Saturday, July 24, 2010

Balkin Buddies Interview

This is an interview I was honored to have with Balkin Buddies owner Catherine Balkin.

Be sure to check out her site at http://www.balkinbuddies.com/ !!!!

 1. How hard is it getting all the authors' and artists' separated?



Balkin Buddies is located in the New York City area, as are most of the large publishers. But authors and illustrators, as well as other publishers, are scattered all over the country. Schools, libraries, conferences, and other places where authors and artists give their presentations are also all over the country. So it’s not hard to separate everyone. In fact, many authors, artists, teachers, librarians, and publishers go to conferences to meet each other and communicate face-to-face. Bringing authors and artists face-to-face with children is also the goal of onsite author appearances and online author chats. Children gain insights into the processes involved in writing, illustrating, researching, and publishing that makes reading and learning a richer experience for them.



2. Is it just you that works for Balkin Buddies?

Yes, Balkin Buddies is a one-person operation. Of course, that doesn’t count the 90 authors and illustrators on the Balkin Buddies website, but without them, Balkin Buddies could not exist.


3. How could someone join Balkin Buddies to help?


Although no staff openings are available at this time, anyone who is willing to recommend Balkin Buddies or any of the Balkin Buddies authors and artists to schools, universities, libraries, educational or library conference organizers, or museums, we would greatly appreciate it.




4 & 5. About how many authors do you have? About how many artists do you have?


I work with authors and illustrators in a variety of ways. For some, I set up onsite appearances in schools, libraries, and at conferences. This means I coordinate dates, negotiate honorariums (depending on location, number of programs requested, etc.), write contracts, and occasionally do invoicing, depending on the needs of the author or artist. For this type of service, I work with 44 authors, 5 illustrators, and 12 people who are both author and illustrator.


For others, I set up online chats (usually via Skype, iChat, or whatever system a particular university has). This means, I coordinate dates (for test runs and the chat itself), write contracts, and do occasional invoicing, again depending on the needs of the author or artist. For this type of service, I currently work with 38 authors and 9 illustrators, but nearly 30 of these folks I also set up onsite appearances in schools, etc.


Furthermore, for 14 authors and 4 illustrators, I don't set up onsite appearances for them directly, but there are links to their websites on my website. For about 4 of them, I also set up online chats.


For all of my authors and illustrators in every category, I go to library and educational conferences to promote them. I also give talks about author appearances at various conferences and occasionally do mailings and online marketing.




6. How many speaking engagements do you set up daily?


There is no set number. I promote my authors to teachers, professors, school and public librarians, students going for degrees in teaching and library science, conference organizers, and other related folks who defy categorization but tend to fit into all of them. I promote my list of authors and illustrators as a whole and then wait for schools and libraries, etc. to contact me for whichever author or artist they fancy. Whenever asked, I recommend authors and artists who fit the particular needs of the school, library, etc.


I didn’t start setting up online chats until the economic crisis. When that happened, budgets suffered and traditional onsite appearances slowed down considerably. Recently, they have begun to pick up again. However, I’m continuing to set up online chats, as they are more affordable and I believe they are the wave of the future.




7. Which author are you most honored to work for?


I would have to say that I’m honored to work with all of them. The authors and artists I work with are skilled at speaking to children as well as adults. Speaking to an audience is a separate skill from writing or illustrating, so it’s an honor to work with so many multi-talented people.




8. Your site is well organized. Do you update it daily?


I have no set schedule for updating the Balkin Buddies website. Sometimes I update it daily, but sometimes it’s four or five times a day, while other times it’s weekly or monthly. It depends wholly on the information that comes into my office. Whenever an author or illustrator has a new book out, I put it on my website as soon as I learn about it. If an author or illustrator wants to change their bio, has won a new award or honor, is working with a new publisher, or has a new presentation description, I add them to my website. When you look at my site, you’ll find that I also add articles, links, and other information to various sections that I believe authors, artists, educators, and librarians will find useful. There is a good deal of information under the ‘Arrange an appearance’ bubble, for example, even about such things as obtaining grants and how to find an agent.





9. Did you ever think you would be working for so many authors and artists?



As a child, I loved books and knew I wanted a career in publishing by the age of ten. My goal was to learn about publishing and work with authors and artists. As a result, I worked in children’s book publishing for nearly 20 years (Macmillan, Hyperion/Disney, HarperCollins), and among other things, I spent a number of those years working on setting up appearances and arranging conferences. Creating Balkin Buddies was a natural offshoot of that.





10. Is there anything else you'd like to say?


It’s a privilege to work in a field that makes a difference in children’s lives. They are the future of America, and we at Balkin Buddies (the authors, the artists, and I) hope to contribute to that future in as positive a manner as possible. Furthermore, over the years, we have met countless teachers and librarians who share this goal, and we are grateful for their support and dedication.



















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