Friday, October 30, 2009

My First Book Picks Are Picked...

I spent the better part of the week working on the agonizing-yet-fun task of choosing debut authors to feature in First Books in the 2011 edition of CWIM. I've e-mailed all of my chosen ones today. To all those debut authors who haven't heard from me, I will be contacting many of you in the coming months as I resurrect Debut Author of the Month here on the blog beginning in January 2010. (Why does this all sounds so Biblical?)

Thanks so much to everyone who contacted me. I was so thrilled to hear from each of you and so happy to read about your successes (and your books). You should all be very proud.

Happy Halloween weekend to everyone. (Don't forget to fall back--and haunt for an extra hour tomorrow night).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First Books Lowdown: My Unscientific Findings on New-Author-Friendly Publishers...

Every year since I've been blogging, I've put out a call for debut authors for my First Book feature and every year I post about which publishers are publishing the debut authors who contacted me. Here's the scoop for this year (all of which are in random order because I don't like to alphabetize)...

Publishers who are publishing one of the debut books in my pool:

  • Flux
  • Carolrhoda
  • Flashlight Press
  • Scholastic
  • Houghton Mifflin
  • Albert Whitman
  • Dutton
  • Blooming Tree
  • Holiday House
  • Pelican
  • HIP Books
  • Clarion
  • Bloomsbury
  • Feiwel & Friends
  • Candlewick
  • Raven Tree Press
  • Delacorte
  • Capstone

Publishers who are publishing two or more of the debut books in my pool:
  • HarperCollins
  • Walker
  • Putnam
  • Random House
  • Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky
  • Farrar, Strauss & Giroux
  • Simon & Schuster
  • Sterling
This year Putnam ties previous two-time winner HarperCollins at five a piece, so they each get a Friendly-to-New-Authors Gold Star!

Only a handful of the debut authors who contacted me said they have agents--I'm sure more do and didn't mention it--and some of those agented writers didn't get their agents until after the first book deal. I heard from plenty of unagented writers.

About half of the authors who contacted me are YA writers, the other half picture books, MG and chapter books, with PBs as the majority.

If you're among the YA authors (or even if you're not) check out Publishers Weekly's report, What Do Teens Want?, a survey of teen über readers. Lots of statistics and charts! (I tweeted a link to this yesterday and was retweeted like crazy.)

Now back to the tough/fun job of deciding who to interview.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Reunites for the SCBWI Annual Winter Conference in New York...

I'm very excited to announce that I will once again serve as captain of SCBWI TEAM BLOG as we offer exhaustive coverage of the SCBWI Annual Winter Conference in New York City which takes place January 29th-31st at the Hyatt Grand Central.

Conference info (faculty, schedule) is now up on the SCBWI website, and online registration will open Wednesday, October 28th at 10 a.m. PST. But whether you attend or not, TEAM BLOG will keep you posted on every session and keynote on the Official SCBWI Conference Blog.

Here are the Winter Conference TEAM BLOG bloggers and links to their blogs and Twitter pages. (Look for exclusive pre-conference content on our blogs between now and conference time):

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Become a Writer's Digest VIP (and Join Our New WD Community)...

I'm a shopper and I love a bargain, especially if it's for something I wanted to buy anyway (like books and shoes). That's why I think our new Writer's Digest VIP program (which just kicked off yesterday) is a pretty sweet deal--lots of good stuff for not much money.

For $49.95 you get a one-year subscription to both (which now includes all the info from CWIM) and Writer’s Digest magazine, plus you also get a free webinar recording (which is usually $99), 10% off WOW courses, and 10% off all WD Shop purchases.

If you do the math, it could normally cost up to $198.80 so you can save $148.85. (The best part about finding a bargain is figuring out how much you save.)

Click here to visit the WD Shop and learn more about becoming a WD VIP.

Here's something else new: We've also just launched the Writer's Digest Community on Ning. Stop by, join, and become my friend. (I only have 79 so far. I want more. One can't have too many friends, too many books, or too many pairs of shoes.)

