SCBWI provides support for writers and illustrators on various publishing paths – traditional and independent/self-published. Some authors combine these approaches for different books at different points in their career. SCBWI-MI has a PAL Coordinator for "Published And Listed" members, ie. traditionally published authors ((shout-out for Jodi McKay and the wonderful work she's been doing in this role!) And now our chapter has an Indie Coordinator for non-PAL members - David Stricklen! We asked David to explain more about this newly created role and what he hopes to accomplish. More information will be coming, but here's a start.
Introducing David Stricklen, SCBWI-MI Indie Coordinator:
As the newly appointed SCBWI-MI indie coordinator, I will be working closely with the co-regional advisors to develop initiatives to engage and support independently published authors. There are many different roads to publishing these days. I consider independent publishing as anything other than traditional publishing. This would then include hybrid, self publishing and digital.
Because there are so many roads with independent publishing, no one is an expert. If I cannot answer your questions, I will point you toward a member who has taken the path you are looking into. I also ask successful indie authors to be open to helping those who would like to follow the paths that they have already blazed. I encourage the self published author to put together their own dream team. Hire a professional editor, proofer, typesetter and printer. There are indie authors that carry all the skills needed without enlisting professionals but this is the exception rather than the rule.
If you enlist a local printer you can eliminate shipping costs. You can get off the query merry-go-round and focus on your target audience’s preferences and not the targeted agent’s. You have full creative control. You keep all the royalties.
Although you keep the royalties, you will also have to fully fund the process from editor to artist to printer. You are responsible for your own promotion. Your success or failure is directly related to the quality of your product and the time and effort you put forth.
To help the cause:
Because independently published authors can have their best sales success during school visits, I am putting together a school visit presentation for the SCBWI Marvelous Midwest Multi-Regional Conference. It is possible to outsell traditionally published titles at individual schools. In a local school visit, I once outsold the entire book fair 112 to 37 for 7th grade sales; I know it can be done.
The number one challenge for an indie author is the promotional reach. Few of us have the funds, connections and advertising dollars to promote the way the traditional publishers do. To level the playing field, I am working on a website where middle school students will conduct manuscript reviews. This would be similar to market analysis. Everyone will know in advance which titles are a sure thing. You can rewrite and resubmit after shortcomings are identified. You may also sell the completed book on this website with the student review rating. Traditional titles will also be rated next to yours. Although this is not an SCBWI program, it is being done with the intent of providing a process where a writer’s work is reviewed and rated by the target audience and sold to individuals such as librarians who are interested in purchasing books that will be a no miss. I put together my dream team for this website project: Kristin Lenz, Sue Spahr (a recently retired middle school principal) and the Meijer Inc IT web designer.
In a former life, David was an airport police chief with 30 years experience in law enforcement. Now retired, he has written a series of sought after indie MG fantasy adventure books: Beneath and Beyond, Through the Eyes of the Beast and The Heart of the Swarm. The start of a new series entitled Ripley Robinson and the Worm Charmer will be out in 2019. His books and school visits are filled with magic and creativity. David’s reverse perspective painting was a 2018 3D finalist in ArtPrize as well as a first place finish in the post prize Colors of Community art competition.
In addition to being the Michigan indie coordinator, David is also an active SCBWI advisory committee member and Grand Rapids Shop Talk Coordinator. For more information go to www.Blackwaterpond.com
Coming up on the Mitten blog: Our new Ask the Editor feature, more tips for Painless Self-Promotion, and interviews with our two mentors for the upcoming 2019-2020 Picture Book Text Mentorship Competition. The SCBWI Annual Winter Conference is happening right now in New York! Follow along on SCBWI's official blog with Lee Wind. We'll have our own recap in a few weeks from Shutta's Scholarship winner, Laura Stewart.
Just for fun, here's David Stricklen's reverse perspective painting which was a 2018 3D ArtPrize finalist! We have so many multi-talented, hard-working SCBWI-MI members who share their experience and offer help and guidance along the way. Cheers!