Monday, July 6, 2015

SCBWI Florida Workshop Part V- Building A Lasting Career

This is my fifth post from the 2015 Florida SCBWI young adult workshop with Erica Rand Silverman, an agent with Sterling Lord Literistic, and Jacquelyn Mitchard, author and editor-in-chief at Merit Press. Click here for Part I  (Why Write Young Adult); Part II (Querying); Part III (Pitches); and Part IV (Marketing Yourself and Your Work). In this post they both share what it means to build your career beyond one book.

Both Erika and Jacqueline used the language of romance to discuss aspects of the publishing business  Jacqueline said, "Acquiring a manuscript is like dating. Sometimes if it doesn't happen in the first twenty minutes there's a flaw in the machinery."  She also said, "If I fall in love with a manuscript I'm hoping readers will fall in love with it." Erika called the process of finding the right publisher for a book "matchmaking."
  • When your book is accepted by a publishing house you’re bringing people into the "Circle of Trust" about your story.
  • After you sell your first book, keep writing. You want to feed your audience by giving them something similar. It is more strategic to keep going with same genre as your first book, if possible.
  • Going from your first to second book can be hard. Write what excites you, not for the market, not your agent, and not your publisher. Sometimes with a second book you actually know about the industry, so you end up writing for your agent, editors, publishing house, or fans. Don't forget: You still need to just write for you.  Your first book might be easier because it’s been in you for so long.
  • Don’t disturb your own momentum. Start your second book as soon as possible. If your book does or does not sell well-- either one can mess with your head. 
  • Don't forget the secondary (institutional) market. Make sure your book is nominated for state lists and awards. Librarians will be your best friends; cultivate these relationships.
  •  Say thank you and remember people. Keep personal relationships with people you meet. Don’t act like a diva or take yourself too seriously. Don’t be high-handed with book sellers. Everyone is a spoke in the wheel. Make friends with people in the industry.
  • Embrace opportunities. Both work for hire or intellectual property projects might supplement your career. (Personal note: Nine years ago my last publisher, Maupin House, asked me if I would be interested in contributing to their Craft Plus series. Since my own motto is "Never say no" (to writing requests!) I accepted the assignment and was glad I did.
  • Make friends with your publishing team. Have realistic expectations but inspire the people you work with to think creatively.  “I have thought about A and B can you help me with C?” Fill out your author information sheet keeping in mind that it will help the marketing team at your publisher.
  • Market yourself and your books. You can’t depend on your publisher.  “No matter who you are, you have to hustle,” Jacqueline said. Your agent and your publicist will work together getting you traction (visibility) so that more people will connect you with your book. These things feed into each other. You want to be known as a networker, and an accessible human being "without being slutty." 
  • Keep attending conferences, workshops, and industry events.
  • Strategize your publishing schedule with your agent and publisher. Ask, "Why are you publishing the book now?" Books published closer to awards are more likely to be in people’s minds. Do you want to publish in the summer when school is out? Near the holidays? It's okay to question and be your own advocate. Ask, “Tell me how I can help." Make it a partnership and become a part of the publishing strategy. But don’t become too obsessed with the business side. 
  • Jacqueline warned, "Writers write. Don’t be a three-ring circus. Be the best one ring circus you can be.”


sheri levy said...

Great information. Will keep these points in mind!

Carol Baldwin said...

Great, glad you like them, Sheri!

Vijaya said...

Thank you for this wonderful post. Great advice from the pros. I have a book rec: Word Work by Bruce Holland Rogers. It's not for the beginner but rather for those of us who are trying to maintain a writing career.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for the book recommendation, Vijaya!

Rosi said...

What a rich post, Carol. Chock full of great information. Thanks!

Carol Baldwin said...

Glad you found it helpful, Rosi.

Linda A. said...

Loved the lines "Never say no"and "Don't be a three ring circus." Thanks, carol.

Carol Baldwin said...

Glad you liked it, Linda!

Elena said...

Terrific post, packed with great info!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Elena. Glad you found this helpful!

kathleenburkinshaw said...

Hi Carol, I am catching up on what I missed while away. This post was chock full of great info! I am printing it out for not too distance future reference :) In the meantime, I will be honing my "one ring circus"!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Kathleen, and welcome home! So glad it was helpful to you.