March 2016
Hot Topic 
Children's Publishing and Diversity: Taking Stock
 By Lin Oliver  
As a result of research conducted by the Cooperative Children's Book Center, we have all become aware that the percentage of diverse books published in the US has, over the past twenty years, remained at an average of 10% of total children's books published. Now a new study, the 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey, conducted by Lee & Low Books, gives us another valuable set of hard numbers that reflects the lack of diversity in our field. 
            The survey was sent to thirty-four American publishers and children's book review journals, in an effort to create a profile of who works in publishing. A total of 1,524 children's book reviewer employees and 11,713 publishing employees received the survey, which generated a 25% response rate. The results provided the following data:

- Just under 80% of children's publishing and review journal staff are white (with Asians/Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders at 7.2%, Hispanics/Latinos/Mexicans at 5.5%, African-Americans at 3.4%, bi or multi-racial at 2.7%, Native Americans at .5% and Middle Easterners at .8%) 
- 78.2 % are women and 20.6% are men
- At the "executive" level, 40% are men
- 88.2% of the respondents identify as straight or heterosexual
- 7.6% have a disability
SCBWI Exclusive with . . .
Sara Sargent, Executive Editor, HarperCollins Children's Books
Sara Sargent is an Executive Editor at HarperCollins Children's Books, where she focuses on fiction and nonfiction in the picture book, middle grade, and young adult categories. Previously she was an Editor at Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Sara has worked with New York Times best-selling author Abbi Glines, National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti, Jennifer Echols, Julie Cross, Aaron Karo, and Martina Boone, among others. She also received her Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern University. You can sometimes find Sara eating takeout and reading on the couch.
In your new position at HarperCollins, the manner in which you find and acquire properties is unique. Can you tell us a bit about your acquisition process? 
Since starting in this new role, my focus has been on identifying interest areas that attract young people---social media, gaming, beauty, and fashion to name a few---and acquiring content around them. I want to give children and teens books on the subjects they already love, trying to capture the interests of digital natives and reluctant readers, then convert them to our platform. So my acquisition process begins with tracking trends, reading a ton of articles, paying attention to online chatter, talking to kids, and generally being plugged in. Once I've identified a popular topic, then I might reach out to a content creator directly or talk to an agent about collaborating on a project. It's a lot of brainstorming and building ideas from the ground up. And I'm reliant on people who've got their fingers on the collective pulse, and agents who want to move and publish as lithely and quickly as I do.

On the Shelves   
Hooray for Books 
Erin Barker, Buyer/Manager of Hooray for Books in Alexandria, Virginia, tells us what's on the shelves.

What trends do you notice in children's book sales? What are the current hot reads?
There has been a huge increase in nonfiction books being published due to the common core being implemented. The new fully illustrated Harry Potter has been a hot item lately.

How do you choose what books to order? Do you use a publishing rep?
Publishers often send advance review copies (ARCs) of books. I try to look through/familiarize myself with those before meeting with my sales reps. I have reps for all the major publishers and for sidelines. I look at a series or an author's previous sales, whether a book is in paper or hardback, and if other books are already filling that niche well/better. The book cover isn't everything, but it does matter. Choosing books is a combination of numbers, personal taste, and knowing your customer base.
Illustrator Info 
4 Questions for . . .
A Critique Group

One of the most helpful things you can do for
your career in children's books is participate in a critique group, which is why this month's interview is with the eight members of a Los Angeles-
based group. The members are Ashlyn Anstee,
Julia Collard (who organizes the group),
Kimberly Gee, J.R. Krause, Maple Lam,
Rodolfo Montalvo, Jennifer Olson, and Michelle Thies.
How and why did you start the group? Also, how often do you meet and where do you meet?

Julia Collard: I've been in writing-only critique groups, and I've been in illustration-only critique groups, and as a writer/illustrator, I noticed that when I made changes based on those separate groups' feedback, my work would sometimes become disjointed in ways I couldn't easily fix.
For years, I'd wanted to be in a critique group of author/illustrators, and more and more, it sounded like other people were interested as well. After a few starts and stops (we originally had a critique group that met over Google Chat, but the time difference was hard to negotiate and there were too many glitches in the technology for us to continue), I was finally able to organize a large enough group of SoCal author/illustrators that we could meet locally.
    We meet monthly at the newly remodeled Clifton's Cafeteria in Downtown LA. It is a gigantic, multi-level eatery, so there is great people watching and plenty of seating. Plus, it's easily accessible from the disparate areas of SoCal in which we all live. We eat, catch up, and then get to work.
Best Advice Ever
Justin Chanda

Justin Chanda is vice president, publisher of the four flagship children's imprints at Simon & Schuster: S&S Books for Young Readers, McElderry Books, Atheneum, and the new Salaam Reads. He oversees the publication of two hundred and fifty titles per year ranging from the youngest picture book to the edgiest YA.  Justin continues to edit, working with the likes of: Jon Scieszka, Loren Long, Kenneth Oppel, Patricia MacLachlan, Peter Brown, Michael Ian Black, Karma Wilson, Dan Krall, Morgan Matson, Mike Lupica, and Debbie Ohi.  He recently added publisher of SAGA press, a newly minted adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy imprint, to his resume. Follow him on Twitter @jpchanda.
The best advice I ever received was from my first boss in publishing, Joanna Cotler.  It was two bits, actually---the first being that I needed to spend all the time I could with (the now late) Bill Morris. Bill taught me respect, love and utter appreciation for children's books and the children's publishing industry.  The second was that I never needed to limit my artistic focus purely on editing and books. I had a passion for theatre and gardening and Joanna told me to continue to follow those passions because they serve to recharge your energies and in many cases inform your creative decisions when you pick up the editing pencil.   
Draw This!  
Draw This! is our monthly prompt word for illustrators. Click HERE for the gallery depicting all the month's entries. February's word was Dance. Congratulations to February's winners:
Graham Fleming   
Victoria Krylov 

March's prompt is . . . Lucky
Submissions for March will be up in our April gallery.  

Click here for submission guidelines.
Write This!    
It's been said that children love animals the way adults love romance. This month, you have 100 words to show us a child's love of an animal in action. Feel free to draw from your own life or to create a fictional moment. In either case, make us feel the love.
All entries due March 20.
The February prompt was: "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."
Winner: Lisa Philo

"There's a very low probability of sharks living in these waters," Linden said as he jumped out of the kayak into the murky bay. 
Linden often liked to share his thoughts about probability. "It's just the way my brain works," was his usual reply when kids asked him about this unexpected tendency. Like many children, Linden knew large amounts of information about specific topics.  Unlike most children, he transformed those facts into probability statements.  And usually, he was correct. Much to everyone's surprise, on this occasion, he was not.
Runner-Up: David LaRochelle
"Get out of here," said my mother. "Now."
She pulled a gun from her purse and pointed it at my father.
My dad was in our garage with three of his buddies, loading toolboxes and welding equipment into the back of his pickup. My parents' divorce was less than a week old.
He sprinted across the concrete floor and grabbed my mother's wrists. It was a scene that belonged on "Starsky and Hutch." But it wasn't. I was standing barefoot in our kitchen doorway, watching my parents fight over a gun that I didn't even know my mother owned.
Runner-Up: Kristin Litchman
June 1957
The day we stood on a woody ridge, staring far up the desert valley below, I saw mountains shrink. Dad and Mr. Smith worked for the Lab, which allowed our families to watch a test shot go off. We had to turn around and cover our eyes until they said we could look. 
But the mountains didn't shrink. A gigantic tree of dirt shot straight up through the sky, ten times higher than those mountains. The boys shrieked gleefully; our dads shook hands and grinned.
I watched, fascinated and scared, as it grew.  
A tree. A mushroom cloud.   
Info Links 

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