GUEST POST by Harold Underdown

     I started working in children’s book publishing in the late 1980’s. Back in the day, there was no Internet with a million websites competing for our attention, no email, no blogs, no YouTube videos. It was a challenge for aspiring children’s book writers and illustrators to find out about the publishers to which they might want to send their manuscripts or art samples. On the bright side, publishers were still open to unsolicited submissions and researching agents wasn’t an additional necessity. To find information about publishers, writers and illustrators had to send a SASE for submission guidelines. They could also send away for their catalog or perhaps pick one up at a conference. The SCBWI compiled a limited market guide. There was little else.
      And there was Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market, an annual burden for young assistants like me, because we were the ones who were charged with filling out the survey they sent out to publishers in order to have comprehensive and current information. But for the writers and illustrators, it was a god-send—updated information on a wide variety of publishers, both book and magazine, as well as features, conferences, and more.
      Today, the challenge for artists and writers isn’t gathering information, it’s filtering the over-abundant information available via the Internet. Submission guidelines and more are available from publisher websites; so are PDFs of catalogs. Databases such as Publishers Marketplace track all kinds of information, including agents’ reports on their deals. The obsessed can track down editors and agents in interviews and personal blogs, dig out nuggets from the discussions on the the excellent "Blue Boards" on the SCBWI site, do 140-character online pitching on Twitter via hashtags… Where do you stop?
      Fortunately, Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market is still around to help illustrators and authors make sense of it all. I have been working with them for the past year to make CWIM better, and I might be biased by the relationship, but I had been recommending the book for years and years before that on my own. Yes, you can hunt down tons of information online, but why take the time when it’s compiled for you in one place? I’ve got some more information on it on my website: http://www.underdown.org/childrens-writers-market.htm.

1 comment:

Bobbi Miller said...

What a nice discussion. Thank you, Harold!