Wednesday, June 23, 2010

SCBWI LA conference faculty interview: Greg Pincus

Greg Pincus, a member of the 2010 SCBWI summer conference faculty, is a man of many talents. He's a poet, novelist, screenwriter, volunteer elementary school librarian, and social media consultant. (Here's his really useful site.)

He's also a poster-boy for what social media can do for a writer. After the mathematically inspired form of poetry he invented went viral and hit The New York Times, Greg found himself with a two-book deal with Arthur A. Levine Books.

But he's not just about self promotion. On the contrary, he's as humble and generous a person as you can find, and in an industry as fantastic as ours, that's saying something.

Fans of poetry will  remember the collection of writers he brought together for National Poetry Month in April. Then there are the kidlit chats he hosts with Bonnie Adamson on Twitter every week (you can find the transcripts here). 

He's someone you want to know, and to start the conversation, I conducted this Twitter interview with Greg. Here's the (slightly edited) transcript:

@gregpincus, how much time a day do you spend on social networking?

@mbrockenbrough A lot of days under an hour, the rest between one and two (plus #kidlitchat on Tuesdays and frequent weekend silence). And you?

@gregpincus Twitter and Facebook are my quick work breaks, so maybe 30 minutes a day. OK, maybe more.

@mbrockenbrough The key, I think, is to know your time limitations and accept them. No one can do it all. No one has the time. And it's okay!

@gregpincus, should every aspiring writer and illustrator be on Facebook and/or Twitter?

@mbrockenbrough "Should"? Nah. Only if they want to. They are free, useful ways to be visible and make connections, though.

@gregpincus How’s a person supposed to say anything in 140 characters or fewer? I mean, that’s insane. Even harder than picture books. Blerg!

@mbrockenbrough Where's Papa going with that ax? That's 32 characters and says a lot. Congrats on your good news! That's 28 and powerful, too.

@gregpincus Nice! How would your career be different w/o social media? Also, if I ask nicely, will Twitter write my novel for me?

@mbrockenbrough I got my book deal and have sold poetry from my blog. I've made friends & connections and gotten gigs and press via social networks.

@mbrockenbrough They have accelerated my career. However, it's key to remember that they SUPPORT the career and are NOT the career.

@mbrockenbrough And sadly, Twitter won't write for you. Your twitter pals might kick your butt, tho. And, well, for a price I'll write your novel. Let's talk!

@gregpincus Ha ha! Is there any antisocial networking for people like me...better when left alone in a dark room?

@mbrockenbrough Only the idea that you don't HAVE to do any social networking. It can help, don't get me wrong, but we all have our limits.

@gregpincus It does make networking easier for us shy folk. OK, so what jargon does a social networking newbie need to know?

@mbrockenbrough Plafoogary, spreekfel, and retwefacemarak.

@gregpincus Believed you for a nanosecond! (A real term, even if it sounds like playground slang of future physicists. Nanonanonanosecond!)

@mbrockenbrough Each network has its own language, with Twitter's being richest, I think. Try to find a tutorial or list of terms online. And ask questions!

@gregpincus Like this handy-dandy tutorial?

@gregpincus OK, so besides you, which #kidlit folks are worth following? Who gives the best links, news, tips, and industry dish?

@mbrockenbrough Too many to list! @inkyelbows @mitaliperkins @pwkidsbookshelf @alicepope come to mind. On another day, I'd prolly say others.

@gregpincus How does this Twitter chat stuff work, and how can a nearsighted slow reader keep up? #notautobiographicalreally

@mbrockenbrough Read by @inkyelbows to get started. And be zen—it's hard to keep up... and that's okay! They still rock.

@gregpincus Um, what are you wearing to the Heart and Soul Celebration on Saturday? Do you think Arthur Levine (@aalbooks) will dance with us?

@mbrockenbrough I've got an off the shoulder number that I think looks great. Depends on the weather, though. And the same with Arthur....

@gregpincus Thanks for talking with me! See you at #scbwila10 (P.S. Stick around for a second.)

@mbrockenbrough Great! I'll see you there! (twiddles thumbs....)

@gregpincus Now that it’s just us talking, can you tell me about the worst social networking gaffes authors have committed?

@mbrockenbrough Awww... I thought we were gonna gossip about the time that, let's call him/her Editor X, absconded with Author Y's ma (oh, darn the 140 limi

@mbrockenbrough Tweeting/posting in anger seem to be the root of the worst gaffes - insulting others, tweeting home phone numbers, looking petty.

@mbrockenbrough I believe that everything you say and do online will probably become public at the worst possible time. So be you... smartly!

@mbrockenbrough (Oh, and NEVER tell the story of Editor X in public. I'm just saying)

@gregpincus Is that because you're planning to put it in a book? Kidding! Thank you again. See you in LA!

@mbrockenbrough And thank you! See you at the end of July at #scbwi

To see Greg there with me, register here for the conference. You'll be glad you did.

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