Many thanks to my friend, Nancy Castaldo, for hosting the cover reveal of STRETCH TO THE SUN on her blog, Naturally Speaking. Nancy is a multi-award winning author of middle grade and early reader nonfiction and activity books. She's also an environmental educator, naturalist, and photographer. In fact, many of her photographs are used in her books. Here are some of her most recent titles:
I appreciate Nancy's work and am honored to have her share our beautiful cover!
If you are newer to the world of making children's books, you might be asking, "What's all this ado about cover reveals? The book isn't even on shelves yet!" True, but a cover reveal helps you engage with people who might be interested in the book and prepares them for when it launches. It builds excitement and introduces you and your book to like-minded people who might also spread the word for you (such as other creators, teachers, librarians, book sellers, bloggers, and in my case, environmental activists/educators, naturalists, and tree huggers ;).
Plus I'm just so darn happy with this book that I'm excited to share the cover! It's a looooong process from idea to book and this beautiful cover feels like a significant milestone to celebrate.
Check out Nancy's books and events. Her cover reveal for BACK FROM THE BRINK happened 4/24/18. So exciting! Your support of her would mean a lot to me. (That's how we do it in the world of children's books :)
Part one of this two-parter offered a small window into the Bologna Children's Book Fair 2018. Now I want to focus on what it means for an individual creator to attend an event like this.
I guess I can only say what it meant to me as a first-timer. Hopefully something will resonate with you!
Herewith are my takeaways:
Ciao for now!
I'd seen pictures of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and I expected it to be big. I expected a lot of people making foreign rights deals and of course, a lot of children’s books. But I never expected so much intensity around and respect for the art of creating books for children.
Every time I pushed the turnstile into the venue -- called BolognaFiere -- it was as if I’d left a typical world full of typical happenings and landed in a special place that was created only for and about children’s books. Every person there (approx 27,000+ of us) came because they wanted to know more, do bookmaking better, and/or explore what was possible.
So what does it look like inside the Fair? Several very long and light filled-halls are chock-full of booths -- or “stands” as they are called there -- showcasing books and child-related products from all around the world. Ever wonder what the country Slovakia is publishing? Head to stand 22 C 4. Or want to see what the Scandinavian Publishing House views as its best new titles? That’s stand 26 A 68. Or maybe compare the illustration styles of the Cambridge School of Art (stand 25 B 110) with Changjiang Children’s Press (26 B 127)?
Here is a list of all the exhibitors and a map of the venue. Wow, right?
Then there are “conferences” – short presentations/workshops/masterclasses on many, many topics such as illustration, packaging, apps, translation, toy design, etc. etc. This year, there were 250 different conferences, many presented in Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and English. At one conference, I heard a translator who looked as Midwestern USA as person could but spoke with a beautiful command of Japanese. Really, one could keep busy just attending conferences. Here is a view from my... um...refueling station.
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s booth (stand 26 B 76) was a happening place and home base for book creators from around the world. Highlights were the Dueling Illustrator’s competition (in which two illustrators are read part of an unpublished manuscript and asked to draw an image for it on the spot, in front of an audience, in a short amount of time!) and showcases where SCBWI members shared their books and often, their art-making for visitors.
Here is a Dueling Illustrator's competition with intrepid SCBWI Advisory Board Member, Bologna Book Fair coordinator for SCBWI and author, Chris Cheng, reading the manuscript selection to two illustrators:
Here is SCBWI Michigan co-Regional Advisor and author/illustrator, Leslie Helakoski, during her busy showcase.
Also, the Fair celebrates the “best of” -– such as the best illustrations submitted for selection (displayed in the photo to the left) and gives out prestigious awards (Bolognarazgazzi Digital Award, New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award, Silent Books Award, BOP - Bologna Prize for the Best Children's Publishers of the Year, etc.).
And just to keep things interesting, the Licensing Trade Fair happened simultaneously so we were treated to various life-sized licensed toys in our midst.
