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1. Translation: Some Frequently Asked Questions

 

By Avery Udagawa

 

SCBWI welcomes translators, and many authors and illustrators hope to see their books translated.

So how do translations happen? How can we get more books translated? Here are some FAQs with answers.

 

1. Who makes a translation happen?

A translation happens when the original publisher of a book sells foreign language rights to another publisher, who issues the book in a new language and market. The publisher who buys rights will choose the translator and make all decisions about how to present the book in its new form. The foreign rights deal may begin at an event like the Bologna Children’s Book Fair or Frankfurt Book Fair. Foreign rights agents may mediate, or the publishers may negotiate directly. Stakeholders can converse year-round via the Internet or meetings.

Factors that drive a deal may include the fit of a text to a publisher’s list, its availability on other platforms (like TV or film) and its genre, author, illustrations, prior sales, and awards. Finally, culture matters: publishers in one market may bring different tastes than publishers elsewhere.

 

2. How does a translator get involved?

A translator of children’s books gets involved when a publisher who bought foreign rights to a title commissions the translation. The publisher might find the translator through recommendations, prior publications, the translator’s website, or a group like SCBWI. Some publishers ask several translators to submit samples before awarding a commission.

 

3. How can a translator network and develop skills?

A translator can build a network by seeking work relevant to children’s literature—for example, with publishers who commission sample translations for book fairs, or publishers who seek reader’s reports on overseas titles. Children’s literature conferences offer opportunities to meet publishers and network. Sometimes translators develop connections and skills in graduate programs, but as with writing and illustration no educational track “knights” a translator of children’s books. The professional translator offers degrees or extensive experience in her languages and cultures combined with writing skills. A translated book must engage readers as deftly as all of the other books they read. In this sense, literary translation differs as much from spoken interpretation—as in The Interpreter—as writing books differs from talking.

 

4. What helps a book’s chances of being translated?

A foreign rights pitch stands a better chance if the original publisher (or its rights agent) maintains a broad international network, and can provide a high-quality sample translation and promotional materials. It also helps if a government agency or other group can offer a grant to support the translation. Predictably, publishers and organizations in wealthy countries marshal more resources to market translations. This affects the representation of cultures and language groups on readers’ bookshelves.

 

5. How can translators, authors, and others encourage translations?

To encourage more translations, some translators propose texts they love directly to publishers for whom they seem a fit. This brings risk as publishers can always commission other translators, but it may raise awareness of under-marketed books. Authors who hope to see their books translated can network with SCBWI’s translators and international members, to study new markets—keeping in mind that one’s publisher must seal any foreign rights deal. Finally, groups who value translation can create grants for translated children’s literature. Grants spotlight deserving titles and help translators develop their skills.

 

6. What’s the big picture?

Everyone interested in translation should know about the imbalance between books written in English and books written in all other languages. A New York Times op-ed published July 7, 2015, notes that English as a global language “is turning literature into a one-way street,” with English-language books traveling widely and making authors in other languages struggle to compete, even at home. Often, fine overseas authors are not translated into English. This holds true in children’s literature. Translations count for just 3 percent of books published in the US. “So many books are translated from English, but not so many go the other way, which is a real shame, as readers are missing out on great stories,” translator Laura Watkinson tells Publishers Weekly in an August 6, 2015 article. Watkinson founded SCBWI Netherlands and has translated three of the past four winners of the Batchelder Award, conferred with the Newbery and Caldecott. SCBWI supports world literature, and many members enjoy foreign sales. For all, a question to ask alongside “How can I get translated?” is “What’s the last children’s book in translation I’ve read?”

 

Here are places to read on.

Acclaimed translations for children

Batchelder Award winners: www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/batchelderaward/batchelderpast

Marsh Award winners: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsh_Award_for_Children%27s_Literature_in_Translation

Andersen Award winners: www.ibby.org/308.0.html?&L=2%2F%2F%2F%27

 

On translation and children’s books

Go Global: We Are the World at CBC Diversity blog: www.cbcdiversity.com/post/121270943783/go-global-we-are-the-world

YA in Translation at Stacked blog: www.stackedbooks.org/2014/11/get-genrefied-ya-in-translation.html

We Need More International Picture Books, Kid Lit Experts Say at School Library Journal, April 22, 2015: www.slj.com/2015/04/books-media/we-need-more-international-picture-books-kid-lit-experts-say/#_

Found In Translation, op-ed in the New York Times, July 7, 2015: www.nytimes.com/2015/07/08/opinion/found-in-translation.html?_r=0

 

Translator commentaries and interviews

A World for Children by Daniel Hahn: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04hyyr0

Eight Ways to Say You: The Challenges of Translation by Cathy Hirano: archive.hbook.com/magazine/articles/1999/jan99_hirano.asp

SCBWI Summer Conference 2015: An Interview with Nanette McGuinness: www.scbwi.blogspot.com/2015/06/translation-at-la15scbwi-avery-udagawa.html

An Interview with Laura Watkinson: www.ihatov.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/an-interview-with-laura-watkinson/ and Laura Watkinson featured in Publishers Weekly, August 6, 2015: www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/67732-fickling-to-publish-dutch-classic.html

 

Avery Fischer Udagawa www.averyfischerudagawa.com translated the middle grade novel J-Boys: Kazuo’s World, Tokyo, 1965 by Shogo Oketani and the story “House of Trust” by Sachiko Kashiwaba in Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction: An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. Her latest translation is “Swing” by Mogami Ippei, illustrated by Saburo Takada, in Kyoto Journal 82. She coordinates the SCBWI Japan Translation Group www.ihatov.wordpress.com and serves as SCBWI International Translator Coordinator.

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2. SCBWI Exclusive with Balzer + Bray, an Imprint of HarperCollins

 

Alessandra Balzer and Donna Bray formed their imprint in 2008 after working together for twelve years at Hyperion Books for Children. During that time, they found that they really relied on each other as sounding boards for everything from manuscripts to marketing materials. When the time came for them to make a change, they figured, why not make their partnership official and create an imprint? B+B is a continuation of their collaborative way of working that has been going on for…well, a pretty long time, if you do the math! (Fun fact: It’s their second round at HarperCollins—they both worked there before Hyperion.)

 

How has the publishing industry changed since you formed B+B?

The children’s industry has definitely become more frontlist-focused, more like the adult industry. Children’s books also have a higher profile than they did years ago, which means a lot more money all around—more revenue, higher advances, bigger stakes. But with that comes more pressure on authors and publishers—and sometimes less patience for a book to build an audience over time.

 

That said, many things remain true: indie booksellers and librarians are still key tastemakers who can make a book happen; backlist is still incredibly important to our bottom line; and a small book can hit big. And most importantly: Authors and illustrators are the backbone of the business.

