Tuesday, 22 November 2011

SCBWI-BI Conference - Part 1

Last weekend I went to Winchester to the SCBWI-BI Conference, and had a great time meeting others and listening and learning. Friday night was the crit night then the pizza place. I got a lot of comments on Georgina, some good (like the idea of the story) and some not so good (found a bit confusing). It has made me think about what I can change about it, and have decided that maybe I should concentrate more on making the magic tell the story of how chemicals can react with you. Then we all went to the pizza place. 60 of us. I had a good chat about epubbing and my ebook. Donna Vann, who has already bought Angel, said she'd read it, liked it and was surprised how short it was because she wanted more. Yay. I had linguine Bolognese with dough balls - I was hungry by then, and none of the desserts I could eat because they all had milk in. I didn't eat all the Bolognese as it filled me up. Discovered that the place was only a couple of mins walk from my hotel.
Saturday. First was the welcome, then Frank Cottrell-Boyce told us about his writing. Then came a talk by Frank on young fiction. His fave author is E Nesbit, and he read out sections of her ebook The New Treasurers, which was funny. He believes she had an eye for detail, made the world big and mixed magic with reality. Eg when the children were buying the ingredients for a cake, they mentioned the price. He was asked about drama, and he replied it is the gap between who the children they they aren and what they are doing. Think Just William. He said to define the world then put in the details. He was asked about the middle. Make it what's enjoyable and what people want to take out of the story. Was asked about dangerous situations in books. Frank said if children in danger then make it from their pov. If you want a light touch with it, you can do it. He also said that he is insecure about his writing, and doesn't plot his novels, although he used to. It was a great and funny talk.
Then came the Industry Panel. Sarah Odedina who used to work for Bloomsbury but has now set up her own company called Bonnier, who are looking for children's novels. Accepts email submissions of an outline of book and first 2/3 chapters. Likes crossovers. Feels the ms has to have strong narrative. Likes humour, paranormal and ghost. Next was Amber from Orion. She works with author to build profile. No longer accepts unagented mss because they receive too many to do so now. Then Rachel from MacMillan. They print 50 titles a year. Loves YA. Then Sharon Chai, a senior cover designer (can't remember what publisher). The cover has to capture the eye and be intriguing. Websites/blogs etc are important to have. Then was David from Walker. Printing more digital than print n ow. Print books have to be special now to be on shelves. Amber said that the first book not brilliant she won't say goodbye as a client. Work with an author if feel they are a good writer and have merit, as knows that first book isn't always the best one.
All authors are proactive finding authors via competitions, conferences etc.
Rejection isn't bad. Don't lose faith in your book. Keep yourself open to things. One publisher might not like your book, another will. Or the agent might like your writing and want something else from you. Classic themes eg Pooh, is selling well. A good sales figure per year is 10,000 copies a year.
Their 3 top tips are: Sarah - Read as many authors as you can. Don't look at what's selling now to write it. Keep reading your own work and how you speak. Amber: Read. Visit shops etc. Rmember the publisher is on your side and not the only gatekeeper. Sharon: Push yourself. Don't be afraid to ask people about your work. David: Have your own voice. Leave out work you're not sure of. ( the last one was for illustrators).
Will write about the rest of Saturday later on .


Candy Gourlay said...

So glad you blogged about Frank's talk ... this is the first I've read about it! Thank you! Will add your link to the round-up over on Notes from the Slushpile!

Julie Day said...

Thanks, Candy. Hope you have recovered from it all.