After being a lone writer in a foreign country for two years, I finally found another SCBWI aspiring picture book writer. I’ve been a little perturbed that I’m paying a big membership fee for this organization, and the Korea SCBWI no longer exists. Since I’ve moved here, they no longer meet and have no advisor. But things are looking better since I chatted with Kathleen Ahrens, the international advisor. She suggested I contact all the Korean members, which I did.  So yesterday, I met a wonderful writer/illustrator/graphic designer lady who speaks English! We met for three hours at my apartment. In fact, she rode the subway two hours just to meet me! Learning about publishing from another country’s perspective sort of opened my eyes. Let me share…

Here are the enlightenments I got out of our meeting:

1. Any picture book writer who doesn’t draw MUST have a pb illustrator critique buddy.  I read two of her dummies which she translated into English just for me. Her writing was spectacular, sparse of words, and was the first time I’d viewed an illustrator’s dummy “live” (besides my own) and not on the internet. Artists can think visually, more than writers who are challenged artists, like me. She was able to help me think through one of my stories in a more visual way.

2. I learned that Korea does have picture book classes, never online, but through an actual class with a lecturer.
My friend’s stories had great structure.

3. Korea WANTS illustration notes.
Her manuscripts were written out in scenes, rather than one story mass like we do in America. She said writers choose their illustrators and even tell them not only what to draw, but what medium to use! She was surprised when I told her we’re not supposed to add illustration notes unless absolutely necessary. And she was shocked that writers and illustrators don’t really communicate during the publishing process.

4. Submissions is a LIVE presentation.
Oh my goodness! Writer/illustrators present their dummy as a presentation in front of the editor. They have to really market their idea and show enthusiasm. She said at the end of her pb class, her lecturer had invited editors for their final presentations. And they’re blunt and very honest. If they don’t like it, they’ll tell you in not so kind of ways. She had also made an appointment with a publisher and presented her book. However, because of the expense involved, the publisher declined.  Can you imagine if author/illustrators in the U.S. had to do presentations?

5. Submissions is never by email.  Publishers won’t read it.

6. We’re going to try to revive the SCBWI critique group.
If no one wants to join us, we’ll just help each other. We’ve already swapped manuscripts. If you know of any children’s writers here, let us know.

I wonder how other non-English speaking countries handle submissions. Well, thanks for listening!