Monday, June 24, 2013

On the Couch with Nonfiction Authors Anonymous

Whack! Whack!

I now call the first meeting of Nonfiction Authors Anonymous to order.

Hi. I'm Peggy Thomas. I'm the author of 13 books written for the educational market and ... 4 (sniffle) were ... work for hire.

While speaking to a group of nonfiction writers, I got to laughing about how dysfunctional we all seem to be. We apologize for having done work for hire instead of being proud that we are capable of researching and writing a book in 3 months or less.  I jokingly said that perhaps at the next conference there should be a group session with a therapist. Isn't it enough that we sometimes feel like the geeky yet genius stepchildren as we sit at book signings next to perky picture book people and the moody YA click? We shouldn't turn on each other by buying into a ranking system of nonfiction.

We have bought into the idea that a jacket-wrapped hardcover trade book is the "corner office" of children's NF. If it is, then only in a creative sense -- you get to write what you want, how you want it (sort of). But it isn't necessarily so financially. Many trade books don't pay out their advance. Some may be pulled off the shelf before their time.  I have earned more money on one article -- which sold in reprints and then was bought by a testing company for a 5 year period, and renewed after that -- than I have on some books.

So get on the band wagon. Shake off the senseless shame we feel for the important work we do, the work that feeds our families, heats our homes, and guess what? Educates and entertains millions of school kids every day!!!  Not many people can make that claim.

As long as you know that you did the best job you could crafting that book within the guidelines a publisher set, then hold your head up high.

 Nonfiction Authors Anonymous UNITE!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference Talks Books, Apps, and More By Rocco Staino

Here is a link to a review on the the conference in School Library Journal -- 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference Talks Books, Apps, and More by Rocco Staino. I guess he didn't sit in on my workshops - I'll forgive him.

Monday, June 17, 2013

21st Century Children's Nonfiction Conference


The conference in New Paltz was TERRIFIC!!!  I can't tell you how exciting it was to be with dozens of other nonfiction writers, illustrators, editors and publishers, teachers, and librarians all discussing the art, craft and business of nonfiction for kids. It was such an unusual event - to focus only on nonfiction - that it was like letting prisoners out of solitary.  I was positively giddy.

Attendee Nancy Arny Pi-Sunyer wrote about it in her blog --

For me the highlights were:

--  working with Mary Kay Carson on a three hour presentation about all the basics of the publishing process.  I thought we made a great self-deprecating team. And I learned a thing or two about contracts, which I tend to be ignorant about.

-- Hearing from Melissa Stewart about a new initiative by the "Uncommon Corps" that categorizes nonfiction seven ways.

-- Learning a few ideas on how to reinvent myself for new markets from author-illustrator Roxie Munro.

-- Meeting Laura Purdie Salas and hearing about her experiences with an agent.

-- Seeing pictures of Vicki Cobb as a kid and realizing that she is just as energetic and enthusiastic (perhaps more so) now.

-- Laughing a lot discussing the ups and downs of this business with everyone. I loved meeting the four writers I critiqued, and those I sat with at meal time. 3 whole days of NF talk!!

-- Meeting author Carolyn DeCristofano and  editor Alyssa Mito Pusey and hearing how they created two books together. I soooo appreciated Carolyn's willingness to share moments of angst and frustration, because we have all been there. I don't know if I could be so brave. And Alyssa was wonderful explaining her process and giving us a glimpse of what her job entails. Loved the photo of all the revisions, emails, galleys, etc. that is kept in the archives.

Many thanks go to Lionel Bender, and Sally and Mike Isaacs for inviting me to this awesome, one-of-a-kind conference. I can't wait till next year.

SAVE THE DATE --  June 20-22, 2014