Mining the Nuggets

Cheryl Zach

If you’ve read my posts before, you know I’m a big advocate of writers’ conferences as good places to acquire information, about writing and illustrating skills, about up to date market information, and much else useful to a professional. You can also network, see old friends and make new ones. And they’re fun!

This past weekend I attended the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators MidSouth Writers’ Conference, held outside of Nashville, Tennessee. I’ll share a few nuggets of interest with you.

The opening keynote was given by Laurent Linn, an author/illustrator and art director and general Nice Guy. He started his career working in Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop and later won an Emmy as Creative Director of the Sesame Street Muppets, went on to work as AD at publishing houses, illustrate and write–his newest work is an illustrated YA novel, Draw the Line. Laurent shared some nuggets of wisdom, including the thought that you should start your book with a promise of what’s to come, but laid on with a feather, not a hammer. . . He noted that we are story tellers, and story tellers must share their stories.

And haven’t we all moaned about work and family obligations that keep us from our creative pursuits–the novel not finished, the portfolio that’s too thin? Time passes relentlessly. Laurent cited a quote from Walt Disney: “The way to get started is to stop talking and start doing.” I loved it–have to tell myself that more often.

He also noted in passing that we all feel like frauds, at times, and that’s not a feeling that goes away. Not something that every writer or artist will admit, but certainly comforting. Bravo, Laurent.

P.S. I didn’t have the chance to¬†learn a lot on marketing, but did hear that the YA market is a ‘bit saturated,” no surprise there as I knew that demand had cooled, but sales¬†are still possible. And there are no current trends in young adult novels. More editors were looking for middle grade than YA, also no surprise, as MG usually remains steady.