Showing posts with label social media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label social media. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The SCBWI LA Conference: Experience of a First-Timer

SimplyMessingAbout SCBWILA2013

This year I was finally able to attend the annual Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) LA International Summer Conference. It's a gigantic event where people from all aspects of the children's publishing industry converge in one place for 4 days. If that sounds overwhelming, exhausting, and heavenly, you have exactly the right idea.

The strangest thing about attending this conference for the first time was I didn't feel like a newbie at all. I have to say this is all because of Twitter. Throughout the entire event I bumped into friends that I've made over the years on Twitter. Standing in the lobby of the hotel was like a bizarre real-life version of a Twitter stream. People who I usually only see online were walking right in front of me! There wasn't a moment where I felt alone or out of place.

An awesome thing that happened was 3/4 of the Simply Messing About crew attended the conference! Renée couldn't attend in person but she was definitely there in spirit. Her work was mentioned twice during the breakout sessions. Laura, Christina, and I were so proud of her and cheered.

Another unexpected thing that was so rewarding about the conference was it gave me the opportunity to say "thank you" to so many of the people who helped me out over the years. I was able to grow because other people were kind enough to answer my newbie questions, gave me honest critiques, and encouraged me when I was just starting out. There was nothing like being able to express my appreciation in person.

Things that helped make the conference a success for me:
  • Have your Twitter/Facebook profile pic on your name card! Having my profile picture on my name card made all the difference in the world. So many of the interactions started with people recognizing my avatar.

  • Don't be shy. Speak up during workshops and ask questions. This is your  chance to get information that you will probably never find on the internet from experts/heroes.

  • Sit back and enjoy. Don't stress about getting "discovered". You are there to learn and make friends.

Revelations from the conference:
  • It takes a looooong time to come up with ideas.
    So many of the books you think just came about overnight lived in sketchbooks for years and years. This was a common theme mentioned by many of the presenters.

  • Veteran illustrators go through tons of revisions to get characters just right -- it's not just you!
    This particular observation made me feel better. It's not just me that can't get a character right on the first try.
  • Learn from each other.
    It's easy to forget that you can learn a whole lot from your fellow conference attendees. A whole lot of them are experts too. What I learned just from talking with other attendees is just as valuable as the official workshops.
  • I'm part of the right tribe.
    I thought I would be exhausted being immersed in the children's book world day and night for four days! That was not the case for me at all. I loved every minute of it and can't wait to contribute to this world.

The biggest takeaway for me was that I was SO GLAD that I signed up for this conference. This summer has been nutty with my workload on top of having my son home from school. I was this close to canceling the trip because I thought I couldn't take the time away. But forcing myself to attend the SCBWI LA Conference ended up giving me the golden opportunity to take a step away from the daily life to be more thoughtful, get feedback, and recharge myself on why I wanted to be an illustrator. And sometimes taking the time away no matter how busy you are is exactly what you need to grow.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Learning From Your Peers

Yesterday, in search of inspiration for a new blog post, I posed this question on Twitter:

"What is your favorite picture book cover?"

I don't know why I chose covers specifically, and I definitely didn't expect so many answers! On Twitter, you have to catch the timing just right and if the Universe aligns, replies will pour in. It just so happened that yesterday afternoon, the response was overwhelming enough to leave me feeling a little sad about my lack of children's book knowledge.

"Anything by Jan Brett" and " Anything by Trina Shart Hyman" were some replies.

There were quite a few that I recognized, but there were even more books and illustrators that I had never heard of. What a mess I was about this!

Pondering this over a good night's sleep, I came to the conclusion that my self proclaimed "lack of knowledge" (in quotes because I like to think this isn't entirely true) is long as I keep learning. I don't ever want to stop learning and I love that, because of Twitter, I can learn from my peers. 

Here are a few of the recommended covers, in no particular order:
(some of which are selections I've made based on the above suggestions of "Anything by–")

A different take on the same book...
Multiple titles by Shaun Tan were mentioned.

Another different take on the same book...

