I attended my region's SCBWI (Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators) Conference. There were great speakers, a great lunch, and a morning and afternoon snack. I am now stuffed and smarter. Here are some of my favorite tidbits, but a caveat: these are just from my notes, not direct quotes -- and I did focus on the YA side of things.
Author Judy Cox spoke about the power stories have to make a connection with readers. Stories are about people making choices. When we write, we should ask ourselves what the story is really about and cut everything else out.
Lori Benton, the VP for Scholastic's trade publishing, said writing is a muscles that needs exercise. Get critiques, read writing aloud (especially picture books), and revise -- shave down to the bone. Inspiration can come from anywhere.
Do your submission research: find who published books like your and books you like and submit there. To get a book published, you need an editor to champion it at the acquisitions meeting. Since so much of the marketing falls on the author today, even pre-published authors should have blogs and be active members of their writing community. Local librarians and booksellers can often connect you to others in your area.
An eye-opener to me was the tidbit that picture book sales are tied heavily to the school curriculum. Writing age-appropriate books that mesh with the curriculum for that age group is a huge plus. She recommended a book called Yardsticks to help authors gauge if they're writing age-appropriate material. State curricula are often available online.
Part 2 of notes, coming soon...