This is what she has to say about the conferences given by the Western Pennsylvania SCBWI chapter.
These conferences lure you with the hope that you can be the next J.K. Rowling.
The reality is far nastier...
I've been to several SCBWI conferences. Not once have I been promised to walk away from one with a contract in hand. What I have been promised is this: to learn more about children's publishing, hear a professional's take on what's currently selling, and learn more about the craft of writing. I am not sure where Ms. Duin got the idea that these conferences promise you fame and fortune. In all the conferences I've attended, I've never been promised that. If I had, I'd be wary of money-sucking scams.
She goes on to talk about the current state of literature for children.
Such is the 21st century, where much juvenile literature is a mile wide and an
inch deep. The discerning parent and teenager will have to seek meatier stuff
from previous centuries, when heroism and ideals still carried the day.
This quote probably disturbs me the most. There are a lot of great books available to kids, many of them published in the last decade. The fact that Ms. Duin disagrees means two things.
1) She isn't reading current children's literature.
2) If she is reading, then she's either not reading enough or is looking in the wrong place.
If she wants to publish a children's book, she must know what's already out there. To do this, you have to read everything you can get your hands on - this familiarizes you with who is publishing what, and you see how different authors handle various aspects of the craft of writing.
The other thing that's terribly wrong with this quote is that she's basically trashing all the current books out there. I could talk about how unprofessional and dangerous that is, but Nathan Bransford has done it for me. So I'll defer to his professional opinion. :)
Basically, Ms. Duin's article comes across as a rant about her personal experience at one conference. And if one conference was this way, then the rest of them are, too, right? Wrong. Sure, conferences aren't perfect, and not everyone gets what she wanted out of it, but that's not how it is for everyone.
To be clear, I'm not saying that Ms. Duin has absolutely nothing to complain about and should keep her mouth shut. There are definitely ways to improve conferences, and to minimize disappointment in paying attendees. Also, if she was concerned about an undeveloped area in books for kids, then she should voice those concerns.
But that isn't how her article comes across. Her ignorance regarding children's publishing is painfully obvious, and the saddest part is that a little research would have alleviated many of her complaints. Instead, she came across as someone unwilling to learn the basic necessities needed to succeed in children's publishing. Which is kind of sad.
What do you think?