Tag Archives: SCBWI

Know the Writing Market

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Writing PublicationsI met with my new critique group last month. There was lots of lively conversation, inspired critiquing, and snacks. I shared a couple of things with the group about an editor moving to another publisher or an agent that was looking something specific. It was met with, “How do you know this stuff?”  I told them I would share what I read about the writing market.  I’ll share it with you, too.

Before I do, it’s important to know why you should read these publications.

  • If an editor moves to a different publisher, they are likely going to be looking for new manuscripts.
  • Editors and agents may reveal what they are looking for.
  • You know what is selling and what is struggling to sell.
  • You don’t waste your time writing what has just been written.
  • You’ll get an idea of how the marketing end of the business works.
  • You’ll get valuable tips and techniques for writing the best manuscript you can.
  • You get to know the players in the publishing industry. This is important to know when you rub elbows at a conference, send your manuscript, and want to market your published book.
  • You don’t waste you stamps on publishers that have shuttered their doors.
  • Agents and editors want to know that you not only can write, but understand the business of writing.

In no particular order, here are some publications that I read. I am a children’s writer. You’ll see some of those listed here, too.

I also read tweets and blogs whenever I get the chance.  That’s for another post.

Don’t let all the reading get in the way of good writing. A great manuscript will always trump great market knowledge. But, set a little time aside for reading about writing and the business of writing. Don’t let lack of knowledge keep you from getting published.

What publications do you read to keep you informed?

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Why Go To A Writer’s Conference?

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Why spend the time, the money, and the energy to go to a writer’s conference? Is it really worth it? I believe the answer is yes. Here’s why.

Writers Conference

Improve your writing

Writers at any level can improve their skills. While some conferences offer hands on classes, others talk about technique. But, simply listening to how different writers approach the writing process from brainstorming to outlining to revision can jar you loose from bad practices or just set you on a better course. Methods of building memorable characters or clarifying plot lines can move your manuscript from good to great. While there may be diminishing returns if you have been successfully published, the path to continue to get published is to keep growing in your craft.

Learn the business

Although writing is a craft, publishing is a business.  If you don’t know the game you are playing, you probably won’t win. At the recent SCBWI Conference, we were told that it is best sellers market. Over and over, the message was to put out the best possible work you can produce.  (See reason #1) But, the question is what is that exactly? The publishing industry is facing a time of immense change.  Find out the current trends, the open avenues, how to submit, what to submit, and how not to piss off an editor. Once you are published, even before you are published you need to learn how to market your work so that your book will do well. Fail at that and your next book might not get sold at all.

Network with others

It’s been said that you are 6 people away from the person you need to know in the publishing industry. It’s a little like the Kevin Bacon connection, but a lot more important. Your job at a conference is to meet people, talk with people, and suck up as much knowledge as you can. You will meet others in your genre or local area and have lunch. You’ll talk about writers you know, classes you know and they will tell you in return. Every contact at a conference is incredibly important to you as an author. You can’t afford to wait until you are published before you start making connections.

Energize yourself

The one things all conferences have in common is the energy you bring home.  You’ll have new tricks and technical knowledge that you’ll want to try on your own writing. You’ll have made connections you would like to foster.  But, maybe most importantly, you’ll have seen writers who have “made it.”  The ones that were once writers just like you. Now they are published authors, held on high with awards and accolades. You have dreams that it could be you someday. You are home and truly inspired.

Are you ready to go? Here are 2 writers conferences for children’s writers:

MD/WV/DE SCBWI Spring Conference March 31, 2012
Conference Website

NJ SCBWI Annual Conference – June 3, 4, 5, 2012
Conference Website

What do you think? Have been to one or more? Is it worth it?

Author Interview with Carol Larese Millward

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Carol Larese Millward is the author of the YA novel Star in the Middle published by WestSide Books.Carol talks about her book and the impact it has had on her readers.

Just after the birth of her son, Star tries to cope with her new reality as a teenage single parent.  Told in alternating points of view between Star and the father, Wil, each try and reconcile choices made and build a road for the future.

