SCBWI QLD 2019 State Conference - What It Means to Craft Stories

For the first time ever, I walked into a writing conference bereft of note book and pen. I'm a fastidious note-taker by nature so this oversight was more a result of a clogged up brain in need of defragging rather then act of intent.

The distraction of having to emcee a few conference sessions for the inaugural SCBWI QLD State Conference was probably also to blame but I still managed to drag home a few significant take away points from what was a hugely successful day of sharing, caring and entertainment. You'll find some of my favourite revelations below. Visit the Story Craft page for a full outline of this year's Program and Presenters.

Some of the Conference happy campers
  • What sparks publishers' interest?
    • Fresh ideas
    • Solid ideas told in dramatically exciting new ways
    • Manuscripts that possess a hook from the get go
    • Synopsises that hook from the get go
    • Quietly beautiful literary works may be beautiful but make your work SHOUT its point of difference as loudly as possible

  • What strengthens submissions?
    • Winning beginnings
    • Elegant writing
    • Solid story telling
    • Zero info dumps - be subtle in your approach 
    • Creators that are connected
Susanne Gervay SCBWI Aus NZ RA in conversation with Lisa Berryman, HarperCollins
  • What promotes productive agent / creator / publisher relationships
    • A willingness to work together, listen, compromise
    • Ditching the ego and not being defensive all the time
    • Strong active social media presence
    • Simple professional up to date on line base - website - that acts as a connective hub to other platforms
Yours truly with a dynamic panel of Kids' Lit Movers & Shakers. Megan Daley, Jenny Stubbs, Lori-Jay Ellis, Karen Foxlee and Michelle Worthington
  • Why is it so important to remain connected to our young reading communities and how do we do it?
    • To connect with target audiences, the kids!
    • To build a better culture of reading and book love
    • To create real-life connections with young readers and creators
    • Through school literary festivals, author visits, school encounters
    • Joining associations like the Queensland Writers Centre, Book Links, Write Links
    • Through speaking agencies but more weight is put on actually knowing the creator and watching them perform and interact with kids
    • Practise your performances. Trial them at local schools as PR visits. 
    • Get to know TLs, teachers and librarians
Dimity in conversation with EK Books' publicity guru, Alison Worrad
  • Things to expect from your publicity team upon publication - Publicity 101:
    • A marketing questionnaire prior to publication outlining your career, reasons behind the story, willingness to travel and promote your new book and Bios.
    • Use of bios and story blurbs to secure interviews, review requests and media appearances (seen as crucial)
    • Sales, marketing, and PR (promotional) support during the first month - 6 weeks of a new publication
    • Distribution of review copies to generate noise and interest 
    • Establishment of radio interviews and connections with relevant associations relating to your story
    • Assistance with Awards notification and entry (although fees may be the responsibility of the creators)
    • Advice on book trailers and promotion of any auxiliary events you may organise like book launches
    • Assistance with promotional events like book tours etc. depending on the publisher and budget
    • Advice on which professional platforms to set up profiles eg. Amazon 
    • Promotion of backlists where necessary and available
    • A willingness on your part to participate with promotion, to say yes and get out there
Was it something I said? But seriously, promoting your book baby can be SO much fun!
  • Process of a Structural Edit:
    • Look at the story in three distinct acts but break it down into four quarters
    • Read through first in entirety 
    • Break apart and note what happens in each section on successive readings
    • Identify the turning points and points of conflict. A novel may have more than the standard (Rule of) three found in picture books
    • Determine if it works, which direction it's going, is it making sense
    • How the characters fit in 
  • Key attributes to survive / prosper in this Industry:
    • Patience
    • Tenacity
    • Understanding through learning and professional development
    • More patience
    • Graciousness - ability to accept rejections, learn and move on
    • Relinquishing failure. Let it go!
    • Kindness - pay if forward, show support, listen
    • Be true to yourself - write what you want to write regardless of trends
  • One of the key signs that you are becoming a (writing creative) mole!
    • Vitamin D deficiency
In coming SCBWI QLD ARA, Alison Stegert, peeling back the layers that challenge creatives
  • Ways to overcome becoming a mole:
    • Get outside and move more
    • Take a break from social media
    • Compare only with yourself
    • Value growth, no matter how gradual, slow or miniscle it may be
    • Make memories - cache successes, bank positives
    • Share - create an environment of kindness - give back!
There are probably dozens more salient insights on story crafting floating about in the debris of my mind but they may not resurface for a while so I encourage you to tune into the SCBWI QLD sites for extra updates, photos and session note downloads posted by our indomitable QLD Committee. And become a member, if you are not already! 


Kira82 said…
I'm a terrible note taker so this is just perfect for a refresher! Thank you :)
DimbutNice said…
Glad to help! Sometimes a few words is all that is needed open the memory flood gates. :-)
Susanne Gervay said…
It was a brilliant conference.
DimbutNice said…
I thought so too, Susanne! A true delight to have you there as well to offer guidance and inspiration. :-)

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