It's all about looking at the "things that go on in the world" and speculating on how these will create change.
Chris told the story of a conversation he had with someone working at the Boots Photolab in the 1990s. He asked how the lab thought the new fangled digital cameras were going to affect their photo processing business. "No impact," was the blithe reply. We all know what happened next.
EVER MORE BEAUTIFUL PICTURE BOOKS ... AND APPS
1. Make sure you're comfortable with how you decide to deliver your events.
2. Be prepared. Plan it, practice it.
3. Don't worry if it doesn't go right the first time.
4. Make sure you communicate well with everyone involved - booksellers and schools. Tell them honestly what you are prepared to do
5. Think local, go global. Local libraries, local festivals, regional awards.
6. Make yourself accessible through social media.
7. Talk to your publicity team. Work with your publisher.
8. Build a community
Today's authors struggle to get a review in national periodicals. Julia, tasked with commissioning one review a week for an industry that produces 10,000 books a year, says publishers desperate for reviews have become more and more creative ... "they can be annoying" (no more glitter please!).
This leaves Julia with a conundrum: is it her job to highlight deserving books that will otherwise have no visibility in the media at all? Or is it her job to cover the books that are newsmakers anyway - the ones that will appear on Front Row and other broadsheets?
Perhaps a bit of both?
COMICS: NOT JUST WORDS AND PICTURESAt conferences, the parallel sessions always present a conundrum and this one was particularly acute. I had to choose between a session with Shoo Rayner on how he became a YouTube star, publisher Janetta Otter Barry in conversation with the twinkling John Dougherty, and comics.
The panel began by declaring that comics were here to stay and then raced on with the task of explaining how to write them. I wanted to ask, 'Are they really here to stay? How did it happen? When?' But that was not the topic of the panel of course.
Despite the great influence the new digital reality has had on the creation of comics, I was struck by the thought that here (like picture books) was one more 2D way into story that is on the rise.
(I've helpfully digested the panel's learning points below)
1. A graphic novel is not a novel with pictures or a film with dialogue. The comic camera does not move eg. a character in a comic cannot roll his eyes
2. Remember that the artist has to interpret what you're saying so think in Action Points.
3. Do not carry all the plot with words
4. Comics is about pacing. Your reader will read faster or slower depending on how you plan your panels. Eg. Beano comics move quickly with small panels. Some graphic novels have big splashes every few pages. The larger the panel, the longer you look at it.
5. Ask yourself: What is the point of this comic panel?
6. Think of what has to be drawn. Eg. "Don't say: '10,000 soldiers swept over the hill' ... that will take weeks to draw!"
7. Think about page turns - if you have big moments and reveals, make sure they appear at a page turn. Don't allow them to land on the right hand page.
One of the discussions that emerged from the comics panel was the idea of visual literacy and comics literacy. Despite the range, sophistication and diversity of comics in the market today, there are still plenty of adults who see pictures and comics as bad for you. (I speak from bitter experience, as a 12 year old I went home one day to find that my mum had made a bonfire of my comics collection).
Was the current popularity of comics a sign of change? Does the future hold a greater respect for images as a way into literacy?
THE RISE OF UKYAI have to admit that the panel title The rise and rise of UKYA - Proper Phenomenon or Flash in the Pan? worried me a bit. I've attended so many panels on YA and after a while these panels all sound alike. But I was wrong - this one (chaired by author Lucy Coats) was fascinating.
Do readers even know that they are reading YA?
"We are all talking about it from a book-engaged place," said Ruth Knowles, editorial director for Penguin Random House. The children's book world blithely use the marketing term - meaning 'Young Adult' - but there are plenty of readers who do not know what it means.
Indeed, teen author James Dawson declared that the panel title was wrong, period. All the rising has had been done in the US where YA sales are going through the roof. "I don't think that there has been a rise and rise of UKYA. We haven't had a break-out UKYA title. We are still waiting."
'We haven't had a break-out UKYA title. We are still waiting.'
Even so in the UK, YA sales are fifty per cent up, according to Charlotte Eyre, children's book correspondent of the Bookseller. "It is the fastest growing area of publishing."
What is UKYA anyway?
James' definition made me laugh: "It's like American YA without the soft focus - we are writing for UK teenagers about life the way we know it without the vaseline smeared lens of American young adult books."
Literary agent Carol Walsh made the point that the label gave the unintended signal that the genre was YA "for UK readers only" when UKYA can be read by the world.
Success is tough when the author lives across the Atlantic. Publishers here are unlikely to budget for a trans-American book tour.
While UKYA is still an unknown continent to US readers, readers in the UK have wholeheartedly turned American YA into bestselling franchises.
"Culturally, contemporary UK teenagers are used to American culture," says Julia Green, author and course director of the acclaimed Bath Spa MA in Writing for Young People. "They are saturated in American culture ... it is easier for things to cross from the US than the other way."
And then there's the vexed question of who is reading YA. According to Ruth Knowles, sixty five per cent of YA is read by 19 to 23 year olds. British booksellers are only just beginning to shelf YA separately from the baby board books and middle grade series. According to the panel, in America, YA moved out of the kiddy department a long time ago.
TOMORROW AND TOMORROW AND TOMORROWAt the end of his fascinating talk, the futurist Chris Barnatt showed us this slide:
Candy Gourlay’s Tall Story: artifacts of experience help us think more deeply about the story http://t.co/eUklwhXV5F— The Artifact App (@_Artifact) August 26, 2015