Tuesday 30 December 2014

Buzz Words

Buzz Words (All the Buzz about Children's Books)

In 2006 I started Buzz Words, a subscriber-based twice-monthly online magazine exclusively for people in the Australian children’s book industry. The aim of the magazine is to keep readers abreast of what’s currently happening in the children’s book industry and to give readers opportunities to become informed and published.

As Buzz Words aims to be as up-to-date as possible, I am constantly searching for material such as local and international news, opportunities, markets, competitions and awards, festivals and conferences and up-coming workshops. To do this, I’ve had to subscribe to numerous newsletters here in Australia and overseas, and to pay for memberships of writers’ organisations. I spend many hours every week trolling the internet and social media as well as sending emails, trying to contact individuals who work to publicise their organisations’ events. Being in the industry for over 30 years, I can also rely on my many contacts to keep me informed. A lot of emailing goes on, believe me!

Other features in every issue of Buzz Words are publishing house profiles, short profiles of people in the industry, and an interview. As a productive children’s author I’ve compiled an up-to-date database of in excess of 100 Australian children’s book publishing houses (large and small), together with the names of publishers, editors and their contact details. I use this database -- as well as the internet -- to create the publishing house profiles, supplementing them with logos taken from the publishers’ websites. A few recent publishers I’ve turned the spotlight on are Black Dog Books, Book Island, Laguna Bay and Bloomsbury Spark. Interestingly, while I was researching recently, I discovered a new Australian children’s publisher, Dragon Tales Publishing; I sent them a novel manuscript and they contracted it!

Profiles in Buzz Words are invariably of children’s writers and illustrators. These people are usually subscribers. This provides a great opportunity for other readers to see the ‘faces’ of fellow subscribers so I always include a headshot of the person being profiled. Interviews are generally with other people in the industry, such as publishers, editors, publicists, distributors, booksellers, reviewers and librarians. Sometimes I am able to snare an international ‘celebrity’ (for example Derek Landy, the UK author, in the 1 October 2014 issue).

There is always an article in each issue of Buzz Words. In the last few – and upcoming issues -- there was/is a comprehensive survey of self-publishing (with many links), a look at subsidy publishing, a peek at the behind-the-scenes of book distribution, a recommendation of how to generate income as a children’s author and the experiences of authors in schools. I have researched and written all of these articles, but I have also paid writers who approach me with appropriate ideas.

Other features of Buzz Words are recommended books and websites/blogs, subscribers’ achievements, letters to the editor and -- of course -- book reviews. There are lots of links provided to all of the above.

As Buzz Words editor I have the good fortune to employ twenty excellent book reviewers. Publishers send these women copies of their latest children’s and YA titles and the reviewers send their reviews to me when completed. Buzz Words has a standard reviewing policy and format. If a reviewer feels a book (such as a self-published title) is not up to standard, they are not required to review it. I edit all incoming reviews and then schedule them to appear in the Buzz Words blog http://www.buzzwordsmagazine.com All of the books are provided with links in the magazine in every issue.

Researching, writing and editing Buzz Words – and sourcing photos and illustrations -- certainly takes up a lot of time and energy. But the benefits are many. Foremost I ‘meet’ many in the industry I might not otherwise have met. I also learn much and keep abreast with trends and developments. The feedback from subscribers is always positive. I feel as though I am contributing to the industry which has been so kind to me for the past three decades I’ve been in it.

Dianne (Di) Bates has published 120+ books for young readers, including books which have won state, national and children’s choice awards. Di is a recipient of The Lady Cutler Award for distinguished services to children’s literature from the Children’s Book Council of Australia. She can be contacted via her website http://enterprisingwords.com.au or dibates@outlook.com