Thursday, December 30, 2021

Cosplay Inspiration - This Russian Bookstore Promotes Books and Reading With Some Incredible Images!

There's an article about this on Russia Beyond, "St. Petersburg bookstore ROCKS in promoting books" and they're right -

Check out the Bookstagram Images on - it's really inspiring. 

Here are just a few of the WOW ones!

They floated a bathtub in the Gulf of Finland!

Staircase to match

simple but so effective!

maybe even better than the book cover?

Enjoy checking out lots more on the bookstore's Instagram account.

And that's some inspiration heading into 2022!

Stay safe, and Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Monday, December 27, 2021

New Year Resolutions: Cal Newport Urges a Thoughtful Approach to Social Media So We Can Do Our Creative "Deep Work"

Cover of "Deep Work" by Cal Newport

Cal Newport's "Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World" includes a section about figuring out if your time spent on social media makes sense for the larger picture of what you're hoping to accomplish. 

And one example Cal gives is for a writer (after citing a number of really successful authors who aren't on social media at all.) Here's part of the math Cal lays out for a "less famous" writer:

"Imagine that our hypothetical author diligently sends ten individualized tweets a day, five days a week—each of which connects one-on-one with a new potential reader. Now imagine that 50 percent of the people contacted in this manner become loyal fans who will definitely buy the author's next book. Over the two-year period it might take to write this book, this yields two thousand sales—a modest boost at best in a marketplace where bestseller status requires two or three times more sales per week. The question once again is not whether Twitter offers some benefits, but instead whether it offers enough benefits to offset its drag on your time and attention (two resources that are especially valuable to a writer.)"
—Cal Newport, from page 197-198 of Deep Work

As we look ahead to a new year of creative work, it's well worth doing this math for each of us - with everything we spend our time doing.

My thanks to Lori Snyder for the book recommendation.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, December 23, 2021

If We Removed Every YA Book Someone Might Object To...

The Pflugerville Library facebook post with the before and after view of just one section of their teen bookshelves. Happily, they didn't actually remove any of these books from the library. They just wanted to show what it would look like if they did...

In this Facebook post, the folks at the Pflugerville, Texas Library shared this striking photo, and wrote:

This is a before and after shot of what a single shelving unit in the library’s Teen Space would look like if we removed every book with content that could offend someone. Out of 159 books, there are ten left on the shelves. We removed books that contained profanity, teen drinking, religious content, racism, magic, abuse, sexual content, and more. But in taking away those books, we also removed examples of friendship, love, courage, creativity, faith, forgiveness, reality, resilience, humor, and history. As a public library, we seek to provide books and other materials that will interest the many people in our diverse community. We believe in giving our library guests the choice of what they check out and read. A book that one reader adores may be despised by another reader. And that’s okay. We provide the books. You get to decide which books you and your family check out.

So well done!

And cheers to librarians doing the incredibly important work of acquiring – and keeping on their shelves – books that can change young readers' lives for the better.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Sarah Webb Lays Out the Many Roles of a Children's Bookseller

screen shot of Sarah Webb's Twitter post - the first in a thread where she lays out the many roles of a Children's bookseller. The photo shows Sarah (right) in front of the bookstore where she works part-time.

In this Twitter thread, author Sarah Webb responds to the reaction folks have been having to her part-time job as a bookseller. Sarah writes:

Lots of people have expressed surprise that I’m working as a part-time children’s bookseller. I don’t think they have any idea how skilled a job bookselling is.

So here are some of the things children’s booksellers do every day...

1/ We recommend books to grown ups for the children in their lives. Sometimes they know lots about the child or teen and their reading likes and dislikes, sometimes they just know the age. We do our best to find a book the young reader will love.
We do this by READING.
We read all the time - picturebooks right up to YA. We read reviews (for YA 
 reviews are a must). We listen to podcasts, read 
 , go to talks and events. 
We talk to children+teens about what they love to read.
We try to ring them their next fave book.

2/ To recommend books we need books in the shop so we order. New stock, classics, popular favourites,, comic books (I love comic books) - the best books we can find. 
Want a special, unusual book? We will try to order it in for you.
Takes a bit of extra time+ work but that’s ok!

3/ Some bookshops (like 
) offer a subscription service. Every month a book is carefully and individually chosen for a child or teen, wrapped and posted out. How cool is that? 
4/ We tidy the shelves, tables and displays. Create windows.
Christmas windows at the mo!

5/ We organise and run signings, events, Salons. All a bit curtailed at the moment but they will be back.
6/ Some children’s book shops run children’s book clubs, parent and toddler mornings.
7/ We support teachers - helping them pick class readers.

It seems important for those of us who create children's literature to better understand and appreciate the many roles played by the folks selling (and hopefully recommending) our books in stores.

So thank you, Sarah! And let's thanks all the other children's booksellers out there, too.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Social Media Followings Don't Necessarily Translate To Book Sales

Elizabeth A. Harris wrote this really interesting article in the New York TimesMillions of Followers? For Book Sales, ‘It’s Unreliable.’

Screen shot of the New York Times article, featuring a photo of Billie Eilish

In it, Elizabeth explores both how publishers have been basing their publishing bets more and more on social media followings, and yet the evidence of book sales isn't aligning in the way those publishers expected.

The article opens with:

A book by Billie Eilish seemed like a great bet. One of the most famous pop stars in the world, Ms. Eilish has 97 million followers on Instagram and another 6 million on Twitter. If just a fraction of them bought her book, it would be a hit.

