The inaugural Book Launch Party program featured book launch pages for over 500 SCBWI authors and illustrators for their new works.  These pages were made available to both the publishing industry and the book buying public. With over 33,000 total page views, over 25,000 unique page views and over 1,100 click-throughs on the "Buy the Book" link, the Book Launch Party
pages are proving to be a viable new marketing platform for SCBWI members.  We are continuing to promote the Book Launch parties, which run until April 1, with new marketing initiatives.  Check them out at

Hot Topic  
The Creative Promise of a New Year  
By Lin Oliver

The dawn of a new year is always full of fear and promise---the promise of setting new goals and the fear that we won't meet them.  While friends and family are resolving to lose those last ten pounds or walk their 10,000 steps a day, we creative types are wrestling with The Big Questions.  What creative work would we like to produce in this new year?  How can we deepen our commitment to our craft?  What do we need to learn to do our very best work?  What kind of author or artist do we hope to become this year?  What steps will we take to achieve that?

I deeply believe in the process of establishing a creative agenda, yet the very thought of approaching these questions makes me nauseous with anxiety.  Never one to suffer alone, I asked some SCBWI colleagues, all well-regarded authors and artists, what their creative goals for 2016 are.  I hope that reading their responses will inspire you to mull your own professional goals for this year and inspire you to enjoy the process of achieving them.  Take a deep breath and here we go.
 
Gary Schmidt: I've never before set specific goals---meaning, Dates By Which to Get a Piece Done---but I thought I might give it a go for this coming year.  If it's helpful, I'll try this again---but I have to say, I don't think it will be.  I'll probably resent the deadline, and get moody about possible failure, and finally throw the whole business out and let things get done as I've always let them get done:  when they are ready.  In the end, deadlines are not as important as giving a project the space it needs, nor are they more important than being kind enough to the writer.  Maybe the goal should be simply to live well, without guilt and frustration.
 
Daniel Handler: I don't believe in setting goals.  I believe in setting moods.  The mood I am trying to set for 2016 is bewilderment.  It is the opposite of certainty, which feels stagnant and perhaps toxic, and more fun than doubt, which feels quietly anxious.  I will let you know how it goes.
 
Molly Idle: This year (and every year) I challenge myself to take on work that scares me a bit. To write and illustrate stories that I want to tell, but that I'm not sure how, exactly, to go about telling... That feeling of not knowing is a bit scary. But pushing myself to create work that is
outside of my comfort zone helps me grow as an artist. 
 

SCBWI Exclusive with . . .
Lisa Yaskowitz, Executive Editor, Little, Brown BFYR 

Lisa Yoskowitzis an Executive Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, where she acquires and edits middle grade and YA fiction and narrative nonfiction, including Bad Luck by Pseudonymous Bosch and Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse. Before Little, Brown BYFR, she worked on children's books across genres and age ranges at Dutton and Disney-Hyperion, with authors including Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Cinda Williams Chima, Michael Fry, Tamara Ireland Stone, and Elizabeth Wein. Drawn to voice and character-driven stories, Lisa has a soft spot for misfit, maverick, and mischief-making characters.




What in a query encourages you to ask to read the entire manuscript? 
In addition to an interesting-sounding project that I think will appeal to the intended audience, I look for clarity of message, indications of what makes the manuscript exciting and different, and a sense of the author's style and personality. The very best query letters accomplish a lot in a short space, reflect the writer's voice and tone, and make me want to dive into the manuscript immediately!  

When you read the first pages of a submission, what makes you keep turning the pages?
Voice and tension. It's often clear from page one whether a writer knows his or her characters well and has a command of their voices. Seeing that skill and confidence on the page with a clear, appealing, authentic narrative voice that instills a belief that the scene I'm reading could truly take place (even if it's the most outlandish fantasy world!) will always get me excited and make me turn the page. And then tension comes into play by making me want to find out what happens next, by using the space between the lines to ask questions (not literally!) that readers will want to see answered. Inherent suspense and solid pacing are really important parts of creating a page turner.  

On the Shelves   
 Once Upon A Time
    
Kris Vreeland of Once Upon A Time in Los Angeles, California, tells us what's on the shelves.
 

What trends do you notice in children's book sales? What are the current hot reads?
Trends in children's books sales vary with the ages.  For babies and toddlers, board books are doing well and we've had a lot of interest recently in books with photographs of babies.  Classics like Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathman always do well.  I love Marla Frazee's Boss Baby in the board book format.