Visit Writer's Digest Community

Monday, October 19, 2009

Twitter Tips from my Tweeps...

Last week I was working on an article on Twitter for the SCBWI Bulletin and asked my Twitter followers to answer this question:

@alicepope: I’m writing an article on Twitter (aimed at writers and illustrators). What’s your best Twitter tip (in 140 characters or less, of course)?

In a matter of minutes my question had been retweeted several times and I’d gotten more than a dozen tips (from writers, editors, and other publishing professionals) which you’ll find below. This served as a great demonstration of how one's Twitter community can be useful. I suggest you follow each of the wise tweeps who replied to me—and follow their advice as well.

  • @HeatherMcCorkle: Twitter tip: Never write anything you don’t want to read on the front page of the newspaper. Could hurt your career later!
  • @aliciapadron: tweet how you like to be tweeted
  • @GirlsSentAway: Follow 80/20 rule: 80% professional tweets, 20% to show your personality. Interact.
  • @EyeOnFlux: Avoid TMI (overly personal information). This begs the question: what DO most people use their Twitter accounts for? Professional? Personal? Should the two mix?
  • @glecharles: Be relevant, always add value and remember, it’s SOCIAL media, not just an alternative RSS feed.
  • @loniedwards: Tip: Download an add-on like tweetdeck to help sort. Especially during kidlit chats!
  • @KateMessner: Just aim to be a friendly, helpful human being online. It’s much better self-promotion than shouting about your book.
  • @Lynne_Griffin: I found this helpful “RT @EliseBlackwell @thefictiondesk “Be yourself, not your book.”
  • @RuthSpiro: My tip: Connect w/folks OUTSIDE the writing/publishing world; they don’t encounter authors daily, and think you’re really cool!
  • @wendy_mc: If you want your funny stuff to be retweeted, shorter tweets are better (leave room for your name)
  • @BrianKlems: Be honest in what you post, be it personal or promotional. If you wouldn’t read it, don’t post it.
  • @mitaliperkins: Strive for the same integrity, vision, and authentic voice on Twitter that you pursue in your vocation as a whole.
  • @WriterRoss: Keep it tight. Omit connecting words. Twitter is a wonderful tool for learning to edit extraneous information.
  • @vboykis: Don’t overpromote yourself. Reach out to other writers and champion the ones whose writing you love.
  • @inkyelbows:Twitter tips: Follower count should NOT be your main goal. Support other writers. Make every character count.
  • @rachelsimon: My best Twitter advice is to act on here as you would in real life. You are essentially “meeting” the same people.
  • @nialleccles: Re: call for Twitter tips... Do not allow it to distract you from writing or illustrating. Tweet during scheduled breaks.
  • @marisabirns: Twitter tip: It’s a great place for linking writers to online resource material.
  • @leewind: Twitter does 3 things well: 1. drive traffic to links. 2. real-time discussions via “#” 3. under 140 trivia/wisdom—like this!
  • @CynDraws: My tip—Be of service to others and avoid complaining or negativity at all costs. Our art should inspire others and so should our tweets.
  • @joanna_haugen: Tip: Make sure tweets are relevant, interesting and concise to your audience.
  • @KarlShoemaker: Twitter = watercooler. Remember Water Cooler Politics Guy? WC Medical History Girl? WC Nosy Questions & Advice Person? Don't be them.

Readergirlz Teen Read Week Blog Bash...

The Readergirlz are fab hostesses, so don't miss their week-long blog party celebrating YALSA's Teen Read Week.

Starting today on the Readergirlz blog and continuing through October 23rd, the divas will host nine YA authors and end the week with "an online gala celebration where Sylvia Engdahl, a pioneer in young-adult science fiction, will be hosted and honored for her contributions to the literary landscape."