But her self-titled book has sold about 64,000 hardcover copies since it came out in May, according to NPD BookScan, which tracks most printed books sold in the United States — not necessarily a disappointing number, unless Ms. Eilish got a big advance. Which, of course, she did. The book cost her publisher well over $1 million.

The full piece is well-worth reading, and it's a reminder for all of us that racking up social media followers isn't necessarily going to lead to racking up the book sales.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

SCBWI Signs Coalition Statement on the Attack on Books in Schools


Screen shot of the National Coalition Against Censorship web page "NCAC Leads Coalition Statement on the Attack on Books in Schools" The photo is of white smoke rising behind three piles of books on a dark background.

The National Coalition Against Censorship put out this statement signed by organizations, publishers and agencies, bookstores, and individuals. SCBWI was one of the many organizations who signed. Here's the full text of the statement:

In communities across the country, an organized political attack on books in schools threatens the education of America’s children. These ongoing attempts to purge schools of books represent a partisan political battle fought in school board meetings and state legislatures. The undersigned organizations and individuals are deeply concerned about this sudden rise in censorship and its impact on education, the rights of students, and freedom of expression. 

Nearly all communities have developed policies for both handling book challenges and allowing parents to influence their own child’s reading, but they must do so within the guideposts set forth by the Supreme Court, without infringing on the rights of other students. The law clearly prohibits the kind of activities we are seeing today: censoring school libraries, removing books–and entire reading lists–based on disagreement with viewpoint and without any review of their educational or literary merit. Some would-be censors have gone even farther, threatening teachers, school librarians, authors, and school board members with criminal charges and even violence for allowing students access to books.

Libraries offer students the opportunity to encounter books and other material that they might otherwise never see and the freedom to make their own choices about what to read. Denying young people this freedom to explore–often on the basis of a single controversial passage cited out of context–will limit not only what they can learn but who they can become. 

Books help students connect with characters whose stories reflect their own lives. They also widen their view of a changing world that embraces diversity and multiculturalism. But there is always resistance to change. So it is not surprising that most of the books that are being attacked address concerns of groups previously underrepresented in libraries and school curriculums: books about lived experiences of racism or of growing up LGBTQIA and experiencing bias, discrimination, hate and even violence.  

The First Amendment guarantees that no individual, group of individuals, legislator, community member, or even school board member can dictate what public school students are allowed to read based on their own personal beliefs or political viewpoint.

It is freedom of expression that ensures that we can meet the challenges of a changing world.  That freedom is critical for the students who will lead America in the years ahead. We must fight to defend it.

Full disclosure, I was one of the individuals who signed as well.

If you're curious to learn more about what kinds of books are being attacked, read Danika Ellis's excellent analysis over at BookRiot, All 850 Books Texas Lawmaker Matt Krause Wants to Ban: An Analysis

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Tell Me Another Story: The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation's 30 minute Free Documentary on Diversity in Children's Literature.

Tell Me Another Story: Diversity in Children's Literature is an awesome look at diversity in our industry from a who's who of luminaries, including Christopher Myers, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Grace Lin, Chieri Uegaki, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, Meg Medina, Jessixa Bagley, Pat Cummings, Shirin Yim Bridges, and with footage of Ezra Jack Keats, Pura Belpré, and W.E. DuBois.

Screen shot shows Author/Illustrator Christopher Myers in the documentary "Tell Me Another Story: Diversity in Children's Literature."

There are lots of great moments and insights, like:

“Children's literature was always a tool of white supremacy until it was challenged. It was a way of othering people who you were going to exploit.” —Deborah Taylor, Librarian and Youth Literacy Advocate.


"What you see, it leaves an imprint on you.... what you see and what you don't see. The books I had as a child, I didn't know why I wasn't in them.... I felt that erasure from early on. Books, they're this great opportunity to widen, widen the sense of possibility for children. How about seeing two mommies? How about seeing families that don't look like what you're used to seeing?  Just by showing the child themselves. You. You. You belong in this book. You deserve pages.” —Author and 2020 Ezra Jack Keats Writer Award Honoree Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie

Watch the free documentary here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Author Michael Rosen answers the question: "Why shouldn’t children’s writers talk of refugees, persecution and genocide?"

In this piece in The Guardian, Michael explains about his latest work, putting the choice to the rest of us who create works for children and teens:

"People ask me why write about such things for young people? One answer in my mind takes me back to the child who was hearing his father say, “They must have died in the camps”. That child was full of questions with no answers. Another is that children are not sealed off from migration and refugees. The media tell these stories, why shouldn’t a writer for children use his experience of framing things with a young audience in mind to talk of these matters too?"

Read the full article, "Why shouldn’t children’s writers talk of refugees, persecution and genocide?" here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Illustration Inspiration - The 2021 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books

Screen shot of the New York Times article, "The 2021 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Books" showing an interior spread from one of the ten winners, "I Am the Subway," written and illustrated by Kim Hyo-eun.

Since 1952, the New York Times has pulled together a rotating panel of three experts to look at EVERY illustrated book for kids published in the USA for that year. This year's judges, children's literature critic Catherine Hong; New York Public Library youth collections librarian Jessica Agudelo; and Caldecott medalist Paul O. Zelinsky (a member of SCBWI's Board of Advisors and a past winner of this honor), chose ten winners ”purely on the basis of artistic merit.”

