Friday, August 3, 2012

Hard Work Pays Off: SCBWI PAL

Tip of the Day: If you're a writer - treat it like a real job. Don't let anyone say your writing time isn't valuable.

If you're Facebook friends with me or a member of SCBWI-IL, you've heard the news: my self-published novels have been granted PAL status.

Maybe you're new to those acronyms. I'll explain what they stand for and what it means.

SCBWI = Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
PAL = Published and Listed

PAL is, traditionally, only available to those with a publishing contract from a verified publisher. Self-published authors could not be PAL members.

Back in April, the Yahoo! group for SCBWI-IL exploded in conversation on whether self-publishing was viable, valid, and worthwhile. As a self-publisher who loves what she does, I stood up for self-publishing. Others shared opposing feelings. It was a spirited debated.

Afterward I was encouraged to contact the governing board of SCBWI concerning self-publishing. Even though that made me very nervous, I decided to do it. To my surprise, I heard back from a member of the board quickly. They were all interested in learning more about self-publishing, particularly from those who were successful.

Over the last few months, I've shared quite a bit of my personal data. Sales reports, income statements, etc. Because SCBWI was so integral in helping me become the writer I am today, I wanted to give back in any way I could (I have also done various behind-the-scenes volunteering for them since I joined).

A little over a month ago, a friend told me I should apply for an exception to PAL. I was really surprised, but figured it couldn't hurt to try. I spoke with my contact on the board and asked if this was a possibility. Within a few hours I was encouraged to send along a detailed packet of information for them to consider.

It was weeks before I heard anything. Honestly, I had no idea whether or not they would accept me. I certainly didn't deserve it just because I'd been in communication with the board. If I was going to receive a PAL exception I wanted it to be for my achievements in writing and in the business of publishing.

Earlier this week, the good news came through! I had been accepted! My friends asked if I was bubbling over with excitement. I was happy, but at the same time I knew it was just an exception for me. I still want my fellow self-pubs to find a path to PAL.

To me, PAL means you're a professional. It means you've achieved something incredible in your writing career. So why are successful self-publishers still not able to have it? I'm certainly not the most successful self-pub out there. I do quite well, yes, but I'm not the queen by any means.

It's my hope the SCBWI board will find a way to make PAL work for everyone who's achieved success in publishing. I know it's not an easy task. I don't envy their position. I will continue to share my information with them if they want it and advocate for my self-pub friends. The publishing world is evolving. I don't know about you, but I think it's a beautiful thing.

Viva publishing and viva SCBWI!

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber


Samantha Clark said...

Great post, Megg. And congratulations! Congratulations for standing up for what you believe in, for your hard work that has made you the success you are, and for helping to pave the road for other self-publishers who want to get PAL rating from SCBWI.

Self-publishing is becoming a choice now, with some writers turning down the traditional route in favor of doing it themselves. They shouldn't be penalized for that. And you're helping to make that happen.

Andrea Lipomi said...

Forgive me for my ignorance, but what are the benefits of being recognized by SCBWI, and as PAL?

Even though I'm in the dark, I'll still congratulate ya! :)

-Deena's Non-YA Writing Sister

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Congratulations. I'm so glad that your self-publishing venture has been so successful. Good for you for beeping so persistent on behalf o self-published authors. I'll look forward to hearing more about the outcome.

Megg Jensen said...

Andrea -

PAL allows authors to exhibit promotional materials for their books at many events. It also puts the author on a speaker list. There are also PAL-only events with teachers and librarians. It's another foot in the door.

Samantha & Elizabeth - Thanks! It's really interesting to watch the publishing world change & grow. I'm proud I can have a teeny little hand in it.

DeenaML said...

Megg, you know I saw this on FB and am so thrilled! You DO work hard and treat your writing as a profession, so to be Published and Listed is huge.

Andrea, yes, it's like Megg says, at the SCBWI conferences and events, you can sell your books and as much as it shouldn't matter, you are regarded as a bit more "pro" and your books are looked at as more quality in the kidlit world.