Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Macro and Micro of a Conference

Last Saturday I attended the One-on-One Plus Conference held each year at Rutgers, sponsored by the Rutgers University Council on Children's Literature. I think it's one of the best conferences around for these reasons: the attendees (85 this year) are admitted on the basis of submitted work; and everyone has a 45 minute critique session with a "mentor" who can be an editor, agent, art director, or an established author. In addition, you and your mentor meet with other pairs for a 45 minute discussion in small groups of ten.

This year the well-moderated and lively panel discussion concerned digital publishing. The panel consisted of two who work in digital publishing and one author who publishes digitally by herself. No surprise when near the end, an audience comment led to the pros and cons of digital titles vs. traditional paper and board books.

The keynote speaker was Bruce Coville, whose speech was humorous, philosophical and inspirational. His thirteen pieces of advice covered craft and the business side of writing. The underlying theme was how our words can have a ripple, or butterfly effect.

There's the macro view of a worthwhile day. Now to the micro view.
I was accepted for the conference by a picture book submission - remember that truck story? I also took three other manuscripts with me. My one-on-one was with an enjoyable young assistant editor at an imprint within one of the Big Six. She suggested some changes in the tension of the truck story and then we moved on to my other manuscripts. She was most interested in my noodlehead story featuring the brothers called Sharp, Clever, and Quick. She wants me to tighten it, then send it back.

I'm realistic. Publication of a picture book with her imprint is a VERY long shot. But the revision I've already done has made my book better. And isn't that why we go to conferences?


  1. Yes. I'm glad it went well for you. Irons in the fire are always good.

  2. Great to hear this. It was my third year on the council and my second year as a mentor. While I was "working" officially, I did enjoy the conference as well. I like the smallness of the event. It provides great access to the people we need to hear from.

    Lyn Sirota

  3. Gale,
    I am glad this was such a positive experience. One-on-one session with an editor. What a great opportunity. Tighten that manuscript and send it to this contact. Good luck!

    Is this also the conference where Tara Lazar spoke? She posted her speech on her blog.

    Linda A.

  4. J.A., My greatest hope is that this iron in the fire doesn't sit for seven months. By that time the fire is out!

    Lyn and Linda, Thanks for taking time to comment, and yes, this is the conference where Tara Lazar told her success story.

  5. Great stuff Gale. Yes, that's exactly what conferences are for. Best of luck with the ms.

  6. Gale- Any conference that results in an improved manuscript is one small success that will eventually lead to the Big success of a published book- Good luck!

  7. Julie and Sharon,
    Many thanks for the good luck wishes - need all I can get for this million-to-one adventure.

  8. I love One on One, so glad you had a great experience. I know sometimes it can be hit or miss. And I LOVE Sharp, Clever and Quick! Here's hoping your very long shot pans out!!