Here's the Readergirlz Teen Read Week lineup. (Events start at 6 PM Pacific/9 PM Eastern each day):

Monday, October 19th: Beyond Imagination
rgz diva Justina Chen Headley (NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL)
Alyson Noël (EVERMORE)

Tuesday, October 20th: Beyond Hardship
rgz diva Lorie Ann Grover (HOLD ME TIGHT)
Elizabeth Scott (LIVING DEAD GIRL)
Lynn Weingarten (WHEREVER NINA LIES)

Wednesday, October 21st: Beyond Daily Life
rgz diva Holly Cupala (TELL ME A SECRET)
Lisa McMann (WAKE)
Cynthia Leitich Smith (ETERNAL)

Thursday, October 22nd: Beyond Our World
rgz diva Melissa Walker (LOVESTRUCK SUMMER)
Cassandra Clare (CITY OF ASHES)

Friday, October 23rd: Into Our Beyond
rgz diva Dia Calhoun (AVIELLE OF RHIA)

And if you celebrate Teen Read Week, the divas want to hear from you.

Do you love YALSA's Teen Read Week? Post blog or vlog (video blog), then send the link to with the subject line set up like this: Your name, TRW Tribute. Tell us about your recent release, or a book you love dearly, and then give a shoutout for Teen Read Week. We'll collect all the contributions and post them at the rgz blog in a 24 hour time span on October 23rd, 2009.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What's New at Everything! Here's the Scoop...

If you've visited the website for the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators lately you've noticed that it's gone through a major renovation. I've asked SCBWI Creative Director Aaron Hartzler to give you a tour. went through quite an overhaul this year. Tell me about new features members may not be aware of.

Thanks for noticing! I've spent two years now working very closely with Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser to develop the new site, and we're really thrilled with the way it's taking shape.

Best new functions available now:

  1. The "Find A Speaker" page: Educators and librarians can now search for SCBWI members and even see video clips from classroom presentations. PAL members can click on "Speaker Profile" on their member home page to add video and information.
  2. The Illustrator's Gallery: Illustrator members of SCBWI no longer have to pay a separate service or web site to host an online portfolio. Just log in and click on "My Portfolio" to upload images. Once you've uploaded an image, your name will appear in the searchable index of SCBWI illustrators.
  3. "Search Members": Our old "Member roster" search has been given a much-needed 21st-century update. Click on "Search Members" in the upper right-hand corner of any page on the site, and you can find other members by name, email address, location, even book title.
  4. Regional Home Pages: When you log in, click on the “Regional Chapter” icon and you’ll be taken to your Regional Home Page. This is sort of like a Facebook group page where you’ll be connected with all of the other members in your region. You can see the regional events that are upcoming, details for your next regional conference, and read the latest from your Regional Advisor’s news blog. You can quickly browse members in your region and send a message or a friend request. Connecting with other SCBWI members in your area has never been easier.
  5. Member Neworking: We're calling this function "SCBWInc." "INC" stands for "Insider Networking Community." You now have the ability to send messages to other SCBWI members and add them as a friend right at Also, click around on your friends’ profiles and see their latest publishing news, pictures and contact information.
When did the SCBWInc feature launch? What’s the advantage of creating a profile and making friends on the SCBWI site as opposed to, say, Facebook or Jacketflap? Any tips for using it?

SCBWInc, our member networking platform, just launched October 13th. Co-founder and Executive Director Lin Oliver was very specific when I was developing this part of the site that she wanted this function to be more than just "social networking." Writing and illustrating can be solitary work. SCBWInc is designed as a place for members who are often isolated in their own studios or hunkered down editing a manuscript to come and surface for a creative recharge. Without leaving your seat at the computer or the drafting table, we wanted to provide a little taste of the community aspect that is often felt at our regional events and annual international conferences in New York and Los Angeles with the click of a mouse.