 

Your imprint is unique in that your list is made up of picture books, middle grade, and young adult. How did that evolve?

Every imprint is defined by its editors’ tastes and interests, and we have always edited in these categories, so it seemed natural that we continue to do so in the imprint. It keeps our jobs interesting to be able to work on such varied books on a day-to-day basis.

 

What reels you in when you read a manuscript that makes you say "This has to be a B+B book"?

We try to be very rigorous about what we acquire at B+B. Generally, though, we are drawn in by an original and arresting narrative voice, as well as a compelling story that really seems to be adding to the conversation. It’s a very personal, subjective process!

 

What’s your editorial process once you acquire a manuscript?

Our editorial process begins even before we acquire a manuscript, at the most important meeting of our week: the B+B team meeting. This is where the incubation process of a manuscript starts. We circulate among our group of six any project we’re seriously considering, and ideally we read all or most of each one. At the meeting, we discuss very frankly our thoughts on the manuscripts. It’s a place to give and get great nuts-and-bolts editorial comments, thoughts on comps in the market and positioning, advice on advance level, packaging, illustrators…This meeting is where the blueprint of the book is sketched out.

As for the editorial process with the author: although each editor on our team has a slightly different process, our goal is always the same: to help the author realize his or her vision. We ask a lot of questions and make suggestions that we hope will launch a collaborative discussion, a dialogue that keeps going right through the galley stage.

 

What are you seeing as trends in publishing?

One recent trend we’re happy about is diversity in children’s publishing. While there’s always been an awareness of the need for diversity in our industry, with the advent of social media and the founding of We Need Diverse Books, it seems that awareness is turning into more support for diverse authors and books, as well as a broadened definition of diversity.

On the picture book side, there seems to be more of an openness in the market to what would have once been considered quirky, sophisticated picture books. These are now turning into some of the biggest commercial successes, when for many years the bestseller lists were dominated by character-driven series.

 

Do you have a tip or two for anyone submitting to B+B? 

Take the time to research the kinds of books we publish and to get a sense of our taste. We do have a handy Facebook page which is a good place to start. Feel free to mention a recent title or two that you feel is in the same vein or has a similar sensibility as your manuscript.

 

*While B+B doesn’t normally accept unsolicited submissions, they are making an exception for SCBWI members for the next three months until December 1, 2015. You can send the queries to kelsey.murphy@harpercollins.com and put “Balzer + Bray/SCBWI submissions” in the subject line.

 

 

 

 

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3. Hot Topic: Anything for Content

 

Over the last few years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of online writing contests and so-called professional writing and internet gallery showcases.

Why? Because with more than a billion websites out there many creatively challenged webmasters are scrambling for content in order to maximize and monetize their likes and eyeballs.  And that is, unfortunately, where the creative work of children’s book writers and illustrators comes into the picture.  Those trolling the Internet for content range from mom and pop start-ups hosting questionable "Let’s Learn to Read!" sites to mega giants like Google, assembling searchable databases of everything ever written, drawn or photographed  from cave paintings to yesterday’s viral videos.

Of course, posting anything online opens you up to outright theft, but in general these occurrences are rare, and that just may be the price of having an active online presence. Standard copyright is a form of protection for any piece of work in a fixed form, such as a manuscript, recording or piece of art and does provide some limited recourse if you discover someone has stolen your work. However, the ability to sue for infringement does require formal copyright.

 

SCBWI has a blanket policy of not endorsing any contest that requires an entry fee. The prizes offered vary from cash to a publishing contract and neither is ever worth the possibility that the fine print may award those offering the award the right to keep your work whether you win the prize or not. And even if they don’t take your work, they have taken your money and the prize, if they do give it at all, is just a fraction of the cash they took in. They are not unlike the carnival flimflammers who promise a prize every time, then deliver for a dollar a try a plastic toy worth twenty-five cents.

Contests such as Lee and Low’s New Voices Award, of course, are not what we are discussing here. Besides not charging a fee, they award a legitimate publishing contract and often help launch a new talent.

And while a few of the larger showcases do attract some industry eyeballs, many of the others get few views while potentially keeping your work off the wider market from a few months till eternity.

It is flattering, of course, to have someone want your work. Just do a little homework before letting it go, especially if you suspect the fast-talking sales person on the other end may care more about his or her own interests than yours.

Here are some sites to help you navigate those pirate-infested waters.

 

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse:  Information on copyright issues regarding fan fiction.

Chillingeffect.org

 

Preditors and Editors:  The go to place for researching publishing scams. Click on "CONTESTS" on their homepage. By the way, they also advise against entry fees. 

 

Writerbeware.com: This excellent site hosted by Science Fiction Writers of America has a comprehensive overview of contest and award scams.

writerbeware.com

 

Lee and Low New Voices Award:  For information on this significant and legitimate award with a September 30 deadline visit:

www.leeandlow.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4. 4 Questions for Lauren Rille

 

Lauren Rille is an Associate Art Director at Simon & Schuster, where she works with the Beach Lane, Atheneum, and McElderry imprints. Before joining S&S, Lauren was a designer at Sterling and Harcourt Children’s Books. Some books she’s designed include Are You There God, it’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume; Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff; Scraps by Lois Ehlert; One Big Pair of Underwear by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld; and the New York Times best-selling Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman. Lauren loves the collaborative process of working with editors and illustrators, and she’s always on the lookout for new talent.
 
What do you look for in a portfolio?
 
In a broad sense, I look for a consistent level of quality throughout. Are all the pieces at the same level of finish? Does the style carry through from beginning to end? I look at technical things, too: Are the drawing and the perspective sound? Is there a good sense of composition and good use of value structures? Sometimes I scan for hands; hands can be tricky to draw, and if I see none, or if I see them hidden throughout, I worry it’s a red flag! But within those technical parts, and just as much as those technical parts, I’m looking for a point of view, a sense of humor. I want to see your personality! We hire you for your technical skill, of course, but also for your interpretation of the world and the way you bring words to life. 
 
Where do you find artists? Any tips for how artists can promote themselves?
 
I look for artists everywhere! I’ve found them anywhere from agents’ websites to Pinterest to Etsy to Tumblr to Instagram—you name it. I am not concerned with the context of the art, just the work itself. There’s no magic to how you present it—I don’t mind if you have a simple blog or the fanciest website in town. Good work shows through. Sometimes I’ll start at an artist’s personal site and then click through the links of other artists that follow them, and so on and so on, just to see where it takes me and what I might discover. So I think having a social media presence is smart—even a basic blog or Tumblr in lieu of a website (I’ve never been a big fan of websites–templated blogs and the like are so easy to use and update!)—anything to get the work out there. I’m mixed on postcards—I sometimes think a more-targeted mailing of something slightly more special than a postcard (read: harder to discard) to a handful of specific ADs or editors whose work you’ve researched and really like is perhaps a better use of time and resources.
 
How do you pair artists with manuscripts?
 
It varies! Sometimes it’s as simple as matching the age range and feel of the text with art that complements it—for example a young and sweet text will call for an illustrator with a similar vibe. With quirky or unusual texts, we can reach for something unexpected and different. Sometimes an author will offer a suggestion that really works. Sometimes we’ll decide to pair a big-name artist with a first-time author to help launch them, or we’ll pair two heavy hitters to create a book with a lot of buzz behind it. Mostly though, it starts with a conversation between me and the editor about his or her vision for the book. We’ll discuss what they saw in it that made them want to acquire it and what shape they imagine the illustrations taking. Then I’ll do the research to find some artists that match that vision as well as one or two others that could push it in a slightly different direction. Occasionally a text will come to me already paired with an illustrator—that can be part of the initial proposal from the agent or it may be that the editor has found an illustrator.
 
What happens if an author/illustrator submits but you only want to acquire their text and not their illustrations?

I get this question a lot, and my answer is always the same: Throw a party! You got a book deal! If you have aims to illustrate, keep working on your art and use the contacts you establish through your manuscript deal to try to get more feedback and perhaps an opportunity to show other people in-house your work. Conversely, if you are so tied to your text that you can’t fathom anyone else illustrating it, then perhaps you’re too close to your work for the commercial market. Making a children’s book is a huge collaboration, and there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen, so you’ve got to be ready to hear feedback from any number of people, which means not being too precious with your work. IF you’re open to it, all those voices help push you to be an even better writer, illustrator, and ARTIST than you already are!

 

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5. On the Shelves Bank Street Books

 

Ann Levine and Andy Laties of Bank Street Books in New York tell us what's on the shelves.   

 

What trends do you notice in children’s book sales? What are the current hot reads?

Graphic novels are a growing segment of book publishing, and many are designed specifically for young readers. A good example is Cece Bell's El Deafo, a 2015 Newbery Honor book that appeals to a range of ages because it tells the author's own childhood story in words and pictures.

 

How do you choose what books to order? Do you use a publishing rep?

New books are promoted by publishers and often ordered through reps who know the children's market as well as talented authors and illustrators. We attend trade shows that keep us apprised of upcoming titles, and we read trade magazines, blogs, reviews, and newsletters.

 

What would you like to see more of from authors/illustrators in terms of community involvement?

Authors and illustrators are usually generous with their time, especially when they are promoting their books, meeting with families, talking to children, visiting classrooms, and appearing at literacy events. Many writers and artists attended our recent grand opening when we moved our store location. At the Brooklyn Book Fair there are always many writers and artists who appear in person at programs designed for the public.

 

How do you handle author/illustrator visits? Can authors/illustrators contact you directly?

We publicize special events on our store website and in our store newsletter. Authors and illustrators are welcome to contact us, but we make final decisions about scheduling dates and times.

 

What is your favorite part of being a bookseller/manager/librarian?

Getting books in the hands of young children is an important part of learning and understanding, and it is very gratifying to know we have helped them discover that every book is a new adventure.

 

Personal book recommendation?

Recommendations from our staff: Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton; Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo; Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee; Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly; Young Hee and the Pullocho by Mark James Russell; Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick; and You Nest Here with Me by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple.

 

 

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6. 2016 Tomie dePaola Award Prompt

 

One of the biggest and most important challenges the Children’s Book Illustrator faces, over and over again, is the UNIQUE VISUALIZATION of the MAIN CHARACTER.

 

So often, I have seen illustrators resort to generic depictions of the star of the story–too “designed,” too ordinary, too much like characters already seen in media, especially on TV and video games.

 

The assignment is simply to illustrate a moment from the following passage from Philip Pullman’s version of “Little Red Riding Hood” from FAIRY TALES FROM THE BROTHERS GRIMM (Viking, 2012).  (You may want to read the entire story.  It is an excellent book.)

 

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was so sweet and kind that everyone loved her. Her grandmother, who loved her more than anyone, gave her a little cap made of red velvet, which suited her so well that she wanted to wear it all the time. Because of that everyone took to calling her Little Red Riding Hood.

 

One day her mother said to her: ‘Little Red Riding Hood, I’ve got a job for you. Your grandmother isn’t very well, and I want you to take her this cake and a bottle of wine. They’ll make her feel a lot better. You be polite when you go into her house, and give her a kiss from me. Be careful on the way there, and don’t step off the path or you might trip over and break the bottle and drop the cake, and then there’d be nothing for her. When you go into her parlour don’t forget to say, “Good morning, Granny,” and don’t go peering in all the corners.’

 

‘I’ll do everything right, don’t worry,’ said Little Red Riding Hood, and kissed her mother goodbye.

 

Her grandmother lived in the woods, about half an hour’s walk away. When Little Red Riding Hood had only been walking a few minutes, a wolf came up to her. She didn’t know what a wicked animal he was, so she wasn’t afraid of him.

 

Your task is to make me “FALL IN LOVE” with your illustration and especially with Red Riding Hood.  I want to “meet her” for the first time.

 

This is NOT EASY!  The deadline is tight (on purpose).

 

The specs are:

            B & W, Limited Color, or Full Color

            8” x 8”

            DO NOT LEAVE SPACE FOR TYPE.

            Any Medium

            Due at SCBWI by December 1, 2015.

            No late submissions will be considered.

 

Best of luck and good work.  And, as I’ve been saying a lot lately, “COURAGE!”

 

tom

 

           

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7. SCBWI Announces Winner of the Cushman Late Bloomer Award

The SCBWI congratulates JC Kato of Land O Lakes, Florida, as the winner of the annual Karen and Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award for authors over the age of fifty who have not been traditionally published in the children’s literature field.  Kato’s chosen historical fiction middle grade manuscript, Finding Moon Rabbit, tells the incredible story of Koko Hayashi a ten-year-old girl who doesn’t follow rules, but must survive with her mother and sister in a Wyoming internment camp, unearthing the truth that her father’s a suspected traitor.

 

The grant was established by Newbery Award winner and Newbery Honor Book recipient Karen Cushman and her husband, Philip Cushman, in conjunction with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  Karen published her first children’s book, Catherine Called Birdy, in 1994 (Newbery Honor Book), at the age of fifty-three and has gone on to become one of the field’s most acclaimed novelists.

 

“I chose Finding Moon Rabbit because the writing is strong, authentic, and sometimes even lyrical; Koko an intriguing and original character; the subject matter compelling and important,” said Karen.

 

SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver added, “Due to the generosity of Philip and Karen Cushman, this award recognizes the fact that creative life has no age limit.  Jen pursued her M.F.A. during midlife, and her dedication has borne wonderful fruit!”

 

To find out more about the Karen and Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award and the application process visit the “Awards and Grants” section on the SCBWI website at www.scbwi.org.

 

To read a forthcoming interview with JC Kato by Team Blog leader, Lee Wind, visit the SCBWI Blog:  www.scbwi.blogspot.com

 

About Karen Cushman

Karen Cushman is the author of The Midwife’s Apprentice (winner of the 1996 Newbery Medal), Catherine, Called Birdy (a Newbery Honor book), The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (winner of the John and Patricia Beatty Award), and her latest book, Will Sparrow's Road (Clarion, 2012). Karen lives and writes on Vashon Island in Washington.  To learn more about Karen visit www.karencushman.com.

 

General Information

Founded in 1971, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is one of the largest existing writers’ and illustrators’ organizations, with over 22,000 members worldwide. It is the only organization specifically for those working in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia. The organization was founded by Stephen Mooser (President) and Lin Oliver (Executive Director).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8. Lee Bennett Hopkins Awarded 2016 Regina Medal Award

Congratulations to Lee Bennett Hopkins, the recipient of the Regina Medal Award for 2016. Lee Bennett Hopkins is known throughout our field as a poet and poetry anthologist, whose numerous award-winning books for children and young adults, as well as professional texts and curriculum materials, have played an instrumental role in keeping poetry for children alive and thriving.  In 2009 he was awarded the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Poetry for Children, recognizing his aggregate body of work, which includes Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life, an autobiographical book of poetry that received the prestigious Christopher Medal and a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Golden Kite Honor Award, Alphathoughts: Alphabet Poems, City I Love, and his award-winning series of American History through poetry. He also co-created the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award with SCBWI recognizing and encouraging the publication of an excellent book of poetry or anthology for children and/or young adults. “Lee’s career is an example of what we all strive for in life,” commented Lin Oliver, SCBWI Executive Director.  “Passion, excellence, dedication, talent and heart.  He is a treasure in our field, and in the SCBWI community.”

Established in 1959 and sponsored by the Catholic Library Association, The Regina Award is administered by the Children’s Library Services Section. The only criterion for the award is that of excellence. "The Regina Medal is awarded annually to a living exemplar of the words of the English poet, Walter de la Mare 'only the rarest kind of best in anything can be good enough for the young,' for continued, distinguished contribution to children’s literature without regard to the nature of the contribution." (www.cathla.org) Past winners include many of the great creators of children’s literature, including SCBWI Board members  Judy Blume and Jerry Pinkney. To Learn more about Lee, visit www.leebennetthopkins.com.

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9. SCBWI Announces 2015 Book Launch Award Winner

 

Congratulations to Donna Janell Bowman whose picture book biography, Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Taught the World About Kindness (Lee and Low, 2016), tells the incredible story of former slave Dr. William “Doc” Key’s rehabilitation and training of a sickly colt, Jim. “Beautiful Jim Key” became the mascot for the emerging humane organization movement in the 19th century and helped convince people to change the way they treat animals.

 

Donna plans to boost her marketing campaign by adding a professionally designed website, book trailer, and curriculum guide for Step Right Up. She also hopes to partner with an animal welfare organization to expand outreach, and will donate books to school libraries in need.

 

To learn more about Donna visit www.donnabowmanbratton.blogspot.com or check out her blog about picture book biographies: http://www.birthdayographies.blogspot.com/

 

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 SCBWI Book Launch Award.  The annual award, established by the SCBWI in 2012, provides authors or illustrators with $2,000 in funds to supplement the promotion and marketing of newly published works for children.

 

“In today’s publishing world, most books need help to be discovered and find an audience,” SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver said. 

 

“This grant gives SCBWI members the funds to create a unique marketing program and to play an active role in promoting their work,” added SCBWI President Stephen Mooser.

 

More information can be found at www.scbwi.org/awards/book-launch-grant.

 

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10. August Insight

 

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11. August Featured Illustrator Katy Betz

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12. SCBWI LA15 Another Success

Another year, another great conference. The 2015 Summer Conference boasted keynotes from Kwame Alexander, Mem Fox, Stephen Fraser, Shannon Hale, Molly Idle, Varian Johnson, Jane O'Connor, Adam Rex, Dan Santat, and Meg Wolitzer.

See highlights and insider photos here: http://www.scbwi.org/highlights-from-la15/

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13. Highlights from LA15

 

Here are some highlights from the fabulous 44th Annual SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles.

Photos by Alan Baker

al

Publisher extraordinaire Arthur Levine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mem2Mem Fox reads her work      

dans

Caldecott Winner Dan Santat

                                                           

mem

      The divine Mem Fox

 

linn

Laurent Linn teaches

 

yung

Art directors Cecilia Yung and Patti Ann Harris

                      

 

sweet

Melissa Sweet gets a Golden Kite Award for Illustration

 

 

 

 

staff

SCBWI Staff

 

 

 

 

 

crowd

Standing ovation for the keynotes

 

 

 

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Deborah Wiles accepts Golden Kite Award for Fiction

 

 

 

malk

Super agent Steve Malk

 

 

agents

The stellar Agents' Panel

 

lin

Lin addresses the crowd

 

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SCBWI Team Blog

 

 

jane

Jane O'Connor aka Fancy Nancy

 

varian

Varian Johnson accepts his standing ovation

 

 

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Molly Idle teaching!

 

 

 

diversity

The Diversity Panel

 

 

 

mike

Dynamic duo Mike Curato and Brenda Bowen

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Editors' Panel

fraser

The dapper Stephen Fraser on middle grade fiction

lee

Lee Wind receives Member of the Year

 

 

 

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The faculty loving every word

 

 

 

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Shannon Hale was a comedy wonder

 

 

 

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Too many standing ovations to count

 

 

 

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Kristy Dempsey receives Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text

 

candy

Candace Fleming receives a Golden Kite Award for Nonfiction

 

paul

Paul Fleischman presenting the Sid Fleischman Award

 

 

librarian

Michelle Knudsen accepts the Sid Fleischman Award for Humor

 

 

dany

Dan Yaccarino's touching keynote

 

 

brown

Jordan Brown gives great advice

 

 

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Kwame Alexander captures hearts and minds

 

marla

Marla Frazee and Ellen Hopkins signing autographs

dan

Dan Yaccarino and Linda Sue Park signing

kwame

Kwame Alexander loves SCBWI

 

 

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14. Calling All Illustrators!

We are excited to announce a great new feature for our illustrator members, Draw This!: a monthly art prompt that will be part of the new SCBWI INSIGHT.
Members will have the opportunity each month to show their artwork in the online gallery and two pieces will be featured in the e-mail itself. The online
gallery will be open to public viewing, so agents, art directors and editors have yet another way of finding our illustrators.

The gallery can be seen here.

 

The September 2015 Draw This! prompt word is: MUSE

Deadline for the monthly Draw This! is the 20th of each month.
(Turn a Muse submission in by August 20th to be included in the September gallery)

TIP:  Tweet, Facebook and Instagram your submissions! Tag your art #scbwidrawthis 
         (this is not how you submit your art, it's just an extra way to promote your work)

TIP:  Once the gallery is live each month, find your entry and write your website or blog address in the comment section.

The Draw This! guidelines are different from our Bulletin art submission guidelines, so please read carefully.

 

Guidelines:

•You must be a current SCBWI member to submit to Draw This!
•Artwork must be inspired by the prompt word in some way
•Art may be black & white, grayscale or RGB color
•File resolution must be 72 dpi
•Jpegs only
•No image dimensions larger than 8.5" x 11" (or 11" x 8.5")
•Vignettes, line art and full bleed art are welcome
•File must be titled as follows:  Prompt word_First name_Last name.jpg (Bounce_Sarah_Baker.jpg)
•Each member may only submit one entry per prompt word
•Put "Prompt word Draw This" in the subject line
•E-mail your file as an attachment, NOT in the body of the e-mail, to: scbwidrawthis@scbwi.org

**Failure to follow these guidelines will result in exclusion from the online gallery. For questions, write to scbwidrawthis@scbwi.org.

**Due to the high number of submissions, we cannot send a confirmation e-mail for every submission. If you do not see your art in the gallery
on the 1st of the month, e-mail scbwidrawthis@scbwi.org to inquire.

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15. 4 Questions for Barney Saltzberg

 

Barney Saltzberg is the author and illustrator of close to fifty books for children, including Beautiful Oops!, Arlo Needs Glasses, Andrew Drew and Drew, and the best-selling Touch and Feel Kisses series with over one million copies in print. Additionally, he's recorded four albums of music for children.   

 

When an illustrator has an idea for a book with a non-traditional format, what is the first thing they should do?

Check the marketplace to make sure this idea hasn't already been done. Build a book that reflects what you are thinking so people can see what you have in mind. Or, if you don't have the paper engineering skills, draw a detailed vision of what you are thinking.

 

What is the biggest difference between submitting a book to a publisher that has a traditional format vs a novelty format?   

It's really not that different, aside from have either sending in a working interactive dummy or the details of how it works along with a storyboard.

 

I would imagine some book dummies you make are somewhat intricate. Do you mail your dummies to publishing houses or do you photograph them?

If it's an editor I have worked with before, sometimes I video the book with my phone and send that. Otherwise, I send a dummy via mail.

 

What is your best advice for SCBWI members who are interested in exploring novelty formats?

Make sure there is a different slant to what you are submitting. There are a gazillion touch and feel books. What is different about what you are submitting?  I have a series of touch and feel books that are all based on kisses, Animal Kisses, Peekaboo Kisses. It helped create a brand.  As a side note, I realized I needed to build my books while I was conceptualizing them.  My book, Andrew Drew and Drew wasn't something I could just write about.  I had to start folding paper and drawing simultaneously.  The same is true for Beautiful Oops! and Chengdu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep. When I find a piece of paper a certain way, I have an "ah-ha" moment. I know what I can do with this!  I call it thinking with my hands.

 

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16. SCBWI Exclusive with…Jordan Hamessley

 

Jordan Hamessley is editorial director at Adaptive Books; A Division of Adaptive Studios. Founded in 2013, Adaptive secures orphaned content from feature film studios, award-winning playwrights and bestselling authors then works to create new value in these revitalized projects while allowing our studio partners to significantly participate in our success and reformat for a more traditional, film/TV version.

 

How does Adaptive Studios work?

Adaptive Studios is a production studio that develops industry-vetted abandoned intellectual property to create products for multi-media distribution in areas such as film, television, apps, social media storytelling, and digital & traditional publishing.  Upcoming projects include the re-launch of Project Greenlight on HBO.

 

Can you tell us about the publishing arm, Adaptive Books?

Adaptive Books, the publishing imprint of Adaptive Studios, publishes eight to ten titles each year, from middle grade and young adult novels to adult fiction. Our mission is to find under-appreciated and abandoned Hollywood content and find new mediums for those works. We typically buy unproduced screenplays from film studios and then determine what works in the property and then develop it as a book. Once we know what the book property looks like, I reach out to agents and authors who might be a good fit to tell that story. My goal at Adaptive is to breathe new life into abandoned content and then find the perfect author to tell that story. Every project is a true collaboration with the author. They aren't simply novelizing a script, they are bringing their own voice and ideas to the table. In fact, in most cases I never share the original script with the author. Each book is given a strategic marketing plan using innovative digital marketing techniques, as well as traditional methods. Our current books in the market include the critically acclaimed YA novel The Silence of Six by Andre Norton Award Winner E.C. Myers; YA novel Coin Heist; middle grade novel Shadow of a Doubt; and The Adventures of Black Dog: Beached Whale, a picture book based on the iconic Black Dog Tavern on Martha's Vineyard.

 

With the changing climate of Children’s book publishing, where does Adaptive Books fit in?

Adaptive Books is constantly seeking new ways to reach our readers. Due to our founders’ experience as film, tv, and digital content producers, as well as our relationships with many of the filmmakers from Project Greenlight, we create film quality level book trailers that feel more like short films than a trailer. We’re very active in the social media sphere and are always learning about the latest apps and websites that teens and media fans are using. On the day-to-day publishing side, I see Adaptive Books as the perfect home for that mid-list author who is looking to break out. Our list is small, but mighty with a full marketing plan behind each title. There’s no getting lost on this list.

 

How does your team work?

I’m based in New York City and the rest of the Adaptive team is based in Los Angeles. We spend a lot of time on the phone and Skype talking through the latest scripts we are reading, the proposals we’re working on, and the latest updates from our authors. We’re a very collaborative team. Most members of the Adaptive team read every sample that we get for a new project and offer feedback from that point until an author is hired and we finish the editorial process. We bounce ideas back and forth when it comes to which authors should write a certain book, cover design, and putting together our marketing plans. 

 

Once you have found a property that your team loves, how do you find writers?

Once we’ve decided on a project to move into the publishing program our first step is putting together a “spark page.” That is a three to five page document that outlines the major characters and plot of the book. Sometimes we have a particular author in mind for a project and we’ll reach out to them through their agent to gauge their interest. Other times, I reach out to agents who I know have authors on their list that fit the project and see if they have someone who would be interested.

 

After the book is written, how is it published?

Every book published by Adaptive is published traditionally and digitally. We are distributed by Ingram Publisher Services and our books make it into all of the major accounts.

 

How did you arrive at Adaptive?

Adaptive was the perfect next step for me after spending time in the traditional world at Penguin Young Readers and then Egmont USA. While at Penguin, I acquired original chapter book and middle grade series and also led multiple licensed publishing programs. My licensing experience working on film and tv properties is used daily at Adaptive. I also developed several IP projects while at Penguin and that experience is key to working with my team in developing our “spark pages” and matching the perfect author with the right project. When I was at Egmont, I was primarily editing original middle grade and YA fiction, working closely with my authors throughout the editorial process. In my career as an editor I have made it my goal to make my relationships with my authors true collaborations. I give detailed feedback and I’m always happy to get on the phone and talk through any questions or issues they may have as they work on their books. 

 

How can our members submit to you to be considered for one of your projects?

For submissions, I'd like to see the first ten pages of a YA or MG novel, along with a bio of the author and their preferred genre. I'll read the subs and keep the authors in mind for future projects. You can send the above to her at jordan@adaptivestudios.com  Be sure to include "SCBWI Submission" in the subject line so it is filtered correctly.

 

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17. On the Shelves…BookPeople

 

Meghan Goel, Children's and Young Adult Book Buyer of BookPeople in Austin, Texas, tells us what's on the shelves.    

  

What trends do you notice in children's book sales? What are the current hot reads?

 

I would say that the most interesting trend we've seen recently is the re-invigoration of the picture book category. Sales have certainly been driven by some key bestsellers over the last few years like I Want My Hat BackDragons Love Tacos, The Day the Crayons Quit, and The Book with No Pictures, but the trend reaches beyond those key titles leading to very healthy sales across the board. Current hot reads in our store would include What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig and Last Stop on Market Street in picture books, Echo and Circus Mirandus in middle grade, and Ember in the Ashes and Challenger Deep in YA.

How do you choose what books to order? Do you use a publishing rep?

I meet several times a year with sales representatives for almost all of the publishers we do business with, whether that's a dedicated in-house rep for a publisher or a commission rep who handles a number of different houses. In terms of how to decide what to order, obviously some numbers are driven by an author's sales track and some are motivated by trends or genre, but really it comes down to a gut reaction to what I like a lot and want to put in front of our customers.

 

What would you like to see more of from authors/illustrators in terms of community involvement?

I think that the community of authors and illustrators we work with in Austin is wonderful and does a lot. Really I just encourage authors and illustrators to just keep us in the loop about upcoming releases, pull us into their launch events so we can help make them special, to stop by and sign stock, and to be open to ideas. I love pulling local authors into programming we're developing instore or with schools!

 

How do you handle author/illustrator visits? Can authors/illustrators contact you directly?

We host a large number author and illustrator events throughout the year both instore and at schools. The best person to start with for an instore event would be our Marketing Director. 

 

What is your favorite part of being a bookseller/manager/librarian?

I love finding creative ways to help engage kids in our community and inspire them to grow into enthusiastic readers.

 

Personal book recommendation?

My favorite new book to recommend right now is Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan.

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18. Bologna International Children’s Book Fair

 

By Annina Luck Wildermuth

January 2012; My artwork made it into the SCBWI Illustration Gallery at the Bologna Book Fair! Wow! Maybe I should go?! It was on my bucket list. Not sure if I could justify /quantify expense vs. opportunities… but heck. I was going to make it happen and see what happened! At this late date, hotels weren’t available; flight prices were ridiculous. But my dear stewardess friend arranged a standby seat on the less traveled flight to Venice and shared the frugal traveler’s option of monastery lodging. I flew to Venice, took the train to Bologna and bunked at the monastery.

I’m a worrier. If you’re one of those supremely confident travelers; STOP right here! This article’s not for you. If, however, you are a little bit scared, but intrigued and determined to see what the Bologna Book fair is all about, then read on.

 

My worries:

Navigating foreign systems; money, trains, buses, taxis, hotels

Blowing my budget

Being alone in a foreign country

Navigating the Fair

Making the most of my opportunities

 

Money:

Purchase some Euros through your bank before you leave the states. The fees may be higher, but worth it to avoid exchanging currency at the airport in your jet lagged state.

Once there: ATMs are your friend.

 

Transportation:

Book flights early. The 2016 Fair is April 4 -7. Start looking in August. Here’s an article about timing:

http://tinyurl.com/lzn3ra8

 

Also check prices to Venice, Rome or Milan with train fares to Bologna. Flight plus train ticket may not be cheaper but if you plan to tack on some sightseeing it gives you an extra city to explore. Train reservations are available online.

http://www.raileurope.com/index.html

 

Once there: Get city and bus maps and bus tickets at Tourist Info in the Neptune Fountain Piazza. http://www.bolognawelcome.com/en/

 

Punch your ticket when you enter the bus. You may be tempted to ride for free. Only Jiminy Cricket and the occasional ticket checkers can help you decide if the fine and a public scolding are worth the risk.

There’s also an unreliable Fair shuttle, which will sometimes surprise you by showing up. Or double up with a friend or three and taxi to the fair.

 

Lodging:

Book early! There are apartments, hotels and my favorite, the monastery.

http://www.monasterystays.com

 

The Fair:

Illustrators can submit five illustrations for consideration in the Mostra degli Illustratori and receive free fair admission whether your illustrations make the short list or not. (NOTE: This is NOT the SCBWI BIG gallery.)

http://tinyurl.com/knaxh8w

 

Even if you don’t submit, Illustrators get a reduced price.

http://tinyurl.com/ow3rvh8

 

Writers need to buy a pass:

http://tinyurl.com/p3xtjr7

 

All alone:

NOT! The SCBWI booth is your hub, and home away from home. You’ll be surrounded by friends you’ve never met before.

 

Making the most of your opportunities

Apply for a personal or regional showcase with Chris Cheng

Schedule portfolio reviews

Bring promo materials

Read the program. Attend the talks.

Network!

 

SCBWI Bologna Website:

http://bologna.scbwi.org/scbwi-bologna-book-fair-2016/

 

For a pageful of tips contact me at claythings@susaneaddy.com

For a blow-by-blow account, here are my Bologna Sketch Travel blogs:

 

2012

http://tinyurl.com/lb85y6o

 

2014

http://tinyurl.com/pnttubr

 

Finally, was it worth the money, time and worry? For me, YES! The opportunity to illustrate My Love for You is the Sun by Julie Hedlund, was a direct result of my 2012 trip.  You NEVER know where connections will lead. But even if a book hadn’t come to fruition, the inspiration and knowledge gained by being in the heart of the Children’s Book World forever changed my outlook and was worth every penny, and even the wringing of hands.