Announced in the New York Times Book Review on November 12, 2021, The 2021 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books includes interior images – and there's a bonus article with interviews with the artists and views of them working in their studios!

The ten winning books are:

I Am the Subway
Written and illustrated by Kim Hyo-eun
Translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith

The Night Walk
Written and illustrated by Marie Dorléans

Time Is a Flower
Written and illustrated by Julie Morstad

It Fell From the Sky
Written and illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan

The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess
Written and illustrated by Tom Gauld

¡Vamos! Let’s Cross the Bridge
Written and illustrated by Raúl the Third
Colors by Elaine Bay

While You’re Sleeping
Written by Mick Jackson
Illustrated by John Broadley

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Keeping the City Going
Written and illustrated by Brian Floca

On the Other Side of the Forest
Written by Nadine Robert
Illustrated by Gérard DuBois

Congratulations to the winners, and what inspiration for the rest of us!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Power – And Politics – of Words: The Library of Congress Changes the Subject Headings "Aliens" to "Noncitizens" and "Illegal Aliens" to "Illegal Immigration"

Screen shot of the article from Publishers Weekly,
"Library of Congress to Replace 'Aliens,' 'Illegal Aliens' Subject Headings"

Reported in this article by Andrew Albanese in Publishers Weekly, the subject heading change that will roll out to libraries all over the USA was announced earlier this month. The change away from calling people 'aliens' and then calling those same people 'illegal,' as Andrew writes,

“comes after a long-running advocacy campaign by a number of groups, including the library community—and a conservative political backlash against the effort.”

Turns out this change was agreed to by the Library of Congress back in 2016... Why the delay in making this change official? Back in  2016,

“ an unprecedented action, a group of conservative members of Congress objected to the change, and went so far as to add a provision to an appropriations bill that would require the library to retain the terminology—the first time in LC's history, LC officials told reporters, that lawmakers had intervened in a routine cataloguing matter.”

Wow. It's nice to see this long-overdue change happen, and it also is a humbling reminder of the power of words to shape our (and others') views of the world. A reminder that we creators should choose the words we have control over with care. And it's also a reminder that librarians are awesome, and that change to make systems more just is possible.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Alex Sanchez - 20 Years, 10 Books, and a Baker's Dozen Insights On Being An Author


screenshot of the article over at Cynsations

Alex celebrates this anniversary of his debut, groundbreaking novel with this Cynsations Guest Post: Author Alex Sanchez Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of Rainbow Boys!

Alex's life lessons include:

1. Surround yourself with people who believe in you. They don’t need to be other writers, but it helps if they have their own creative passions so they understand why you’re up at 3 a.m. working on a project you might never get paid for. My first artistic support buddies included a songwriter and a papier mâché artist. It’s thanks to them that I got to today.


4. Write the stories your heart is burning to tell, even if you think no one will ever want to publish them. When I began writing, I thought nobody would want to publish stories that affirmed gay teens because nobody was publishing affirming stories about gay teens. I wrote the stories anyway, and broke new ground. Write the stories you would write if you had only one year to live.

Check out the rest of Alex's excellent advice here

Alex, congratulations - keep writing! And for the rest of us, with this inspiration, let's...

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

There's a Whole Lot of Book Banning Going On


Criminal charges are being files. Lists of 'problematic books' are being circulated. Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Information Freedom, which tracks book challenges nationwide, told Publishers Weekly that

“We have seen a 60% increase in challenges to books received in the month of September compared to last year.” 

And while communities are pushing back, Caldwell-Stone says “the volume of challenges we are hearing and seeing now appears to be the result of an organized movement by certain groups to impose their political views and make them the norm for education and for our society as a whole. You have a state representative circulating a list of 850 books—and if you read that list they are all dealing with sex education, LGBTQIA+ identity, or the experience of persons of color. You also have people showing up at school boards complaining about the exact same books, repeating almost world for word the same complaints found on social media.”

Shirley Robinson, executive director of the Texas Library Association, agrees. “There is clearly an organized effort going on to bring large groups of people to school board meetings or to City Council meetings. And we as a community of educators and librarians need to stand together. We need to find a way to explain to people, in a way that makes sense to them, that we’re standing up for one of their fundamental rights as Americans.”

Read the full article, Librarians, Educators Warn of 'Organized' Book Banning Efforts at Publishers Weekly here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, November 18, 2021

#NY22SCBWI (The SCBWI Annual Winter Conference 2022) Will Take Place Online February 11-13, 2022

Save the dates!

The conference theme: Creating and Selling Successful Children's Books in 2022

Keynotes for the Winter 2022 SCBWI Winter 2022 Conference will Include Brian Selznick, Paula Yoo, Kelly Yang, and Vanessa Brantley Newton

Some already scheduled highlights:

Friday evening, February 11, will be a rare keynote from the one and only Brian Selznick, creator of THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET and WONDERSTRUCK, whose latest book KALEIDOSCOPE was called a “lockdown masterpiece” by the New York Times

The entire day Saturday, February 12, will be packed full with keynotes and panels. Keynotes will be from Kelly Yang, the New York Times bestselling author of FRONT DESK and winner of the 2019 Asian Pacific American Award for Children's Literature; Paula Yoo, whose YA non-fiction book, FROM A WHISPER TO A RALLYING CRY: THE KILLING OF VINCENT CHIN AND THE TRIAL THAT GALVANIZED THE ASIAN AMERICAN MOVEMENT won the 2021 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction; and New York Times best- selling illustrator for THE KING OF KINDERGARTEN, Vanessa Brantley Newton.

