This past weekend I spent my Saturday learning the in's and out's of the current children's publishing world at the SCBWI Oklahoma Spring Conference. This year's speakers came well-prepared with informative and helpful lectures. The speakers included Laurent Linn art director from Simon and Schuster for Young Readers; Mary Kate Castellani assistant editor at Walker Books for Young Readers; Kristin Daily editor at Harper Collins; Gail Gross royalty consultant for Intellectual Property Attorney, LLC; Abigail Samoun editor at Tricycle Press; and Elana Roth agent for Caren Johnson Literary Agency.
All of lectures had me scribbling furiously in my notepad. In an attempt not to overwhelm you'll, I'll cover one speaker per day.
Laurent Linn talked about the importance of having a unique take on a story, and as far as art direction goes, he said that current illustration trends are very cinematic in nature. The Scarecrow's Dance is an excellent example of that. He also categorized children's books in six genres I had not considered before: Holiday, Folk/Fairy Tale, Children's Discovery of the World, Young Child Deals with a Difficult Concept, Non-fiction, Animal. Two great quotes from his lecture:
"Know it (the writing craft), learn it, then forget it and let your subconscious do the work."
"Don't try too hard to do something unique because everyone is (inherently) unique."