My Writing Book of the Day: Take Joy, by Jane Yolen. Jane debunks the myth that writers must be miserable. Yay! Because, really, who wants to be around miserable writers? And read their work? Quick quote: “Serendipity is not so simple as luck. It is the result of a conscious forging of links. The writer becomes a participant in each act of happy accident.” (I’m sharing a favorite writing book every day for a bit in case you need ideas for your holiday gift list–or want to buy a gift for yourself!)
I’ve shared tips before about conferences and have some more to share soon, but this is the number one thing that makes my conferences like NCTE or ALA a wonderful experience: generosity.
I do try to accomplish a lot for myself and my career at these events, but remembering to be generous makes the whole thing better! Here are just a few examples, big and small,?of people’s generosity to me at the recent NCTE in Las Vegas. And there were many, many more!
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt sent me to Vegas, covering my costs, setting me up to participate in various things, and making sure I had everything I needed to be successful and help share BookSpeak. They even allowed me to do a signing for another publisher. And while it might be easier for them to justify this since BookSpeak has gotten some nice notice, they were just as generous in helping me promote Stampede (which flew fairly low under the radar!).
Lerner sent me a lovely box of handcrafted chocolates from the Joel Robuchon restaurant. Oh my. And they hosted a signing of A Leaf Can Be… for me.
Janet Wong introduced me to an educator and talked up BookSpeak, even as I was starting to scuttle away so as not to intrude on their conversation.
Janet Fagal and Amy Ludwig Vanderwater helped me brainstorm ways to meet some of my NCTE goals (more on those in a future post).
Publishers shared free books with me. Yes, I know they are hoping I will help spread the word. But how lovely was it to leave with an ARC of Marilyn Singer’s Follow Follow (her follow-up to Mirror Mirror), and copies of David Harrison’s Cowboys and J. Pat Lewis’ If You Were a Chocolate Mustache?
Irene Latham, Amy, Janet, and several other writer friends stopped by my signings to lend support, whether they already had my books or not.
When you are not a big name anybody, it can feel intimidating to try to be generous. Who cares what I have to say? But I’m learning that a generous spirit doesn’t need a big name behind it.
Here are a few small ways I tried to be generous in Vegas:
Stopped by the signings of several writer friends, sometimes buying a book.
- Talked up writers and their books to various marketing personnel manning the publisher booths.
- Told the publisher of Clarion, who was with me for my signing, what a wonderful speaker Amy Ludwig Vanderwater was and how great she was going to be at helping to promote her forthcoming Clarion book.
Recommended many of my personal favorite books to educators at sessions.
Made it a point to personally thank some of the terrific educators who have been lovely about spreading the word about my books.
- Recorded on my iPhone the booktalks about a few books by writers I know and then sent them the booktalks after the conference.
I guess my point is that generosity toward other writers and people in the industry is what makes the kidlit world so wonderful. I’m not comfortable “selling” my books to people, but I’ll enthusiastically tell them how much they will love _________ (fill in the blank with whatever book I think that person will love).
I came home from Vegas feeling blessed, both to be on the receiving end of so much generosity and also to feel like I’m finally understanding that I can help other writers through my own small acts, too.