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.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

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,