This is the third and final installment of brief insights and observations from the 2016 SCBWI LA Conference that was held July 29-31. Look for specific, but perennial, tips in my Blab-o-Tips newsletter!

So here are some of my biggest (mostly) time sensitive takeaways from the conference:

From Justin Chanda, Editor and Publisher, Simon & Schuster

Demand for picture books going up – character-driven, humorous, rising interest in pbs with a classic feel.

Middle grade – interest in stand alone, literary, magical realism

BUT, don’t write to trends! Books published this year were accepted 2-5 years ago.

80/20 – 80% of books he publishes lose money, 20% make money. Marketing dollars don’t necessarily correlate to the 20%.

Sales of 20,000 copies for young adult is considered very good.

From Sara Sargent, Editor, HarperCollins

In her session, “Cutting Edge YA,” Sargent noted these things about the target audience:

  • “Gen Z” is the first generation where the majority is non-white
  • Average attention span: 8 seconds
  • Use an average of 5 devices (“digital natives”)
  • More tolerant of diversity

Agent Panel

  • Consider using a freelance editor before sending to agent
  • Common core growth in YA historical
  • Can sense maturity, ability, desire/willingness to revise
  • Really respond to voice, how the character sounds, startling voice
  • Crowded market: “Project has to be that close to perfect.”
  • “Do I love it? Can I sell it?”” Do I know how to position it? Does it speak to my heart? Am I falling in love with this work? Do I have names of people I want to send it to?” If yes to all, it’s a go. If not, may pass and hope it gets to the right agent and editor.

I hope these give you some insight, but don’t sway you either way from your writing goals. Write from your passion continues to be the theme!