Business Happens at 21CNFC

More than 130 publishing professionals attended the high-powered fourth 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference (21CNFC) at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York on June 10-12. Highlights of the weekend included a publishers' panel – “Why Our Books Succeeded, And What We Are Publishing Now” – represented by Abrams, Capstone, Charlesbridge, Lerner, National Geographic, and Rosen. A panel of awards committee members discussed “Children’s Book Awards and Best Book Lists.” Highlights for Children’s Director of Licensing and Special Markets, Betina Cochran, spoke at Saturday lunch about “Highlights Goes Digital.” Faculty and attendees included publishers, librarians, editors, authors, illustrators, educators, social media and marketing consultants, and apps and multimedia developers.
Publishers Panel: Publishers talked about their successful titles and what they are seeking for upcoming lists. Pictured L-R Roger Rosen (Rosen Publishing), Ariane Szu-Tu (National Geographic Kids Books), Orlando Dos Reis (Abrams Books for Young Readers). Also on the panel: Michelle Bisson (Capstone Library), Domenica Di Piazza (Lerner Publishing Group), Alyssa Pusey (Charlesbridge), and moderator Susannah Richards.
Several publishers, librarians, and editors reported that they made business connections they could not achieve elsewhere. Numerous authors, who had secured contracts at earlier 21CNFCs, presented their new titles. “The conference programming has reached new heights,” said Steve Swinburne, author and previous 21CNFC faculty member. Swinburne also got to meet an agent he hoped to meet for many years, and similar connections were plentiful at the conference. Charlesbridge editor, Alyssa Pusey, connected with eight of her authors and met a potential new author.
Candace Fleming and Steve Sheinkin: Authors of award-winning narrative nonfiction, Candace Fleming and Steve Sheinkin, tell the audience how they research and write their books - including showing photos of Steve’s office walls covered with sticky notes.
“I learned aspects of the industry that I would not have gleaned elsewhere,” said Scholastic Art Director, Liz Frances. Several publishers hatched plans to collaborate in the future, made powerful connections with New York Public Library’s children’s book selectors, and conversed with literacy and MFA professors from the University of Texas, College of New Rochelle, and Eastern Connecticut State University. Literacy Education Specialist, Dr. Kate Hathaway, incorporated the conference into the College of New Rochelle Literacy Education program. She and several students who attended were ecstatic about the breadth, depth, and uniqueness of the coverage of children’s nonfiction at the event.
Awards Panel: What awards and “best lists” do publishers of children’s nonfiction seek, and what is the process? This panel of current and former judges provided valuable information. L-R: Angela Carstensen (ALA’s YALSA Award), Carolyn Hayes (NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books), Cynthia Weill (Bank Street Library NF Awards), Linda Swank (Association of American Publishers Revere Award), Francisca Goldsmith (Eisner Awards for Comics and Graphic Novels), Cyndi Giorgis (NCTE Orbis Pictus Award)
Intensives and workshops were led by award-winning authors and illustrators including Candace Fleming, Steve Sheinkin, and James E. Ransome; publishing leaders; New York Public Library book selectors; and educators from NCTE, NSTA, and NuSkool. Prominent book displays featured sponsors and supporters including National Geographic Kids, Penguin Random House, Publisher Spotlight, KidLit TV, InkThink Tank, Cricket Media, Highlights Foundation, NSTA, ExploringNature, and BRW.
Open Table Conversations: Twice during the conference weekend, participants broke into casual Open Table conversations. This one, hosted by science author Carolyn DeCristofano and social studies author Hilarie Staton, talked about research methods, sources, problems, and solutions.
Conference organizers Lionel Bender, Sally Isaacs, and Star Consulting noted the volume of connections being made and business conducted and felt their mission was being accomplished: focusing on the future of children’s nonfiction.
New Trends in Nonfiction: Five presenters talked about their work in nonfiction. Standing: Abran Maldonado, founder of NuSkool, which provides content on topics that kids gravitate to.  Also on the panel:  Ellen Myrick from Publishers Spotlight (Audiobooks), Francisca Goldsmith (Graphic Novels), Hallie Warshaw from Zest Books (Young Adult Nonfiction), Kate Hathaway, Ed.D. (Nonfiction in the Classroom).
Visit the 21CNFC Website
For questions, contact:
Sally Isaacs, or call (201) 634-1870
Copyright © 2016 Star Consulting, Inc., All rights reserved.

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