Interspersed between the keynotes will be three panels featuring 15 industry professionals. The topic of each panel is Recipes for Success in 2022 and will feature individual presentations from five editors, five agents, and five art directors, whose relevant and timely observations will provide a guide for creating and selling children’s books in the current environment. 

The cost for the main conference is $150. Multiple scholarships will be available, and announced by the time registration opens on December 2.  

Sunday, February 13, features an optional full morning session, which will be offered for an additional fee. During the morning, editors and agents will offer intensive sessions in which they will detail their process, their house, and their wish list. Lucky attendees will get to select two sessions to attend, and will be invited to submit queries to the leaders of BOTH sessions they selected. The additional fee for that morning is $150, and space will be limited. 

Sunday afternoon, however, is a free illustrators' event and is included with the cost of the conference and open to all attendees.

Also included in the basic conference registration are peer critiques, an orientation, and multiple socials. We fully expect enrollment to be fast and furious, so mark your calendar with the registration date. The full program and schedule will be posted on the SCBWI website on December 1.

Hope you'll join us!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

10 Tips for Being A Great Podcast Guest (from Jeniffer Thompson and the Team at Monkey C Media)

I thought this article was really helpful - especially tip #1! It's so important to listen to at least one episode of the podcast you're going to be a guest on before you're on their show!

Oh, and #2 - having a bullet point list of the points you want to make is really helpful to keep you focused as you answer questions and have a great discussion.

Check out the other eight tips (and the three things to not do) here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Telling a Story That Is Not From Your Experience: Martha Brockenbrough on Collaborating with Grace Lin on their new Picture Book "I Am an American: the Wong Kim Ark Story"

I reached out to Martha to ask about how she came to co-write this new picture book with Grace. Here's what Martha shared:

The most wonderful things can happen inside vans taking authors to book festivals. Sometimes, collaborations are launched, and this is what happened with I Am an American: the Wong Kim Ark Story.

“Who the heck is Wong Kim Ark?” you might ask.

I hadn’t heard of him until 2014, when my friend Eric Liu published a book called A Chinaman’s Chance: One Family’s Journey and the Chinese American Dream. Eric mentioned Wong Kim Ark and his role in establishing birthright citizenship for every American, and that fact stopped me in my tracks.

I knew then that it could be a picture book, if I could find a way to make it resonate emotionally with very young readers. I bought a number of books about Chinese American history and was astonished and heartbroken about the rampant racism. As I thought about it and years passed, I also started to question the rightness of me, a white person, working on this book.

So when I was sitting next to Grace on that van, Grace, who is an absolute legend in storytelling as well as being a force for quality representation on the page, I asked her if she’d heard of him. She hadn’t, so I told her the story and the research I’d done, and I offered it to her.

She countered with an offer of collaboration, for which I will eternally be in her debt. I was right to doubt my fitness to tell this story. No matter what I’d picked up from history books, government records, and newspaper accounts, I still could not find the heart of the story emotionally until Grace told it to me: the right of Wong Kim Ark to assert his Americanness.

That gave us the title and refrain for our book, and even though it is about a particular piece of history, it resonates today—in the beauty and dynamism that the children of immigrants represent as well as the ugly racism of political leaders, including the former president, who threatened to undo this Supreme Court ruling, which is more than a century old.

The right of non-white people to assert Americanness is an emotional heart that illustrator Julia Kuo grasped beautifully. Her work also celebrates the rich history and nuances of Asian identity elements. If you haven’t pored over I Dream of Popo (words by Livia Blackburne and The Sound of Silence (words by Katrina Goldsaito), then you are in for a profound pleasure.

I’m incredibly proud of this beautiful book and humbled by the grit and courage of Wong Kim Ark. I hope it moves you as much as it did me.

Learn more about Martha Brockenbrough and her books here.

Learn more about Grace Lin and her books here.

And learn more about illustrator Julia Kuo here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Looking to Figure Out Your Approach to TikTok? BookBub Curated a list of 21 Authors On TikTok To Check Out

Shailee Shah starts out the article, 21 Authors on TikTok to Follow for Book Promo Ideas (&LOLs), with noting that 

“The BookTok hashtag currently stands at 12.2 billion views, with videos featuring books old and new.”

Music and text, vlog style, stitching reactions to other TikToks... there's lots to explore! And with the exception of the one movie star example, these strategies are all pretty much accessible to all of us creating content for tweens and teens.

Check out the full piece at BookBub Partners here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Janssen Bradshaw, in an Article at Brightly, Urges Us: Let’s Stop Labeling Books as “Boy Books” or “Girl Books”


Screen shot from the Brightly article

Janssen writes in Let's Stop Labeling Books as "Boy Books" or "Girl Books":

“It’s such a shame when we, as parents, teachers, or librarians, automatically assume that a boy wouldn’t enjoy a story with a female protagonist.

Girls read books with male protagonists all. the. time. and no one thinks twice about it. It would be laughable for someone to see a girl reading a Harry Potter novel and say, “I can’t believe you’re reading that boy book.”

The sad truth is that often, we assume books with male main characters are for everyone, and books with female main characters are only for girls.

And this is a lose-lose situation.”

