Friday, June 29, 2007

Megan McCafferty's Cool Idea to Create Buzz...

Check this out on
author Megan McCafferty's (retro)blog. She's holding a video contest starting now until the release date of her latest book Fourth Comings, asking readers to make 3-minute clips summing up what happened in any of her previous books in the Jessica Darling series and then post them on YouTube. Being quite the YouTube fan, I think this is a super cool idea and so in tune with her audience. I can't wait to see what her readers come up with.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Did you miss me? Haven't blogged in a while due to a crazy last week here at the office getting Novel & Short Story Writer's Market out the door. (Long story short: server crash fallout + editor on vacation = madness.) Here are nutshell versions of the things I would have posted on if I would have had two seconds to rub together:

  • SCBWI Conference: My room is reserved, my flight is booked. Only 38 days until I leave for LA for the SCBWI event of the year. I hope you're coming. It will mark the debut of the 2008 CWIM which will be shipping straight from the printer to the conference.
  • Mark McVeigh relocation: It happens every year--as soon as the CWIM goes to the printer, I get news of editors moving. This year's first is Mark McVeigh who has moved from Dutton to S&S imprint Aladdin to serve as editorial director. (I had a brief conversation with Mark in LA last year--actually he was talking to the people I was sitting with and I was listening--during which he said he was staying in LA after the conference to hang out with pal Janice Dickinson. I was hoping some of the the cool would jump off of him and land on me.) We should be able to update this in proofs, so no need to mark up your 2008 CWIM when you get it. Oh yeah--Mark will be presenting at the SCBWI conference.
  • MySpace: I now have 290 friends. You can't have too many friends (or two many pairs of shoes) so visit my profile and send me a request.
  • F+W in PW: The parent company of my imprint Writer's Digest Books is featured in Publishers Weekly. There's even a handy chart (which I learned a lot from reading). I've worked at F+W for almost 16 years, and the times, they have a-changed (in a good way).
  • Book Espresso Machine: Have you seen this? Amazing technology. And it seems to be smaller than those massive first computers.
  • I love this blog: Check out Three Silly Chicks. They offer interviews with authors and illustrators, books reviews, and more--and they truly live up to their name.
  • My latest shiner: For the sixth time since he came into this world, my adorable little not-quite-three-year-old son has given me a black eye by accidentally bonking me with his hard little head in what can only be described as a freak book-reading accident. (We were looking at some new board books we had just picked up at B&N.) I have to say, however, that this is the best shiner I've ever had. It's a thick deep purple swish above my lid; it's looks like punk/runway eyeshadow. It's rather beautiful. Good thing--I should have a month or so to enjoy it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hurray! 2008 CWIM: To the Printer...

The 2008 CWIM has left the building. The files were sent of to the printer this morning. I'm very excited about this book and will offer teasers as the pub date draws closer.

In the meantime I'd like to thank my pencil, Office Max No. 2. (I call him Max for short.) When he went to work for me, Max was full-size with a nice big, useful, pink eraser. In just six short weeks, he's been worn down to a fraction of his former self, sacrificing his wood and graphite to stay sharp as he helped me edit several rounds of CWIM pages. He was a mighty good pencil, and now he's retiring. (If only they made gold watches in his size.) Below is a photo of Max next to a brand new (Ellie McDoodle) pencil for comparison, and another of the two pencils atop a stack of papers that have accumulated on my office floor, byproducts of two CWIM production cycles.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

PW Asks: Are There Too Many Books?...

Today, PW Daily posted these Bowker statistics: more than 290,000 books were produced in 2006. They asked Are too many titles being published? and invited readers to sound off.

Maybe the question should be Are there enough readers? I was just having a conversation with a few of my co-workers (one marketing guy, two fellow editors) about how much the pop culture landscape has changed in the last few decades. You could argue that in the 1950s, there was nary a pop culture reference that most of the population wouldn't recognize. Now it's so niche, so compartmentalized. There are handfuls of celebrities and musical acts--and authors --that most everyone has heard of, but so many others that only a small group are acquainted with or into. It's all very slice-of-a-slice-of-a-slice. How does an author/publisher/book reach the right slice? Tours? Websites? Word-of-mouth? Luck? Prayer?

So often I mention a well-known children's author to someone and he has no idea who I'm talking about. I forget that not everyone pays attention to what's out there like I do. But several times at BEA, I'd be in line chatting with a librarian who would bring up an author or a book that I was not the least bit familiar with. And I spend many of my waking hours paying attention to this stuff.

That's why it's so important that writers and illustrators do as much of their own marketing and promotion as they can (a la Class of 2k7), do their best to find their slice of the audience, and get their books in front of them. (Because in the end it's all about getting your books into the hands of the readers who will love them and appreciate them--says the woman who just purchased four books online right after acquiring a couple dozen new ones for free.)

SCBWI, it seems, agrees. Their upcoming conference in L.A. includes a track called Increasing Your Revenue & Book Sales featuring workshops covering things like blogs, websites, PR, and subsidiary rights, including a lunch panel. (I'm going to attend these and will, of course, be blogging from the conference.)

