by Alys Jackson
SCBWI SA members flocked to the Barr Smith Library at the University of Adelaide for the Professional Day on October 14. Anticipation filled the room. Along with a program chock-full of talented creators and industry professional, many members took the first-of-its-kind opportunity to book a manuscript assessment with Lisa Berryman or pitch session with Dyan Blacklock. We also welcomed new member, Hana, who’d recently relocated from Vic and visiting member, Maria, from the Netherlands.
Rebecca Bird: Indie Bookshop, Pegi Williams
Rebecca Bird shared her experiences and the wonder she experiences while talking all about books with adults and children alike. We learned how the schools can differ in their attitudes to reading and the growing interest in books that ‘fit’ across multiple curricula topics. A quick trip to Pegi Williams Bookshop website revealed one of the online resources they offer that is valuable to authors as well as readers, with sections on ‘Hot Topics’ and a link to a list of books that support the Australian Curriculum.
Rebecca reminded us that:
some schools avoid books that include difficult topics while others include restricted sections in their libraries or place warnings on the book itself
fewer librarians are reading the titles within their care which means they might not know where books fit within the curriculum
children love to hear what authors like to read and why
schools are looking for books that fit multiple purposes and can clearly be used within the Australian Curriculum
schools and bookshops prefer that authors not sell their books during school talks.
On a final note, Rebecca urged authors to become actively involved in Students Need School Libraries. In response to the reduction of qualified teacher librarians, the national social media campaign was launched on October 16th. #StudentsNeedSchoolLibraries
Tim Ide: Illustrating a Children’s Book
In a talk peppered with humour, Illustrator Tim Ide offered us a glimpse into his meticulous love for accuracy and detail. Tim has spent his entire life telling visual stories illustrating some familiar titles, including Tom the Outback Mailman and King of the Outback (by the award-winning Kristin Weidenbach). Tim’s style ranges from simple vignettes to complex and detailed visual narratives both fantastical and historical in context. We’re unsurprised to learn that his illustrations involve hours of research and numerous pencil sketches to get details absolutely right. Illustrations begin with a pencil outline which he draws over with a fine-tip marker (Artline and Staedtler). Tonal details are added using Rotring technical pens and he uses photoshop to ‘move things around’.
We wish Tim the very best of luck with his King Arthur graphic novel and hope he never has to draw another cow.
Janeen Brian: The Plus and Minus of a Writing Journey
With over one hundred novels published and twice as many poems, Janeen Brian knows what she is talking about, and I think we were all amazed by her incredible journey into writing, a story in itself. Janeen’s early experiences highlight the important role that parents and teachers play in a child’s development. With little encouragement and limited access to books and knowledge, Janeen’s talent remained untapped for many years. It’s lucky for us that Sister Duck, the flat-footed nun, suggested she take a writing course.
Janeen’s tips for writers:
patience and persistence (and a tough skin) help writers through barren times
it’s powerful to have someone who believes in you. Make sure they know you care
unfamiliar paths can lead to an unexpected opportunities
like-minded people and networking are worth more than you know
writing is a craft to be learned so seek out resources like Janice@Hardy.com
write in different ways and in your own voice, and always look for the spark of originality
keep a notebook and try to write every day, ‘work long and work hard’
if a story idea won’t die then write it
put away your writing before editing
reading aloud helps if you’re stuck.
Janeen finished by reminding us that, ‘A writing journey is not defined by what you didn’t have’.
Panel – Destination: Publication
Do authors generally have agents or do they get agents after acceptance?
It works both ways but it is better to get an agent. Agents help with career advice and editing of a manuscript. They can also intercede on behalf of an author and understand contracts - Lisa.
Authors without agents need to understand contracts. Don’t lose your moral rights and be wary of net receipts. Read every clause in a contract or contact the Right’s Manager at the publisher, if you have a query - Dyan.
There’s no such thing as a stupid question. Publishers respect authors who query things - Lisa.
The ASA have unrealistic expectations in regards to contracts. First-time authors won’t get the same contract as established authors - Dyan.
Be very careful of Educational Contracts. They can be unfair and unrealistic, especially for illustrators - Dyan.
What’s the cost of producing a picture book?
We rarely tell authors because this is irrelevant. A picture book is a product and requires a strategy regardless of cost - Lisa.
Listen to the publisher/agent. For example: ‘Don’t insist on a friend illustrating the book’ - Dyan.
Branding is important but don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Check with the publisher before offering books for sale at schools - Lisa.
Most schools don’t like authors to sell books during a visit - Becky.
Authors should be venturing interstate to visit schools - Dyan.
Ask publishers to put you forward for festivals - Lisa.
Read your royalty statements - Dyan.
At what point is the bookseller involved?
Reps will visit booksellers 2-3 months before a book is released - Becky.
Without independent booksellers the industry would be dead - Lisa.
Do illustrators have brand value?
Yes! Illustrators are heroes to children. They need to learn the processes involved in publishing. They need perseverance, uniqueness and creativity - Dyan.
To top off an inspirational day, nine SCBWI SA members launched their 2018 releases pictured below all in under sixty minutes.
And just like that, our Professional Day concluded. #SAPD19 - we’re ready when you are!