It’s a Small World: SCBWI-Iowa Part One

I made my first trip to Iowa this past weekend for the SCBWI-Iowa conference. This is only my second SCBWI conference, but I knew it would be great. Later in the week, I’ll give you a detailed account of what I talked about — in other words, why should an SCBWI conference have a marketing component?

For now, though, I want to talk about the small world that is the publishing business.

Granted, since I was Marketing Director at the Children’s Book Council for five years, I know a lot of people in the industry. However, some connections can be very odd.

So, I already knew several of the other faculty members: Molly O’Neill (HarperCollins editor and friend from the CBC days); Eric Rohman (Caldecott medalist; I worked with him both at Millbrook and the CBC); the incomparable Lin Oliver (founder and Executive Director of the SCBWI); and authors Candace Fleming and Gary Schmidt (I’ve met each of them several times while at the CBC).

Golden Books Editorial Director Diane Muldrow and I probably met once or twice before this weekend, but it was the first time we really got to know each other. The odd connection here is that Albert Whitman was also the founder of another company — which later became Golden Books.

But the oddest connection of the weekend — agent Stephen Fraser. We’d never met before, but he is the agent of author Carol Lynch Williams. I did some freelance work for her book The Chosen One just before heading west to join Albert Whitman & Company. During his presentation, Stephen talked about how he had submitted the book to an adult imprint “on a whim.” Quite a whim for me — the marketing team at St. Martins needed to hire a freelance children’s/YA specialist because they are primarily an adult imprint. So Stephen, thanks for the work!

I also met for the first time author Wendy Delsol and Sterling editor Alli Shaloun Brydon.

You know what wasn’t odd at all  about the conference? The authors and illustrators. A very enthusiastic and hardworking group.

Of course, I spent a lot of time with the lovely Dori Hillestad Butler, author of The Buddy Files and a favorite around here. I also met her friends from the now infamous pre-dawn drive to be on Fox News.

There is a tradition to end the night in hotel bar…a very interesting hotel bar…with elderly couples dressed to the nines for dancing and live-ish music with a singer who seemed to able to mimic just about any voice or style. I did leave early one night (midnight), so I missed the hard-hitting Scrabble game (won by the aforementioned Dori Butler).

Thanks for the good time SCBWI!

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It’s a Small World: SCBWI-Iowa Part One