Sunday, February 5, 2012

Notes from the SCBWI NY conference

Friday: Illustrators Marketing Intensive

There was lots of great advice about marketing your work and the workshop was geared towards people that had books out or would have them out soon. I think there was a lot of info that’s useful to pre-published illustrators as well. Here’s a smattering of my notes and the points I thought were particularly useful. Some people talked faster than I could write, so the quotes are paraphrased.

John Rocco:
*Put your website URL in your trailer so people can find you after watching it.
*Expect nothing from your publisher (for promotion) and think of things that you can do to help the book (trailer, bookmarks, coloring pages, local contacts, etc.).
*Book trailers don’t have to be snazzy. You’re an illustrator; tell the story.
*Be kind. Be generous with your time and work, with bookstores and at signings. Be sincere.

Dan Santat:
*Build a network of peers: sincere relationships are very important.
*Blog consistently, at least once a week, so people will keep coming back. Talk about your work, but talk about other stuff too.
*Uses or has used different sites to promote his work (Flickr, Tumblr, Blog, Facebook, Illustration Friday), but says: You can do as much social networking as you want, but your work is what’s going to get you jobs.
*Handmade feel makes trailers more appealing.

Sophie Blackall:
*If you like doing something, find a way to call it work (like her blog to book: Missed Connections).
*If your stuff isn’t out there, it won’t be seen.

 Dan Yaccarino (on giving presentations):
*Know your topic (research even if you think you know it).
*Know your audience (kids, adults, kidlit people) and tailor the presentation accordingly. Sometimes the ideas/content for audiences overlaps.
*Don’t sign a cast or anything else or you will have to do it for everyone. Kids have a keen sense of fairness.
*Don’t shake hands with the kids. Fist bump and then Purell so you don’t get the flu.
*Be flexible (what if your computer goes out?).
*Drawing during a school visit is like a magic trick to a kid. If you can do it, do it.

 Michelle Fadlalla:
*Make the package you send stand out so that people will be interested and will review it. It’s also good to know who the right person is to send it to, instead of blanketing everyone in the industry.
*Anything that the publisher offers, take advantage of it.

Deb Shapiro:
*Have patience. It takes a long time to build and develop your presence. It’s about the long run, not the sprint. Patience and hard work will get you there eventually.

Jed Bennett:
*Let your publisher know what you can do for them. You have to be the biggest champion for your book.

Saturday and Sunday: General Conference Notes

Jean Feiwel:
*This is a bestseller business. You have to make money for the company (most of the time). Your work needs to have a commercial appeal.

Barbara Marcus:
*There is some balance. If you’re going to publish Jaws/Twilight/Harry Potter, you’ll have room for a quiet book or a first novel, but there’s only so much room for those.

Rubin Pfeffer:
*Your content should touch the heart and soul and/or the funny bone, no matter how you write it.

Cathy Goldsmith:
*The best books happen when there’s dialog and the author, illustrator, art director, and editor all give and take a little.
*Don’t waste the publisher’s time by doing art in a different style than what is in your portfolio (unless you talk with them first and they okay it).
*Do character studies and development before sketching scenes/spreads from the book.
*Pacing is always important in a PB. (My Note: Pacing is important in MG & YA too.)
*You need to think about continuity (how details are presented throughout the book) so the publisher doesn’t catch it later and you have to change it, or they catch it too late.

 Cassandra Clare:
*Forbidden love is usually forbidden by family, society, or because it’s dangerous.
*The almost, but not quite, forbidden love isn’t that interesting.
*Your audience will like it, the more tension there is, and the more forbidden it is.
*The Buffy Problem = teen in love with a supernatural being hundreds of years older.
*Solution = put teen in a position of power to balance age/power issue.
*Note: characters many years older (hundreds) better than say a 55 yr. old and a teenager because 55 yr. olds are adults. Nobody knows a 700 yr. old, which makes them timeless.
*Love triangle: what you want is an actual love triangle, where the two love interests have a relationship with each other as well (friends, brothers, etc.). It makes it more complicated and interesting.
*Make sure each arm of the triangle has equal weight and is just as interesting as the other.
*People want tension and high stakes, and to not know what’s going to happen.
*The kind of love story that’s fun to live is not fun to read about.

Lin Oliver:
*If writing for a younger audience (PB, CB, MG), take the word, “love,” out of it and replace it with, “friendship,” to create tension.

Martha Rago:
*Strong characters that feel real and will be likeable in a universal way and relatable way will endear them to the reader. Readers respond to a well defined character whether it’s in a series or a one-off.

Samantha McFerrin:
*Start the story right away. No need to set the scene.

Peter Brown:
*If you’re going to make it in this business, you have to be an idea factory.

Brett Helquist:
*There’s a danger of becoming cliché and doing the same thing if you always draw from your head (talking about how he does lots of photo research for sketches, to grow, learn, and to get different features and faces so his art keeps growing).

Dan Yaccarino:
*The story of the book is a character’s needs. How can they get what they need bu the end of the book?

David Gordon:
*Your success is directly proportionate to your ability to take rejection.

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