SCBWI-NY 2012: An interview with Darcy Pattison

The lovely Darcy PattisonOne of the best ways of becoming a better writer is to take classes with great teachers, and I've been lucky enough to attend two retreats with Darcy Pattison over the years.

She's amazing, and even though she will stand behind you as you're writing and insist you write MORE and FASTER even though your brain is already melting from everything she's taught you, I absolutely love her. She's fun, smart, patient, generous, and kind--all qualities that make for a world-class teacher.

She's also a well published author herself. Her picture books and middle grade novel have received starred reviews, Book of the Year awards, and state awards. In 2007 she won the Arkansas Governor’s Arts Award for Individual Artist for her work in children’s literature.

She's on the faculty of the SCBWI conference in New York in 2012. (Haven't registered yet? You can do so here.)

Here's a taste of what she'll be talking about:

I’ll be speaking at the Marketing Intensive on Friday and my topic is videos to promote your book, plus little-known tricks on Facebook. I almost said I would talk about book trailer™, but that is a trademarked term and Sheila Clover, who holds that trademark, is stepping up her efforts to enforce that trademark. So, I’m searching for ways to talk about this that don’t use that term. Maybe the video promos we create are Book Talkies? Bideos? (Any suggestions for a generic term are welcome!)

Terms aside, in a recent poll of school librarians, 99 percent said that promotional book videos are either very effective or somewhat effective in getting kids interested in reading a certain book.

Wow! Because we write for kids, everyone needs a video for his/her book! I’ll give tips on creating and distributing them. For examples, see my YouTube Channel with my own promotional book videos, including my latest for 11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph, a book that won “The Help” Children’s Story Contest. By conference time, a new version of my ebook, The Book Trailer Manual will be available, complete with a new name. 

I’ll also talk about underused features of Facebook such as Events. The Random Acts of Publicity was mostly promoted and discussed via an Event Page. It had 499 attendees, a big, wonderful, rowdy party. But I’ve also had success locally, when only 15 people “attended” through an event page, but it meant a packed room.

You've created so many fantastic tools for writers: Your shrunken manuscript, your bundled revision tips… What ones do you find yourself using most often, and do you have any new ones you're excited about?

I am best known for the Shrunken Manuscript technique of revision, which lets you look at the big picture of your novel. It’s still a great technique for me and one I use regularly in revising a manuscript. Early in 2012, a new version of Novel Metamorphosis: Uncommon Ways to Revise will be available. It will have an updated bibliography and a new chapter on writing with scenes.  In 2012, I’ll be teaching Novel Revision Retreats in Houston, St. Louis and Toronto and using the new material. In 2011, there were 4 debut novels coming out of the retreats and so far in 2012, there are 3 debuts. (Here's her speaking schedule for 2012.)

You started the wonderful Random Acts of Publicity Day. Can you tell us how you came up with that idea, and what it's done for authors and their books?


Three years ago, on a lark, I decided to declare the week after Labor Day as the Random Acts of Publicity week. I was tired of pushing my own books, tired of the inward focus of my efforts. I wanted to look around and just love some great books, and I thought other writers might want to do the same thing.

The RAoP is all about your friend’s book: it’s a week to celebrate your Friend’s book, or your favorite book, by doing a Random Act of Publicity: Blog, Link, Like, Review, or Talk about the book . (BLLuRT!) It was great fun and we had great sponsors this year who donated 17 free publicity consultations and one free book (Raab Associates, Blue Slip Media, Deborah Sloan & Company and Savvy Book Marketer). It was a fun week.  Join us on September 4-7, 2012 for the 4th Annual Random Acts of Publicity.

Darcy's looking for suggestions for names to call promotional book videos. Some of her ideas:

  • Bideos
  • Book Talkies
  • Living Book Jackets
  • Peek-a-Book

Have ideas? Put them in the comments, please!

More Darcy Pattison: