It's a wrap! - The Sydney SCBWI Conference 2016 Roundup

As this crusty captain and her unbelievably competent crew prepare to set forth once again into the perilous sea of submissions, self-doubt, publication, unresolved plots, and confused colour palettes, I'd like to leave you with a few beautifully blurry but brilliant reminders of the Australian New Zealand Conference that was Sydney 2016.

Wining Dining and Winning

The Beatnickers SCBWI Band

The Vollies (a few of them)

The Delegates

Your Roving Reporters!

The RR team!

The RR team!

Captain Dimity Powell

First Mate Sheryl Gwyther

Motley Crew members:

  • Rachel Nobel
  • Giuseppe Poli
  • Katrin Dreiling
  • Melanie Hill
  • Yvonne Mes
  • Maria Gill
  • Leigh Roswen
  • Kel Butler
  • Ramona Davy
  • Karen Collum
  • Liz Anelli Doodle artist
  • Denzo Alker Photographer
  • Oliver Phommavanh Tweeter

The Miracle Workers – Chief Navigators for this captain

  • Susanne Gervay Regional Adviser
  • Deb Abela Assistant Regional Adviser (ARA)
  • Sheryl Gwyther ARA
  • Caz Goodwin ARA
  • Sarah Davis Regional Illustrator Coordinator
  • Margaret Roc
  • Marjorie Crosby-Fairall ARA

As our intrepid leader, Susanne Gervay once told me – ‘The role of story is to engender our own stories and hold our meanings.’

For me, that encapsulates one of the best things about being part of this special Society; to learn how to better stir the art of storytelling into something spectacular, to share this with other like minded creatives, and to experience and celebrate their stories’ meanings be they in verse, prose, or brushstroke.

Arr me mateys, till next we sail together...

Arr me mateys, till next we sail together...

Thank you for having us report for you this year. It’s been an adventure.

Rove you Later

Dimity

The End?

#SCBWISyd

 

Chapter Two: International Skype Session with Suzanne Murphy and Cristina Cappelluto

Suzanne Murphy, President and Publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books USA

Suzanne Murphy, President and Publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books USA

We had the pleasure of seeing Christina Cappelluto in the flesh and Suzanne Murphy via Skype for this session. Susanne Gervay chaired the session with her wit and pertinent questions.

Overview of HarperCollins global?

  • Suzanne said they publish 600 books a year.
  • They have branches all over the world. Soon they will be celebrating 200 years of publishing.
  • The Harper Brothers started Harper & Rowe, amalgamated with William Collins in UK, and Angus & Robertson in Australia back in 1879.
  • They are the home of literary and contemporary legends.
  • The A & R imprint still exists. All Australian imprints are published under A & R.  
  • Since acquisition of Harlequin and ABC Books, now seeing more authors published into international foreign countries. It is a very exciting time to be published with HC internationally.

Their goal is to promote authors worldwide. They always look to acquire world rights; coordinating global publications is more and more important nowadays because of worldwide reach of social media. For example, Epic Reads has 2 million (young adult) audience.

Susanne asked if there is an opportunity for middle grade in social media.

Cristina Cappelluto, Children's Publishing Director HarperCollins Australia   

Cristina Cappelluto, Children's Publishing Director HarperCollins Australia

 

Suzanne said there is, for example, Rick Riordan who has been very successful using these platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook). They encourage authors to promote themselves online. There are gatekeepers such as teachers, librarians and parents. Whatever age group you have you should try to have an authentic online presence. Teachers, librarians and parents are online so worthwhile pursuing.

Christina said the middle grade platform is Instagram rather than Facebook. She said it is important to be aware of the platforms your target audience are using.

What are the strategies for publishing globally in Australia and America?

  • Barnes & Nobles is their biggest bookshops chain.
  • Amazon dominate in print and ebooks. Independent booksellers have had a decrease in book sales but recently they are reviving.
  • They’ve always had solid sales selling into schools.
  • Much of their sales are driven by the backlist such as ‘Where the Wild Things Are’; these backlists feed new talent.
  • From a publicity and marketing perspective there hasn’t been a better time to introduce new authors.

Christina said they’re always looking for the next best books and keep working with their authors and building their careers. This is a very long game and they approach it as a partnership.

