The SCBWI Summer conference flew by in a swish of images, inspiration, heart-felt words, dear friends and new. So how do you take those amazing 4 days and filter it into an action plan?
Dee and I almost fell out of our seats when Kathleen Duey gave her keynote speech on a conference exit plan as we had discussed this very idea the night before and I just so happen to jot down my own strategy before her talk! It must have been in the air!
1. Let's say it together, "We're not worthy!" Anyone who sat in Kadir Nelson's session know's what I'm talking about. It was like sitting in a room with Andrew Wyeth or Norman Rockwell, what a privilege! So let's bask and move on...
2. Take exactly 112 seconds to pout about not winning the portfolio contest. Why 112? That is how many other illustrators didn't win, don't take it personally.
3. Work on a business model. Agent Steven Malk encouraged us to take time to define what we want to accomplish in our career. What exactly do you want to do as an illustrator, be specific. Find illustrators you admire and learn how they got where they are. Take this business seriously, even if you are working it part-time.
4. Draw, draw, draw! David Weisner exhorted everyone to take a life drawing class. No matter what style you work in, you need to know the human figure.
5. Expand your horizons. It's not all picture books, work on illustration samples to fit in middle grade book cover and interior illustration. While production of picture books is down and editors are taking less chances, middle grade is exploding and illustration is the preferred cover art for this genre.
6. Play! Dan Yaccarino encourages illustrators to create personal work to add depth to their portfolio and to help land work that really speaks to your heart. Don't turn down opportunities, stay open to new avenues - you never what they may bring!
7. Rethink. Elizabeth Parisi said to rethink the author/illustrator strategy if you are just breaking into the business. Unless with certainty you are equally brilliant at both jobs, try to break into one field first. A dummy book can be used as a promotional tool.
And now the rest of the plan: send out postcards, follow up with submissions to the AD & editors from the conference, work on social media to promote my illustration, create the best work I can. Rinse and repeat...
Visit the SCBWI conference blog for highlights from the event.