out there and we wish we had the time to feature them all!
M. I think I’d also feel bad about not being able to help everyone interested. But you’re really making a difference an author at a time. How special!
What plans do you have for Storytime Sprint in the future?
R&A. Storytime Sprint is not just for the kidlit community! We would love to increase our audience by getting librarians and parents to join!
M. That’s a great goal! Looking forward to seeing you achieving it soon. Good luck!
Any projects you are working on as authors yourselves that you’d like to share?
R. I have a humorous informational-fiction book (with series potential) that I am excited about and hoping to go out on submission with next month! I also have a fun idea for a graphic novel and am starting to research and branch out into that space as well.
A. There’s always something percolating in my brain! This year, though, I plan on focusing on my “hooks”, so some of my recent projects are intentionally hook-heavy. It’s been good practice for me, and I definitely feel like these recent stories are stronger for it!
M. Ryann, Andi, it’s been wonderful to learn more about Storytime Sprint and both of your personal projects. Congratulations again on your first anniversary and may you celebrate many more in the future. 🎉
Thank you both for the time for this chat. I wish you a lot of success in everything you do and I can’t wait to hear good news about those books you’re currently working on. Best of luck! 🍀
R&A. Mariana, thank YOU so much for reaching out and supporting Storytime Sprint by featuring us on your blog. We are so grateful for this opportunity and love what you are doing. Keep up the great work and congrats on your new book coming out this fall! And…since we are so big on getting reviews, we would love to encourage your readers (if they have not done so already) to read and review SANTIAGO’S DINOSAURIOS! 🦕 🦖
Finally, we want to share about Storytime Sprint’s huge giveaway going on right now until the end of January! We are giving away 18 books (featured last year) and are encouraging everyone to get out there and review books! You can gain 3 new points daily by reviewing 3 books of ANY genre. We are also trying to spread the word about our program, and you can gain points by following us on our socials, joining our email list, and inviting others to follow us! Check it out here: Giveaway | Rafflecopter 🙂
M. Thank you both again, and readers, now you know what you need to do if you’d like to win one of these wonderful books. Good luck! 🍀
Ryann Jones loves learning and laughing alongside her homeschooled children. She is immersed in the kidlit community and co-hosts “Storytime Sprint” (a virtual storytime with debut authors) as a way to give back. Ryann’s works have been published in Little Thoughts Press and Paddler Press magazines. She is represented by Bethany Jett at C.Y.L.E. agency.
ANDI CHITTY BIO
In addition to being a small business owner, Andi Chitty is active in the kidlit community as a member of Inked Voices and Mighty Kidlit, and is always looking to improve her craft through webinars and classes taught by publishing professionals. She co-hosts a virtual monthly storytime with debut authors called “Storytime Sprint”, and is represented by Jen Newens at Martin Literary Management.
Thanks for reading!
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Cover photo by August de Richelieu.