Tuesday, February 18, 2020

How Children's Content Creators Can Help Indie Bookstores (And Our Careers, too)

In this February 2020 Forbes article, How Indie Bookstores Beat Amazon At The Bookselling Game: Lessons Here For Every Retailer, Pamela N. Danziger argues that community, curation, and convening are three superpowers Indie Bookstores can use to succeed.



It's worth asking ourselves, as writers and illustrators, how can we leverage those same three "Cs"?

How can we build community (online, with our works, and in person)?

How can we curate content (and maybe have our books included in that curated content)?

And how can we convene - bring together - folks interested in our content?

Doing so could build synergy towards success with our audiences, indie bookstores, and our own books.

Read the full article on Forbes.com here.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Highlights from #NY20SCBWI

Lin welcomes attendees to the 2020 SCBWI Winter Conference


I've found I can always afford fifteen minutes of idea chasing." -Kate Messner

"I have no speical talents. I am only passionately curious." - Albert Einstein, shared by Kate Messner

Jerry Pinkney's illustration (pun intended) of how the illustrator is the "interpreter of text," working out things the illustrator wants to work out.

On evaluating a work that's been submitted, agent Patrice Caldwell asking, "What's going to make them put down their phone and read a book?"

Agent Marietta Zacker, on her evaluation process: "1) Do I love it? 2) Can I think of specific editors who would love it, too?" 3) What does it need to get it ready? "I look for things that people can't not do."

Editor Connie Hsu on her own evaluation process, that after voice, "I wonder what reason is for the book to be."

"You have to decide what kind of legacy you want to leave. I want my books to say something." –Derrick Barnes.


Read more about the conference at the Official SCBWI Conference Blog here.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

#NY20SCBWI - The 2020 SCBWI Winter Conference - Starts Tomorrow!



All the excitement of the Golden Kite Awards, the portfolio show, the keynotes, the panels, the business, the inspiration, the craft, the community, and the opportunity of the SCBWI Winter Conference is being blogged over at the SCBWI Conference Blog.

Just us there!

And we invite you to follow and use the #NY20SCBWI hashtag online.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Lee & Low's Diversity In Publishing 2019 Baseline Survey Results are Released

"Where is the Diversity in Publishing?" Four years after their first (and groundbreaking) survey of the publishing industry to get some solid numbers to be able to quantify and track diversity status, efforts, and progress, the 2019 survey results have been released.


Looking at race, gender, orientation, and disability, this time around the survey included literary agents and university presses, and overall had a lot more participation ("In 2015, there were 3,706 responses to the survey. In 2019, we received 7,893 responses.")

While the change in terms of diversity in publishing was not "compelling" or statistically significant, there were some bright spots of progress, (i.e, intern populations are much more diverse than publishing in general) but clearly our industry can do more and better.

The full article on the results (and the rest of the slides) are well-worth checking out!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The 2020 SCBWI Golden Kite Award and Sid Fleischman Award Winners

The Golden Kite and Sid Fleischman Awards will be presented during the Golden Kite Gala at the New York Winter Conference on Friday, February 7 at 7pm at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Special guest speaker James Patterson will deliver the keynote address.



SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver said of the award,

“The SCBWI is happy to honor writers and illustrators who achieve excellence in their work, and this year, to be able to offer financial awards to both the recipients and the charitable organizations of their choice. It was an extremely large and competitive field, and we thank our renowned panel of judges for working so hard to make these worthy selections.”


THIS YEAR'S GOLDEN KITE AWARD WINNERS ARE...

Young Reader and Middle Grade Fiction: Padma Venkatraman – The Bridge Home (Nancy Paulsen Books)



Four homeless children struggle to create a home under a bridge in Chennai, India.

Young Adult Fiction: Julie Berry – Lovely War (Viking Books for Young Readers)



The goddess Aphrodite narrates the tale of four lovers caught in the sweep of World War I.

Non-Fiction for Younger Readers: Elizabeth Rusch – Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved Our Planet, illustrated by Teresa Martinez (Charlesbridge)



The true story of how a Mexican American chemist solved the ozone crisis of the 1980s.

