In our last issue, my partner Alice shared some of her memories of what it was like to be a fledgling writer, and how daunting it was to learn both the craft of writing for children, and also the business end of a writing career. Much like her, I found SCBWI to be amazingly helpful, right from the beginning—especially my local network meetings. But I often didn’t fully take advantage of what SCBWI offers to members. Over my years of membership, one of my biggest “sins of omission” was in not exploring enough at our organization’s “nerve center”: http://www.scbwi.org. For sure, I would pore over the faculty listings when a conference was coming up. But rarely would I just “snoop around” to see what was new. And it dawns on me that maybe some of you are in the same boat…
If that sounds familiar, then do come along as I offer a sampling of the kinds of resources and ideas you might be missing. It’ll be fun. Really. (But do dig up your member password—some places on the website require it.)
Let’s say you are embracing your inner daydreamer as part of your writing process (or even blatantly procrastinating) and you catch yourself fantasizing about winning the Golden Kite Award. Then you slap yourself in the head and say, “Oy! I don’t even have a finished book! I can’t win the Golden Kite.” Well, maybe not…but you COULD apply for a Work-In-Progress grant. Do you know about these? Have you ever applied for one? Well, I can tell you from experience that it is not hard to apply, and you can get clear instructions at the website—just click on the AWARDS AND GRANTS tab at the top of the home page.
And if you ARE published, you should note that SCBWI has a brand-spankin’ new award this year for PAL members. The Book Launch Award offers a prize of $2,000 to launch a new PAL book in the coming calendar year. There will be two winners of this award.
Okay, change of scene. Let’s say you’re an illustrator, and you are looking for more exposure for your work. Or maybe you need to decide if you are ready to start submitting. Have you studied the art in the Illustrator’s Gallery at the SCBWI website? Well, I just took a speedy “tour” there and I was wowed! If I were an artist, I imagine it would be fantastic to peruse the wide variety of art styles represented there. I’d be asking myself questions like, “Where does my work fit? Is it similar to some pieces I see here? Can I get some clues about how to differentiate myself?” OK, I’m NOT an artist, but I THINK I’d be asking questions like that. And I think I’d be learning, too. So illustrators–if you’re feeling confident, what are you waiting for? Upload, my friends!
On a different day, you might just be seeking inspiration. Wouldn’t you love to read an interview with the likes of Ellen Hopkins, Rick Riordan, or Peter Sis? Well…did you know their words of wisdom were lurking at…you guessed it—scbwi.org! Click on RESOURCE LIBRARY, and then INDUSTRY PROFILES.
Flash to a different situation—an editor just asked to see a full manuscript based on your query. Eeegads! What if they want to buy your book? You’re not ready! You don’t remember how royalties get calculated! Even hearing the term “subsidiary rights” makes your head hurt. The critical thing is, don’t panic. But DO begin your homework at the SCBWI resource library I just mentioned—click on PUBLICATION GUIDE ONLINE, then LEGAL QUESTIONS. You can even read a sample book contract!
So, if you’re reading this issue online, are you feeling a sudden impulse to switch over to the “home office” website for a little while? I have to admit, that was my goal all along. But don’t tell yourself you’ll do it next week when you’re less busy. You won’t be. Less busy, I mean. The Prairie Wind will be here when you get back—but don’t be gone too long now—ya hear?