So the Summer SCBWI conference ended yesterday and it was stellar. I made a lot of new friends, half of them published, and had good manuscript review with a New York editor. New York editor people. That's royalty. Although "manuscript" isn't really accurate because it's just 15 pages and a synopsis. But what good editor can't predict the trajectory of a novel from that, right?
It was a long, but very satisfying 4 days hanging out at talks, break-out sessions, and the bar, and all at the Hyatt Regency in Century City, a pretty swanky hotel. I paced myself, sleeping in at my loft, and then heading over whenever I got up. One afternoon I took off and went for a swim in the fabulous pool, sunning on the steps, chasing the sun across the large round disc of grass.
The things that stuck out:
- One speaker said that they themselves weren't the important contact that we'd make, but other people in the room. And it was true. The friends I made there will be people I'll stay in touch with as we rise up the publishing ladder.
- Slow down. Publishing is a slow process. It was Steven Malk at his talk on a career strategy who advised not only thinking of the long arc of a career, but of giving it enough time to happen.
- Michael Stearns of Firebrand Literary encouraged being sure of an offer on a manuscript before accepting it. This was kind of a running theme through several of the break-out talks actually. If an offer comes in, it doesn't mean it's the right offer. It might be another six months or a year before you get the right editor/money/agent/house that you're looking for.
- The keynote speakers like Susan Patron and Sara Pennypacker reminded me that there is great heart in great writing. Sara's speech literally brought me to tears, inspiring me to create something new out of the ashes of something that is dying.
- Lisa Yee's talk on revision was so inspiring, hearing that "Millicent Ming: Girl Genius" took six years and three completely different versions to be successful.
I ran into a few agents/editors in passing, and there was that awkward stalker/victim dance you have to do at conferences. They seem to hold magical keys to the universe of publishing, while you may hold a magical manuscript. But they were all gracious and willing to take a question or two. Each answer illuminated a path or gave a direct answer.
After my editorial review by Mark McVeigh, I'm still not sure if my gay boy-detectives book needs to be fully pulled out of YA or not. Mark was sure, and I feel kind of silly doubting someone with such impeccbable credentials. But after looking at some of the hard-hitting YA books, I can't imagine that I'm squarely in the adult category either. I heard that Firebrand has an expanded list of YA/adult crossover, that Laura Rennert has taken on some properties that straddle both, and that another house (as yet no word on the name) has a list that ranges specifically for cross-over at 18-36. The best advice I got was to just write the best book, get the best agent, send it to the best editor, and then work with them to place it where it fits best.
Well I've got notes to type up, pics to put on the web, and reading, writing, and research to do.