Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Summary and a few takeaways from SCBWI Canada East "The Art Of Story" Fall Conference in Montreal - by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

With Laurent Linn, my art director from Simon & Schuster Books For
Young Readers, at Montreal children's bookstore, Babar-En-Villes.

Just came back from SCBWI Canada East's "The Art Of Story" convention in Montreal, where I was on the faculty (my first SCBWI faculty position!).

Giving my keynote! Photo: Urve Tamberg.
For my full convention report with lots of photos, read my 3-part blog post series: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3.

The lightning rod analogy I used in my keynote seems to be popular (yay), so I want to make sure that it gets properly attributed. As I mentioned in my keynote, my Torkidlit friend and YA author Maureen McGowan came up with it, not me (in an interview for my Inkygirl blog). And it's so true!

For those who weren't at my keynote, Maureen compares success in the publishing industry to being hit by lightning. While you can't control WHEN lightning will strike, you CAN make bigger and better lightning rods.

Penguin Random House editors Jill Santopolo & Bonnie Bader with
Caldecott-winning illustrator David Diaz.
As I mentioned in my reports, SCBWI regional conferences are a great opportunity for aspiring children's/YA book writers and illustrators who find the national conferences too intimidating. So often at the bigger conferences, faculty tend to get mobbed at the end of their sessions. :-)

At SCBWI Canada East's event, you were much more likely to find yourself in situations where you could chat with faculty.

Casual socializing Saturday night for attendees included Linda Pratt (of
Wernick & Pratt Agency), editors Jill Santolopolo and Bonnie Bader
(Penguin Random House) and art director Laurent Linn (Simon & Schuster BFYR).
Here are just a few takeaways from the convention:

- Both Jill Santopolo and Bonnie Bader mentioned the importance of a having a unique cast of supporting characters in novels for young people.

- Illustrators: Before approaching a possible agent, Linda Pratt advises that you check the portfolios of the agency's current clients to see if any of the art is similar to yours. If it is, then they're less likely to take you on as a client. (From Debbie: Writers can also benefit from this advice as well.)

- Know the rules before deciding to break them. - Laurent Linn.

- Embrace your process. - David Diaz.

Jill Santopolo, Linda Pratt, Bonnie Bader and Laurent Linn during Sunday's Q&A.
For those out there wondering why publishers usually keep picture book authors from interacting with the illustrators during the process, Laurent had some great insights.

He points out that authors often feel ownership over their stories, and some don't realize that creating a picture is a 50:50 collaboration with the illustrator. If authors had input during the illustration process, they'd be more likely to pressure the illustrator over details. And as a writer, how would YOU feel if the illustrator standing over your shoulder as you wrote your story? 

Anyway, it was a wonderful event and I strongly encourage you to check out the SCBWI Canada East website for more info about their members and upcoming events, as well as your own regional conference.

And if you're not already a member of SCBWI, why not? :-)

For my full SCBWI-Montreal conference report: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi writes and illustrates for young people. Her illustrations appear in I'M BORED, a picture book written by Michael Ian Black and published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. For more info about her upcoming books with Simon & Schuster BFYR, HarperCollins Children's and Random House Children's, see her Books page.

On Twitter: @inkyelbows.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Debbie! I loved the details and all the pictures!


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