SCBWI Carolinas Conference
by Cynthis Owens
Last Friday I traveled to Charlotte, NC for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators - Carolinas Fall Conference. I went prepared with a credit card and checkbook to buy books, three business casual outfits to dress up or down, note-taking materials, a fresh stack of business cards, an uber-organized notebook with all my conference materials, liquid caffeine and a super-sized carton of my favorite chocolate. If you’ve attended a conference before, you know these are essentials. If you haven’t, copy this list and put it in a safe place.
So, I was prepared, but edgy. I was new to the children’s writing world and needed specific information regarding the business of writing. Would this conference be worth the money I'd sunk into it? Three days and a mind-blowing amount of information later, the answer is a resounding YES.
The workshops broadly covered the basics of writing for the children’s market. Each time slot held a beginner session with topics such as Plot and Pacing, Seeing the World Through 12-Year-Old Eyes, Intro to Writing and Illustrating for Children, and Visual Storytelling with Pictures and Words.
What I didn’t expect was the openness in which business information was shared. Just before lunch on Saturday was a behind-the-scenes look at the editing process between Dial Books Editor Liz Waniewski and author Alan Gratz. If you think your work is over when an editor buys your book, think again. This discussion highlighted the extended revision process, in this case two start from scratch rewrites and five additional revision sets. Their talk also relayed how each division in the publishing house was integral in preparing Alan’s latest work Fantasy Baseball due out in March 2011.
In her workshop The Realities of a Debut Author, Fran Cannon Slayton shared her year-long journey to market her first published work, When the Whistle Blows. Wanting to have no regrets when marketing her debut novel, Fran used a combination of blog reviews, festival visits, a self-prepared book tour, a private publicist, her publisher’s publicist and Google alerts to create buzz for her work. She ended up spending almost her entire advance, but her book is now in its third hardcover printing and a paperback edition is arriving this fall. Another case of money well spent.
Overall, this conference was a great balance of writing craft and business application. The only shortcoming I noticed was a lack of illustrator workshops. The sessions were generally focused on the writing side of children’s book creation.
To learn more about writing and illustrating for children, visit these links:
- Elizabeth Dulemba – Covers writers and illustrators
- JacketFlap – Networking site for Kid Lit creators
- KidLit – Kid Lit industry information
After spending many years as a trainer and teacher, Cynthia returned to her first love. As an aspiring children’s book writer, she delights in creating whimsical stories of friendship and self-discovery. Cynthia and her husband Robin make their home in South Carolina where they enjoy growing palm trees, hiking for blueberries and traveling to new places every chance they get.