Janssen continues:

“And when we read books aloud, buy them as gifts, or help children and students pick out library books, we should rotate between novels with female and male main characters. Let children see the stories of both girls and boys as interesting, engaging, and worth exploring.”

I liked Janssen's article, though I felt it could have been written anytime in the last 50 years or more.

Today, I'd update the idea to also include books with gender nonconforming main characters -- characters who are Intersex, Trans, Gender Queer, Gender Questioning, Gender-Fluid, Nonbinary, and other gender diverse identities. More than 9% of kids today identify outside the gender binary, so including their lives – in fiction and nonfiction – for all kids to read about is also incredibly important.

And yeah, let's stop labeling books to limit who reads what.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

What's A Sales Sheet / A Tip Sheet / A One Sheet / A Sales Flyer ... And How Do You Put One Together?

Whether you're publishing yourself or you are being published by someone else, at some point there's going to be a Sales Sheet (it has lots of names) put together about your book -- promoting your book.

This article by publisher of Elva Resa Publishing and author Karen Pavlicin from the magazine of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), the IBPA Independent magazine, Anatomy of a Book Sales Sheet (…Tip Sheet, One Sheet, Sales Flyer, What-Have-You!), shares the basics, the extras, offers a template, and an example.

As Karen explains:

“A trade version of the sales sheet helps the sales reps, distribution team, reviewers, and buyers understand what sets this title apart, its key features, intended reader, and what will help the book succeed. A consumer or direct sales version of the sales sheet helps the reader connect with the book’s content, preorder the title, and learn about upcoming author events.”
A screen shot from the article showing the Sale Sheet template and example.

If you're looking at promoting your book, and understanding how this tool (whatever it's called) can help, this is well worth reading.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Insight into Big Publishing's Business Strategy - And How That Might Affect Our Career Strategies as Creators

Speaking at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 20, 2021, and reported in Publishers Weekly, Markus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House, said,

"Only a few of the 15,000 titles that we publish every year round the world are going to be modern classics. So that means that failure is part of our business model - it's a portfolio business. And because of that failure... people think that something is wrong with the industry. It's not. It's part of our business model."


Keri Rae-Barnum (left) and Lee Wind (right) answer author and publisher questions on the October 22, 2021 "Free Advice Fridays" show

When I mentioned this to Keri Rae-Barnum, Executive Director of New Shelves Books, about 37 minutes into our Oct 22, 2021 "Free Advice Fridays" chat about publishing, she said that lined up with what she's heard, 

"I've talked to some big publishers and to some pretty well known agents, and they typically tell me, they're looking for about 10% of their books to really earn out and earn up. The other ones, they're gambling on. They're hoping it will be big, but they need about 10% to really make it big, to make the profit margin continue to work...  and that's crazy. I mean, it's crazy that even when you get to a big publisher, they're only looking for about 10% to really be successful."

Which circles back to the idea as an author, an illustrator, a translator, 

If you're thinking that the average is one out of ten is going to be really really successful, you've got to publish the first ten to get to that one.

Keri agreed, saying, "Multiple books is where you get the leverage at."

Definitely motivation to publish that next book!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Join this Free Spanish language webinar on Oct 29, 2021 at 1 PM Pacific: "Inclusión y diversidad racial en libros infantiles: Estados Unidos vs Latinoamérica y España"


Inclusión y diversidad racial en libros infantiles: Estados Unidos vs Latinoamérica y España Taller abierto y gratuito organizado por el equipo hispanohablante de SCBWI, liderado por Malena Fuentes Alzu (Spanish Language Coordinator). Al taller en vivo se accederá bajo previa inscripción y estará disponible para socios en durante un mes. 

Los socios SCBWI que figuren entre los 50 primeros subscritos y asistentes al taller podrán enviar su manuscrito o portfolio de ilustración a Jenny Lizárraga durante los 60 días posteriores al evento online. Jenny Lizárraga revisará si el material tiene posibilidades de publicación en su editorial

Inclusión y diversidad racial en libros infantiles: Open and free webinar organized by SCBWI's Spanish-speaking team, led by Malena Fuentes Alzu (Spanish Language Coordinator). After the live session, the workshop will be accessed by prior registration and will be available to members on for one month.

SCBWI members who are among the first 50 subscribers and who attend the workshop will be able to send their manuscript or illustration portfolio to Jenny Lizárraga during the 60 days after the online event. Jenny Lizárraga will then review the material to see if it’s possible to publish it.

Register here/registrarse aquí:

Speaker’s bio:

Jenny Lizarraga es la fundadora y CEO de Cinco Books así como co-fundadora de Green Seeds Publishing donde es la directora editorial. Green Seeds se especializa en libros bilingües en español e inglés para niños. Ha sido invitada para presentar en ferias internacionales del libro en México, Argentina, y a congresos en Estados Unidos como ALA, NABE y La Cosecha para educación dual, donde ha compartido su experiencia y conocimientos sobre la industria editorial en español, el comportamiento del mercado y la edición de libros en español como un catalizador para promover y mantener la cultura hispana y el lenguaje en Estados Unidos. Jenny es ingeniera industrial con maestrías en comunicación y finanzas corporativas. Nació y creció en Honduras para luego emigrar a Estados Unidos a continuar su educación y trabajar en pro de la cultura hispana para las comunidades hispanohablantes en Estados Unidos.

