Sunday, September 26, 2010

An RA’s Perspective

An RA’s Perspective

It has been a fun year as the NC/NE Texas SCBWI RA. I’ve been able to meet a lot of new people and learn a lot of new things. Being an RA really gives you a different perspective on the publishing world and the world of writing and illustrating. Here are a few things I’ve learned.

Volunteering can fill you up or burn you out. I’ve always heard to give a busy person something to do, ‘cause he’ll get it done. I’ve seen stellar examples of this in the past year, and I’ve also seen it backfire. I now know many volunteers who have thrown up their hands and stopped writing completely because they are too busy. My advice: Know your limits.

I’ll be the first to say thank you for volunteering, but our goal as a group is to make you successful in your career, and that doesn’t always include volunteering. Do what you can and keep your professional goals in sight. Someone else will step in if you can’t. We have an awesome group of giving people.

At the NY and LA conferences, RAs are asked to help out in a number of ways. In our role we get the chance to be close to the speakers, editors and agents included. SCBWI as an organization encourages the mingling. The networking between RAs, editors and agents is its lifeblood. Here’s what I’ve learned from that position. Editors and agents are people. They have warts and family problems. More importantly, at the end of the day most of them work for somebody else. Being kind to them is a must. They are all trying hard.

I heard an editor say recently, ‘rejection is not personal.’ Many factors play into the half hour or, sadly to say, half minute your manuscript may get in front of an editor or an agent. I can almost guarantee they don’t know you. They aren’t saying much when they say ‘No thank you.’ The old adage is true, ‘it is just one person’s opinion.’ I would add to that and say, ‘it is just one person’s opinion at just one moment in time.’ Truly, ‘Time and chance [do] happen to all.’ (Ecc 9:11)

One last thing I’ve learned is that perseverance pays off. Don’t give up. We are in a unique time in publishing and in our economy as a whole. This too shall pass. Hang in there. Twenty years ago it was different. It will be different again in twenty years. If you are seeing things you don’t like, have faith – they will change and so will you. Dreams are there to be chased, so chase them.

2010 has a lot of great opportunities for us as a chapter. We’re here to help you make something out of those opportunities. Good luck and keep writing and illustrating!

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