Being a member of Facebook or other sites is a great way to market your work and get the word out, but there’s nothing like the community sense of the SCBWI. Those letters in our name (and we do spell it out—we don’t pronounce it as a word that sounds like “squeegee”!) have come to be synonymous not only with professional support and advocacy, but also with the true community of artistic peers who rely on one another for encouragement that goes far beyond marketing and visibility.

Are there any more changes in store for

Yes! Now that the major functions are in place, we’re embarking on a round secondary additions. So stay tuned for more info on:
  1. Blogs/RSS Feeds: Look for news soon on a blog from the SCBWI Illustrator Committee, a legal questions blog, and a tech blog with an emphasis on marketing your work—all with RSS feeds so you can get an instant update.
  2. Redesigned Discussion Board Forum, hosted on our site (that doesn’t require a secondary login!)
  3. The all-new SCBWI Store: A brand new shopping experience for T-shirts, SCBWI Master Class DVDs, and other great merch!
  4. The Online Publication Guide: While members may currently download a PDF copy of the annual “Pub Guide,” all of our Market Surveys and Directories will soon be fully searchable.
  5. The SCBWI Bulletin Archive: Over 30 years of SCBWI Bulletins have been scanned in and are currently being indexed for easy searching and reading online!
  6. More video! We’ve got years and years of conference footage and we’re working on clearing some rights issues to be able to use some of that video on the site!

Oh—one more very important question: Will SCBWI again offer fantastic blog coverage of the upcoming Winter Conference in New York (January 29-31, 2010)?

You better believe it! There’s this really great SCBWI member—Alice Pope? You may know her. (She’s got a killer SCBWI Member Profile here.) Anyway, she’ll be heading up another all-star team of bloggers to bring you hits and highlights from the upcoming 10th Annual International SCBWI Winter Conference in New York. Conference brochures will be in the mail by the end of next week, and we’re aiming to go live with registration online October 28th!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

National Books Award Finalists Named (and I'm back from vacation)...

After six days of vacation in New York, I was not excited about the prospect of weeding through my email inbox. (It was bursting.) After a few hours of wading through, I was rewarded with today's Publishers Lunch featuring the National Book Award finalists. In case you haven't seen the list, here are the 2009 National Books Awards Finalists for the Young People's Literature caegory:

Special shout out to Laini Taylor, who is a 2010 CWIM contributor along with her husband Jim Di Bartolo, illustrator of Lips Touch. (Check out his amazing cover art below along with the other NBA finalist books.)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style Is Available Today...

I featured author Mark Garvey as a Blogger of the Week a while back, and I'm happy to report that his new book Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style is now available. Fans of Strunk & White's guide will find his exhaustively researched history of Elements fascinating (I did!) and his writing style engaging. You can feel his Elements enthusiasm oozing from the text.

Stylized has found a place on my nightstand along with several versions of The Elements of Style. (I like to read about style of some sort before I go to sleep. Could be from E.B. White; could be the latest issue of Vogue.)

Here's Mark on what prompted him to work on the project:

I've had a soft spot in my heart for The Elements of Style since high school. It has always seemed to me that Elements draws together, in concentrated form, the most fundamental and helpful attitudes about writing, and it is one of the books that made me want to be a writer (and editor) in the first place. A few years ago, I noticed that 2009 would mark the book's 50th anniversary, and the time seemed right for a book that considered the history and influence of Strunk and White's little book. I was lucky enough to work with the cooperation and generous help of both the Strunk and White families, and I had the pleasure of interviewing many of my favorite writers for the project.

Stylized includes more biographical detail about William Strunk than has ever been published before, including some wonderful photographs. I was also able to include some of the correspondence between E. B. White and his editors at Macmillan (the original publishers of The Elements of Style), as well as a number of notes from White to readers of Elements. E. B. White may have been the best letter writer of the twentieth century, and I'm thrilled to be able to reproduce some of his letters and notes in my book. In all, I'm excited and honored to able to pay homage in this way to a book that's been such a big influence in my life.

For the rest of my interview with Mark Garvey, click here.