|Steven Malk during his presentation
And of course, the guy who helped Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith, Marla Frazee, Kadir Nelson, Loren Long, Sara Pennypacker, Jennifer Donnelly, Sonya Sones, Adam Rex, Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen and Cynthia Ryland take charge of their careers had a lot to offer the rest of us!
The room was packed. Packed!
Steven started out by telling us the single biggest mistake he sees authors and illustrators make is to not have a career strategy.
He walked us through illustrator Mary Lundquist's SCBWI success story, letting us see how Mary's clear sense of what she wanted to do, her focus and her willingness to work hard paid off... from him spotting her work in the portfolio show at this very same conference last year to deals for three books!
He then gave us tips on planning our careers, of which I'll share only a few here:
Take a deep breath and slow down
"If this is a career you intend to have for twenty or thirty or forty years, it's worth taking the time to have a plan."
Know your history - know the books out there
"There's a conversation that's been going on for decades and you want to join in and be part of it."
Get Your Priorities Straight
Figure out what's important for YOU. Is it:
A close relationship with an editor?
Lots of readers?
How often do you want a new book to come out?
How much do you want to travel?
(Those aren't mutually exclusive, and there's no right or wrong answer -- but you should know what you're aiming for, as it will influence the choices you make...)
Steven shared some of his must-read books, talked about being "very optimistic about the business," and concluded with answering many questions from the session attendees.