 

I hope to see you in Bologna in 2016!

 

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19. You Can Judge a Book By a Title

 

by Rob Broder, President & Founder of Ripple Grove Press

 

So, what’s in a title?  A title can say a lot.  It can provide me with what the story is about, introduce a character, tell how the story will end or tell me to dive in and keep me guessing.  Titles like (I’m making these up but are similar to what we’ve received) The Grumpy Town says to me everyone in the town is grumpy except one small child who turns the town around and they are all happy in the end with merriment in the streets.  And hopefully it won’t rhyme.  

Or Mr. Pajama-Wama The Cat Thinks Theres A Monster Under His Bed.  I never thought there was a monster under my bed and I don’t know why I would want to put that idea into a child's mind.  The title gives it all away, and I don’t want to read the words Mr. Pajama-Wama on every single page. And hopefully it won’t rhyme.

There are titles that describe too much and spill the entire story, like, Little Red Hen and the Missing Mitten on a Rainy Tuesday.  I know everything before I even get to the first sentence. And… hopefully it won’t rhyme.

Or titles like, Im Always First or New Baby in the House.  Both titles are telling me the beginning, middle and end before I even get started.  And hopefully it won’t rhyme. 

The titles that make us want to move on to the story are the simple titles that pique my interest and keep me intrigued, (yes, these are our books) like The Peddlers Bed… okay, now what.

or Too Many Tables… okay, where could this go.  Or Lizbeth Lou got a Rock in her Shoe… a little long but you got my attention.  If your title mentions your pet’s name or your grandchild’s name, it doesn’t usually pan out.  When titles have names that don’t match the characters you created, like Aidan the Kangaroo or McKenzie the Raccoon or Addison the Hippo, it’s obvious the child is sitting right next to you as you write your story.  I understand that something special or sweet has happened to your loved one, but that doesn’t mean it has universal appeal. Share your ideas with friends or a critique group.  Read your story out loud to yourself. 

You can judge a book by it’s title… if words like Hope or Grace or Pray or Johnny Scuttle Butt are there.  And although bodily function writing might be humorous to some, it’s not something I want to read over and over again to a four-year-old.  So please, no poop or pee or burp or fart… not timeless, not cozy.

With all this said, I still get excited to read every submission and every story.  I want to find the gem, I want to be wow’d.  I want to put your story in my revisit folder and I want to like it more and more each time I read it.  So please, do your research.  And please, oh please, read children’s picture books.  Read award winners, what’s popular, what librarians recommend.  Read stories you may not be a fan of, it will guide you to your own voice.  Study them, why do they work, what made the publisher choose this story?  Match your story with the right publisher.  Hopefully all this work will shine through your story and one day you’ll get that phone call from a publisher who would like to talk to you about your submission. 

 

Rob Broder is the president and founder of Ripple Grove Press, an independent children’s picture book publishing company based in Portland, Oregon. To learn more about Ripple Grove Press and their submission guidelines, visit www.ripplegrovepress.com.

 

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20. SCBWI Exclusive with Tina Wexler

 

What makes a compelling hook in a manuscript?

Anything that subverts my expectations, offers a fresh take on a familiar story, or offers an unfamiliar story with a relatable issue at its center.

 

What in a query letter catches your eye and makes you request a manuscript?

An original idea, expressed well, sent by someone who clearly researched agents and has read books published recently and within the category/genre they are writing.

 

Would you consider a query or manuscript from a writer whose queries you’ve passed on before?

Yes. I’ve signed and sold a number of projects that came to me as the authors’ second queries.

 

Is it essential to have a synopsis?

It is essential to have a pitch (two or three sentences that tell me what the project is), but it is not essential to have a synopsis (a page-long description of the story, beginning to end), as I rarely read them.

 

The million-dollar question: What in a manuscript takes your breath away?

If it has a great voice, if it works on a line-by-line level as well as a big picture story level, if the characters won’t leave me alone, if it makes me laugh out loud or cry, if it participates in the wider cultural conversation.

 

If you have a manuscript that fits the above, query Tina at TWexler@icmpartners.com. You can follow her on Twitter @Tina_Wexler for other helpful publishing tips.

 

 Three Helpful Hints when querying an Agent

 1) Never underestimate the value of a personalized salutation.

2) Just as you should revise your manuscript, so to your query.

3) Don’t dilly-dally with long introductions. The sooner you tell me about your story, the sooner I can fall in love with it.

 

Tina Wexler is an agent in the Literary Department at ICM Partners representing middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction, as well as the occasional picture book or nonfiction for adults. A few of the authors on her acclaimed list are Anne Ursu, Christine Heppermann, Shane Burcaw and Brandy Colbert.

 

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21. Martha Brockenbrough Summer Bulletin

As writers and illustrators of children’s books, we have the cutest fantasies. Who else dreams that their work will someday be decorated by a sticker?

And then there’s the conference fantasy, where the agent or editor of your dreams holds your manuscript overhead and says, “This is brilliant!” and she just happens to have a contract in her pocket, which you sign on the spot. It’s almost better than the sticker.

But here’s the thing. People are sometimes asked to send off stories or art, and there are similarly wonderful career-transforming moments. Usually, though, nothing quite so dramatic happens.

And yet… conferences are magic. Truly. Every picture book I’ve ever sold has come directly from my time at an SCBWI conference, specifically the one in Los Angeles. I’ve sold four picture books and have interest in a fifth; each one sprang from an idea or conversation I had at that summer conference, starting with my first one in 2008.

My future editor, Arthur A. Levine, had been in Seattle that spring for a conference, and through a happy accident of seating, we’d chatted through the evening, and he invited me to submit something to him someday. At the time, I was writing an epic novel about a pirate in part because I’d given up on picture books, and in part because, well, I can’t really remember why, which was ultimately the problem with that novel.

At our local spring conference, Arthur had offered sage advice from his then four-year-old son. “When in doubt, write about dinosaurs.” At the time, this didn’t strike me as anything other than adorable. (Who was I to write about dinosaurs, anyway? At the time, I was merely thirty-seven.)

When registration opened for the summer conference in Los Angeles, I really wanted to go. But I couldn’t. We had a family reunion that weekend. And what kind of jerk puts anything in front of family? As it turns out, I am that kind of jerk.

