Connecting With Kindred Spirits

by Edie Ziebel

Writers and illustrators often work alone. But it’s important for them to connect with others in their field. Colleagues can provide you with inspiration, or perhaps after comparison you realize that your own situation is not quite so bleak. Your fellow illustrators can help you solve problem or support you on the way to finding solutions  yourself.

Writers and illustrators form groups of many different levels to get together to discuss their craft, as well as to socialize. Sometimes professional networking is accomplished, but that should not be the focus of a writers' or illustrators’ group.

Conferences are a great way to connect with others interested in children’s books. And here, professional networking is definitely a big part of  the equation. SCBWI (Society for Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators) has chapters world wide and sponsors many regional conferences in addition to two national conferences per year.

For over 10 years I have been involved in a unique conference, the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature One-on-One Conference. It usually takes place on the third Saturday of October. The conference started in 1970 and is the country’s first and longest-running children’s book conference.

Attendees submit an application and a writing sample or book dummy which is evaluated by the conference’s review committee.. If your application is accepted being accepted you get to be a Mentee. The conference day includes a 45 minute critique of a writing sample or book dummy by a mentor who is also a professional in the children’s books field. The professionals are published authors or illustrators, editors, agents, art directors, and book designers.

The conference also includes a panel discussion, Five-on-Five Group Discussions, and a key note address. The Five-on-Five Group Discussions are always lively, Mentees can hear others ask questions they always wanted to ask, and questions they never thought to ask. This year’s (2012) keynote speaker was Bruce Coville. He provided warmth, humor, and an uplifting ending to a great day!

About the Author


From baby books, to chapter books, through middle grade readers and young adult books, Edie Ziebel has designed and art directed over 1,000 books. Edie has worked at several major publishing houses and has always been a freelance designer throughout her career. She has collaborated with outstanding, award-winning illustrators as well as newcomers to the field, helping them to create compelling books for young readers. To help nurture talent, Edie volunteers with the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature One-on-One Conference, which she has co-chaired for the past 3 years.

With experience in trade, mass-market, and educational publishing, Edie will bring the appropriate design to your project. Specializing in books for very young children, Edie can help you develop illustrated books, guiding the development of the artwork itself, as well as the layout and pacing to make your story jump off the page. Edie’s also has collaborated on many different types and formats of novelty books, she can really think "outside the box".

Her experience working with licensed properties can help you create a character that stands out in the crowded license marketplace. She can develop style guides to help keep characters consistent whether you continue to create  their books or have others extend your line.

Edie’s time in educational publishing helped develop her informational graphic skills, helping authors bring home their point to readers in a clear, graphic manner. She’s also designed books and materials targeted towards teachers. 

Bringing a sensitivity to typography and layout to all her book projects, Edie Ziebel can bring the best out of you!


"She is intelligent, concise, has a good eye for detail and a great sense of humor."

"Edie one of my favorite art directors ever. We worked on a number of wonderful books together at Cartwheel, a Scholastic imprint. She is imaginative, creative, inspirational and a pure pleasure to work with. I repeat, one of the best!"

"Edie is a phenomenal organizer who’s able to juggle many projects at once, and she manages schedules and people with ease. She was well-loved by her staff, and all the freelance designers and artists she worked with. I was lucky to have her on my team. A strong designer of both upscale trade and mass-market children’s books--a rare combination—I don’t think I ever once saw her lose patience or become flustered."

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