HITTING THE HIGH NOTES AT THE SCBWI WINTER CONFERENCE, NEW YORK

Better late than never! Here’s a guest post from SCBWI West’s Reporter-at-Large and Regional Advisor, Frané Lessac, illustrator, and Susanne Gervay, SCBWI Australia/NZ RA and author. Thank you, FranéSCBWI_2013_NY_blog headerHave to admit, I was a wee bit anxious leaving an Australian summer for sub zero temperatures of the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York. I need not have worried. The Conference hotel was conveniently located smack bang above Grand Central Station with gazillions of restaurants, shops and public transport right downstairs.

The bonus of attending SCBWI New York is that many of the top US children’s book editors, agents, publishers and art directors get involved. With 999 attendees, 17 countries represented, and 45 US states, it was a constant thrill in the elevators to find out who was from where. When they realized WA wasn’t an abbreviation for the state of Washington, West Australia always got the biggest wow. 🙂 new-york-new-york_Frane-

Meg Rosoff gave the first keynote entitled “So When Are You Going to Write a Real Book, You Know, For Adults?” She was hysterical when she translated that into a list of people she wanted to punch in the face for asking. Most celebrity authors were targets. Jay Leno’s book, IF ROAST BEEF COULD FLY had a roasting for sure.

I must have heard Shaun Tan speak over a dozen times. He never ceases to amaze me. Every time his talk is different – even if he’s talking about the same piece of art. He received a standing ovation, not only from me, but by the other 998 attendees too!

Another keynote was by NY Times bestselling mother and daughter writing team, Julie Andrews and Emma Walton. Although their presentation was heavily scripted, it was a highlight seeing Mary Poppins in person.

Mo Willems gave the closing keynote – inspiration and infotainment at its best.

A major US children’s bookseller had some good news to share. In her opinion: The library and school markets are healthy. Schools have money to buy books, although mostly paperbacks. They’re looking for short stories, fairy tales and folktales relating to the curriculum, and narrative non-fiction. Also the go: action packed novels, bullying, movie tie-ins, war, survival and diversity.

There are funds for author school visits with Skype visits on the increase. Bookstores are coming back and the balance is changing. In the future, stores may be used as showrooms, as people buy an ebook after viewing the print version. The balance will never be equal again, but children still want a book to hug.

Frane in America1

Frané keeping company with pumpkins.

If anyone would like more information about attending the New York or Los Angeles SCBWI Conferences, please feel free to contact Frané Lessac.

Conference blog link: http://scbwiconference.blogspot.com.au/

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One thought on “HITTING THE HIGH NOTES AT THE SCBWI WINTER CONFERENCE, NEW YORK

  1. Thanks for that, Frané. Our Aus Conferences are so intimate that I have often wondered if these NY and :LA major US ones with so many attendees really are likely to lead to serious networking with ‘important people’ and ‘business’, or just a wonderful social with some new insight. We always benefit from every conference and event we attend, but there is a significant cost involved getting to these. Can you compare benefit from a large US conference to a smaller US SCBWI state run one more similar in size to our own?

    I was turned down for a grant when I applied in 2010 for help to go to SCBWI Bologna, the Bologna Fair and the London Book Fair, plus research in the UK for my YA in progress – I was told they felt I would be unlikely to get any benefit. So I had to self-fund my visits (though I did offset it against tax, and I did end up with a contract). But I’d need an enormous increase in income to self fund again.

    All best wishes

    Peter

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