(Another note on the SCBWI event. I called today to make my hotel reservation and was told the rooms were sold out for the dates I asked. I assured the person on the phone that she was wrong and that I must stay at the Century Plaza. She got me a room for one night fewer than I wanted. So if you're thinking about going--CALL!)

Monday, June 11, 2007

BEA: Wrap-up (already)...

You're probably tired of reading about it. And although I'm far from being tired of writing about it, this is my last 2007 BEA-related post--my BEA wrap-up.

My observations: Publishers were showing plenty of novels for young readers and I felt like many of the YA novel covers were hard to distinguish from adult titles. Still plenty of chick lit for teen girls, and still a lot of fantasy, adventure and pirate stuff. I also noticed quite a few heavily illustrated mid-grade novels, some almost novel/graphic novel hybrids, with cartoon panels, drawings, letters or other illustrative elements sprinkled throughout. And there weren't lots of picture books being pushed (I only brought home two).

Biggest BEA regret: Not using my ticket to see the Stephen Colbert author breakfast. (I wish those things weren't so darn early) and not getting a blad (a "pre-book" offering just a snippet and showing the Book Layout And Design) signed by Stephen Colbert. The best I could do was a cardboard cutout.

Dennis my Aussie bus driver: As my final BEA photo, I offer Dennis. He was the driver on the my last shuttle bus from Javitz to my hotel. And he told bus jokes (with an accent): "

So a lady holding a baby gets on a bus. The bus driver takes one look at them and exclaims, "Wow, that's one ugly baby!" Shocked, the lady walks to the back of the bus and takes a seat, visibly upset.

"What's wrong?" asked the man in the seat next to her.

"Why, that bus driver just insulted me!," she said. "
I can't believe how awful he was."

"Well you should give him a piece of your mind--tell him you'll report him. He can't get away with that! Go on up and talk to him--I'll hold your monkey."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

People Who Have Been in the New York Times and Also in My Kitchen...

My Husband had been keeping this list for a while, and I'm excited to add two more people to it-- Writer's Digest Books own Lauren Mosko (who is one mighty fine BEA roommate), and Perigee editor Meg Leder. During our conference, they, along with several agents, were interviewed for a piece about pitching manuscripts. Lauren gave a wonderful session on perfecting your pitch right before writers were let loose into rooms full of agents and editors for our exciting pitch slam. Here's the link.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

BEA: Serendipity, Part 3...

So I’m walking through the food court in Javitz with my noodle bowl (by far the best vegetarian option), and I come upon my friends Meg and Donya having lunch with a few publishing types; they invite me to pull up a chair. (Meg and Donya are former editors with Writer’s Digest Books who both relocated to Brooklyn. Meg is an editor with Penguin imprint Perigee; Donya edits business books for McGraw-Hill. They also took pitches during out conference pitch slam and they once served as my bridesmaids.)

Then a friend of Meg’s friend (who she used to work with and now is her next door neighbor) joined us. And guess what—he’s an illustrator who does picture books, among other things. And he happened to have his latest on his hand. And he told me he’s never been on a blog. So here is Gideon Kendall’s blog debut. Visit his website and check out his work. He can conjure some mighty fine dinosaurs.

The moral to all these serendipity stories: publishing is a small, inter-connected world. You never know who you’ll meet where and how. Get yourself out to events and be friendly. (I hope lots of you will be at the SCBWI conference in LA in August!)

BEA: Serendipity Part 2...

I was excited when I found out Rose Kent was signing at BEA. Rose is featured in the upcoming 2008 CWIM’s First Books piece for her debut, Kimchi & Calamari. It’s always exciting to get to meet authors I’ve interviewed in person. BEA was Rose’s very first book signing. (Her publisher started her out big!) Here’s Rose at the signing table.

Before I met Rose, I was standing there waiting for the autograph line to open and struck up a conversation with the person behind me. Her name seemed familiar, so I ask her what she’d written. “I’m Jeannine Garsee,” she said. “I wrote Before, After and Somebody in Between. You critiqued my manuscript at a conference. My book is coming out soon from Bloomsbury.” How exiting is that! (Note: I am not in any way taking credit for Jeannine’s upcoming publication. It’s just very cool to hear she had success. And with a great publisher like Bloomsbury, no less!)

Jeannine and Rose are both members of the Class of 2k7, and had never met in person. Read more about the Class of 2k7 in the 2008 CWIM. (Notice how I’m working in all these teasers!)

BEA: Senedipity, Part 1...

So I’m in the autograph line for David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, singing their latest collaboration Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List. And guess who’s in right in front of me? Megan McCafferty (of Sloppy Firsts fame). Megan wrote an piece for the 2007 CWIM on the rules of writing YA, but I had never met her in person. We got a chance to chat as we stood in line and she told me she’d recommended CWIM on a number of occasions. So everyone should read her books! (One recommendation deserves another.) Here’s a photo of Megan with Rachel and David.

(Rachel was featured in CWIM’s First Books years ago when her debut novel Gingerbread was coming out. She remembered that the writer opened the piece about her by quoting Anias Nin. That would be former CWIM assistant editor Candi. I knew without checking.)

