SCBWI ACT Your Story Event

Thanks to Leanne Barrett for letting us share her brilliant blog post about this event, You can check out her writing and illustrating adventures here:

Onto the blog post ...

Shaye Wardrop and Pauline Deeves

Shaye Wardrop and Pauline Deeves

Wow! Canberra has a fabulous and engaged community of children's writers and illustrators. Over 30 people came to the final SCBWI ACT event of 2017 - Your Story.

Shaye Wardrop welcomed us with her vivacious smile and gave a huge welcome to the new SCBWI members in the room.


We listened to the fabulous advice from Cate Whittle and Pauline Deeves about how to prepare for school visits.

Grace Bryant gave attendees a 30 minute overview on how to build a website and to choose one social social media platform and do it well.

Then the night was wrapped up with Your Story, where members shared their achievements for 2017 in only 80 words or less.

School visits

Cate Whittle

Cate Whittle

A How To For School Visits
Cate Whittle a teacher, writer and contributor to the 52-Week Illustration Challenge shared how we can tell our stories in schools. Cate's advice is invaluable as she has experienced both sides of author school visits.

Who? Both published and yet to be published creators.

What? We all know the types of presentations you can give in schools but think about how you can value add to your school visit because it is fairly hard to complete with the visiting scientist that makes things explode.

Be prepared for the question that is always asked, Where to do you get your ideas from?

When? Cate's tip is to contact schools at the end of the school year when they are beginning to plan for the next year. Then remember to follow up in 'week 0' (the week before students return for the new school year) when the teachers are meeting in their teams to finalise their events and budgets.

Where? Nearby schools and schools you have links to. Maybe consider approaching schools when you are traveling to other cities. Or consider a speakers agency (if they are able to add you to their list) who can organise bookings on your behalf. Cate is now listed as a speaker with the booking agency Greenleaf Press.

Why? School visits are not about selling your books to the students. It is about making connections and boosting literacy. However take the opportunity to give the students a postcard or bookmark - when they take this home it might encourage parents and grandparents to purchase your book at a later date.

To Charge or not to charge?
Now let's talk money which I know it is crass but many authors and illustrators make more money from school visits than selling their books.

Even 'L' plate unpublished creators should consider invoicing schools for their visit. To not charge schools for your visit can do two things. One it undervalues our profession. Two it undercuts other creators who charge for their visit.

If you feel that you cannot charge the standard for rates of payment set by the Australian Society of Authors  consider doing the following. Invoice the school for the ASA rate at a discounted rate or invoice them at the ASA rate with the same amount deducted making the visit a donation. This way it sets expectations regarding presenter rates. It is clear from the outset that the school is receiving a rate lower than the ASA standard and it will be easier to apply different presenter prices at a later.

Other Tips and Hints?
Remember when going into a school you will need the following

School Visits Panel with Cate Whittle and Pauline Deeves.

Pauline Deeves is a author and retired high school teacher. Pauline reminded us that published and self-published creators need to register to receive payments for your books being loaned in libraries. This is called Educational Lending Rights (ELR) and Public Lending Rights (PLR). ELR and PLR are an important source of income. See here for more information. 

Additionally become a member of the Copyright Agency as they collect and pay royalties to creators.

How to contact schools?
Cate and Pauline recommend that you find out who to contact and what their name is so you can send information to them directly. This person may be the Teacher Librarian or the Literacy Coordinator.

When contacting schools keep your flyer short and basic. Once you have made contact by all means give them more information about your presentations with the value added elements that you offer. Cate likes to communicate via email where Pauline likes to mail schools her flyer. Both authors recommended that creators have a website so teachers can find out more about you.

Website wrangling with Grace Bryant

Grace Bryant

Grace Bryant

Grace is considered one of the local gurus on all things websites and social media. She recommends that you create a website when you are ready to engage more, want to be contactable and when you are ready to establish yourself and create an online presence.

Purpose & Platform
Grace likes as a platform because she considers that it is a low cost option that is easy to use and has a great range of templates. Other platforms include squarespace or wix (I personally use blogger).

But before you get to building your website first you need to decide what the purpose of your website is.

  • Blog
  • Information
  • News & Updates
  • Sales
  • All of the above

Please remember that websites are not a set and forget type of thing. Your website will need reviewing and updating at least once a year.

Benchmark - Research before you build your website
Have a look online and find 5 sites you like and 5 you don't like. Knowing the difference will help you develop your own website look. Think about layout and structure and which platform you like the look of.

Your Website Menu Bar
Grace suggested using only 5 items but if you need more then no more than 8 items

  • Home
  • About me
  • Blog/Portfolio
  • News & Events/Blog
  • Contact

How to Build your website

  • Choose your platform
  • Create an account
  • Get a domain
  • Pick a theme
  • Build it
  • Test, test, test
  • Go live

Social Media
Social media is designed to connect people so be genuine. Remember it is about interaction and community not just about self promotion. Some Facebook groups that SCBWI ACT members like being part of are;
52-Week Illustration Challenge
The Duck Pond
Just Write For Kids

When adding a website link to your social media message consider using a program like Bitly to make your url shorter. Bitly will turn your url into 17 characters.

Final note: Pick One Social Media Platform. Do it well. Seek Help if needed.