105 Ways to Give a Book

KidLitCon Seattle: Sessions and Stuff III

When I heard that Scott Westerfeld was going to give the keynote for KidLitCon Seattle, I was excited because he’s a big name in YA and an interactive blogger. But I wasn’t personally a fan, thinking that his books were not my style. Then I heard his presentation and was absolutely mesmerized.

He talked about the death of illustrations in books at the hand of the camera. Illustrated panels had been common in books before a new pricing structure for illustrators fell into place, leaving publishers taking the cheaper road to text only, even for children’s books. He talked about the mindset of adults changing to promote these books to kids as chances to use their own imagination to create the pictures. (And I’ve used that line myself, and now it does seem like a line.)

With the Leviathan series, Scott Westerfeld wanted to bring back the idea of illustrations in a book intended for an older audience. He described the process of working with the illustrator to create the world portrayed in the series, even to the times the artist drove aspects of the story by getting ahead of him. He was influenced by fan art of his other books to realize the importance of the illustrations and also to some of what the readers wanted to imagine in the books. In his words, “That which the camera took away was given back to us through the Internet.”

Honestly, after this talk I was a little bit fangirl and made sure that I table-hopped his way during lunch. He was just so interesting. I also bought a copy of Leviathan to have signed to my teen. So just an aside to authors that there are ways to sell your book without SELLING YOUR BOOK.

The next session I attended was The Fantastic New World of Book Apps for Children presented by Mary Ann Scheuer, Betsy Bird, and Paula Wiley. They showed various book apps and explained specifically what made them good — and just as helpful, what made them not good. In evaluating book apps, it’s important to look at what moves the story forward or enhances the experience or the learning. Some apps have received good marks, and yet take the reader out of the story by engaging them to draw pictures on an unrelated screen. For more on evaluating book apps, head to Great Kid Books, the blog of one of the presenters and the organizer for the Cybils new category for book apps.

While I didn’t expect to do more than sit back and get an author’s perspective on marketing, I found myself taking copious notes during Holly and Shiraz Cupala’s presentation. They shared the concepts and strategies behind marketing Tell Me a Secret, including blog tours, trailers, videos, and a two chapter booklet. They shared the application of the four Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion — which was noted from the other side as Consumer, Cost, Convenience, and Communication. It was an amazing presentation, and I’ll direct you to the Holly Cupala’s website for more information or to book this duo for a presentation near you. Seriously. I will leave you with this tidbit though: Over 75 pecent of children’s books are bought in a store. Just 12 percent of teens shop for books online. Interesting, huh?

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Melissa said...

I agree: Scott is such an interesting person. And I'll add to that: even though I heard him give pretty much the same exact presentation last Saturday in Austin, he managed to sell it just as well to a huge crowd of teenage fans. (You should have seen the line at the end of the day to get his book signed! Made me glad for KidLitCon.)

Alex said...

Good for Scott Westerfeld for trying to bring back the idea of illustrations in books. I love them, which was one of the reasons I chose to collect old books.
I can't tell you how much I wish I had been at KidLitCon this year. So happy next year is NYC.

Suzanne Casamento said...

That book buying stat is very interesting. And as far as the conference, that sounds like so much fun! I'm envious. :)

Doret said...

I loved the Leviathan series. The books kept getting better.

Tad off topic - My intended Nonfiction Picture Book Cybils nomination, My Hands Sings the Blues is classified as a picture book by the Library Congress. So it was moved to picture book category but I've already nominated a picture book.

Since I want to follow the one nomination per catergory rule, when you have a moment can you please take down (hurts me to say that) My Hands Sings the Blues. -Thank You.

Tomorrow morning I am posting a list of yet to be nominated titles that feature kids of color, I will had it to that.