Sunday, June 8, 2008

NJ SCBWI Conference



I had such a great time at the conference. When I first walked in I registered and then went into the room where everyone was gathering for coffee and waiting for the faculty panel to start speaking. I sit at a table and see this woman flipping through a Sprouts magazine (the NJ Chapter issues out a magazine a few times a year) with my owl painting on the cover!!!! I later found out it was supposed to be a surprise and they announced my name during the intros and I stood and had everyone clap. I was just thinking to myself, what a great way to start your day! All day I felt like a celebrity with people congratulating me and asking about my art. It felt nice, I never had something like this happen to me, almost like winning a contest.

The rest of the conference went quite well. Author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen gave such a great workshop on how to pace your picture book and how to figure out where you need to cut down on text. She gave her "10 Commandments to a Picture Book Manuscript". That was just great. There were other workshops I attended on promotional pieces for illustrators, behind the scenes of making a book at the publishing house, making a book dummy, and picture book basics. All the information was so helpful. At lunch I sat at a table with 2 agents, 2 authors, and a self publisher. I learned quite a bit about self publishing where I previously was not fond of it and now I think it is just good for certain people, just not everyone. This woman says she published 12 books on her own and makes more money selling them in schools and book signings than she would have if she went through a publishing house. The most memorable thing she said was "Why are we putting our hearts and souls into perfecting a manuscript just to have some 28 year old yuppie with no kids tell us how it needs to be fixed. I finish a book and ask what the children and parents think, they are my advisers."

I had my portfolio critiqued by Patrick Collins, who I already knew was not fond of my work from doing a drop off last summer. Since I had not met him the first time he reviewed my portfolio it was interesting to see where he was coming from especially after I had added some new pieces the second time. He seemed to like my "Ice Cold Trouble" painting the best with the eskimo which interestingly I did after he critiqued me the first time. I also did something called speed pitching where I was put in a line and each of us had 2 minutes to talk to each of 3 editors/agents about our books and get their input. I pitched my "Finding Farah" story but I'm not so sure they were in love with my main character because he is a ferret. I bought some books, one by Sudipta and another by Eileen Spinelli. It was a great and eventful day and Princeton was the best and most beautiful place to hold this conference.

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