Tag Archives: editors

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Rocked It in Austin!

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Rocked It in Austin!

I had a great time in Austin last weekend at the 2013 Austin-SCBWI conference. Wonderful conference, welcoming folks, and great food! Also, I absolutely loved getting to meet the hugely talented E. B. Lewis, Neal Porter, Erzsi Deak, Tamra Tuller, Cynthia Levinson, Rubin Pfeffer and others who co-presented. The highlight of the Friday night reception was Patrice Barton getting her Crystal Kite award for the illustrations in MINE! So happy for her!  Patty is such a warm, generous person—and very very talented!  Here are a few pics to share with ya’all!  Thanks to Cyn, Mark Mitchell, and others for these wonderful photos. (And for those of you who did not get a copy of my handouts the link is here to Austin SCBWI 2013 Handout.)

Enjoy!

Shutta

Shutta & Patrice Barton

Shutta & Patrice Barton

Greg & Cyn Leitich Smith

Greg & Cyn Leitich Smith

Fraternal Order of the Armadillistrators 2013

Fraternal Order of the Armadillistrators 2013 and the new R.A. of Austin

Shutta and E. B. Lewis

Shutta and E. B. Lewis

E. B. Lewis painting at Austin SCBWI

E. B. Lewis painting at Austin SCBWI

Neal Porter, Editor, Roaring Brook

Neal Porter, Editor, Roaring Brook

First Pages Panel (Tamra Tuller, E. B. Lewis, Erzsi Deak, Rubin Pfeffer, John Cusick, Kathy Landwher)

First Pages Panel (Agents & Editors: Tamra Tuller, E. B. Lewis, Erzsi Deak, Rubin Pfeffer, John Cusick, Kathy Landwehr)

NBA Finalists Announced for Young People’s Literature

NBA Finalists Announced for Young People’s Literature

What a great line-up for the National Book Awards!!!

And I just saw that my editor at Knopf, Michelle Frey, edited one of the nominees— Albert Marrin, Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy. She’s a great editor to work with. So happy for her, and Knopf.

Click here for the details:

 NBA Finalists Announced for Young People’s Literature.

Enjoy!

Shutta

 

 

Clues for the Clueless about the Writing Life

Clues for the Clueless about the Writing Life

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(I’m re-posting this bit of info here to the new website. I hope it informs.)

 

1. There is no substitute for good writing (Having “connections’ in the publishing world won’t help if the writing is not good.) The most useful thing you can do to push your publishing career forward is to hone your craft. That means practice writing—and yes, despite what you might have heard—grammar, syntax and punctuation are important.

2. You need to be a reader in the area in which you wish to write. Read! Compare readings, take notes, and read like a writer. Could you do brain surgery if you did not study the body? (‘Nuff said.)

3. No one can do your homework for you. You need to research children’s publishing and current award winners. You need to know what is already out there so you won’t waste your time, and so it will inform your writing. You’ll be building a base of knowledge about your craft. That knowledge cannot reside in the mind of someone else. And remember, these are “current” books you will be studying because you will be writing for the millennial (today’s) child, not the child you were fifty years ago.

4. No author will refer you to his/her agent or editor without falling in love with your manuscript. Relationships of this type are built on trust. No author would do damage to his or her agent/editor relationship without first reading and loving your manuscript. (Agents and editors are already inundated by thousands of manuscripts.) See # 5 for more info on this point.

5. Few authors have the time to mentor/read your manuscripts. (Thus they will have no time to fall in love with your writing.) This is because they are squeezing every second they can out of the day to work on their own books, and still retain a bit of a family life, and sanity. And don’t forget, many authors must write in the middle of the night, or early in the morning, because they hold down day jobs. (See #9 for how much writing pays.) Teachers/instructors and contest judges will, generally, read your whole manuscript. A few authors offer manuscript critiques for a fee. Also, you can hire an independent editor or book doctor. (Do NOT use a book doctor referred to you by an agent that you are not completely sure is on the up-and-up. There could be kick-backs involved.)

6. Everyone gets rejected. This applies to well-known authors, who may have just gotten a rejection from the same agent/editor to whom you are seeking an introduction. There are many reasons for rejections. Get used to it. A lot of authors had hundreds of rejections before an acceptance. (I did!)

7. No one is interested in your memoir unless you are in the public light already, or did something amazing that few know about. The only exception to this is your immediate family.

8. No one is interested in the family tales your grandchildren love. (The exception to this is #7.) That is, unless you have crafted elegant stories from these through the hard work of plotting and revising. Remember, just because something really happened a certain way is no indication that the story should be written to follow the facts. Unless you’re writing non-fiction, most good children’s books require shaping through plotting. (See #1.)

9. The majority of authors make very little money. Surprised? Do the math. The basic contract for a novel is 10%. That’s $1.50 for a $15 novel. Generally, first or second print runs are only few thousand copies. For picture books, it’s worse! 10% must be shared with the illustrator. (No one magically comes up with another 10% for the illustrator.) Thus, 5% of a $16 hard-cover picture book is only 80¢! So event organizers: most authors will not travel long distances for “the opportunity” to sell a few copies of their books—the price of gas would eat up any royalties made on sales. (Exceptions to this are bookstore signings/conferences when networking is of more importance than selling.)

10. Authors are rewarded in many other ways, however. The best things that happen to authors are often NOT quantifiable. Children write letters to us. These are fun! And sometimes moving. One child collected over $500 to donate to the Blind Babies Foundation in San Francisco after reading my novel, SPITTING IMAGE. And you never know the places you’ll go because of your books. I’ve been invited to the White House and to do a month-long tour of Japan. Wow! And of course, there is always the reward of a job well-done and recognition from people you admire. What more could anyone want from life?

I hope this list has given you some insight into a writer’s life. It’s not all rosy, but it is rewarding.
Write if you have a passion for it.

Write if you love how vision and thought combine to shape words on a page.
Write if you want your words to march forth and change the world in big, or small, ways.
Write if the artist within you says, “I am here. I make a difference.”

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Be true to your talent . . .
Honor it by giving attention to it . . .
Ciao!

Shutta