Don’t Be Weird

 

Okay, a potbelly pig is a little weird, but authors and illustrators will do almost anything to get attention. You know I’m right!

I spent the weekend in Bettendorf, Iowa with a wonderful group of writers, illustrators, editors, and an agent. Secretly, I wanted to kidnap those editors and bring them home for one-on-one time with me and my manuscripts. That would be really weird, and I’d probably get arrested so I nixed that idea and took to heart some of the information I collected.

Lisa Graff made the comment:  “Don’t be weird!” When approaching editors of a publishing house, be professional. Don’t waste their time with silly stuff. They’re busy people. Lisa also said that if you’re writing a novel, begin with a good hook to grab the readers, and don’t forget to end each chapter with a hook that will keep readers turning the pages.

Ammi-Joan Paquette from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency shared eight ways to make your manuscript stand out ─ find your voice, be unique, start with a bang, get feedback, revise, make sure your manuscript flows well, raise the stakes for your main character, and set your manuscript aside before sending it out.

Allyn Johnston, VP and Publisher of Beach Lane Books and Marla Frazee, author-illustrator and recipient of a Caldecott Honor Award for All the World, talked about picture books. Pacing is extremely important in a picture book, and the ending of a picture book should surprise us and have a strong emotional impact upon us.

Along with Laura Arnold, editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, author Carol Gorman spoke about common mistakes writers make in their writing. So get out those grammar books and keep them close at hand.

Author/illustrator visits are an important part of spreading the word about your publications.

Mike Shoulders not only writes some great books, but he also gives dynamite school presentations! No time for in-school presentations? Dori Butler presented the ins and outs of visits via Skype. Now that’s a great way to put your best face forward.

The weekend was a time for meeting new people, learning new things, and sharing with one another. There was a feeling of camaraderie at this conference that made the weekend a top-notch experience. Well done Iowa SCBWI.

One last reminder:  When it comes time to send out your manuscript, make sure you’ve done everything to make it the best you possibly can, and DON’T BE WEIRD!

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