This was my first time attending one of the big SCBWI conferences, as well as my first virtual one, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, given that my most recent experience with Zoom was accidentally leaving my microphone off on a virtual doctor’s visit.
Overall, I was amazed at their coordination! There were only one or two instances of accidental muting, and of course the rogue dog or child, but the conference generally ran like a well-oiled Rube Goldberg machine. It amazed me that I was able to leech inspiration from great minds in the industry while guzzling cocoa and wearing sweatpants.
The segments were many, and there’s no way I can go into detail about all of them here, but here are my favorite takeaways from a weekend of crash course knowledge and summer-camp-style belonging.
This was a theme exemplified at the Simon & Schuster virtual office tour, a segment on the first day of the conference, where Laurent Linn, Art Director at Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, acted as MC as we jumped from zoom window to zoom window to meet a representative from every department that makes a kids’ book come together.
The art department, the publishing department, the managing editorial department and the production department are chock full of people dedicated to making your book a success. They bounce work back and forth between themselves, from nitty gritty details like balancing budgets, all the way to choosing paper and special finishes for the final book. To a publisher, every book is an investment, and every author or illustrator has a team behind them and working with them to make sure that investment makes bank.
At the mock book cover/ book design production meeting, hosted by Yaffa Jaskoll, Executive Art Director at Scholastic, we saw another team of editors and designers who worked together like a friendly machine. We were shown the steps, from mood boards and finding an illustrator, to final sketches and branding, that lead to the advent of several dazzling covers that gave me heart eyes.
Takeway 3: A great deal of mess and effort is necessary to make something beautiful.
- Illustrator Jing Jing Tsong went through 12 rounds of sketches for most spreads in her upcoming book, and thought up and roughed out a whole B-plot that didn’t end up being used.
- Illustrator Archana Sreenivasan made a trip to rural India to do hands-on research, and to meet the peoples profiled for her book Desert Girl, Monsoon Boy by Tara Dairman.
|Portraits by Sara Kendall|
@sarakendall.art, and on twitter @skillustrative. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and her website is sarakendall.net.
Coming up on The Mitten Blog this spring:
Book Birthdays, a Writer Spotlight, Equity & Inclusion Corner, interviews with our SCBWI-MI illustration mentors, a new Featured Illustrator, and much more!
Have you registered for the SCBWI-MI (Virtual) Spring Conference?
Please join SCBWI for #StopAsianHate Virtual Action Day, Friday, March 26, 2001
This scholarship awards a one-year SCBWI membership to a Michigan writer or illustrator.
Qualifications: Must be a Michigan resident actively working toward creating children’s books that resonate with diverse readers.
Award: Awardees will receive a year’s membership to SCBWI beginning April 1 if awardee is a new member. If the awardee is a current member, the membership will be extended for a year.
Deadline: Applications are accepted February 14 through March 14. Winner(s) will be announced on or about April 1 each year. ***Application deadline for the 2021 M4M Scholarship has been extended to April 1st. Winners will be announced by April 15th.
For more information and to apply go to: M4M Scholarship Application