In Los Angeles, Arthur reassured us about the picture book market, which at the time was feeling kind of battered. On the flight home, I resolved to send him a thank-you note for being so encouraging. I looked out the window, and I thought about dinosaurs, and specifically their teeth, and even more fantastically, about who might love their teeth most of all.

Arthur ended up publishing the answer to that question—The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy—five years later. A year or two after I sold The DTF, I mentioned to Arthur at another Los Angeles conference a letter I’d written to my daughter when she asked for the truth about Santa. He said he thought it sounded like a picture book as well. A dear friend I’d met at the Los Angeles conference, Samantha Berger, gave me an idea for how it might be done. I wrote it. Arthur bought it.

Last summer, Samantha and I came up with an idea at the conference while we were eating pizza poolside. So far that has turned into a two picture book deal with Arthur.

These aren’t the sort of things you can predict when you’re thinking about going to a conference. The standard fantasy—that someone might love your work and buy it on the spot—pales in comparison to what really can happen. You go to these conferences and meet people who inspire you. You make friends. You hear words you didn’t know you needed to hear, things that make you laugh and cry, things that feed your mind in ways your everyday routine might not. All of this becomes the fuel of story.

I’d never thought to dream about what comes from inspiration and connection and friendship. And yet this combination is so much better than any contract, and why I’ll go to every SCBWI conference I can.

Fantasies are great and all. But real life? It’s better.

 

Martha Brockenbrough is the author of the YA novels The Game of Love and Death and Devine Intervention, and The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy, a picture book. Both are with Arthur A. Levine at Scholastic, as is her forthcoming picture book, Love, Santa, as well as two Bigfoot picture books written jointly with Samantha Berger. Martha also wrote the nonfiction middle grade Finding Bigfoot for Feiwel & Friends. In addition to her work on SCBWI's Team Blog, she is the founder of National Grammar Day and author of Things That Make Us [Sic]. Visit www.marthabrockenbrough.squarespace.com and on Twitter @mbrockenbrough.

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22. July Illustrator Tricia Buchanan-Benson

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23. June 2015 Insight

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24. July 2015 Insight

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25. Diversity: What Can We Do About It?

The movement to increase diversity in children’s books is on. 

As a community, it’s taken us too long to get here, but today, our industry is at last engaged in an ongoing conversation to ensure that the lives of all young people are reflected and honored in their literature.  Such diversity, which includes people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA, and ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, serves not just to mirror our readers’ lives, but to offer all young people a window into the many experiences that make us human.  What could be more important?

That we have recognized the urgent need for more diversity is a crucial first step.  But it’s just a first step.  We can’t sit back and congratulate ourselves when there is so much to be done to implement our goal.  We need to expand the universe of diverse authors, illustrators and editors, and create more opportunities for them.  We need to assess what each of us can do to help the effort.  For some of us, that will be primarily a support role, helping to change and elevate the diversity conversation.  Others may choose to study how to write cross-culturally with responsibility and authenticity.  We need to learn how to make diverse books successful in the marketplace.  Author Andrea Pinkney, who founded the Jump at the Sun Imprint at Disney, says, "Right now, the publishing industry has an auspicious opportunity to redefine the success model for diverse books. Let’s consider success as more than just sales figures, but include how well a book impacts a community or addresses a timely issue.  Let’s look at a book’s entire life and achievement, not just immediate sales figures.”

Your membership in the SCBWI automatically puts you at the heart of this conversation.  As an organization, we have been in the forefront of supporting diversity efforts, by offering grants that celebrate diverse authors, establishing partnerships with organizations such as We Need Diverse Books and The Children’s Book Council Diversity Board, and by populating our conferences and Board with talented people from diverse backgrounds. But as individuals we can all do more.

I’ve surveyed many of our industry leaders and asked them what each of us can do to promote diversity.  Here are a baker’s dozen of concrete and specific suggestions.

  1. Offer support to aspiring writers and illustrators from diverse backgrounds. (I.W. Gregorio, VP Development, We Need Diverse Books)
  2.  
  3. If you are judging a contest or award, look for diverse stories that can open up opportunities for writers and illustrators not to feel pigeonholed. (Jenn Baker. VP Social Media/Diversity Festival, We Need Diverse Books)
  4.  
  5. Politely point out to organizers of book fairs, festivals and panels when their participants are overwhelmingly white or male or abled or straight. (I.W. Gregorio)
  6.  
  7. If you are planning any kind of book event, do not ask diverse authors to only appear in presentations focused on diversity.  (Hannah Ehrlich, Director of Marketing, LEE & LOW BOOKS)
  8.  
  9. If you are a bookseller, teacher or librarian, do not pigeonhole diverse books by bringing them out only for “themed months” or holidays.  All displays should have a diverse component.  (Hannah Ehrlich)
  10.  
  11. In your conversations with peers and the public about diversity, shift the paradigm from “the difficulties and challenges” of selling diverse books to a positive focus, emphasizing the opportunity to redefine the success model. (Andrea Pinkney, author)
  12.  
  13. Be active on social media about this issue.  Follow authors, agents, publishers, librarians and teachers who are succeeding in moving the diversity needle. (Andrea Pinkney)
  14.  
  15. Make a conscious, strategic decision to buy and/or support more diverse books, and do it in a sustained fashion.  Be conscious of supporting books whose covers represent diverse content and characters.  We need to give diversity a face.  The more we show diversity, the more it becomes the norm.  (Andrea Pinkney)
  16.  
  17. Talk about these books (on social media and elsewhere) when they resonate with you.  Passionate word of mouth is the best bookseller!  (SCBWI)
  18.  
  19. When you are visitng schools, libraries and kids, talk about more than your own books.  Promote a diverse reading list.  We are all book-talkers and your positive talk helps get these books into the hands of readers.  (SCBWI)
  20.  
  21. If you are a diverse author or illustrator, get on the road and make your books visible.  You presence can help win fans across the spectrum of diversity. (Justin Chanda, VP and Publisher, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers)
  22.  
  23. If you chose to integrate diversity into your own writing and illustrating work, do it in an authentic, respectful, accurate manner.  Research needs to be done, experts consulted, text and illustrations vetted.  This is especially critical if you are choosing to work cross-culturally. (Louise May, Editorial Director, LEE & LOW BOOKS)
  24.  
  25. Check out these two important links: weneeddiversebooks.org and cbcdiversity.com and make them part of your regular online reading. (SCBWI)

There is much still to be done to establish true diversity in children’s books.  As with any important task, it may seem overwhelming to us, and the tendency is to leave it in the hands of decision makers and  policy setters.  But nothing is farther from the truth.  As one of my heroes, the Dalai Lama, once said…“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”  Let’s each one of us be the mosquito!   

 

 

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