13th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC

Good Monday morning, friends! Before visiting the Big Apple, let’s send a big WooHoo to regional member Susan Stockdale whose BRING ON THE BIRDS was named a 2012 American Library Association Notable book!!!

This is what the ALA (http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/notalists/ncb) had to say about BRING ON THE BIRDS:

“Rhyming couplets and clear, identifiable illustrations remind readers that birds vary in many ways, but all have feathers and are hatched from eggs. Colorful acrylics help provide just the right of information for preschool ornithologists.”

Here is the link to our illustrator spotlight on Susan in December https://aseraserburns.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/illustrator-profile-susan-stockdale/

Congratulations on such a great honor!!!

Now it’s time to hit the road to Manhattan and the SCBWI Conference!

Don’t you just love the NYC skyline? I’m a native (Long Island) and never tire of it. You can take the girl out of New York…well, you know the rest.

The Lucky 13th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference

Susan Detwiler, our wonderful Regional Illustrator Coordinator, attended and was kind enough to take the time to send us this report:

I just returned from my first national conference: The Lucky 13th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC. It was an unforgettable experience; I met many wonderful people, including some of the brightest stars of the children’s book publishing world, and received a TON of valuable information. Let me tell you about some of the highlights for me as an illustrator.

It started with the Marketing Intensive For Illustrators on Friday, January 27, 2012, where four fabulous and highly successful illustrators shared their marketing strategies as well as their personal stories and considerable wit. John Rocco, whose picture book Blackout was awarded a 2012 Caldecott Honor just days ago, outlined his career path and the ways he has found to be effective in branding himself and getting his books seen by the largest audience possible. He makes impressive book trailers and creates a web page for each new release.

Dan Santat is so funny and entertained all of us with his offbeat and playful humor. His books, including OH NO! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) and Chicken Dance, are inspired and inventive; his website is a blast of fun. He advocates book trailers and blogs and really makes the most of them.

Sophie Blackall, with her wonderful Aussie accent, completely charmed us with her story, and her artwork is extraordinary; check out Ruby’s Wish and Big Red Lollipop. Her advice is to keep up with things that interest you, and use you other interests to cross-pollinate the audience for your books.

Author/Illustrator Dan Yaccarino shared numerous tips on how to do a memorable live presentation, and he is indeed good at it — very funny, too! I like his book All The Way To America. He has also done television, including The Backyardigans and Oswald and art for toys, games and other products.

The Illustrators Intensive then included two panel discussions, one of industry marketing experts discussing various aspects of marketing, and the other made up of the illustrators I’ve already mentioned above, specifically discussing the cost of marketing. Lastly, there was a lightning round in which some of the attendees gave a pitch for a project and outlined a marketing strategy for it to the illustrators panel. That was interesting!

By signing up for the Intensive, I was also eligible to participate in the Portfolio Showcase. There were 185 portfolios displayed for a private viewing by over 200 specially invited Art Directors, Editors, and Agents from children’s publishing. The Grand Prize Winner, Mike Curato, received a trip to New York to meet with selected Art Directors. Two Honor Award Winners received cash prizes. The Showcase is quite an opportunity for illustrators to have their work seen! So even though I did not win a prize, my stack of postcards is smaller now — important people saw my work!

The Winter Conference started on Saturday for most of the attendees, and I’ll mention the parts that really struck a chord for me.

Chris Crutcher, author of 14 books and a former teacher and director of an alternative school was also a child and family therapist for 25 years; his life experiences clearly inform his work, and his masterful keynote took us from tearing up (honestly, nearly everyone had their tissues out) to sidesplitting laughter. Quite a trip.

There was a special surprise guest who spoke to us briefly and then did a signing: Henry Winkler, who has collaborated with SCBWI founder Lin Oliver on the Hank Zipzer series of books.

The three breakout sessions I attended which took place throughout Saturday’s schedule were all focused on picture books. Martha Rago, Associate Creative Director, Harper Collins, gave us four pillars of a solid picture book and explained in depth how each contribute. Cathy Goldsmith, Vice President and Associate Editor, Random House, gave us a very informative handout in her presentation. She was very thorough, patient, and generous with audience questions, and I liked her a lot. Samantha McFerrin, Editor, Harcourt Children’s Books, HMH, gave a down-to-earth presentation with helpful examples of what works and why.

There was a Cocktail Gala on Saturday evening with plenty of good food and a free drink for each attendee. We met with others from our region, comparing notes with old friends and meeting new ones. After that there were some mixers; I attended the Illustrators Social, where many of us exchanged cards with new illustrator friends.

Sunday began with the presentation of the Tomie dePaola Awards and Art Showcase Awards and a surprise announcement from Jane Yolen of a new Grant for Mid-List Authors, and the 2012 winners. Then there were two panel discussions. The first, moderated by Laurent Linn was titled Methods to the Madness: The Process of Making Picture Books. It featured the Bookmakers Dozen — a group of author/illustrator friends who collaborate on events in their neighborhood of Brooklyn and beyond, and included most of the artists I’d heard earlier plus some others.

The second panel, The Current Market For Your Work: Four Agents’ Views, discussed current needs and trends and was moderated by Lin Oliver.

At that point, those of us taking the train back to Baltimore had to leave, so we missed the last bit of the conference, but if you want to know more about what was offered at this wonderful, exciting and informative event, check this link and click on the Conference Blog, too! http://www.scbwi.org/Conference.aspx?Con=9

A million thank you’s, Susan, for such a comprehensive report of your experience. Sounds like it was a fabulous conference. Makes me think I should start saving my pennies for next year.

Okay, fellow writers and illustrators, that’s all…for now.  Hope you’re working on the first Challenge or at least getting started on it. I’ll be back with a new one!


About Susan Mannix

Susan worked as a biomedical research editor for the Department of the Navy for fourteen years and has been a member of SCBWI since 2007. She writes young adult and middle grade novels. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time doing all things horses, including attending her teenaged daughters’ many competitions. Susan lives in Maryland on a small farm with her husband, two children, an adorable black lab, two cats, and three horses.
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2 Responses to 13th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC

  1. Laura Bowers says:

    It’s a day of Susans!!

    Susan S, congratulations on your wonderful honor! You must still be smiling. 🙂

    Susan D, sounds like you had a blast! Thanks for sharing, although next time . . . we want pictures! 😉

    And Susan M, great post as usual! 🙂

  2. ediehemingway says:

    I second the exciting experience of attending this year’s NCY conference. Thanks for this comprehensive report, Susan D. And “yay” for all three Susans!

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