Friday, April 27, 2012

More from the conference!

SCBWI-IA packed us with great editors, authors, and an agent.

Kari Pearson from Abrams was full of color, literally! She had on this amazing yellow top that sang energy. She edits picture books for ages 0 - 5, at the Appleseed division. She also helps with Comic Arts.

So, on to the notes:

When querying, make sure you let the editor know that you know that they know their stuff. Research them. Tell them how much you loved what they edited. Congratulate them on the book that won an award. Let them know you are learning to wind-surf too! It's OK to stalk, just don't over stalk.

Have some sort of online presence. Facebook is good. Twitter is good. Author website once you are published is a must (not necessary before). Blogs are nice, but not necessary. Keep it managable. You don't have to do everything.

Don't be afraid to keep in touch. If she invites you to submit, send an email asking if she's had a chance to look at it. She recommends every few weeks. Be respectful (don't email daily. Every few weeks, is once every 2 or 3 weeks.) Editors get busy and do appreciate a reminder here and there.

Editor's Considerations:

1.) Quality of Work
2.) Marketability
3.) Who are you? (And yes, sometimes being a debut author can be marvelous!)

"Quality is always paramount."
She gets excited about good work, and loves to be excited.
Being new can be an asset! They love to discover you.

This is close to quality in importance
Books are a business
Editor looks at context, where does your book fit in?

What books are similar?
How did those books sell?
Does it fit their list?
What category does it go in to?

Who are you?
Introduce yourself with your work!
Don't take it personally. A "no" is not about you.

If they are INTERESTED, what happens?
It goes to an editorial meeting and they ask:
     Does it work?
     Does it fit our line?

Then it goes to a business meeting, where they look at marketability?
     Does it fit?
     Can we sell it?

If the answer is "yes" they will make an offer!

An advance is based off of what they feel the projected sales will be.


I was fortunate enough to have Kari review my work. My picture book I sent is for an older age then she buys, but it was great hearing from her.  I wrote for 6 - 8, she busy 0 - 5. (Another reminder to do all your research before going to conferences. I saw picture book, but didn't think to look deeper.) But I enjoyed having her review it.

What I learned:

*Sometimes a picture book is a chapter book! She loved my character and smiled and laughed, but told me she wanted more from him, and more from each experience. She thought it would translate beautifully to a chapter book.

*She noticed it was still RAW. This had gone through 3 critiques and was written in February. I never send anything out that is this young, but loved the MS and wanted feedback, so I did dedicate time. However, the fact is, it didn't have time to bake, and was still showing. This was a good reminder that you can not RUSH the process.
So if you write something great, don't send it out, yet. Wait a month, revisit it. Then, put it away a few weeks, edit it again. THEN, put it away a few weeks more. Do this until you can not find anything else wrong with it. Do NOT look at it the day after, or a week after. You need to forget about it, so when you look at it, it is like looking at someone else's work.

*Do not write your query letter in third person. Let you shine through.

Here are some of her notes on my MS:
*Not sure about format. Seems like a picture book, but the language is older. Mismatch.Wow! Such an eye opener. Who are you writing too? And yes, my audience is 6 - 8, so it's on the line. I was hoping for an older kid PB, but was a little off on my judgement.

*HOOK:  Lots of funny things! I liked it. Good characterization.
This is huge for me. I challenged myself last year to begin writing character driven stories.

*WRITING: Lots of great details/ingredients! A little undercooked.
Oh-oh, can't rush art! Even when other things are in place.

Remember, publishing is about people! Make sure they know you, and make sure you know them!


  1. Hi Debbie,

    Is this the character from the MS I read? If so, I can totally see him as the star of a chapter book. BUT... I still think it would work as a PB. Another editor might have a different take. Very humbling (and scary!) that she thought it was raw -- it seemed pretty darn close to me! Crazy what it takes to get pubbed... I wonder, if you've gone through three critiques, where do you go from here to take it to the next level? I I know it helps, but is time alone really enough?

    1. Hi Ella--

      It is Eugene. I agree it could go either way, but see what she was saying.

      I was a little surprised at the "raw" too as I thought it was pretty tight. But she said if I keep it a PB, I need to scale it back as there is a lot going on. So I'm going to hide it for another week then reread. I can often catch things when I haven't read it.

      And I am keeping in mind she publishes 0-5. :-)

      So much to think about!

    2. That's so interesting. How do you balance having enough different scenes to warrant a PB with having too much going on?. Man, pacing PBs is tough!

  2. Hi Debbie,

    Thanks for the post. I still think it can be a great PB. I can see Kari's point that there is a lot going on in the story.

    Good Luck.

  3. So much great information in this post Debbie. Thank you for sharing your feedback with such openness.

    I'm thinking about an MS that I have for slightly older kids, too, and wondering how much of this may apply to me as well. PB vs. chapter...

  4. Love this post and the points the editor shared with you. I don't think any of my manuscripts are even to the raw stage. Lots of work still to do.

  5. I appreciate that you are sharing this with us. I am struggling with two Ms and have not progressed much on either of them. I want them to be picture books. However, there is so info to be shared that I'm sure it is much too long for a picture book. More great information Debbie. Thanks for this post. I wish I were part of your critique group so that I could see your work. Much success to you!