#LA12SCBWI – Day 1

Here are my impressions of the first day of the SCBWI annual summer conference. Kind of quick and dirty.

First, the Arthur Levine keynote in which he discussed timelessness this way: When a story captures a moment of intimacy between characters. He then related a history of books he’s published over the years, demonstrating along the way how various authors have created those timeless stories.

A couple great quotes: “Great writers use anticipation rather than surprise.” “Think only of the wire and crossing to the end.” His description of how Philip Pullman achieved timelessness with The Golden Compass: he created his marvelous world, then put it in danger. Also, Pullman created connections between characters, between the reader and the characters, between the author and the reader.

Next, Tony Diterlizzi’s keynote, in which he admonished us to never abandon imagination. He asked, What do you wish existed in the world? Can you create it?

Notes from Jordan Brown from Walden Pond Press

  • Publishes strictly middle grade
  • Editorial process:
    • Likes to have two drafts to completion
    • Tells the author, Here’s what I think the book is about.
    • Figures out the most important parts of the book
    • Makes sure the book is telling that story
    • Sometimes tough to figure out when the book is done
    • Once it’s finished, time to package (marketing, design (int. & ext.))
    • Text/content, author has final say
    • But cover, paper, etc, editor/house has to have that decision
    • Marketing—people have to be aware of the book (worst thing if people don’t know about it)
    • Main focus for marketing efforts goes into social media, the most immediate way to make a connection between author and reader
    • If you don’t like social media networking, you’re not going to be good at it.
    • But it is an advantage if a writer can do it. That’s where the readers and gatekeepers (librarians & teachers) are.
    • Have almost completely stopped author websites in-house. Much more effective to work in places where readers already are.
    • What he’d like to see:
      • History that isn’t trying to teach me anything (i.e., a story set in a historical setting that doesn’t seem historical
      • Dystopia for MG
      • Sports story (or rather a book that uses sports)
      • SF for non-SF fans
      • Alternate history
      • Darkly comic contemporary religious
      • Stories that present something new to an 8-10 yo probably would self-censor.
      • It sometimes makes a book more attractive if there’s not anything else out there like it.


      Finally, Ruben Pfeffer on the Symbiotic Relationship of Agent and Client

      •  If an agent submits a book, you can assume it’s well-written, but it’s often still rejected
      • Sometimes with the rejection the author will get nice comments such as “didn’t connect” or “similar to something else on our list”
      • Sometimes it will connect with someone, but it will also be rejected by someone else
      • Helps if the agent has a handle on what particular pubs/editors look for
      • It’s a matchmaking process
      • It all depends on story, no matter the age level
      • Any missing elements, such as lack of knowledge of the audience, lack of creativity can kill the deal
      • He also detailed the submission process:
        • Editor
        • editors/designer/art
        • director
        • publisher
        • Acquisition Team
        • Sales
        • Marketing
        • Design
        • Rights
        • Production
        • Finance


About karensandler

Lover of chocolate. A couple felines short of full-fledged Cat Lady. Author of the YA Tankborn Trilogy (TANKBORN, AWAKENING, and REBELLION), from Tu Books. Founding team member of We Need Diverse Books. Opinions expressed here are my own.
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