Non-Fiction for Older Readers: Deborah Heiligman – Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of “The Children’s Ship” (Henry Holt)



Explores the tragic sinking of the SS City of Benares, an English passenger ship of children fleeing Work War II.

Picture Book Illustration: Hyewon Yum – Clever Little Witch, written by Muon Thị Van (Margaret K. McElderry Books)



Young witch Little Linh contends with a new baby brother in a sweet story paired with lively, colorful illustrations.

Picture Book Text: Ashley Benham Yazdani – A Green Place to Be: The Creation of Central Park (Candlewick)



Depicts New York City’s “vibrant jewel” from its birth in 1858 to its role as a social and environmental landmark today.

Sid Fleischman Humor Award Winner: Remy Lai – Pie in the Sky (Henry Holt)



When Jingwen’s life is turned upside down after moving to Australia, where everyone speaks an “alien language”, he finds laughter and the meaning of home in the kitchen with his brother.

THE GOLDEN KITE HONOR BOOKS ARE...

 Young Reader and Middle Grade Fiction: Remy Lai – Pie in the Sky (Henry Holt)

Young Adult Fiction: Elizabeth Acevedo – With the Fire on High (HarperTeen)

Non-Fiction for Young Readers: Curtis Manley – Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet, illustrated by Jessica Lanan (Roaring Brook Press)

Non-Fiction for Older Readers: Ian Lendler – The First Dinosaur: How Science Solved the Greatest Mystery on Earth, illustrated by C.M. Butzer (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

Picture Book Text: Kwame Alexander – The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Versify)

Picture Book Illustration: Frank Morrison – The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop, written by Carole Boston Weatherford (little bee books)

Congratulations to all! Read the full press release from SCBWI here.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast Now: A Conversation with Denene Millner



Denene Millner is the editor of Denene Millner Books at Simon & Schuster and a bestselling author herself. She speaks with Theo Baker about her own writing, her career path, and what her eponymous children’s book imprint is all about.

Listen to the episode trailer here.

Current SCBWI members can listen to the full episode here (log in first).

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Layering Powerful Voice to Create Memorable Characters - A Margot Finke "Musing" from Harold Underdown's Online Archives



This article, Layering Powerful Voice to Create Memorable Characters, while written back in 2005, remains evergreen.

"...how do you give several assorted characters, plus your main POV, powerful voices? Think of an onion. I'm serious! There are layers of skin to peel before you get to the good stuff in the middle of that onion. Building your character's voice uses the same technique; only this time you layer from the inside out. And the layers need to come in snippets – a fact here, a whisper or an overheard phone conversation there. Please, no dumping large chunks of informational text. Focus on blending in, little by little, the many physical and emotional layers that reveal each character's voice. Memorable characters are steeped in complexity and detail. Their layers are many and varied. Begin the layering process on the first page."
And then Margot lists a dozen "how-to" suggestions, including

"Use comments from other characters to describe or praise or criticize your main POV character" 

and

"Allow your main character some weakness he can either outgrow or overcome as the story progresses. No one is perfect. Kids know this - they sure aren't. Your reader wants to root for a character they can identify with."

It's an excellent piece, and well-worth reading.

I found this at Harold Underdown's Writing, Illustrating, and Publishing Children's Books: The Purple Crayon website. It's packed with resources and great information.





Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

SCBWI Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia with Washington D.C. & Virginia's Read Local Challenge - Innovations in Book Marketing

With posters and taglines like:

What if you discovered that your favorite author also liked to hang out at your favorite frozen yogurt shop?

SCBWI Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia with Washington D.C. & Virginia are sponsoring a "Read Local Challenge."



A multi-faceted campaign that includes read local parties, discounts on speaker fees, and "Read Local" Kits with prizes and signed books, it promotes 17 picture books and their creators, 11 middle grade books and their creators, and 10 young adult books and their creators.


Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Ellen Meeropol's ARC tour: Innovations in Book Marketing

Reported by Robert Gray in Shelf Awareness, the road trip that Ellen Meeropol took with a car full of ARCs, visiting "58 indie bookstores in 15 days" is remarkable.

A screen shot of the Shelf Awareness article, including a photo of Ellen by her car, which featured signage about her upcoming book release.

