The title says it all, guys! Here’s a roundup of a bunch of things that newly published authors and illustrators should know. Whether it’s resources on negotiating contracts or where to do research on competitive titles in the marketplace or how much to charge for school and library visits, here are some answers to FAQs I’ve received over the years.
Note: Since Open Book specializes in Ontario’s literary scene—I will mostly be focusing on Ontario-based organizations and programs.
What is CANSCAIP?
CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers) is one of the best organizations available to Canadian children’s authors and illustrators. If you join as a friend or a member, you’ll be able to access a bunch of fantastic resources including tips on negotiating contracts, writing grants, information about doing school visits, webinars on all sorts of different topics and more. While some of the resources on their website do need some updating, they offer an incredible start! CANSCAIP also organizes a Writing for Children Competition and a Blue Pencil mentorship program where creators can pay to receive substantive manuscript or illustration evaluations. Most importantly, CANSCAIP provides very warm and welcoming networking opportunities for those who live close to or in Toronto. They host monthly meetings that feature talks by publishers, authors and illustrators, as well as a yearly day-long conference called Packaging Your Imagination (PYI) that includes all sorts of valuable and useful sessions, workshops, manuscript evaluations and more. For those who don’t live near Toronto, videos of many of the PYI sessions are made available online. For more information, click here.
What is the Canadian Children’s Book Centre?
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is a national, not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to encouraging, promoting and supporting the reading, writing, illustrating and publishing of Canadian books for young readers. The CCBC can help you in a lot of areas: they sell the Get Published: The Writing for Children Kit that includes a list of publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts; they support authors and illustrators through their awards and Best Books for Kids and Teens publication (your publisher will submit on your behalf); and they tour authors and illustrators across Canada for TD Canadian Children’s Book Week (check to see the yearly call for applications to see if you are eligible). The CCBC also houses expansive regional reference collections of Canadian children’s books in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Halifax. The Toronto collection includes almost every Canadian children’s book published since 1976. Browsing these collections is a great way to see what’s been published in Canada, to figure out how you can make your future book ideas stand out even more! For more information about the CCBC, click here.
What financial support is available for Ontario-based children’s book authors?
Please note that I will be focusing on grants from Ontario-based organizations—there are also grants available from other organizations, including the Toronto Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts.
Recommender Grants for Writers, Ontario Arts Council
I’m not going to go into great detail about these grants because the eligibility criteria can evolve or change. I recommend that you go directly go to the Ontario Arts Council website to learn more about this grant. But know that this program supports Ontario-based writers who have published one traditionally published book in the creation of new work. This grant awards a minimum of $1,500 to a maximum $5,000. Even though the guidelines are a titch confusing, illustrated writing for children, including children's picture books, as well as young adult literature and nonfiction are eligible. For this grant, you send your application directly to a participating children’s publisher of your choice, so even if you aren’t awarded the grant it can help to get you on a publisher’s radar. To learn more, click here.
Literary Creation Projects (Works for Publication), Ontario Arts Council
As with the Recommender Grants for Writers, I’m not going to go into great detail about this grant, for the same reason. That said, this program supports Ontario-based literary artists to complete new works for book-length publication or for public performance, and literary performers who wish to record their own repertoire. While children’s picture books are not eligible for this grant, young adult literature (text-based fiction and nonfiction, for middle-grade readers or older) is eligible. This grant awards $12,000. To learn more, click here.
What about the PLR and Access Copyright?
Public Lending Right Program
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The Canada Council for the Art’s Public Lending Right (PLR) Program sends yearly payments to creators whose works are in Canada’s public libraries. To receive a payment, you must register with the program, and your book(s) must be found in one or more of the selected groups of public library systems sampled that year. Your percentage share is calculated based on how much you contributed to an individual book. For example, authors and illustrators of picture books usually split the amount 50/50. The minimum payment is $50 and the maximum possible payment varies every year (based on budget and number of registered titles). In 2018, it was $4,123. To learn more, click here.
Individuals in schools, libraries and universities often copy excerpts from published works to use in their own work. Access Copyright provides such users with access to this content while passing the royalties on to creators. Registering your work with Access Copyright can ensure that you are paid a base fee and whenever they find your works copied under one of their licenses. Go here for more information and to register.
How do I book school and library visits? And how much should I charge for school and library visits?
I recommend that authors and illustrators seek out school visits only if presenting to children is something they genuinely enjoy doing. If you’re just starting out, contact your local schools, or a school where one of your friends teaches, to get a feel for presenting. Once you decide you’d like to conduct school visits, you can distribute a flyer to schools that highlights your presentations and workshops. In addition, consider becoming a part of the Authors’ Booking Service (ABS), which offers friendly and professional assistance in arranging school, library, conference and workshop bookings.
Authors and illustrators can set their own rates. In terms of a standard rate, the Canada Council for the Arts’ recommended rate for authors or illustrators is $250 for a 60-minute school or library presentation. Newer creators might feel more comfortable to start at this rate, whereas more experienced creators might charge more. GST/HST and travel expenses are not included in this fee.
That’s all for now!
Hopefully the information I provided in this roundup is helpful … and won’t become obsolete in a week or so. Feel free to contact me directly to ask any other burning questions.
The views expressed by Open Book columnists are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.
Naseem Hrab is the author of the picture books Ira Crumb Makes a Pretty Good Friend and Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings, illustrated by Josh Holinaty. Her comedy writing has appeared on McSweeney's Internet Tendency and The Rumpus. Sometimes Naseem likes to get up on a stage and tell true stories. She loves improv and coffee ice cream.
She worked as a librarian for a time and currently works in children's publishing.