Carol Larese Millward

What lead you to write this story?

I worked with teen parents through two of Maryland Family Support Centers. I loved working with young families, but I was also struck by the impact an unplanned pregnancy can have on young lives. I wrote Star in the Middle to raise awareness about the difficulties teen parents face and the importance of teen pregnancy prevention programs.

Did alternating points of view make it more or less difficult to write?

Actually, it made it easier to write. Dual voices helped me focus on both parents and how each was dealing with the birth of their baby, how it changed their feelings for each other, and about themselves—and, of course, how they related to the baby in such different ways.

How has the novel been received?

I am so pleased when I visit teen book clubs and classrooms and hear the dialogue the book inspires! It was important to me to start a conversation about the issues my fictional characters face with young adults. I have heard good things from teen readers, educators and people working with teens, and adult readers. For reviews and comments from readers, please visit my website at http://www.carollaresemillward.com

What are the most important things you learned about marketing your book?

It’s important to get the word out early, long before the book is published. It’s an on-going process and it all takes time and energy. I love getting out there and talking about my book. It’s very important to me on so many levels!

Is there anything you wished you had known before you started writing this novel?

What an interesting question. I think Star in the Middle was the novel I was supposed to write. It felt right from the very beginning. I cared so deeply about the young families I worked with, and I continue to be committed to talking to teens about taking care of themselves and their dreams. That said, I wish I had known earlier that my character sketch of Star had the potential to be a novel!

Do you have an agent?  How did you find your publisher?

I don’t have an agent. I attended a SCBWI conference and had a manuscript critiqued by author, Beckie Weinheimer (Converting Kate). When information about WestSide Books crossed her computer screen, she encouraged me to send my manuscript. Star in the Middle was actually the second manuscript I submitted to WestSide Books. I am still revising the first!

What are you working on now?

I have several projects going. I’m still revising The Winged Moon, my first YA novel manuscript, and I’m writing another YA manuscript entitled Changing Colors. I have a Halloween picture book manuscript, Mrs. Shimmhog’s Broom, that I’m revising and hope to get in the mail in the next week or two.

Carol, thanks for taking the time to give us a peek behind the scenes.

This novel is a great way to create avenues for discussion about healthy lifestyle choices with the teens in your life. You can find out more about Carol and her debut novel, Star in the Middle at www.carollaresemillward.com.  Contact Carol about author visits and book club discussions. The book can be purchased on Amazon.com which, of course, you should do right now.

Are you a children’s or YA author?  Let’s tell the world about your hard work!  Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

10 Great Blogs for Children’s Writers

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Here is a list of a few of my go-to blogs when I’m looking for fresh and interesting information, news, and tips for writing and blogging. If your looking for even more, check out the blogger’s blog roll and see who they like to follow.  Leave a comment and make some friends.  Who knows the path it may take?

In no particular order….

Writers First Aid Blog – From the Institute of Children’s Literature

Write4Kids! – Home of Children’s Book Insider

Jennifer Represents – Jennifer Laughran, Literary Agent.  Code name literaticat

SCBWI MD/DE/WV Regional Blog -Edie Hemingway and Laura Bowers, tag team bloggers

Writers and Illustrators – Kathy Temean’s Blog with NJ SCBWI info and more

Nathan Bransford – Literary agent turned author

Anita Nolan’s Blog – packed with good stuff

Guide to Literary Agents – Chuck Sambuchino, editor of the book by the same name

The Urban Muse – Susan Johnston, named Top 10 blogs for writers

Think Traffic – Increase traffic to your blog

Do you have some favorites?  Let me know.  I would love to check them out.

SCBWI Writers Conference

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There’s lots of action at the SCBWI Writers Conference going on now in New York City.  If you didn’t get there this year, you can still glean all of the great information from the speakers with up to the minute blogs and tweets.

The SCBWI Conference Blog – There are a team of bloggers to report on the workshops and speakers throughout the conference.

To follow the conference on Twitter, use #ny11scbwi.