Now, I will take all of this newly gained information and make room for it up in that rusty, old memory bank of mine. Though not until after, of course, I share it with you. :) 

If you're interested in exploring more about the design of picture books, here are some great blogs and posts to follow:

And some places to merely feast your eyes:

And a big thank you to the following folks for offering up their favorite book covers:
@iamemmamusic (and your hubby!)

What are your favorite book covers? Is there a reason why?
Please share in the comments below!

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Beginner's Guide to Twitter for Illustrators

I joined Twitter about four years ago when it was still rather new. I’ll admit that back then I had no idea how to use it! But now, four years later, I find it to be one of the most helpful  ways to socialize, learn and network with others in the children’s publishing world. Along the way, I've met some really great friends. I met my fellow bloggers here on Simply Messing About on Twitter! Here are some very basic steps to navigating your way through Twitter to get the most from it.

1.  Set up your account so it is most beneficial for you:
Make sure your twitter account name is the same as your working name. When I first signed up, I used a fake username because I wasn’t sure how I’d be using Twitter and to be honest, I was a little scared of the new platform. Problem is, nobody knew it was me! Now, however, I use my real name--it helps with visibility when it comes to networking and creating a consistent online presence.

If you are an illustrator, why not use an illustrated self-portrait as your avatar (profile picture)? Or crop a fun picture of one of your illustrations to use as your profile photo. Hands down, you will get more followers if you have a fun, illustration that represents you as well as your work!
Along those same lines, try to use your artwork as your Twitter banner and background! You can get really creative here and used them both in a fun way to show off your illustration and design skills.

2.  Connect with those in your Industry:
Twitter feels less personally intrusive than Facebook. With Facebook, people have to “accept” you as a friend before you can interact with them. With Twitter, you can follow people, read others’ Twitter statuses and write back to them freely (unless their profile is locked, which is pretty rare these days). That doesn’t however, mean that they will respond back to you! P.S. Don’t get your feelings hurt if you don’t always get a response! ;)

Following people is easy! Just search for a friends name and click “Follow”. When you find a friend, check out who they follow to find a whole gaggle of friends!

3.  Find topics you are interested in (i.e. HASHTAGS!)
It seems like so many people make fun of the very useful hashtag. Why??? They are invaluable and can be used in many different ways. The most useful way to use a hashtag is basically as a keyword to find people talking about one topic. Type the keyword with a hashtag (#) in front of it into the Twitter search bar and you will find everyone who used that keyword in a Twitter update. Try typing the broad term #illustration into the Twitter search bar and see what comes up!

Hashtags can also be used during a chat hour that groups of people hold to discuss particular topics. For example, every Thursday night, (mostly) illustrators from the children’s publishing world get together at 9pm (EST) to discuss a topic much like a meeting, using the hashtag #kidlitart. Type that into the Twitter search bar and you’ll find yourself in the middle of a children’s illustrator “meeting” hosted by our very own @ReneeKurilla as well as the wonderful @SmilingOtis and @DiandraMae! #fun!
Here are some popular hashtags for those of us in the children’s publishing world:


You can also use twitter hashtags to be silly and punctuate your tweet: “I am so happy! I just signed a contract with a major publisher! #millionaire" ;)

4. What Twitter is NOT good for:

Twitter is a great tool for promoting yourself, but over-promoting your latest book or project is a turn-off for your follwers. You’ll soon become the  “Telemarketer of Twitter” and that will quickly earn you a lot of unfollows. 

Twitter is NOT a place to badmouth former clients, previous clients, publishers, bosses, colleagues or anyone else, really! Twitter makes the world a lot smaller...word gets around!


Now that we’ve gone over some of the reasons I love twitter, here is a starter list of some of the people on Twitter who make it so great! These are all people to follow who are well-versed in the children’s publishing world and who consistently tweet lots of great info:

(There really are WAY too many to name, so here are a few of the original gang I started to follow.)


Art Directors:


All of this is really just the absolute tip of the Twitter iceberg. Go join Twitter and have fun! I’ve met tons of really great friends through Twitter and have gained valuable knowledge...go forth and tweet! It’s the best water cooler around for us creative types!

Until next time!