In picture books for young readers, super heroes, transportation and animals do well.  The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, Night Animals by Gianna Marino and Full Moon at the Napping House by Don and Audrey Wood are all doing well.  Humor and unexpected endings are always popular. Picture books can also do well for older readers, especially nonfiction that reads like a story, as well as beautiful wordless picture books.

In middle grade fiction, fantasy is still doing well, but not as strongly as a couple of years ago.  We are seeing more interest in mysteries, though not as much with long series.  Up to about three or four titles in a series works.  Humor is popular, especially with the boys and adventure does well.  There has been a slight increase in interest in historical fiction.  We're also getting more requests for scary books and realistic fiction.  One of my favorite recommendations in this age bracket is Katherine Applegate's Crenshaw.

YA seems to be a little more in flux.  There is still interest in dystopian and fantasy, but it seems to be dropping off a little.  John Green's books continue to do well.  We're getting in more teens right now looking for recommendations and who are willing to try books/genres with which they aren't as familiar, but it is crucial the books be well-written, and have strong characters and difficult conflicts.  Adventure, suspense and horror are also requested.  Some of our favorites include All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. I'm also really looking forward to Julie Berry's newest book The Passion of Dolssa and Tim Federle's The Great American Whatever, both of which are coming out this spring.      
 
 
Illustrator Info 

4 Questions for . . .
Heather  Daugherty  
 
The Illustrator Info column is intended to give concrete help to working illustrators. You'll find
informative, brief interviews full of practical information and advice.  
 
Heather Daugherty, Senior Designer at HarperCollins Publishers in New York, designs middle grade and teen titles. Designing children's books for almost ten years now, she has worked with many talented illustrators, including Henry Cole, Kelly Murphy, David McClellan, Marla Moore, Julie McLaughlin, and Rita Williams-Garcia, who recently won the Coretta Scott King Award for Gone Crazy in Alabama! She is always on the lookout for new illustrators that bring something different to the table, whether that be with their creative style or something unique in their artwork that sets them apart. 


What is the role of a senior designer? How is it different from an art director? 
A senior designer in my department at HarperCollins designs approximately eight to ten books a season, close to thirty books a year! I design middle grade and teen books, and come up with the jacket design as well as the interior book and text design. I also try to assist our junior design staff if they need advice, and try to help my amazing art director (Amy Ryan) out whenever possible. A senior designer's role, like any designer role, is different from an art director because I'm not managing a staff of designers. Otherwise, they are somewhat similar. The designer is part of a team, and the art director is like the coach!    
 
 Read More


Best Advice Ever
Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times best-selling author who writes for kids 
of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous national and state awards, as well as international recognition. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Laurie was honored with the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award given by YALSA division of the American Library Association for her "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature...". Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in Northern New York, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes.

I belong to that very lucky group of people whose career was helped along by the late, great angel known to us humans as Paula Danzinger. After Speak was published, Paula found out that I didn't have an agent, and she recommended that her agent give me a call. Because of that, I've been represented by Writers House ever since. I met Paula at the SCBWI National conference months later and thanked her for helping me---a total stranger---with that recommendation. She said, "People helped me when I started out, so I try to pass on that kindness whenever I can. Now that you're a member of our community, you have a responsibility to do the same thing."

Paula taught me that the world of children's literature is about much more
than the writing and publishing of books. We are a community of artists that
will thrive and accomplish great things only if we lift each other up whenever
possible. Kindness is our special brand of magic.

Draw This!  
     
Draw This! is our monthly prompt word for illustrators. Going forward, we will feature one winner and one runner-up. Don't worry, we'll still have the beautiful gallery depicting all the month's entries available. 
 
February's prompt is . . .  Dance
Submissions for February will be up in our March gallery.  


Info Links 

A collection of blogs, news articles, and other must-see links
click here flat icon
for authors and illustrators.
 

Check out this substantial guide to copyright:
Link

Build Your Author Platform Through Email
: Link

How to Get Your Self-Published Book into Stores: Link
 
12 Fundamentals of Writing "the Other":
Link
Write This!    
 
THE ALL NEW WRITE THIS!
Write This, our monthly writing prompt,
has changed. This month, you have 100 words to show us a true scene from your own life that could be an inspiration for a children's or YA book.  Think creatively and transform your life into art.  The winner will receive a one-year free membership renewal in the SCBWI, but we hope everyone will benefit by using this prompt to kick start a new project.

Send entries to [email protected]