Fascinating books are being made and sold in almost every corner of the Earth. If we believe, and I do, that children’s books often represent our current culture and our hopes for tomorrow, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair is an opportunity to see our whole wide world under one roof.
What does all this mean for a creator? For your own work? Scroll down for Part Duo.
Janie Reinart over at GROG posted about creating our personal mission statement. This exercise seems like it could be a bit "woo-woo" but that couldn't be further from the truth. Following our path starts from knowing where we want to go.
Here is my mission statement: to write stories that help children understand the world and their place in it, to exemplify a supportive, professional perspective, and to provide leadership and connection within the children’s literature community.
It's a little wordy but it works for me.
If you don't have a personal mission statement YET, take a couple of minutes to read Janine's post. Create your statement. Then post it on GROG and here, too. Okay? That makes it real.
Remember, we can change our mission statements as our perspective changes. And it's not graded or judged. This work is all for you.
Go on a mission. Yours.
Okay. I might be biased because Charlesbridge is publishing my forthcoming book STRETCH TO THE SUN: FROM A TINY SPROUT TO THE TALLEST TREE ON EARTH and I know firsthand they are an amazing team, but this post by Charlesbridge nonfiction senior editor Alyssa Mito Pusey is all-by-itself excellent. Getting to “I GET IT!”: Scaffolding in Nonfiction is shared on Charlesbridge's Unabridged blog (a great place to visit, BTW). In this post, we learn four techniques for tackling big topics in children's nonfiction. Many thanks, Alyssa and Charlesbridge.
I follow agent Jessica Sinsheimer on Twitter and she offered this great behind-the-agent- curtain look at why (most) agents don't give feedback (very often). (Parentheses are my own. Some agents do give feedback and some give it occasionally, but I certainly understand the spirit of Jessica's thread.)
Disclaimers: Settle in. This will take a bit to read but it's important to understanding the industry so it's worth it. And, forgive the wonky formatting.
Jessica Sinsheimer @jsinsheim Ravenous reader, lazy gourmet, literary agent + cheese-obsessed human. Co-creator of #PubTalkTV, #MSWL, Manuscript Wish List® + http://ManuscriptAcademy.com/welcome
New York, NY
Joined April 2011
Jessica Sinsheimer @jsinsheim
So it's very common for writers to ask why agents don't give feedback. The answer, usually, is that we're busy--but that's hard to grasp on a concrete level. Today, the lovely and talented @BenFaulknerEd mentioned reading tons, and out of curiosity, I did the math to compare.
You may know that my next book releases in October, 2018. I’ve been working on a publicity platform, discovering lots of neat ways to let folks know about the book and myself. However, I discovered that, though I’ve been very active in the children’s book industry for a decade (yikes) and have promoted two other books, I know my newest book could use a fresh perspective.
I was thrilled when my friend, colleague, and general smartypants gal Deb Gonzalez contacted me to be part of her new on-line publicity course suitable for published and prepublished authors and illustrators. Preparing for presenting my part of this course has helped me prepare my own publicity. That's a lot of 'p' sounds but still, win, win!
Here are the pieces I know my publicity campaign needs. I need to:
I desire all these things, and yet I have limited funds and time to devote to developing this campaign.
Where should I start? Where should anyone start? We need a plan, Stan! Let’s set some practical, affordable, and achievable goals. Let’s devise a strategy by asking guidance from professionals who know what to do. Let’s take some action! That’s what Path to Promotion: A Six-Week Online Book Publicity Course is all about.
Together, we will navigate our way down the Path to Promotion.
Path to Promotion is an online collaborative program designed to share promotional information and techniques, to guide in the publicity preparation process, and to clarify steps required to create an affordable marketing platform that is personal, authentic, and professionally sound. In this session, we’ll explore topics such as podcasting, the school/library market, creating a digital footprint, and others. At the end of the course, participants will receive a Path to Promotion Publicity Planner packed with graphics and guides to assist in the quest to make a splash in the world.
