When I started my publishing journey there was a whole lot of stumbling around. Thankfully a quick google search, “writing classes in Chicago’ led me to Story Studio Chicago, which then led me to discovering the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Now I’ll admit, when I joined SCBWI I didn’t have a clue what to do despite the lovely email from the new member chair. I think I was experiencing system overload, plus I was new to the whole mother of two thing, so I definitely couldn’t tell left from right for a bit.
The best thing I could do was download the industry handbook that SCBWI provides to all members. I was super pumped when I saw a section on self-publishing, but that excitement quickly died as I learned that self-publishing was in so many words doomed for failure. 🙁 So, I figured they weren’t my kind of crowd anyway, next…
But, through divine intervention I met Urania Smith, with whom I co-founded the non-profit KidLit Nation. Urania turned out to be the new member chair that I sadly didn’t respond to earlier. Because of her, I gave SCBWI another chance and realized how much more I could benefit from being a part of this community. Today I’m a huge fan of the organization. The critique groups, conferences, professional critiques at conferences, area networks with so many topics to help writers as they grow, retreats, and not to mention the awesome relationships that come as a result. I learned to respect what SCBWI stands for, standards and quality. There’s still a somewhat dismissive attitude toward indie publishing overall, but that’s a conversation for another day.
So where’s the best moment in all this lovely rambling? Well, fast forward to fall 2018. I attended SCBWI’s IL regional conference and received a marketing consult from Barbara Fisch, a publicist at Blue Slip Media. This was hands down the best use of my time and money. I was given two and a half pages of actionable ideas on how I can continue to build influence and reach potential readers. It was also enlightening to see that a good number of their ideas were also on my “worth exploring” list. Barb and her colleague Sarah Shealy were genuinely excited about my book series and invited me reach out for any help.
This invitation was extended in-spite of the fact that I’m an indie author, something I did’t foresee happening. Now this future partnership may not seem like a major thing, but to me it is. I’m the kind of entrepreneur that doesn’t believe in wasting too much time doing things you suck at. Not that I’m horrible at PR/marketing, I just happen to recognize that it’s currently my weakest link. My talented editors, art director and illustrator may know how to deliver excellent service, but if I can’t sell enough books my business will literally die. I’m definitely not doing all this work to be average. 🙂
Meeting Barb and Sarah was my best moment of this year’s SCBWI-IL conference. I should also thank SCBWI for scaring the daylights out of me with the doom and gloom section in their handbook. It pushed me to create a book series worth noticing.
Last but not least, my current favorite podcast episode. Writing for Children w/Katie Davis, Episode 116: How to write dialogue.