Saturday, August 13, 2011

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

All right. I'm back from the SCBWI summer conference in Los Angeles. As usual, I had a blast catching up with friends and meeting new ones. This time, thanks to the Monday intensive format, I also got to meet a couple editors, which was fabulous. I took lots of notes during the sessions I attended, but during the sessions in which I didn't learn as much as I would have liked, I found myself wishing I'd opted for craft workshops instead of business-focused topics. Anyway, guess I'll have to go fishing on Google for someone else's notes.

Speaking of notes, there's a good chance I'll do a piece for my friends who run the Adventures in Children's Publishing blog. Not sure which session I'll cover, but probably either Libba Bray's characterization workshop or Laurie Halse Anderson's session on reclaiming lost time. Both were amazing. However, guess which session was hands down, the most scintillating session I attended this year's conference? Since only about twenty people showed up besides me, I'll just go ahead an tell you--CONTRACT BASICS, by attorney Jan Constantine.

Before you start thinking I missed my calling, and that yeah, I should have gone to law school after all, let me just say that contracts can be way more interesting than you'd think! Especially if they're going to tie you up with options clauses, rid you of your copyrights, and seize opportunities in international markets. I won't go into details (since I don't want to get the legalese wrong), but basically, just know that there are a few carefully worded phrases you might want to look out for, especially if you're completely giddy at being offered a contract to publish your work. Jan's advice: join the Authors Guild. If you've been offered a contract, you're eligible for membership. At $90 per year, it's a bargain--especially since membership includes having your contract reviewed by their counsel (something that would cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to do if you went out on your own to hire a literary attorney).

So that's it! Next year, I'll probably go to more sessions on craft. Also, although I adored the folks at my afternoon roundtable, I might try to go to two editor/author-led intensive workshops, since I enjoyed Nancy Conescu's morning session so much (which, I might add, she collectively read over 500 pages of attendees' work preparing for, so a big round of applause goes to Nancy!). I just hope next year's theme for the Saturday night gala is as good as this year's pajama party. Hard to beat being encouraged to go out in public in your PJs!


cherylhowe said...

Ara, glad to hear the conference was so informitive. Lets deffinetly get togehter soon.

Ara Burklund said...

Definitely! I'll send an email out this morning, since I finally know my carpool schedule for the kids.

Suzanne Casamento said...

Sounds like a great time! Can't wait to hear more details.