Thursday, March 8, 2018

Should an author come to your school for free?

This was just posted today by author, Martha Brockenbrough:  (click on through to find out more about her)

Please stop asking us to work for free. Please stop saying, “It’s for the kids.” 

If you work at a library or a school, every professional who walks through those doors is paid. You wouldn’t call a plumber and say, “Unclogging this toilet is for the kids.” It is, of course. So are the lightbulbs. The napkins. And so on.

Most writers don’t make a living wage. Most have day jobs. Many supplement their income with school visits and the like. We don’t have paid leave from our jobs. The time we spend on this comes directly from the time we have to create. 

(for example - I worked 30 years as a children's librarian in a public library system and took vacation time to research and write my books and also spent more of my allotted vacation time to do school visits. I very seldom actually took vacation.  I was literally working two jobs.)

So when you are manipulating people’s emotions to get this for free, you are taking time from someone who already makes less than minimum wage. You are also taking opportunities from someone struggling to get by. 

It’s crappy that schools and libraries are underfunded. Let’s not further undermine the professionalism of people writing and illustrating for them.

Oh, and writers: You don’t have to say yes to these gigs. People who aren’t paying you also do not value your time and are likely to be ill-prepared to make the most of this—something I say from unfortunate personal experience.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Sharon Darrow - Worlds within Words

One of my favorite faculty members at Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children and Young Adults department, Sharon Darrow, has published a book of her lectures.

When I offered a picture book manuscript in a workshop at VCFA run by her, she told me that it read more like the outline of a middle grade novel than a picture book, which changed my whole view of it.  And I spent the next few semesters enlarging it and building the world where those characters lived.

So, if you'd like to get a taste of the kinds of things we learn in this graduate course about writing, I highly recommend her book, Worlds within Words, Writing and the Writing Life. 

You can read a smidgen of it here on the Cynsations blog