Posts tagged ‘scbwi event’

November 15, 2014

SCWBI SF/South Bookstore Night at Hicklebee’s

scbwi This past week I attending the SCBWI event at our awesome independent children’s bookstore, Hicklebee’s. A lovely, casual mixer where members got to meet each other surrounding by the latest and greatest in books. You can check-out some of the photos on the SCBWI SF/South Facebook Page.

During the second hour of the two-hour event, Valerie and Ann, owner and manager of the store gave loads of tips on how to get your books onto the shelves, doing author visits, and more. I have tried to capture some of the tips and tidbits below. Hope you find them helpful!


Valerie Lewis and Ann Seaton from Hicklebee’s


  • When requesting a bookstore to review your book to get it onto their shelves please provide the following: Your Name, Title, Publisher and a Copy of the Story (for self-published folks a final copy, for traditional published folks an Advanced Reader or F&G). Be prepared to wait 3-4 weeks.
  • For people who are self-published, Hicklebee’s has set up a program which you can read more about here.
  • On average publishers pay $200-$300 to the bookstore to host an author event. This is needed to cover the overhead of setting up the event and promotional activities the store has to do.
  • For debut authors some publishers are setting up meet-and-greet dinners between the debut author and key people in the book community (bookstore buyers, librarians) to get the buzz started.

Tips for a successful author event

  1.  Be FLEXIBLE. There is no way a bookstore can predict whether there will be 5 kids at your event or 25. (My Takeaway: Prepare your main presentation for your target audience, but then have back-up plan ideas – for more people, fewer people, younger aged crowd, older aged crowd)
  2. Having people at your book event is the “icing on the cake”. They stressed that all the promotional work (newspapers, name on website, social media) to make you and your book known has already taken place. So do not feel discouraged if there is a low turn-out for the event. They provided an example where they only sold four books the day of the event, but at the end of the month they sold twenty-four copies for that author.
  3. Stop at the peak! Try to gauge your presentation such that you are leaving your audience wanting more. This the point before adults start playing with their iPhones and when kids start getting restless and fussing about. They did advise that figuring out the “peak” is something that comes with practice in front of an audience.
  4. Be Engaging! Figure out ways to be interactive with the audience. They spoke about Tim McCanna’s engaging event for Teeny Tiny Trucks. Since he is a musician he performed songs, had coloring sheets, and other activities to keep the little tikes attention.
  5. Other things that helps Hicklebee’s to build great promotional material is getting the following items from the author: multiple author photos (different photos), book and author blurbs, links to professional reviews. They mentioned a pair of authors that made a flyer.
  6. Keep crafts simple! Already have the pieces cut out, since you don’t want kids standing around because there weren’t enough scissors. (My Takeaway: It’s hard to predict how many people will show up. Also kids aren’t patient, for that matter neither are adults. 🙂 )
  7. Check out storytime or other author events at the bookstore to garner ideas.
  8. Courtesy tip – when promoting your author event at said bookstore, link back to that bookstore and not some other place.

Thank you Kristi Wright (SCBWI Volunteer), Ann & Valerie (Hicklebee’s), Tim & Naomi (Regional Advisers) for putting on a wonderful event!

Do you have any author event tips to share? Leave a comment and let us know!

May 22, 2012

Illustrator’s Day: From the Eyes of a Picture Book Author

This past Saturday, May 19th, the SCBWI CA North/Central had their 1st ever Illustrator’s Day in the Sacramento area. It was wonderful, definitely worth the 2-hour drive for me each way. (that part wasn’t quite so much fun, the California sun streaming into the car kept enticing me to fall asleep)

This event was unique in that it had a two-fold audience, not just PB illustrators but also PB authors as well. This was a great opportunity for me to learn about the marriage between art and text. Below are the highlights of what I learned.

Patti Newman (co-regional advisor, author of Nugget on the Flight Deck and Jingle the Brass)

– Good to write what you know, but sometimes it is better to write what you want to know. She frequently takes on topics she knows nothing about, and digs in and interviews folks. One of her special writing traits is being able to use the jargon for the subject.

– Road to success isn’t a straight diagonal line to the right but a squiggly road. There will be slow periods, and fast periods.

The panel’s response on the question of “Leaving Space”, advice for PB authors.

– A Picture Book story should be 1/2 done by the author and 1/2 by the illustrator

– Too specific text or art notes restricts the illustrator’s ability to create their art, hence making them less passionate about your manuscript.

– the final PB may not be what you envisioned

Rotem Moscovich (editor from Disney/Hyperion)

– The picture book is greater than the sum of its parts, art and text. It is a unique collaboration that only comes alive when being read out loud.

– Think of a picture book as a lap-sized theater.

Book Examples:

One Special Day by Lola Schaefer and Jessica Meserve – only the picture conveys the animal of the characteristic. Ex: “He was as strong as a –” art show a beehive – page turn – art show a bear. This book probably had art notes listing each of the animals associated with each of the lines. This is okay, as it is critical to the story.

Eddie Gets Ready for School by David Milgrim – the text is straightforward, down plays the story. The pictures convey the upbeat and humorous part of the story. Ex: “Pack a snack” art shows him packing a watermelon into his backpack. This book was done by an author/illustrator.

Question: I asked what if this story had been done by an author, how would he/she convey that the humorous part of the story in the manuscript without putting art notes everywhere.

Answer: Put the synopsis art note at the beginning of the manuscript with an example. (this is advice is specific to Rotem, as I have heard from other sources to put this type of info in the cover letter. Rotem doesn’t read cover letters and often goes straight to the manuscript.)

Question: If an author/illustrator submits text and you like the text but not the art will you still consider it or reject it.

Answer: If the letter indicates that the art and text can be separated, then yes she will consider it. Otherwise she will reject it.

Mary Kole (Senior Literary Manager at Movable Type Mgmt, formerly was at Andrea Brown)

– Takes a long-term view on her clients, wants to help develop their careers. (hence make sure you have a portfolio of work to show before querying her)

– More, more pressure to be commercial and have a book off to a running start. Most sales of a book occurs from 3 months before a release date to 3 months after.

– Most board books are done in-house,  are about licensed properties, or a scaled downed version of a best-selling hardcover PB. Board book are expensive to manufacture but have to be at the price-point of a paperback, hence they have to be a high-volume book.

– Think of “hooks” as articulate sales tools.

Thinking Like a Writer

– “First line of a story teach us how to read it” by John L’Heurex

– Read your story out loud (I have heard it is a good idea to record yourself reading, and play it back)

– Shorter sentences, easy syntax, and words accessible to your target audience

– Readers mature differently from Pre-K to 3rd grade. Avoid complex sentences with lots of clauses, keep dialogue simple

– Avoid long scenes with talking heads. Hard to illustrate.

Ashley Wolff (Author/Illustrator of Baby Bear Sees Blue)

– Characters and Action on a page should move from left to right.

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