BEA: What If There Really Was Author Speed Dating...

So I was going through my BookExpo pix and thinking about Children's Author Speed Dating. And I decided to expand it to the whole show. Which author would win my reader's heart based on our quick meetings? I've narrowed is down to three:

Scott Westerfeld: Ahhh, Scott Westerfeld...your
books take my breath away. Face-paced, filled with adventure, and definitely excitement-making. So unpredictable. Such strong characters. Plus you were nice and posed for a photo despite your super long autograph line.

Markus Zusak: Ahhh, Markus Zusak. I haven't read your books yet, but you've won two Printz Honors. You seem super nice and you have an accent. Mmmm. I can't wait to rip open those pages and see what all the fuss is about. Plus you were nice and posed for a photo despite your super long autograph line.

Frank Portman: Ahhh, Frank Portman. You've got the whole rock star thing going. And, dude, your writing is so intelligent and funny. You were an "It" author guy in Entertainment Weekly--you got an A and a full page. Plus you were nice and posed for a photo with your super editor Krista Marino (who has an article on writing for boys in the upcoming 2008 CWIM).

It's too hard to choose. It's author Big Love. I want you all. But Markus, you're the only one who gave me a whole book. Scott--it was only a chapter; Frank--a postcard. What's a girl to do? It's The Book Thief, new in paper, now on the top of my stack. (Look for Scott Westerfeld’s next book in his Uglies series, Extras, in October. Frank Portman's second novel Andromeda Klein is due out in January 08.)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

BEA: Saturday...

Today was a great day at BEA--probably my favorite day ever at a BEA. I have lots of photos to share. However, I checked out of my hotel today and I'm staying with a friend in Manhattan tonight. Most of my stuff is still at the hotel in a co-worker's room, and among that stuff is my cord for uploading photos. I'll be busy on Monday and Tuesday getting them all up so you can share my bookalicious fun. (Tomorrow I won't have Internet access.)

In the meantime, here are some highlights of my day:

  • Children's Author Speed Dating: So cool. There were 8 or 10 attendees at each of 21 tables along with an author and someone from his or her publisher. The author had three minutes to tell us about an upcoming book. Then DING...they moved to the next table. Among the authors and illustrators I talked to were Frank Portman, Jack Gantos, Christopher Myers and Peter McCarty. I can't seem to remember any of the female authors, but I assure you there were a bunch--it wasn't really speed dating. I'll tell you more when I have my notebook (which is at the hotel I hope).
  • Autographing and autograph line serendipity: I got some wonderful books signed by some wonderful authors in the autographing area. I also ran into some wonderful authors in the autograph lines. I'll tell you more in an upcoming BEA Autographing Photo Essay.
  • Successful book shipping: This year it only took about 40 minutes to get my box of books packed, processed and paid for in the show shipping area. That's an improvement of 5 hours and 20 minutes or so from my last BEA at Javitz. Hint: ship your books on Saturday and not Sunday. Sunday is a nightmare. I sent back 22 pounds of books today. That's 11 pounds on each shoulder for a good hunk of the day. I actually have bruises from two days of lugging books around. But, alas, I am always willing to suffer for good (free) literature. (There are a few more books in my suitcase, and since I'm going to the show tomorrow, I'm sure I won't be able to resist picking up a small stack for my carry-on bag.)

Okay, now I'm off to bed to rest up for the last day of BEA. I land in the Nati at 1o p.m. tomorrow. I'll let you know what book I pick out to read on the plane!

BEA: Glimpses of the Show Floor--A Photo Essay...

BEA: A Few Random People I've Spotted Walking Around...

  • Dian Curtis Regan, Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown and KL Going hanging out together
  • Jon Scieszka
  • Frank Portman
  • Melanie Cecka of Bloomsbury
  • Rosemary Wells
  • Harold Underdown
  • David Gale of S&S
  • Five dudes dressed like Borat

  • The Statue of Liberty having lunch

BEA Children's Book & Author Breakfast...

I got up dreadfully early again this morning to get to the 8 a.m. children's author breakfast (and I use the term "breakfast" loosely. It was orange juice and a mini bagel. For $35. Librarians kept sitting down at my table asking if we were getting eggs or something. Afterwards I went to the food court) featuring Mo Willems, Jacqueline Wilson, Daniel Pinkwater, and hosted by the delightfully funny Libba Bray. (Libba did several minutes of mime during her opening and still managed to engage the audience.)

I've heard Mo speak several times before, and he's always wonderfully witty. He included his lessons on how to draw the Pigeon. Here's mine:

Jacqueline Wilson is the Children's Laureate for the UK. She's offering a session tomorrow arguing for a US Children's Laureate. I loved hearing that she feels we're in a golden age of children's literature and that she talks to at conferences, libraries and, Parliament (!) about the importance of children's books.

As for Daniel Pinkwater, was it just me or did he sorta forget to write a speech? We got a little of the funny in the beginning, then a cute-ish story about a little girl fan of his. Despite that, it was still cool to be in the same room as Daniel Pinkwater.