My life as a children's author while juggling being a mum, a wife and professional volunteer. (Sometimes it gets complicated)

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

10 Tips On How To Start Learning About The Children's Book Industry In Australia

Four years ago I started to write for children with the dream of getting published. I knew nothing about the children’s book industry and I needed to start learning quickly so I could make a realistic publication plan that worked for me. I felt like I was in a little rowboat without oars in an ocean full of information. It was confusing!

Over the next few years I listened, I took notes, I asked many questions, and met lots of wonderful people (including my inspiration, Andy Griffiths). I also went on a subscription rampage – you’ll see what I mean below. So here are my top 10 tips on where to start learning about the children’s book industry.


But always put improving your craft ahead of this list.

This is how I started learning about the industry – everyone's journey will be different. If you have more ideas to share, please add them in the comments below.


Andy Griffiths and I at the
Sydney Writers Festival 2015

1) BECOME A MEMBER OF RELEVANT ORGANISATIONS:

There are so many organisations willing to help new authors and illustrators. Lots offer courses and workshops, often with a discount for members.


ASA - Australian Society of Authors
https://www.asauthors.org/

CBCA - Children’s Book Council of Australia http://cbca.org.au/

This is a national organisation. You become a member of your state branch and then you can attend a local sub-branch if there is one in your area. Each state branch has its own website.


SCBWI - Society if Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
https://www.scbwi.org/

This is an international organisation. It's broken into regions. Check the website to see what region you belong to. Each region has its own website.


If you are still thinking about whether you would like to become a member, at least subscribe to their online newsletters and Facebook pages. Most have one or both. After reading a few issues and posts, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about membership.


2) JOIN YOUR LOCAL WRITERS’ CENTRE

Join your local writers’ centre if you can access one. Find out if they run writing groups. Most provide courses and workshops at a discounted price for members. Get involved in your local creative scene. Meet other local creatives. This will set you up with lots of local support.


3) JOIN YOUR STATE’S WRITERS’ CENTRE

This is another great option depending on where you live. Going to courses presented by writers’ centres helps you meet well-established people in the industry and other authors and illustrators on their journeys beyond your local area.
If you can’t attend your state branch, subscribe to their online newsletters. Keep yourself informed about what creative people are learning around you.


Australian WC (Sydney, Melbourne and Perth) - https://sawriters.org.au/

4) FOLLOW INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Use social media to follow people in the industry. Learn who the children’s book publishers are and follow them. Also follow book review sites, bookshops, organisations and writers’ centres. Watch who others follow and take their lead.


You don’t need to be active on all social media platforms at once. I must admit I’m not active on twitter. Learning how to use twitter is on my to-do list.


5) SUBSCRIBE TO INDUSTRY ONLINE MAGAZINES

The two most common on line magazines in the children’s book industry are Pass It On and Buzz Words. They both involve a subscription fee to receive them but they are worth it. Both these publications are like an industry noticeboard. You will find courses, book launches, submission information, interviews and much more. Both have a Facebook page.


Pass It On arrives in your inbox every Monday and is managed by Jackie Hosking.
https://jackiehoskingpio.wordpress.com/

Buzz Words arrives twice monthly and is managed by Di Bates. http://www.buzzwordsmagazine.com/

6) MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR LOCAL INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

Go and find your local independent bookseller. Hopefully one isn’t too far away. Visit them regularly. Watch for the new releases. Read them. Buy them. Talk to the staff. Love them. Some of these businesses hold events in-store if a visiting artist is in town. Visit! Buy! Love them! Subscribe to their newsletter and Facebook page. You just may have your book in their front window one day!


MacLean’s Booksellers’ pop up bookshop
inside Newcastle Region Library
 at the Newcastle Writers Festival 2015

7) MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY

Go find your local public library. Visit them regularly. Watch for the new releases. Read them. Borrow them. Talk to the staff. Love them. Some libraries hold events if a visiting artist is in town. Go! Visit! Borrow! Love them! Subscribe to their newsletter and Facebook page (you may need to do this via your local council’s website or Facebook page). Your local librarian just may recommend your book for others to borrow one day! Get the idea?


8) ATTEND LOCAL EVENTS RELATED TO BOOKS – ANY TYPE OF BOOK

Support your local artists. Go to book launches, go to public readings, go to local reading and writing festivals, go to author visits. Immerse yourself! It doesn’t matter what the genre is. You will meet new people and become a participant in your local cultural scene. If you have subscribed to your local writers’ centre, local public library, and local bookshop newsletters you’ll find out what is happening so you can schedule these events into your life.


Book launch

9) ATTEND FESTIVALS and CONFERENCES

This is my favourite pastime. This is where I get my inspiration.
Festivals and conferences come in all shapes and sizes. Some are more for professional development while others are for discussing bookish topics and finding out what is happening in the world of publishing. Try as many as you can. Go find one! Most have a website, online newsletter and a Facebook page. Most capital cities host one.


Jackie French speaking at the
CBCA National Conference 2014 - Canberra
 10) READ, READ, READ!

Read everything you can in the genre and age group you are writing/illustrating in. Read inside your genre and out of it. Read new stories and old. Read good stories and bad. Read undiscovered and popular stories. Go hunting. Start to get to know the market.


LASTLY:

I feel like I have the oars to my rowboat now. It has taken years but I can now control the direction I row in – and there are so many directions.


Take your time! Find out what works best for you and make your creating time precious. Good luck!


If you want to learn a little about some of my writing journey, you might like to read: http://katrinamckelvey.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/from-idea-to-publishing-contract.html

If you want to read more about my SWF 2015 adventure, you might like to read: http://katrinamckelvey.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/sydney-writers-festival-family-fun-day.html

www.katrinamckelvey@bigpond.com