Here’s how the Path to Promotion 6-week course works:
Join us, won’t you?
For more information, contact Deb Gonzales at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deb’s Bio: Debbie Gonzales is a career educator, curriculum consultant, former school administrator and adjunct professor, and once served as a SCBWI RA for the Austin Chapter. Deb currently devotes her time to writing middle grade novels, crafting teacher guides and various other freelance projects. She's the author of six “transitional” readers for New Zealand publisher, Giltedge, and the forthcoming non-fiction picture book Play Like a Girl: The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records (Charlesbridge, 2019). A transplanted Texan, Debbie now calls beautiful Ann Arbor, Michigan home where she lives with her husband John and spunky pup, Missy. Deb earned her MFA in writing for children and young adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Submissions are now open for the March 2018 edition of the Happy Book Birthday program.
This new SCBWI program invites all members to celebrate and promote their newly published work in the same month the book is released.
From SCBWI: On the first Monday of each month, we will display all of the books together on our beautiful Book Birthday page and advertise them through our social media channels.
Each Book Birthday announcement will remain up on our site for two weeks. We hope that all of our traditionally and independently published members will take advantage of this opportunity to celebrate their achievement and launch their work into the book-buying community.
The first Book Birthday will be for all books published in February 2018, launching February 1.
We are currently accepting submissions for the March 2018 Book Birthday.
Only authors and illustrators with books published in March will be able to participate this month, but we will have Book Birthdays for every following month.
On February 5th, members with March books can start submitting their information. The deadline is February 20th, no exceptions.
Please gather the following information:
1.) Title of book
2.) Name of author and/or illustrator
3.) Image of book cover (.jpg or .png). Name the file the full title of your book, for example “What_Girls_Are_Made_Of.jpg”
4.) Summary or statement about your book, 25 words or less
Send this information to email@example.com.
Want to see the January books? Click HERE!
Happy (Book) Birthday!
Anyone who hangs around me long enough will hear me say, "You have to ask for what you want."
I don't mean this in a self-serving way. What I mean is that the universe is busy. There are lots of people and creatures and big things going on all the darn time. (Sort of like parenting, right?) So I think it's okay to ask the universe to focus on a particular want. I think it's okay to call some attention to it.
The first part of asking for what we want is putting words around the want because we have to know what we want before we can ask for it. This can take some time to figure out and some practice. I know I have it right when I ask the universe (or the car dealer or husband guy or airline worker) for what I want and the answer is an easy "yes," or "I can do that," or "sure, I can make that work."
Sometimes I'm surprised how easy it is. And if I never ask, I'll NEVER receive exactly what I want.
Try it. Ask for what you want. It just might be what the universe wants to give you.
Have you faced rejection on your picture book manuscript/s lately?
Know that subjectivity ALWAYS plays a role in this. What one editor or agent loves another might not (and in this crowded market, 'loving' is almost always a prerequisite for acquisition). Also know that there is nothing you can do about subjectivity.
However, there are many other reasons that rejection might be popping up and these reasons might be fixable. Instead of pouting or giving up or trashing a good idea out of frustration or saying "it must be THEM and not my work!" (I've NEVER done any of those things, nuh uh), become a detective and piece together some clues as to why this might be happening.
So what about the clues?
Let's look at the following submission tips from the Rutgers University Council on Children One-on-One Plus Conference. To be part of this mentoring-based conference, a creator needs to submit work and have it selected. Check out their insights about why certain picture books were not selected last year. For more information on the RUCCs One-on-One Plus Conference, click here.
Apply these clues to currently published mentor texts and you'll see patterns emerge. Study these patterns and you'll see where you can improve your picture book manuscript and resubmit.
C'mon Sherlock. You got this.
What are the clues you use, my picture book writer friends?
Carrie Pearson is a children's book author and creator-cheerleader.