Sunday, May 2, 2010

Portfolio Review

I attended my first Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) seminar and portfolio review Saturday. It was a small gathering of people who are interested in advancing their careers in as a children’s book writer or illustrator. It was nice to get out of my “bubble” and have some fresh eyes look at my stories.

The seminar topic covered marketing both before you are published and after. Why do you market before you get published? This is how you get your first book published. Conversation centered on creating a “packet” of art and info. This “packet” could be a folder, flyer, post card or all of the above. I have experience mailing submissions but it was clear that I could more. Some tips:

1. Only send your BEST images. Take another look at your choices and narrow cut the weakest.

2. Arrange illustrations by style if you have more than one.

3. Limit styles of illustrations to two or three per submission.

4. Send updates to contacts quarterly with new images and/or styles to remind publishers/agents that you are still around looking for work.

5. This was my “nugget” from the session. Make sure you state that you are willing to illustrate someone else’s work or that you are willing to sell the story separately (if you are) and/or that you are willing to rework pictures (if you are). I thought that this was a given but was convinced otherwise during this seminar.

I felt I had a good working knowledge of author responsibilities once a book is published. I have watched my mother do it for many years. Basically, unless you are insanely famous, you are responsible for most if not all of the post publishing publicity. Press releases, library and school readings, etc. fall into your lap. This may be the most daunting part of the job and I am sure that it will have a steep learning curve for me. Marketing will certainly keep you busy but technology can help. Tech tips from the seminar:

1. Maintain a website and keep it updated. This may be the only thirty seconds an editor or art director spends at your website. Make it attractive and easy to navigate.

2. Maintain a blog and link to other blogs and request that others do the same. This networking may be almost as powerful as that pyramid scheme you participated your roommate pitched to you while you were in college.

3. Social networking. Take your pick but beware of copyright issues and take precautions to protect your work.

4. Use web applications such as Google Alerts to track any mentions of you or your illustrations/books on the internet.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like the seminar was time and money well spent. I can help you with arranging appearances once you need to, which I assume will be fairly soon...