What I Love about SCBWI

13 01 2011

I’ve gained so much by being a part of SCBWI over the years. (That’s Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, for those who aren’t familiar with the acronym.) Some of my first critique partners introduced to me many of the editors I work with now. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be earning my living by writing.  I’ve also learned so much by attending conferences and critique groups. My fellow critters are among my dearest friends. They’ve not only shared writing expertise, they’ve also served as cheerleaders, psychologists, and shoulders to cry on. And who else could possibly understand the crazy compunction to put words on paper and send them out time and time again for rejections. And who can better understand the joy of those acceptances?

Since the start of the new year, my chapter has had phenomenal news. It’s thrilling to watch other writers’ careers take off. We’re less than two weeks into 2011 and already we’ve had a book make the NY Times bestseller list, one on NPR, several major award-winning books, a few authors who’ve found agents (n some cases, multiple agents), and several people who have books coming out this month. And there’s plenty more good news to come. It’s nice to know I’m hanging around with stars, and I love how their successes inspire the rest of us to keep on working.

Will Giving Away Books Increase Sales?

24 07 2010

At ALA I had the privilege of listening to Cory Doctorow’s inspiring speech at breakfast one morning. Doctorow is an advocate of free sharing of all digital media. His take on the topic is both unusual and refreshing. It has obviously worked for him. His books are released simultaneously in print and e-versions. The e-books are published under a Creative Commons Licence, which allows readers to share the books if they do not sell their copies or create derivative works.

Pretty cool idea—giving books away free. So what happens? It would seem that authors would make no money doing that, but Doctorow’s book Little Brother hit the New York Times Best Seller list. Amazing.

And Doctorow isn’t the only success story where free Internet access to a book stimulated print sales. Another success story is Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which was first posted on Funbrain.com and was viewed by 20 million unique online readers. Even though the website averaged 70,000 readers a day, when Diary of a Wimpy Kid came out as a book, it stayed on The New York Times Best Seller list for more than 74 weeks straight and sold more than 32 million copies in more than 30 countries.

Giving people the opportunity to read the book free obviously doesn’t seem to have hurt sales. And what are most writers aiming for? Readership, right? So here’s a way to get it. Oh, and one more thing most writers want is to make a living. Looks like this may be a way to do both. Should we try it?