Thursday, November 17, 2011

The SCBWI Bulletin

One of the amazing benefits of membership in the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators is the bimonthly publication, The Bulletin.

Here's the cover of the latest issue, November/December 2011, by Dan Santat

SCBWI President and Bulletin Editor Stephen Mooser says of The Bulletin,

"My goal has always been to make it practical.  To let people know how to advance their careers.  We focus in on articles of practical interest for the professional member and we like to mix in, whenever possible, some inspiration and humor."

And it's chock-full of great stuff.  Like what? you'd like to know?  Well, let's take a look at eleven great things about the current issue, Nov/Dec 2011:

1.  The cover by Dan Santat is hysterical, and there's an interview with him inside (A regular feature called "Illustrator Profile: About the Cover") where Dan explains about his creative process - from drawing over 1000 pages for his 200+ page graphic novel "Sidekicks," to the media and supplies he uses, to his inspiration for the cover.

"I remember feeling totally worried during my first art critique that my work wasn't good enough while some art director or editor evaluated what I'd done.  You can see that same nervousness in everyone who goes through the process.  Everyone in the SCBWI can relate to this moment at least once in their life."

2.  "Trailers, For Sale or Rent" - The latest installment of an ongoing series "What the Tech?" by Mark London Williams shares his journey to release his entire "Danger Boy" time travel series - a number of which have been traditionally published - as ebooks.  This article goes into the nitty gritty of how he put together his first book trailer. Where did he get his images?  The free (and license-free) music he used?  Mark shares lots of great tips and links.

3.  Alexis O'Neill also does an ongoing column, "The Truth About School Visits" - it's indispensable, and I've read and re-read her advice many times.  This issue's topic is "Book Festivals: Are They Worth It?" and Alexis goes into depth on how authors are chosen, how you can make the most of festivals, and the pros and cons of both large and small book festivals.  She shares her personal experience and insights, and even gives a roundup of websites where you can find lists of festivals in Australia, Canada and the USA.  Like I said - indispensable!

4.  There's an "Art Tips" series where Alison Davis Lyne edits the advice of different experts and illustrators - this issue the tips (by Tina Nichols Coury and Monica Carnesi) are about blogging, and how for illustrators, they can lead to publishing opportunities. 

5. There a wonderful "Illustrator's Perspective" column by Anne Sibley O'Brien. "The Assembly of Book Projects" focuses on how she manages her life as a self-employed artist.  She asks, "when the only authority demanding results is me - and I'm not getting paid - how is it that I keep things moving forward?  How do I continue developing these ideas until they're fully formed enough to possibly generate a contract?"  And her answers were inspiring.  Anne's columns are always thought-provoking, and I particularly loved her two part column "White Mind" in past Bulletins pointing out and challenging how many of us in our culture - writers and illustrators - make our characters white by default. 

6.  Writer/Illustrator Agy Wilson also challenges us, but this time it's to play with language to keep it lively in her article, "Children's Writers make Bralls and Widges."  Agy writes, "Great stories are meant to be told.  But it's in the telling whether they take flight or exist through time."  How we use language (including nonsense words, playing with structure and even rhyme) become tools to make not just walls or bridges, but Bralls and Widges.

7.  "Speed Dating: How to make up titles for stories" - this exercise by Hazel Edwards was fast and challenging fun, and it did get me to come up with a new title for a work-in-progress that is a vast improvement.

8.  "A Report from KidLitCon 2011: Building community through the kidlitosphere" by the fabulous Alice Pope is a great rundown of the September 16-17 weekend when more than 100 kid lit bloggers came together in Seattle for the 5th annual KidLitCon.  I attended that conference as well, and Alice does a great job of sharing the highlights and passing along some of the wonderful tips from the various presenters.

9.  "Legally Speaking" is a column by SCBWI Chief Operating Officer and lawyer Sara Rutenberg.  Sara goes into depth in her columns, and this issue's focus is "Piracy Protection."  She walks authors through what to do if you discover your copyrighted material has been posted without your authorization.  She explains the "takedown provisions" statue of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and share the five steps you need to take to file a takedown notice. 

10. "Game Your Way To Success" - the "To Market" column by Susan Salzman Raab explores what we can learn about book marketing from entertainment and gaming.  Using examples like Jeopardy and Farmville, Susan shares tips and resources to re-think and calibrate your marketing plan.  There are even a number of links to sites that can help you set up games as part of your author school visits.

11.  And the wonderful "An Open Letter To The Industry," where SCBWI speaks out for writers on the no-response-means-a-rejection controversy, which I reported on earlier this week.

There's still more in this issue - poems and illustrations, an article on "International Bloggers: What they can do for your book," another on "IRS Changes Mileage Deduction Rates for 2011," and still others on opening lines, targeting your publisher, and inspiration - that one's called "Swing! by Nisha Coker.  There's a book review of Scott McCloud's "Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels," news and notes, the People pages packed with members' good publishing news, a master regional events calendar, a notice for SCBWI members who want to present and showcase their work at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, and Publisher's Corner by Connie C. Epstein with Award, Publishing News and Submission Information updates for the kid lit industry!

You can join SCBWI here, and among the many, many great things that gives you (information and support, networking, insider publishing information, access to SCBWI awards and grants, member discounts on conferences and local events, Craft, Business, Inspiration and Community) you'll get your own subscription to the Bulletin.  And it's awesome.

In addition to the physical copy that can arrive in your mailbox, members can also sign in and download the current issue (and past issues all the way back to 2005!) of The Bulletin here.

Illustrate and Write On,


Kenda Turner said...

Just got my copy in the mail the other day--great stuff here!

Jim Hill said...

I always enjoy the bulletin, but this month's is my favorite yet;

Sharron said...

I always tout the Bulletin on my blog. There's such a wealth of information in it. For those who write children's books and those who just write.

It is always timely. One of my writers' groups is going to discuss trailers at our next meeting. And what do I find in this issue? Trailer talk. I love it.

Thanks to all for a great publication.

Ruth said...

I'm always so happy when mine arrives! The cover art alone is inspiring, not to mention all the wonderful info and inspiration inside.

Unknown said...

I like your line "My goal has always been to make it practical. To let people know how to advance their careers. We focus in on articles of practical interest for the professional member and we like to mix in, whenever possible, some inspiration and humor."
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