If you find an Australian star will it go globally or is it more generated from the USA?

More books come out of the USA market because it is a bigger market. They love to work with HarperCollins Australia and their authors. Always looking for great authors and great stories wherever they come from.

How are you pursuing multi-platforms?

  • Christina said they have been acquiring more film and TV rights when they sign up new novels or works. They’ve been having some success with that.
  • They have connections with Fox (which is owned by Murdoch).
  • Harper Lee Film World are looking for books frequently. They can see the value of building on the book world fan interest. Her favourite in local market is ‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowry. Up until the film release, retail sales were minimal in comparison to the educational sales. Once the film came out that changed.
  • She said sometimes it is like a lottery getting your books made into films.

Christina said they are collaborating with HC USA at the point of acquisition. Recently they had a middle grade author’s new book series that they were very excited about. They immediately communicated with HC USA and asked them to look at it and they came back and said yes, they absolutely wanted it. It works better for all of them if they collaborate like this.

The next best option is to secure world rights if HC USA is not interested, they then on sell it to other publishing houses.

What are you looking for?

  • People should write what they are compelled to right.
  • They are always looking for great stories and unique voices.
  • You need to be aware of the market but write what you are inspired to write. There are certain markets, demographics and trends that are happening but you have to be very careful.
  • It all comes down to the story and if it moves the editor and sales person.
  • You need to be savvy to break in but when it comes to your writing – you need to write what you are compelled to write whether it is from your experience or your imagination.

There has been a growth in celebrity publishing is that happening there?

  • There are many trends in publishing; the new celebrities are You Tube stars. They’ve had tremendous success with those stars.
  • They are self-made, they get involved with their books more than you might think.
  • Not every celebrity can get a book deal, unless they’ve got millions of fans online.
  • There are some celebrities who are good writers and it is of course easier for them to get published.

Are they open to stories set in Asia? Is that included in ‘we love diversity’?

Christina said they are interested. They have Harper 360 to distribute/export Australian books into the UK, America and Asia. Suzanne said they are interested too.

Australia is looking at the removal of parallel importation making free trade – fair use – we are wondering how that will impact on Australian book sales.

Christina said they’ve been fighting against it. It undervalues intellectual copyright. It has two impacts on publishers.

  1. Firstly, it removes territorial copyright, and opens it up for retailers to source books anywhere from the world.
  2. Secondly, it could influence more successful authors as a retailer can buy their books more cheaply in the US than here. (Not necessarily cheaper in USA, but they might be remaindered or effectively dumped internationally.)

Presently we can protect our market and don’t have territorial rights. Under the new changes we can’t stop that at all. The return to you all as creators would be diminished as well. You’d get export royalties which are often considerably less than local royalties.

Is America open to Australian landscapes and animals?

Suzanne said yes they’re open to great stories. Not necessarily a non-fiction book about that setting or animals but if it is a great fictional story.

The audience talked afterwards about how reassuring it is that Australian stories can travel globally if written well.

Maria Gill Roving Reporter

#SCBWISyd

Chapter Two: 100 years of The School Magazine

The panel

The panel

A Centenary of School Magazine with (Editor) Alan Edwards, (Contributors) Sheryl Gwyther, Marjorie Crosby-Fairall and Wendy Fitzgerald and (Graphic Designer) Josemalene Ruaya.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of The School Magazine, which began publication in 1916 and is now the longest running children’s literary publication in the world. To commemorate this momentous occasion SCBWI included a panel discussion about the School Magazine and their publication process, as a part of the 2016 Conference. Chaired by Sheryl Gwyther, author   and prolific contributor for the magazine, the panel provided an interesting and informative overview of the magazine’s process and it’s glorious 100-year history.

For those who don’t know, The School Magazine is Australia’s foremost literary magazine for children, filled with texts of literary merit that encourage children to read for pleasure and explore stories. Editor Alan Edwards says “we are trying to instill a love of reading in our young students and I think we have done a pretty good job of that over the last century”.

In honor of their birthday The School Magazine has recently released “For Keeps” An anthology of stories, poems and plays from the last century of publications. It is a visual and literary feast for adults and children alike. I spoke with designer, Wendy Rapee, about her choices in putting together this gorgeous treasury.

