Friday, March 4, 2011

SCBWI New York - Part II

Sorry this is so late you guys. I have been having some roommate issues and dealing with a bunch of random crap that's been taking up a lot of time and wearing me down lately. But I promised you an Alessandra Balzer post and you're going to get one. In fact, you're going to get as much as I can cram into one post without going on and on and on today. So enjoy. : )

Alessandra Balzer - Balzer & Bray

10 things she looks at when acquiring projects: 

1. Voice - This is vital; it does all the work for you by conveying things as opposed to exposition
     *1st pages are very important.
     *What you don't say is just as important as what you do.

2. Groundbreaking Concept - Think about what the market needs before the market knows it.

3. World Building - Doesn't need to be futuristic or fantasy, just believable.
     *Limitations can be more important and intriguing that what you add to it.
     *Go beyond the "What if..." questions, but keep the ripple effect in mind.

4. Read-aloud quality - Keep in mind voice, accessibility, page turns (especially in picture books). Don't be afraid to read it out loud to see how pauses work and words flow.

5. Heart - The X-factor that most agents and editors have a hard time putting into words.

6. Ripped from the Headlines - Use the news and the real world for inspiration.

7. Fresh Take on a Popular Genre - Don't tell the same story, but make sure it's a new twist if doing something that's already been done (vampires). I also have "ripple effect" down here again.

8. Fabulous New Character - Particularly in picture books and younger books for series potential (Fancy Nancy).

9. Story Arc - Think about where your story is going because you want to go on a journey and end up in a different place. Try to do the unexpected. Get the story going automatically (pacing).

10. Layered Story - War, class differences, etc.
     *Don't just scratch the surface.
     *Don't make it didactic.
     *Don't talk down to your readers. ^

Market - Know your story and where it fits; be able to sum it up in a sentence.
     *The Unidentified is Feed meets Mean Girls.


-18 generally the cap for YA
-Teen books tend to be in 1st person but they don't have to be.
-MG tends to be in 3rd.
-She doesn't pay much attention to the query/pitch because she cares more about the actual text.
-Ebooks are happening more and more, so just tell your story and leave interactive media and ebooks to the publisher.
-Trends: *dystopian *picture books harder to sell
-Short story collections are hard but not impossible to sell, but focus on the book and think about your angle and the market.
-Illustrated novels need to have a reason for images.
     *Makes the book feel younger.
-Pen names: Don't worry when submitting; let your publisher be the judge of whether or not you need one.
-Do not worry about submitting seasonal books at a certain time.
-Titles get changed all the time, but try to be original nonetheless.

R. L. Stine

Unfortunately, this keynote was during lunch when I couldn't take notes. That being said, Stine is a FUNNY guy. The one thing I really took away was this:

You never know how things will turn out, so just say 'yes' to opportunity.

That's all I can cram in today, but I still have a lot of stuff that I'll keep posting. Again, I'm sorry it's taking so long. I realize it's March and this conference was officially a month ago, but I'm working on it. >.< Life just keeps getting in the way. Anyway, I hope you all got something out of today's post, and I'll be back with a review of Mandy Hubbard's Prada & Prejudice later this weekend!


Jamie - I'm a guy, btw said...

Thanks for this post...there's a lot of great tips in there!

Jaimie said...

(And I'm a girl.)

Thanks for the post! So nice to hear this stuff.

Heather said...

This is excellent information! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I'm sorry to hear about your roommate drama and I hope it's all worked out.

Pam Harris said...

Great summary! Lots of great tips. :)

Kathryn said...

Whoa - R. L. Stine? That totally takes me back...

Thanks for the conference notes! :)

Francesca Amendolia said...

I actually liked reading this some time after the conference -- it brought me back to the mindset I was in when I wandered out of the hotel on the last day -- and I'm feeling energized. Funny Bob Stine! Wow. So true.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Interesting tidbits!


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