Yesterday I went to my first children's writing event. Perth is pretty bad when it comes to events that are open and advertised to the general public.
The event was at the State Library of Western Australia and was called, "Behind Closed Doors: A View From The Publishers Desk." The event was hosted by the Australia West chapter of SCBWI, which you should definitely check out as they have chapters all over the world. Anyway, the event featured two publishers: Jane Godwin from Penguin Books and Cate Sutherland from Fremantle Press.
My nerves were pretty much through the roof when I was there and I'm sure I looked like hell (with no help from the mock exam I had to take earlier that day). But, overall, the event was really good. Both publishers gave their talks and then there was a Q&A. I didn't have the guts to ask a question (maybe next time?) but there were some good questions asked.
The two publishers offered us some great advice. Jane Godwin said that as a writer you should, "write your best work!" and to, "write for the child in you." And generally, write for yourself. She said that a piece of work stands out when it's original and authentic. She made sure to point out that, in regards to children's fiction, no category was better than the other. You don't start out with picture books and junior fiction before graduating to YA fiction and, above that, adult fiction. I could have high fived her if I wanted to humiliate myself. She also said that, in regards to a literary agent, you don't really need one if you're just starting out. I wish I'd heard that a few years ago.
Cate Sutherland, the publisher from Fremantle Press, also had some great things to say. As the sole publisher of the children's department she publishers only eight children's books a year. She added to Jane's comments by saying that as a writer you have to try your best. She said that you have to, "Read a lot and work really hard!"
I did have some problems with this event, but I wanted to discuss them further in another post. I hope that if you're a writer, the advice helps you. It's one thing to know this sort of advice but to be told it directly for the source? Well, that's gold.
Anjulie Te Pohe
Founder of Koru Mag | Mookychick contributor | Avid reader and writer of YA | Takatapui (Maori & bi/queer) | She/Them | Contact: email@example.com