This past weekend, I attended the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference (I know, it’s a mouthful) in Lakewood, Colorado. I was there as a presenter, and talked about how my Night Before series started as one book and grew to 16 over the past 12 years. Twelve years! I’ve been writing that series for that long!
It turned out to be a fun assignment for me to study my own works. Typically I read other people’s books to help improve my own. Well, I found out a few interesting things:
– My top three selling titles are: The Night Before Kindergarten, then Thanksgiving, then Easter.
– It was a wise idea to get an agent. I earned more in the advance and royalties ever since signing on with my agent.
– The stories all have families with a mother and father and either one child or two.
– It would have been better to have one artist for the whole series.
– The books illustrated with big-headed kids with skinny necks didn’t sell as well as kids depicted more accurately.
It’s always good to connect to your audience, too. Two women at the presentation were teachers and used my books in their classrooms. One woman who was pregnant read The Night Before the New Baby and started crying, it touched her so. Plus, people offered great ideas for new titles.
The thing attendees were most thankful for is that I talked about what I earned for this series: advances and royalties.
Besides presenting, I was also fortunate to attend a sessions that offered new information to an old hack who’s been in the business for 20 years. Plus I made contacts with editors, and learned more about how to craft a better story.
So if you are considering attending an SCBWI conference, I say do it if you get a chance. This is a people business, and you have to make face-to-face connections. And getting a shot of inspiration doesn’t hurt either.