March 1 and 2 saw the annual Dahlonega Literary Festival grace our favorite mountain town with a fantastic selection of books, authors, panels, and workshops. This occasion marked the festival’s 16th year in Dahlonega and featured authors like Rebecca Wells, author of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Nayomi Munaweera, award-winning author of Island of a Thousand Mirrors and What Lies Between Us, and UNG’s very own Dr. Bonita Jacobs, author of the University’s first children’s book, UNG The Gold I See! Workshops and panels covered everything from memoir writing, poetry, screen writing, writing promotion, and specialized genre discussions. The literary festival’s strong turnout was bolstered by members of the local community as well as out-of-town visitors, cementing the vibrancy and importance of such events in the region.
The UNG Press was honored to host a panel featuring the University’s president, Dr. Bonita Jacobs, and her most recent publication, UNG The Gold I See! Dr. Robinson, director of the Press, began “Children’s Book Publishing from Start to Finish” by introducing Dr. Jacobs and welcoming everyone to the panel before handing the floor over to the featured author. To start, Dr. Jacobs explained the University’s focus on creating scholarships for students, and how she hoped to continue creating such opportunities by directing all profits of her book to the school’s scholarship foundation. This work is very personal for the University’s president, who wanted to convey her love for UNG in a way that would strike a cord with both alumni and their children. Her sister, J’Nelle Short, illustrated the book with beautiful watercolor scenes of the Dahlonega campus, giving the work an added layer of special meaning for Dr. Jacobs.
After discussing the background of UNG The Gold I See! and answering a few questions, Assistant Managing Editor Jillian Murphy discussed the target ages for different forms of children’s books, from picture books to easy readers and chapter books, and the various plot and structural requirements for each. Next, Dr. Robinson spoke about the need for the Press to meet industry standards to ensure successful publication and marketability for Dr. Jacob’s book, focusing on book size and target audiences specifically. Managing Editor Corey Parson finished out the talk by explaining the storyboard process and the importance of designing a book’s layout with the specific audience in mind to enhance readability. They also discussed the process of finding the right illustrator for the book.
Audience members were attentive and interactive throughout the discussion, asking questions relating to marketing, the number of universities writing children’s books, writing for multiple genres, illustrator limitations, and the author’s influence over design. Currently, the University of North Georgia is the only public university to publish a children’s book about itself. They will continue the trend by publishing a book about each of their five beautiful campuses. Technological innovations are also in the works, with the Press looking into developing a virtual reality component for the book’s story.
University Press staff poured forth a fascinating and impressive amount of knowledge about the world of children’s book publishing, leaving a remarkable impression on festival-goers. Their passion for sharing knowledge and creating quality literature was clearly displayed through their eager interaction with the crowd and thorough presentation. Looking forward, the future of the UNG Press continues to shine brightly with a staff of highly-talented and knowledgeable professionals at the helm.
Missed the UNG Press’s panel? Don’t worry. All our resources and presentation can be found here: Children’s Books: Industry Standards and Resources