Jenny Lizarraga is the Founder and CEO of Cinco Books and the Co-founder and Chief Editor of Green Seeds Publishing, a publisher specialized in bilingual books for children. She is based in Miami and has been a speaker at the FIL Guadalajara Bookfair, Buenos Aires Bookfair, and annual conferences in the United States such as the annual ALA, NABE, and La Cosecha for Dual Education, sharing her experience in the United States with the publishing industry and advocating for the conservation of Hispanic culture and language. Jenny is an industrial engineer, she has a master’s degree in communication and an MBA in corporate finance. She was born and raised in Honduras and migrated to the United States at a young age to pursue her graduate studies and advocate for the Hispanic and Latino communities through culture and education. 


La última década ha provocado una serie de cambios vertiginosos en la industria editorial infantil y juvenil en el mundo siendo Estados Unidos un país marcado por la diversidad, migración y estigmas raciales desde sus inicios como nación. En este marco, la accesibilidad a la información y los medios de comunicación han permitido que la expresión artística de autores e ilustradores haya florecido recientemente reclamando derechos tradicionalmente negados a las comunidades de color, pueblos originarios y personas vulnerables. Esto ha impulsado una industria editorial progresiva, rebelde y con los ojos bien abiertos a pesar de las corrientes conservadoras que predominan en varias regiones del país. El despertar reflejado en las publicaciones estadounidenses no deja indiferentes a las industrias editoriales latinoamericanas y española. Ambas muestran un ferviente interés por participar en el segmento de mercado hispanohablante en Estados Unidos, un mercado que sobrepasa los 60 millones de habitantes. Esta charla tratará sobre cómo estos dos mundos se entrelazan y se mencionarán autores que han logrado adentrarse en esta maraña de ideas e ideales.


The last decade was driven by a rampant turn in children’s books, especially in the United States, which has been explicitly marked by diversity, migration, and racism from its beginning as a nation. However, the easy access to information and communication channels allowed the rebirth of artistic expressions from authors and illustrators who reclaim social justice for themselves as well as communities of color, the underrepresented, the vulnerable, and indigenous communities. As a result, we have a flourishing industry growing with pride and courage regardless of conservative groups. This awakening is reflected in children’s literature published in the United States and ignites interest in well-established publishers in Latin America and Spain who want to participate, taking into consideration the more than 60 million Spanish-speakers living in the country. In this webinar, we will explore how these worlds interact and we will mention authors who have been able to navigate successfully among these ideas and movements.

Gracias to Malena and the SCBWI Spanish-speaking team for putting this together!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, October 21, 2021

How Far Do You Read Into a Book to Decide if You'll Finish It (or Not)?

This piece in Shelf Awareness, Robert Gray: A Reader's Dilemma: To Resist, Finish, Adjourn or Abandon rounded up a bunch of different strategies.

The funniest? Librarian and author Nancy Pearl's "Revised 'Rule of 50'" that, Gray explains, was updated when Pearl was "In her 50s and 60s."

“I could no longer avoid the realization that, while the reading time remaining in my life was growing shorter, the world of books that I wanted to read was, if anything, growing larger.... When you are 51 years of age or older, subtract your age from 100, and the resulting number (which, of course, gets smaller every year) is the number of pages you should read before you can guiltlessly give up on a book. As the saying goes, 'Age has its privileges.' And the ultimate privilege of age, of course, is that when you turn 100, you are authorized (by the Rule of 50) to judge a book by its cover.”

The whole piece is fun... and interesting to consider. How far will you read before you decide to finish or not?

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

SCBWI's New Digital Workshop Series Starts October 21, 2021


A new series of SCBWI's free-for-members digital workshops are happening - and you can sign up for the first now

On October 21, 2021 at 1pm Pacific, Author Laura Taylor Namey presents "Come Create... Strong Emotional Relationships Between Your YA Characters."

On October 28, 2021 at 1pm Pacific, Author Debbi Michiko Florence presents "Come Create... Fully Developed Characters."

On November 4, 2021 at 1pm Pacific, Illustrator Joe Cepeda presents "Come Create... Illustration Spreads: From Manuscript to Thumbnails."

On November 11, 2021 at 1pm Pacific, Author Bruce Hale presents "Come Create... Powerful Pro Presentations."

On November 18, 2021 at 1pm Pacific, Author Tiffany D. Jackson presents "Come Create... Page Turning Plots."

and On December 2, 2021 at 1pm Pacific, Illustrator LeUyen Pham presents "Come Create... and Design Characters."

Get all the details, and register for the next one, here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Leila Hirschfeld over at BookBub rounds up "15 Ways Authors Support Each Other on Social Media"

“Inspired by how authors have stepped up to build community and spotlight their fellow writers work," Leila Hirschfeld put together this BookBub Partners post, 15 Ways Authors Support Each Other on Social Media. It has lots of examples and ideas, including:

#1 Host book clubs featuring other authors’ titles

#7 Signal boost debut authors and encourage others to do the same


#10 Run giveaways of fellow authors’ books

How many are you currently doing? See any new ones to add to what you already do to support your fellow kid lit creators?

Read the full piece here.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Nyle Vialet Urges us to "Stand Up to Censorship in Schools"

In this Publishers Weekly piece, Stand Up to Censorship in Schools, Nyle Vialet, editorial project manager at Wise Ink Creative Publishing, considers the recent controversy of a Pennsylvania school district banning books that “are about, or written by, people of color.”