“It was with a sense of nostalgia I approached this task, so the palette is soft and slightly dusty. Right from the start I wanted to contextualise the pieces for kids of today as well as evoking nostalgia for past readers."

The School Magazine publishes 4 different magazines aimed at children in years 3, 4, 5 and 6 at school.

  • Countdown (year 3)
  • Blast Off (year 4)
  • Orbit (year 5)
  • Touch Down (year 6)

 

They produce 40 magazines a year along with 40 teaching guides, with each issue lovingly assembled by a hardworking and dedicated team including panelists Alan Edwards and Josemalene Ruaya.

Jose is The School Magazine’s only graphic designer, single handedly responsible for the look and layout of 40 publications per year. Jose gave a fascinating breakdown of her design process and philosophy for the magazine saying

“I tend to design to make our pieces inviting to read and to make sure that the layout and the illustrations and graphics support and enrich the text rather than overwhelm it…we use illustration in many different ways. We always try to add something else that there isn’t space for in the text, we always try to support what’s going on in the text and add value to what’s already there”

The School Magazine has had the input of some of Australia's most prominent children's writers and illustrators throughout their 100-year existence, including but certainly not limited to, Aaron Blabey, Sarah Davis, Duncan Ball, Patricia Wrightson and Ursula Dubosarsky and panelists, Sheryl Gwyther and Wendy Fitzgerald.

Wendy Fitzgerald discussing her latest contribution

Wendy Fitzgerald discussing her latest contribution

As a matter of fact Neridah McMullin’s new picture book “Fabish” came from a story originally published in “Blast Off “Magazine in 2011. The School Magazine has a reputation for inspiring books and launching careers.

But anyone involved in the world of children’s books and primary education already knows this, what made the SCBWI session stand out from all the other celebrations this year, was the way it detailed The School Magazine’s process from submission to publication. Providing a real insight for writers and illustrators about submitting their work and what to expect when they do.

A couple of interesting facts;

  • The School Magazine is one of the last publications in Australia that accepts unsolicited manuscripts.
  • It is also one of the last places that will publish poetry now, making it’s existence even more important on the literary stage for writers and readers alike.

So if anyone is interested in submitting to the School Magazine and wants to know what happens once you do, the process is pretty simple.

For writers:

  • The School Magazine accepts prose, stories, plays, poetry and fiction. 
  • When a manuscript comes in the assessment process usually takes about 4 months and it is read by 3 or 4 different people, before having a decision made on whether it will be accepted or not.
  • Once a submission has been accepted the magazine contacts the author, purchases the piece AND pays them straight away!

"Choice is driven by the quality of the writing." Alan Edwards on the submission decision process

How to submit to The School Magazine

How to submit to The School Magazine

Just another great advantage for contributors to The School Magazine, they pay upon purchase and their purchase is for single use only. So if they want to use your work again, you get paid again, at a reduced rate. Once the piece has been purchased they will wait for the right issue to come up before placing it. Generally you will know when it’s time because a copy of The School Magazine arrives, like a present, in your mailbox.

"Everything we do must add value to the text" Josemalene Ruaya on magazine design

For Illustrators,:

  • The School Magazine provides a rotating cycle of opportunity by having a pool of illustrators it draws upon year round, choosing the illustrator that best suits the written work.
  • Submissions are open for certain periods of time each year, usually June to July but this can change, so it ‘s best to keep an eye on the website. 
  • Just like with written work, illustrators also retain their rights and purchase is for a single use only.

"Illuminate not decorate" Marjorie Crosby-Fairall on her illustrative briefs

Marjorie Crosby-Fairall discussing the magazine's illustrative briefs

Marjorie Crosby-Fairall discussing the magazine's illustrative briefs

Throughout this panel one point became abundantly clear, EVERYONE has nothing but reverence and deep respect for The School Magazine. The people who work to bring it to life, are deeply impassioned individuals who strive to expose our kids to quality literature.  To be accepted as a contributor is an honor, a validation of literary merit and something people own with great pride. So why not try submitting your work and see where The School Magazine could take you too…

Kel Butler Roving Reporter

#SCBWISyd