Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The SCBWI Conference

Four days, packed. This wasn't like the science fiction conventions I have attended over the years. Starting at 8:30 every morning, there were back to back presentations. I have 15 to 20 hours that I have recorded on my iPod, and it will take a while to go back and cull the jewels from the talks.

The first morning, I walked into the LA Ballroom and I thought, 'Uh-oh.' It looked like a thousand middle-aged ladies, all listening raptly to another up on the podium. I suppose I knew that the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators was likely to be female dominated, but I hadn't given it much conscious thought. Through the events, I had to gradually change my first impression. They weren't all middle-aged ladies. There were some older ladies, and many younger ones. And if you looked very closely, there were a few men scattered through the crowd. The only time I attempted a sample count, I came up with a one in six ratio, but that was just in the area where I was sitting.

The first talk was a bit of a cheerleading session, and I had fears that this very expensive trip would be wasted, but that quickly changed. There were real professionals here, both on the writing and the publishing side of the fence, and this 30 some year old organization was quite well run. They handed out a lot of timely and useful information. I made a few contacts, and learned the personal preferences of some people who might buy my books. I also talked to an agent who is looking at my work.

But so much of the information didn't apply to me. My novels seem to be sitting on the fence. They are written with the language and length of a regular adult-level science fiction book, but the protagonist is high-school aged. Is it a YA children's book or not. I've gotten opinions on both sides of the issue. I guess the only way to tell is to sell a few of them and see which shelf they end up on.

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