Nyle goes on to say,

“Banning books and resources that are connected to people of color and racism not only ensures the embedding of white-centric thinking in a new generation of children, but it ensures censorship of minority stories and voices.”


“It has been hard work to get to the point where minorities can see, read, and hear stories from people of color, and attempts to silence these voices should not be taken lightly.”


“Make no mistake: books are power, and this ban is a fight over who gets to hold it.”

It's an excellent article. Read it in full here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Eugene Yelchin on Writing a Memoir

Mulit-award winning author/illustrator Eugene Yelchin shares about his new middle grade memoir, The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain in this Publishers Weekly profile: Four Questions for Eugene Yelchin.

Here's just a taste:

PW: How was the process of writing directly from your life different from writing fiction?

Eugene: It was easier because I knew the story before I began writing! I knew how things came out. But there was no plot, so I had to impose a plot on my memories. I had to organize real events into cause and effect to make the memoir read like a story. That’s the only way to tell a story: something happened so something else happened. My early drafts were hundreds of pages long and included everything I thought was interesting, things my brother thought were interesting, things my wife thought were interesting. But I had to leave a lot of those things out because they didn’t fit into the cause-and-effect structure.

Also, when I work on a character, I try to be extra careful not to confuse what the character wants and what the character needs. Most of us know what we want, but rarely know or understand what we need. Yevgeny wants to uncover his family’s secrets and his country’s secrets, but he’s too polite, too well-behaved to demand truthful answers. He lacks the courage to fully confront the adults in his life. Instead he attempts to piece together his small discoveries like a puzzle. Only by the end of the book does he mature enough to demand answers.

It's a fascinating interview – read it in full here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Putting Translator Names on Book Covers - Is a Change Coming? #TranslatorsOnTheCover

Our friends at the UK's Society of Authors (as well as the US' Authors Guild) are asking authors to sign an open letter, aimed at changing how Translators are credited in publishing. 

Penned by Jennifer Croft (translator of Olga Tokarczuk’s International Booker Prize-winning Flights) and Mark Haddon (author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), the letter reads:

For too long, we’ve taken translators for granted. It is thanks to translators that we have access to world literatures past and present.

It is thanks to translators that we are not merely isolated islands of readers and writers talking amongst ourselves, hearing only ourselves.

Translators are the life-blood of both the literary world and the book trade which sustains it. They should be properly recognised, celebrated and rewarded for this. The first step towards doing this seems an obvious one. From now on we will be asking, in our contracts and communications, that our publishers ensure, whenever our work is translated, that the name of the translator appears on the front cover.

And, it's something to consider asking for in your contracts as well.

This was also covered by BBC radio - you can listen here.

Big thanks to writer and translator Avery Udagawa for the heads-up on this important story!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Writing About Disabled People Requires We Listen to More Than Just the Style Guides

In this recent Publishers Weekly article, How the AP Stylebook Considers Language on Disability, disabled Canadian journalist John Loeppky summarizes the April 2021 AP "revision and expansion" of guidance on writing about disabled people -- and the social media-vented frustrations of disabled people about the guidelines, which led to the guidelines being updated once again. 

John writes,

“This whole situation reminds me that it is a moral imperative to go beyond the style guide—to take it as our duty to shepherd the stories of those we are writing about, even if they are fictional, with the utmost of care and attention.”

and offers some examples of writers continuing in huge numbers to use problematic language, including,

“‘Wheelchair-bound’ (as opposed to ‘wheelchair user,’ the preferred term)”

And urges us,

“We can’t allow style guides to be the ultimate deciders of writer morality. We have to ask better of ourselves. As writers, I’d like to think our responsibility is to subject and audience. No audience is served best when the term wheelchair bound is used.”

The full article is well worth reading.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Emily Jenkins Shares Three Tips for Writing Funny Picture Books Over at the Highlights Foundation

Wanna get your creative flow flowing?

Check out Emily's craft suggestions for writing funny picture books. Some of them are really liberating, like #2:

“Put some outrageously long words in there, just to see what they do.  Picture books don’t have to have limited vocabulary.  In fact, one of their jobs is to to expose children to new vocabulary.” —Emily Jenkins.

Check out the examples, and the rest of Emily's suggestions, here.

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Join Me (Lee Wind) and Author Lexie Bean for an Instagram Live Interview about “The Ship We Built”

Join myself and the author of "The Ship We Built" Lexie Bean for an SCBWI Equity and Inclusion Book Club discussion!

To join in:

1) head over to follow SCBWI’s Instagram account at

2) on September 30, 2021 at 10am Pacific, if you’re following SCBWI, the SCBWI profile picture will appear at the top of your Instagram Feed with a colorful ring around it and the word Live. Tap or click the SCBWI profile picture to view the live broadcast.

To really get the most out of the book club discussion, you’re welcome to read Lexie’s amazing book, “The Ship We Built” and add your questions in the comments during the live event. (Alternatively, you can put questions here as comments to this blog post ahead of time.)

Of course, you don’t have to have read the book to tune in. (But you’ll want to read it after hearing the discussion!)

Here's the synopsis:

Sometimes I have trouble filling out tests when the name part feels like a test too. . . . When I write letters, I love that you have to read all of my thoughts and stories before I say any name at all. You have to make it to the very end to know.

