Friday, June 14, 2013

21st Century Children's Non-Fiction Conference

While making the drive to New Paltz today I was listening to classical music on the radio. Couldn't find much else. How about a children's book based on Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite. I still remember it from 7th grade music class. Cool music!!

Nancy (me) with some of my art work
Arrived at the campus a bit early and, after some internal debate, decided to set up my illustrations in the art exhibit area. I put up my bunny, the clover illustration and three sheets of Copy-cology© drawings. All the other work was major realistic (looking like photos) and somewhat intimidating, but I figured, here I am. Why not test the waters? I stood back and watched after I had gotten the art work set up. The first two young women who were looking at the exhibit stopped. One said to the other "Don't you wish you could draw like that: so scientifically correct?" I asked another budding author to snap a picture of me and my work.Very exciting for my first exhibit! We'll see how the voting goes on Sunday.

A lot of people seem to like the work. One woman told me that when she is ready to publish a story she is working on, she would like me to illustrate it. Very gratifying!! She is considering starting her own small publishing company, so we'll see what comes of that!!

The intensive session I attended this afternoon was very informative. Peggy Thomas and Mary Kay Carson, both published authors, spoke about the publishing  process. They both are well published by a variety of companies. We learned a lot about the dos and don'ts of writing query letters, submitting proposals, relating to editors and illustrators, and dealing with contracts. In one exercise they had us fill in the following blanks about our current projects:

My non-fiction idea is....                                                                
Mary Kay Carson
My target market is...
My target age group is...
Does it have kid-appeal?  (What/how?)
Does it present new information?
Is it a new slant on an old topic?
Does it fill a niche?  That is, does it fill a need that is not already addressed by other books?
What research is needed?
Does it fit into a curriculum?
Can I deliver this book as a finished product?

Among many other useful pieces of information, they reminded us not to take rejection personally. Publishing is a business and we need to not think of rejection as a personal attack.
One major message they both agreed on was TARGET! TARGET! TARGET.  Before you even THINK of submitting a book, check the competition. See what other books are published by the same folks, and only submit to companies that say they are interested in that kind of product.
Lionel Bender (right) co-chair and designer of the conference with Jon Sprout, singer/songwriter.

Lots more happened, but I'm too sleepy to go on here and now. More tomorrow from a delightful and very informative conference.


  1. Glad you got something out of our presentation, Nancy!

  2. More than just something. The beginning of a much better understanding of the publishing process. Thanks so much.

  3. This is great! I hope that you are Continue the good work. 21st Century Children