Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Power of (Book) Friends - By Barbara DiLorenzo

Our group in this blog, Drawn to Picture Books, consists of two men and four women. We are friends as well as critique partners. But we all also belong to other groups as well. Some of us have local art groups, or writing groups consisting of members spread across the globe. I used to Skype regularly with a writer in Brooklyn, one in Germany, and another in South Africa. We are members of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and CBIG (Children's Book Illustration Group). We seek out the advice of our peers, those above us, with more experience, and those folks new to the process with a fresh eye.

Basically, we network. 

And yet–most of us will tell you that social connection does not come as naturally as it looks on the surface. We be shy! 

So why struggle to make new friends and connections when writing and submitting is a solitary experience? Why listen to the very friendly Lin Oliver at an SCBWI conference when she tells you, from behind the podium, to reach out and connect with others? I remember hearing her say that in 2009, 2012 and 2014 in NYC. I thought it couldn't possibly be as important as she made it sound. But she is charming, sweet and funny. How could I not try her advice?  

At each conference or event, I might make one or two friends. Sometimes those friendships thrived online. And sometimes they developed into critique partners. Becoming part of this blog was an organic process with SCBWI friends picked up by Deb Cuneo along the way. She really pulled the group together! 

We shared our work, occasionally met up after a CBIG or SCBWI meeting, talked on the phone, and texted when we just needed help. We've been a group for a while now–and though we don't operate with the same organization that we did in the beginning–we are all such good friends, we just like to stay connected. 

So what is the point of all this connection?

It's so hard to see up close, in the moment. I wanted to be published immediately and thought friendship was too slow to make a dent in my goals. But today, I look back and see that each and every person that I shared work with, that also shared work with me, helped me to get here: two books published within a year. That could be luck or a fluke. But of the six members, two of us have books that launched on the very same day (April 3, 2018). And one more member had a book launch two weeks before us. 

3 out of 6 people in our group launched a book within the same two weeks. 50% of our group. Published by traditional publishers. Within two weeks. 

I'm not mathematically inclined, but I do think that speaks to the power of connection within a group of like-minded people constantly striving to improve their craft. 

The three of us plan to celebrate together at Little City Books in Hoboken on Sunday, April 15th, 2018 at 11am. Stop by and say hello! There will be games, and drawing, and cookies and fun. But mostly, you will be making one more connection that might make a difference in your own journey!


  1. My mother-in-law would always say,”water seeks it’s own level.” So glad for you that you “attracted” like-minded talented people with similar energy to guide you towards your goals. Killing it! What a year for you! ��������������������✏️������

    1. Well, there were a lot of years of not killing it, leading to this strange, bountiful moment in time. I'm storing the good energy for years to come when life is a bit less bountiful. :-)

    2. ah, but Barbara---the SCBWI and KidLit Community will always be bountiful :D This was a joy to read and I am SO rooting for the other 50%! :D oxox