Rowan has too many secrets to write down in the pages of a diary. And if he did, he wouldn’t want anyone he knows to read them. He understands who he is and what he likes, but it’s not safe for others to find out. Now the kids at school say Rowan’s too different to spend time with. He’s not the “right kind” of girl, and he’s not the “right kind” of boy. His mom ignores him. And at night, his dad hurts him in ways he’s not ready to talk about yet.

But Rowan discovers another way to share his secrets: letters. Letters he attaches to balloons and releases into the universe, hoping someone new will read them and understand. But when he befriends a classmate who knows what it’s like to be lonely and scared, even at home, Rowan realizes that there might already be a person he can trust right by his side.

It is a beautiful book.

We hope to see you there!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Listen To The New Season of SCBWI's Podcast Conversations!

We're delighted to announce a new season of SCBWI podcasts, now available for FREE for everyone! (You can tune in wherever you do your podcast listening.)

The first two episodes have already posted, so go listen to the great conversations Theo Baker had with Mac Barnett and Jane Yolen.

If you check out SCBWI on instagram, you can hear short excerpts from each discussion - a taste of the full episode!

Coming up are in-depth, hang-out discussions with Jacqueline Woodson, Dan Santat, Sergio Ruzzier, Kate Mesner, Grace Lin, Derrick Barnes, and many more!


Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Nonfiction Author Steve Sheinkin is Interviewed Over at Shelf Awareness

Steve Sheinkin's nonfiction for young readers has won numerous awards, and now with the publication of his latest, Fallout: Spies, Superbombs, and the Ultimate Cold War Showdown, he chats with Lana Barnes over at Shelf Awareness about researching and writing nonfiction for teens.

A couple of standout moments:

“it's easy to find exciting true stories to tell. And the research, the nerdy detective work, is actually fun. Kids often accuse me of doing homework for a living, and I admit it. But the thing is, I get to pick the assignment, and that makes all the difference. The hardest part is figuring out how to work the needed background information into a story without killing the momentum.”


“I always start with libraries and good old-fashioned books. Just find a nonfiction book on a subject you're interested in (in this case, the Berlin Wall), and take notes on the people and storylines that are most intriguing. Then you can start to narrow the search, to hunt for more details on those figures, using other books, online sources, newspaper archives, interviews--whatever it takes.”


“I really believe true stories can be just as much fun to read as novels, and I'm trying to prove it. In terms of takeaways, my number-one goal is always to make readers curious. I hope they'll come away wanting to know more, inspired to dig deeper into whatever part of the story they found most compelling.”

Read the full interview here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Cover Letter Inspiration - Benedict Cumberbatch Reads "The Best Cover Letter Ever Written"

This is pretty amazing!

Posted by Letters Live, here's the setup:

In 1934, a New York copywriter by the name of Robert Pirosh quit his well-paid job and headed for Hollywood, determined to begin the career of his dreams as a screenwriter. When he arrived, he gathered the names and addresses of as many directors, producers and studio executives as he could find, and sent them what is surely one of the greatest, most effective cover letters ever to be written; a letter which secured him three interviews, one of which led to his job as a junior writer at MGM.

Fifteen years later, screenwriter Robert Pirosh won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his work on the war film, Battleground. A few months after that, he also won a Golden Globe.

To read Pirosh's amazing cover letter, here's Benedict Cumberbatch (originally performed at Freemason's Hall, London). Click here to watch the under-two-minute video.

Working on your own cover letter? Imagine how it would sound if Benedict read it... 

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, September 9, 2021

What's The Future of Author Events? Online? In-Person? Hybrid? - Shelf Awareness Reports on Last Week's ABA Children's Institute Panel

Reporting over at Shelf Awareness, Alex Mutter writes about the American Booksellers Association's August 31, 2021, Children's Institute panel discussion, Ci9: The Future of Events.

Moderated by Brein Lopez, manager of Children's Book World in Los Angeles, California, the panelists were: Lara Phan, director of account marketing at Penguin Random House; Erica Barmash, senior director of marketing and publicity at Bloomsbury; and Melissa Campion, senior director of author events at Macmillan.

The recap of the discussion touches on hybrid tours as distinct from hybrid events, adjusting sales expectations for online events, and even what times work best for what kinds of events. Lara Phan shared data drawn from 1,700 online events Penguin Random House authors did between March 2020 and March 2021 that led them to conclude:

“For children's events, afternoon sessions at around 2 or 3 p.m., which on weekdays would be around the time that virtual schooling concluded, did well, and Mondays and Saturdays were solid choices for days of the week.”

If you're wondering about the future of your author/translator/illustrator events, the full article is well worth reading.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Movement to Dismantle the Dewey Decimal System

As reported recently in their article Move Over, Melvil! Momentum Grows to Eliminate Bias and Racism in the 145-year-old Dewey Decimal System by Christina Joseph over at School Library Journal

"a growing number of school and youth librarians" are calling out the systemic bias in the, well, system.

The article explains the folks trying to change things claim that,

“Dewey’s approaches to categorizing books were racist and sexist. For instance, Black history is not part of American history; ‘women’s work’ is a separate category from jobs; non-Christian religious holidays are situated with mythology and religion; and LGBTQ+ works were once shelved under ‘perversion’ or ‘neurological disorders’ before landing in the ‘sexual orientation’ category.”

It's a fascinating article that goes into just some of the efforts being made to re-examine, and in some cases, come up with ways to, as one school librarian put it, “do better for my kiddos.”

Click here to read the full piece over at School Library Journal.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,