In which Jane explains...
Hello all my fellow MidListers:The grant gives $3000 to midlist authors to honor their contribution and help raise awareness about their current works in progress. A winner will receive $2000 and two honor recipients will each receive $500. Jane hopes the grant will help boost the careers of Mid-list authors who have, for whatever reason, not recently sold a book in several years.
You know--there are the authors of Twilight and Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, there's Eric Carle and Maurice Sendak and Tomie dePaola, and on the fingers of both hands and maybe your toes, you could add a few more super stars to that number.
And the rest of us are midlist.
Some of us are happy there. We sell books on a regular basis. We win some minor awards. OK, maybe a major award once or twice. We have kids and adults who tell us we have changed their lives. We teach children to read, to fall in love with the night sky, the small natures, the lives of princes and princesses. We let children in on the wonderful diverse world we live in. We let them watch a story unfold. We tickle their ears with puns and poems and jokes and tales. We nurture their hearts when their hearts have been banged up a bit or even broken. We are their surrogate moms and dads and grandmoms and granddads. We are their literary families, their book friends. (Or as one child wrote to me, "Your book fiend," though I knew what he meant to say!)
We write to be read, and sometimes we write to have written, and occasionally we write to be paid. Though not enough. Never enough, we midlisters.
And sometimes, as popular as we once were, we suddenly are last year's flavor last year's news.
It has happened to me over a long career. There have been months, years where nothing has gone right. Where the books I labored over and loved the most didn't sell. Yes, truly. I have about thirty unsold picture books and book proposals in my files and every year I add to that list. I have told my children that after I'm gone, for the next thirty or so years, they can say to the editors, "We have just found mother's LAST book!" And maybe they can sell it for a bit of change. Or a fortune. I hope so. It's their inheritance after all.
So when I had a bestseller--a really and truly long lasting (for as long as these things last) bestselling series, I said to all those dinosaurs, "You are going to help some of those wonderful midlist authors who's careers have stalled or fallen off the cliff or dropped dead at their feet. You are going to let them know that they are not forgotten, their books are still read, still loved. And the dinosaurs stomped their terrible feet and rolled their gigantic eyes and gnashed their terrible teeth (where where did you think Sendak got all his ideas from!) and thundered, "How can we help?"
Which is how--with a lot of organizational know-how from SCBWI--the Jane Yolen Midlist Grant was born.
Oh--and of course I have taken a few liberties here and there with this account. I am a fiction writer after all. But you knew that already.
PS You can ask your own dinosaurs and piglets and waltzing penguins and magical pots and dancing elephants how they can help, too. Just send a $1 or $5 or more to the Jane Yolen Midlist author grant at SCBWI headquarters and it will be added to the bankroll.
The Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grant winners for 2013 will be announced at #NY13SCBWI, on Sunday morning of the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City, February 1-3, 2013.
For details on how to be considered for 2014 and how to nominate a worthy mid-list author go here.
Illustrate and Write On,