May 2016

Don't miss the chance to hone your craft with top agents, editors, art directors and publishers from the children's book industry!  Due to our new venue, space is limited this year so remember to register early. This year's keynotes include: Sophie Blackall, Justin Chanda, Drew Daywalt, Jenni Holm, Ellen Hopkins, Jon Klassen, Marie Lu, Pam Munoz Ryan, Neal Shusterman, and Carole Boston Weatherford.
Hot Topic
The SCBWI Booth at Bologna 2016 
Trending This Year at Bologna 
By Stephen Mooser, President SCBWI

Every two years the SCBWI sponsors a booth at the Bologna Children's Book Fair in Bologna, Italy. The Fair is arguably the premier annual venue in the world for the exhibition of children's books and the sale of foreign rights to thousands of those books. This year it featured nearly 1,300 booths including a newly-expanded, separate wing devoted to digital publishing.  The SCBWI has had a presence there since 2003, and this year our booth doubled in size, enabling us to showcase member's books along with information on their rights offerings. Additionally, our online Bologna Illustration Gallery offered an opportunity for illustrator members to showcase their art.  Events at our booth attracted heavy traffic, and four books in the exhibit made foreign rights sales, and most likely a number of artists picked up assignments as well. For our next booth, in 2018, we are looking into the possibility of hiring a freelance sales person so that we can more aggressively promote our members books to the rights buyers at the fair.

This year I (Stephen Mooser, SCBWI President) represented the main office at the Fair. 
Here is what I learned:

SCBWI Exclusive with . . .
Jillian Manning, Editor Zonderkidz/Blink Imprints HarperCollins 
Jillian Manning is an editor with the Zonderkidz/Blink acquisitions team and the Custom Editor at Zondervan. In addition to pursuing new children's and young adult titles, she also works with the fast-paced custom sales team to create fresh and exciting products from Zondervan's backlist. Prior to joining Zondervan in 2014, Jillian worked as a project editor for children's and young adult books at Sourcebooks, Inc. and as a contributing editor for Independent Publisher magazine.
What do you acquire?
For our YA imprint, Blink, I acquire in nearly every genre. In the past six months I've brought on titles that range from a Wattpad time travel adventure to an atmospheric 1920s mystery. I love a good story with a character that draws me in even after two or three or four reads through the manuscript. Blink provides incredible books with clean content (i.e. we keep a PG or PG-13 rating), and we have an amazing team focused on finding the best stories out there.
I also acquire for our Zonderkidz division, which publishes Christian board books, picture books, storybook bibles, Bibles, and middle grade titles. Zonderkidz is a leader in the industry, with a list of books including million-copy blockbusters, New York Times bestsellers, and family favorites that inspire children and parents around the world.
When you are reading a submission, what keeps you turning the pages?
First and foremost, an edited manuscript! Seeing errors or improper formatting is a huge turnoff for any editor. For me in particular, characters are key-if I am invested in the protagonist, I'm going to keep reading. It's less about the plot and more about how the character changes and grows throughout the course of the story. Gorgeous, unique writing is also a must. If you can make me laugh, cry, or scream (in a good way of course!), I'll probably be sold.
On the Shelves   
Carmichael's Kids

Kelly Estep, Manager of Carmichael's Kids in Louisville, Kentucky, tells us what's on the shelves.  

What trends do you notice in children's book sales? What are the current hot reads? 
There is always a new trend popping up, but what I love about children's books is that the classics are still the classics, and most people are just looking for a good story to read with their children.  Of course, more children read earlier these days, so early reader adaptations are very common and publishers are very conscious of leveling their readers properly for parents to understand comprehension levels.  One trend I've noticed this last year is that TONS of picture books are now being put into board book format.  Things that were only available in picture book are now in board book (Madeline is good example) so they can be a durable intro to a classic for little ones.

How do you choose what books to order? Do you use a publishing rep? 
We do still choose every book that comes into the store.  Most of them are through sales reps, who work so hard and still visit our stores in-person (for the most part).  I peruse tons of catalogs, read advance copies, and then depend on my sales reps to understand my store and its customers to help me choose the best books.

Illustrator Info 
4 Questions for... Lori Nowicki  
This month's Illustrator Info interview is with Lori Nowicki, the founder of Painted Words. She is a well-renowned agent and has been representing illustrators since 1992.

