Monday, July 12, 2010

Conference Notes: “A Writer’s Journey,” SCBWI San Francisco North & East Bay Region

SCBWI: San Francisco North & East Bay Region
Beyond the Bay Series
A Writer’s Journey:
From Idea, to Publication, Marketing and Beyond
Speakers:  Heidi R. Kling (author of SEA) &
 Cynthia J. Omolulu (author of  DIRTY LITTLE SECRET)
Location: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Saturday, June 26, 2010

Heidi R. Kling and Cynthia J. Omololu, both YA authors, spoke at last month’s conference.  I am a picture book writer, but I never pass up an opportunity to listen to writers speak about their journey to becoming published authors. 

Kling and Omololu came from different writing backgrounds.  So it was interesting to learn the paths they’ve taken to becoming published authors.  Kling has an extensive writing background and has been writing for most of her life.  In college, she majored in Creative Writing and has also been writing plays for a kids program that she and her husband ran for a children’s theatre group.  

Omololu, on the other hand, started her writing career later in life, after the birth of her son.  But her desire and drive to succeed led her to a successful career.

Both authors' journey from idea, to publication, marketing, and beyond certainly carved a path for me to follow in my quest to becoming a published picture book writer. 

Below I will list recommendation and tips about the industry from these two very engaging and inspiring speakers.

For someone just starting out in the business:
¨      Join SCBWI- Here you can find a wealth of information about the industry, connect with fellow writers, and learn more about the craft of writing through others’ experience.
¨      Another recommended site is Verla Kay’s Blue Boards, which Omololu frequented.  There you can seek help and support from fellow writers.
¨      Find yourself a good critique group to help you hone your craft.

Writing Tips:
¨      Learn all you can about an agent (or editor) prior to submission.
¨      Make sure you research your characters, setting, and voice.  Kling emphasized that with cultural stories, "it is important for it to be authentic and respectful."
¨      Set a goal for yourself and try to write daily.  Omololu strived for a minimum of 1000 words a day.
¨      For inspiration, Omolulu recommends “Bird by Bird,” by Anne Lamott and “On Writing,” by Stephen King.

On Making a Presence for Yourself:
¨      If you haven’t already, start Blogging.  It’s free and easy.  It is also a good alternative to getting yourself a website.  Kling points out that if an editor is interested in your story, he or she may Google you.  Blogging is a good way to promote yourself and your writing. 
¨      Kling also is adamant about making connections in the industry.  She highly recommends Twitter to get connected with publishers, writers, and editors and readers.

On Marketing:
¨      Once you get a book contract, Kling recommends you get a website to promote your book and connect with readers.
¨      For marketing material, Kling found that book markers versus postcards worked well.
¨      Again, Kling recommends you get a Twitter account so that tech-savvy readers can find you.  It is also a great marketing tool to promote your book.
¨      Kling finds that holding contests has been successful in promoting her book.
¨      Kling said that one of the best investments she’s made is investing in a book trailer to get the word out about her book before it went public. 
¨      Omololu recommends to promote your book trailer.  Unlike the ever popular You Tube, School Tube is targeted towards students, teachers, and librarians who are important in the industry.  Check out Heidi R. Kling's book trailer for SEA and C.J. Omololu's book trailer for DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS.

Dirty Little SecretsSea

Wherever you are in your writing stage, you can find helpful tips to help you reach your goals as I did in this short, but information-packed conference.

The key take-home points are to keep writing, stay connected with the industry, and make friends!

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