I am back from Kona and just moved into my new house. It's been a hectic month, but I managed to go to SCBWI (children/MG/YA writer and illustrator conference) a week ago. It was my first writer's conference ever.
The first day, I went to Susan Chang's panel on what she's looking for. Susan is an editor at TOR--a really cool, spec fic house. She talked about her love of science fiction and fantasy. She seems to be looking for a lot of history and biological speculation fics--at least, that's the general gist I got. Anyone that loves all the cheesy sci-fi classics like Star Trek gets a thumbs up from me!
Next, Caroline Sun's talk on publicity. Caroline is a publicist at HarperCollins. First off, publicity is different from marketing. Marketing is done with money--things like advertising and book tours. Publicity is more like reviews for newspapers and magazines. A publicist goes around calling various medias to review or feature your book. The more attention a book gets, the more the book will get attention from the publicist who is working on a ton of books at the same time. She says, "be nice to your publicist! We are on your team."
After that, it was the wine and cheese reception and I got to meet a few authors. Then, I had to rush home to make it to the Carmina Burana show!
The second day was Nancy Conescu's talk on the acquisition process. She is an editor at Dial Penguin. She stressed on the importance of a captivating voice for both children's books and YA.
Author Matt de la Pena was hilarious and an excellent speaker. I loved his class on narration! He taught us that readers don't need a ton of expositions and really good narrators can get across the right information without too much of it. He said to not state the obvious when narrating, but show the readers something they might not expect. Overall, narration should be character driven--so "the author" must back off and let the characters do the work!
Lastly, I went to Eddie Gamarra's talk on Hollywood's relationship with books. Eddie is a literary manager and producer at The Gotham Group. He brought up fascinating points that for children's books to make it to the big screen, it has to have broad appeal--men, women, adults, children. For example, Alice and Wonderland features not Alice, but Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter in marketing. Finding Nemo, Shrek, The Incredibles, etc are stories about dads, not kids--because kids' movies must also appeal to adults who are the ones buying the tickets. Currently, classic-retellings are popular because after the writer strike, Hollywood went after public domain stories. All in all, an author is lucky to have anything to do with the film based on his/her movie or even get a lot of money from it. Hmm... doesn't sound too fun to work with Hollywood, does it?
That concludes my conference experience!