What should an illustrator look for in an agent? How can an illustrator know if they are reaching out to the right one?
An illustrator should look for an agent that is accessible, that is enthusiastic about their work, and that they can have a conversation about their business with. Before contacting an agent, an illustrator should determine what their goals are for their career. As an agent, I like to know that I can help meet the illustrator's needs when I sign them up, and that we can openly communicate about their career. Is the illustrator interested in writing, as well as illustrating? Is there a particular age group they'd like to focus on? Are they also looking to expand beyond children's publishing into editorial or licensing work?
I suggest the illustrator familiarize herself with a few different agents who may be able to meet her needs. Different agents have different focuses and specialties, so an illustrator should do their research on the company's website before submitting their work. A lot of agents have social media accounts and blogs, as well. These are good resources for an illustrator to learn more about the agent's sensibility and the types of projects they work on. I would also recommend that the illustrator reviews the agent's current artist list to see if they can bring something unique and different to the agent's group.   

Best Advice Ever 
Ruta Sepetys

Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. Her award-winning debut novel, Between Shades of Gray was inspired by her family's history in Lithuania and is published in forty-five countries. She was awarded The Rockefeller Foundation's prestigious Bellagio Residency for her latest novel, Salt to the Sea.
Prior to becoming an author, I spent over twenty years working in the music business. Desmond Child, a songwriting mentor of mine, taught me that precision and economy of words create great impact, that rhythmic form makes art memorable. He was right. It might be difficult to recite a short passage of text from memory. But if a song plays on the radio---a song we haven't heard in years---why can we sing every single word? Rhythm and melody.
Rhythm and melody make prose memorable. I apply these musical principles to my writing. When I'm drafting a novel, I read my work aloud, listening for tempo and flow. If I stumble, I revise the sentence, pruning and subtracting until the melody is just right. Mind your rhythmic form. If you do, the prose will live and breathe on the page, will linger in the reader's mind as a song of its own.
Draw This!  
Draw This! is our monthly prompt word for illustrators. Click HERE for the gallery depicting all the month's entries. April's word was Arrival. Congratulations to April's winners:

Mary Uhles

Maile McCarthy

May's prompt is . . . Borrow
Submissions for May will be up in our June gallery. 

Click here for submission guidelines.
Write This!    
 Many of our most memorable experiences of childhood or teenage years center around being left out. In 100 words or less, show us how it feels to be left out. Practice voice!
All entries due May 20. Send entries to 
The April prompt was: "You have 100 words to portray a scene where your character hears a suspicious noise coming from the closet. Create a mood. Surprise us!
Winner:  Josette Reeves 
I was almost sure who was making the whining noise coming from Mum's closet, though I desperately searched for other explanations. Maybe aliens had come to abduct me (were they upset because they couldn't find me in the closet? Had they been blinded by Mum's numerous sequinned tops?). Perhaps next door's dog was stuck? But as I gripped the closet handle, knuckles white and palm sweaty, I knew what I'd see when I opened the door. And I was right. Mum sat on the floor, her knees tucked tight into her chest. Her whining got louder when she saw me.       

Runner-Up: C. M. Surrisi 
One day, Marcus's sister took the dog for a walk in the closet and she never came back. His mother said she probably tripped over some shoes and fell into the laundry basket. His father felt sure she drifted into a massive dust bunny. They all agreed it was unfortunate, and it would be a good idea to clean out that closet one of these days. Marcus was understandably reluctant to tackle it. Of late, however, he had heard some distant yelps coming from behind the closet door. He was seriously contemplating the risk, when the knob turned.  
Runner-Up: Tim Hughes  
Flashlight? Check.  
Attack pillow? Check.
Courage? Checkerooni.
All that's left is to open the closet door and look inside.  That's it.  Easy peasy.  That's all that needs to be done.  Just swing it open, shine the light in, and see what made that noise.  Use pillow if necessary.  But first the door must be opened.  The doorknob must be turned, and the door must be opened.  Okay.  One...two...wait, does this flashlight even work?  And maybe I should go get a baseball bat or---
Stop it.  No more games.  It's now or never.
Two and a half-
Info Links  
What follows is a selection of blogs, news articles, and other must-see links click here flat icon
for authors and illustrators.

A Wrap Up of the Bologna Book Fair: Link
Inspiring Video of Two Time Caldecott Honor Medalist Marla Frazee : Link

Writing Advice from Liani Taylor: Link