Two weeks ago I attended the SCBWI Craft Weekend at Princeton Theological Seminary. For anyone who doesn't know, SCBWI is the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. This weekend was a wake-up call at several levels. First, it brought home to me how many people like me are out there trying to get books published. Most of the attendees are hopeful authors and/or illustrators. Most have not gotten a book published yet. Some have, and I now have heard enough stories to give me heart to continue the process. My fifth rejection arrived days before the conference, so my project is now back in my hands.
I am beginning to listen to what editors, publishers and agents say more closely. While every friend, librarian, teacher and parent I have shown my dummy to thinks it is wonderful and can't wait to buy it, I now believe that some of the comments from those "in the business" have more validity than I once gave them. A full afternoon with Joyce Wan showed me a better way to create my dummy. Joyce, thank you! It is now all double-spreads and it is easier to put together and to illustrate.
The big break-though came in the all-day-Sunday workshop with Patrick Collins, Creative Director at Henry Holt. He reviewed each of the eight dummies or mock-ups presented by workshop participants, gave thoughtful feedback and suggestions to each, and then spent the remainder of the afternoon cycling among us with suggestions, critiques and encouragement.
Prior to the workshop, we had each submitted work for Patrick's comments and then tried to prepare some revised work in response to what he told us. My revisions involved, for the most part, cutting out whole pages that don't add to the action, and setting the opening scene. Following discussions with Patrick, more was cut, the scene has been set more clearly and another fun dimension has been added.
Now almost every page is a double spread. I have added two new dimensions to the art work, as well as adjusting the viewpoint on several illustrations. My beetles will now be in the tree, rather than among the dandelions. I was also encouraged to take more art classes. This was something I did not want to hear but, I am exploring options in my community. I guess one can never learn too much.
So now it's time to focus forward on refining the two new dimensions (one is numerals on each page and the other is a secret suggested by Patrick, which I love). I need to find an art class and/or check out more YouTube videos on illustration. I also need to do some revision in the rhymes for setting the scene. By next week I hope to have made some real progress. I wil keep you posted.