Last week, I had the opportunity to interview Stephen Mooser, one of the co-founders (along with Lin Oliver) of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. Before we get started, I'd just like to say, if you're a writer or illustrator of children's books and you're NOT a member, you should seriously consider becoming one. SCBWI membership offers so much in the way of resources, information and opportunities, it really is invaluable. So go. Go now. Check it out here!
Mr. Mooser was incredibly kind answering my questions, which focus mainly on the place of SCBWI and small presses in the world of children's literature. I think you'll see from his answers how committed SCBWI is to helping writers and illustrators on their path to (and through!) publication.
Q: These days, SCBWI is *the* go-to organization for children's writers and illustrators. It provides countless resources and opportunities for the established and up-and-coming children's literature creators. How does that translate to the production side? What services or aid, if any, does SCBWI provide for publishers, editors and agents?
A: NOTHING DIRECTLY, BUT WE HOPE THAT THE INFORMATION WE GIVE TO OUR MEMBERS HELPS THEM BE BETTER, AND MORE PROFESSIONALLY PREPARED WHEN THEY DO APPROACH PUBLISHERS AND AGENTS. SO WE DO HOPE THAT OUR WORK MAKES THEIR WORK MORE EFFICIENT AND SENDS THEIR WAY AUTHORS AND ILLUSTRATORS THEY WANT TO PUBLISH OR REPRESENT
Q: SCBWI recently debuted it's PAL (Published and Listed) program. What's the idea behind PAL? How does it benefit SCBWI members?
A: PAL WAS PUT IN PLACE TO IDENTIFY SCHOOL SPEAKERS AND BOOK EXHIBITORS AS PEOPLE PROFESSIONALLY PUBLISHED—THAT MEANS PEOPLE WHOSE WORK HAS BEEN PAID FOR RATHER THAN THE PUBLISHER BEING PAID, OR IF NOT PAID PERHAPS TAKEN AT NO CHARGE OR UPLOADED ONTO THE WEB—THAT IS NOT TO SAY THAT SOME SELF PUBLISHED WORK IS NOT PROFESSIONAL WRITTEN AND PRODUCED, BUT, FOR NOW, WE NEEDED A WAY TO DISTINGUISH AUTHORS AND ILLUSTRATORS WHO WOULD PROFESSSIONALLY REPRESENT THE SCBWI IF WE WERE RECOMMENDING THEM TO SCHOOLS, ETC.
Q: Not all presses are listed on PAL. Large, well-known houses were listed immediately (please verify if this is true). There is a 'small press list' but given the enormous number of small, indie and regional presses, is it safe to say listing all of them would be impossible?
A: EVERY DAY WE ADD NEW SMALL PRESSES. WHEN A MEMBER APPLIES FOR PAL LISTING AND THEIR PUBLISHER DOES NOT COME UP THEN A FORM IS GENERATED, WE LOOK AT THE PUBLISHER AND IF THEY MEET THE SIMPLE CRITERIA OF NOT ASKING FOR MONEY AND PUBLISHING MORE THAN BOOKS BY A SINGLE AUTHOR OR FAMILY THEN THEY ARE GENERALLY APPROVED AND ADDED.
Q: What can a small press do to increase their chances of getting listed in PAL?
A: JUST MEET THE CRITERIA—WE ALSO HAVE AN APPEAL PROCESS IF INITIALLY TURNED DOWN.