While not done for a children's book, the idea is replicable. (Ellen credits the idea to her friend and fellow Red Hen Press author Cai Emmons, who made a similar indie pilgrimage for her novel.)

As Ellen put it,

"So what was I doing in October and November was driving around New England with ARCs and chocolate bars covered in the image of the book jacket, visiting indie bookstores? The plan was to personally introduce my new novel to booksellers, store owners and fiction buyers. I asked them to take look at my novel, to consider stocking it, making an IndieNext nomination, recommending it to book groups and handselling it to customers."

And that personal touch seems impactful — Ellen's a former bookseller herself, so her strategy was thoughtful (and included chocolate.)
"I didn't use a standard pitch. When I handed them the ARC, most booksellers immediately turned to the back and read the short description and the blurbs. I followed their lead, about offering more information or not. Often our conversations were more about bookselling and our favorite current reads than about my book."
The result? When asked, Ellen answered,
"What difference will it make to my novel? I don't know. But in these days of increasing grassroots book promotion, I'm happy to have driven those roads, visited those stores, and met those booksellers."
The article about Ellen's ARC tour of indie bookstores is well worth-reading.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

David Mackintosh's top 10 illustration and design tips for picture books - via The Guardian

David Mackintosh's top 10 illustration and design tips was published a few years ago, but the tips are solid, 'evergreen', and well worth considering.



 Here's just two that really resonated:
Tip 1 – How to keep ideas: If I think of something for a book, I'll write it in a notebook. It could be a title I like, or something I overheard on the tube or just an idea that I can build a story around. Often I just carry a story about in my head for ages, working on it in there until I sit down at the laptop or with a pencil to get it going. I find it quicker to play with the ideas using a pencil on paper, than typing on my laptop (see Tip 3).
and
Tip 5 – Turn up the contrast: A busy page with a lot of words on it followed by a page with a tiny ant on it and no words can be very dramatic. Contrast makes things interesting and avoids it being repetitive. Also, a page without text can really create atmosphere. It places all the emphasis upon the picture and the reader is on their own with the information they're getting from that picture. It's very effective and can be used to alter rhythm and pace in the story in different ways. A bit like music in a film.
Read the full piece here. 

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, January 9, 2020

#AuthorsforFireys Auctions to Support Australian Firefighters

The Australian wildfires are all over the news. As The Guardian reported earlier today, "Bushfires have swept large parts of Australia since October, leaving more than 23 people dead, destroying thousands of homes and devastating wildlife – 1 billion animals have been killed."

In the midst of this terrible news there's something good happening, powered by the writing and illustrating community... and it's on Twitter.



As the Authors for Fireys website explains, it's a decentralized
"Twitter auction channelling funds directly to our brave Australian firefighters."
How it works:
"Creators run their own individual auction / tweet under the hashtag. Twitter users scroll through the auction items under the hashtag and reply to the items to make their bids. Make your bids on the original item thread only. (ie. If you see an item quote-tweeted, do not bid there.) TOP TIP: open up the thread under the item to see what others are bidding"
You can find the full guide to the auction here.

The auction started on Monday 6th Jan 2020 and ends at 11pm Sydney/Melbourne time on Saturday 11th Jan 2020.

Jump over to Twitter and search the hashtag:

#AuthorsforFireys

and

#AuthorsForFiries

I'm grateful for this moment of unity and goodness, across genre and category lines, and around the world, for our friends in Australia.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Do You Know About SCBWI Webinars?



Our friends at SCBWI Nevada host a listing of SCBWI regional chapter webinars that offer you a chance to take an online class with an expert and move your craft and business of children's publishing knowledge forward!

As they explain,
"SCBWI offers webinars across the regions in the US and abroad. This is a list of the webinars being provided by the various regions. All webinars are recorded, so that if you registered but didn’t see it live, you can watch it in the recorded form. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re not able to make it to the live event; however, how long the recording is available differs by event. Webinars are priced affordably so that you can all attend."
With upcoming webinars on world building, Amazon SEO, Scholastic Bookfairs, creating compelling characters, writing middle grade mysteries, putting together your illustrator portfolio, cutting your picture book text, and so many more, you can craft your own educational path!

Check out the full list here, and consider bookmarking the page so you can check back as new webinars are added.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee