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CBC Annual Meeting, Crockett Johnson, Translation, YA Novel Illustration, Highlights, Storytellers
The Purple Crayon Blog September 2006

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Notes from the Children's Book Council Annual Meeting, September 28, 2006

I attended the CBC's Annual Meeting, which was held in New York City.

It's a morning meeting, and attracts a sizable number of children's publishing staff, who socialized over coffee, orange juice, and breakfast pastries.  The meeting then opened with some routine business: thanking staff for their work over the past year; election of new board members; and a review of the CBC's programs and activities over the past year.

Then the meeting started to get more interesting, as first Simon Boughton, the chair of the CBC board, and then Robin Adelson, the recently arrived Executive Director, laid out some of their ideas for the future.

Simon first explained that the CBC board and members had developed a sense that the organization needed a new direction. Over the past year, a consulting fim surveyed members to get an accurate understanding of just what the membership wanted.

More will be revealed in the coming year, but to start with I learned that the CBC intends to: separate its activities as a trade association from its activities as an educational foundation (which will be carried out under the aegis of an entity the CBC set up called Every Child a Reader}; make more out of Children's Book Week and raise its profile; continue to support award lists such as the Children's Choices list and special topic promotional lists; de-emphasize the sale of bookmarks, posters, and the like; and act more as the voice of the industry.

Watch the Children's Book Council's site for more news.

Read more in this article from PW Daily.


Crocket Johnson's Birthday

Stanford University Libraries is hosting a centenary celebration of Crockett Johnson's birth.

I'd like to go, but it's on the wrong coast.

(With thanks to a Purple Crayon regular, who passed this on to me from the childlit listserv).


Translating Children's Literature

Dear Mr. Underdown,

I am a professional freelance translator with 18 years experience translating patents from German into English.  Specializing in this field has been fine for paying the bills, and has allowed me to work from home as I raise my four children.  As my youngest is now in the first grade, however, I am highly motivated at this time to expand/redirect my translating focus to the field of children's literature.  Unfortunately, although I have done some literary translation, most of my work thus far has been extremely technical and legal.  And while I have wonderful contacts with translation agencies and patent attorneys, I have no contacts at all in the field of publishing.  Furthermore, some of my internet research indicates that translators ordinarily submit translation proposals to publishers, who then must purchase translation rights from the party holding said rights, while some research shows publishers acquiring rights and then hiring translators (although who in their right mind would hire a patent translator to handle a fairy tale?).  You see my dilemma.  I feel I've put in enough years deciphering the details of people's inventions, and I'm ready to move on to my true passion - stories for kids.  If you can provide me with any guidance at all, I would greatly appreciate your help.

What you want to do is quite difficult to pull off.

Children's publishers generally do NOT look at "translation proposals"--that is done only in academic and adult literary publishing, to the best of my knowledge. In children's publishing, the American publisher does tend to hire someone they already know, though with picture books they may not even do that (the foreign publisher may provide a rough translation which the American publisher then edits).

It may take some time, but if you want to do this the only way I see for you to do it is to start doing translations, partly to learn the different challenges of translating children's books and partly to create samples. Start to learn the field at the same time: join the SCBWI if you haven't already, read my Idiot's Guide, meet children's book writers and network. Start sending out your samples to companies you have identified as possible prospects. Follow up contacts. Go to conferences and talk to editors.

This may not work, but I don't know any other way that would. . . .  


Illustrations for a YA Novel

I am writing a YA novel, and I feel that it would benefit from illustrations.  Illustrated YA novels are the exception, so I was wondering how the process of submission might differ from that of a picture book for children.  I know an artist who I would enjoy collaborating with, but I don't want to waste this person's time if potential publishers would prefer to see the manuscript alone first.  Should I submit a YA novel with, or without illustrations?

Thank you for your time, and for your informative website.

As the author, you should not submit illustrations for a picture book OR for a YA novel.

The publisher chooses the illustrator, and in the case of a YA novel, decides if they want to have an illustrator at all.

Sending the manuscript with illustrations or even samples of your friend's work may put off a publisher. A better approach would be to submit the manuscript, and only discuss the possibility of illustration once it is under contract.

And see my related article on Picture Book Manuscripts and Illustrations.


Highlights Magazine and Copyright

I read your blog/website about copyright information very closely; however, Highlights for Children Magazine states in their Submission Guidelines something else, I believe, and I don't understand it. I hope you will be able to clarify it for me. I would like to submit an article to this children's magazine but want to be prepared ahead of time to accept what I cannot change.

One of the guideline items states: "We buy all rights, including copyright,. . . . . " Does this mean that I will never ever be able to use my article again?

Thanks for any input you can give to me.

What they are saying is that they routinely acquire the right to reprint or license the article in any form for the life of the copyright. So, no, you would not be able to resell the article again. You will still get your name on the article, of course, and the copyright would be in your name.

This is not new, and there are actually other magazines that do the same.

Writers have been complaining about this for years, and it seems unlikely that they will change their policy.

You have to decide if you dislike the policy so much that you will not submit anything to Highlights. They do pay well, and it's a good credit to be published by them.

Addendum: In response to the comments above, a correspondent told me: "Another point you might make . . . is that Highlights magazine is a prime source for testing and educational companies who are looking for material to reprint, and Highlights shares 50% of what they make from resales." I understand that they are not contractually obliged to do so, meaning that this practice could change, but it is followed for all writers and has been for some time. Reprints of this type can bring in earnings that equal or exceed the original payment for publication in the magazine.


Will Editors Listen to Storytellers?

I understand that you do not publish books. OK... I wrote a children's story 5 years ago that continues to be read and story told in the L.A. area. Teachers and librarians love it. It is a horror story and has seasonal interest- i.e. Fall/ winter. It is not published. Now, my question... I have bookings already set for this fall, how do I go about inviting publishers to these gigs? Thanks!

You've got an interesting idea, but since most children's book editors are based in New York, Boston, and a scattering of other cities, I think you'll encounter real difficulties in getting them to the LA area. Editors aren't so desperate for new material, and publishers aren't so generous with travel expenses, that editors routinely travel to listen to storytellers, no matter how popular or successful they may be.

What you might be able to do is get yourself invited to an IRA or ALA convention, where editors do go. Then try to get them to come and listen to you. Even that's a bit of a longshot but I can understand your wanting to do it this way, considering how difficult it is to get a manuscript read.

This installment is based on selected emails I sent in May, June, and July in response to questions received at The Purple Crayon.

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Copyright 2006 by Harold Underdown. All rights reserved.

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