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Writing Conferences –
Are They Worth the Time and Money?
"Musings" - April 2008
by Margot Finke
New writers hear a lot about joining the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and going to their writing conferences, and about other great conferences too. Old hands at writing for children confide, “It’s a wonderful way to network with other writers and meet editrs and agents.”
Think about it. For decades, men have networked to get ahead in business. And, once women woke up to the benefits of the networking game, they began to break the CEO glass ceiling themselves. Writing for children today is a business like any other, and writers become stronger and more successful when they band together and network.
The SCBWI Factor
At the top of the writing conference heap are the national SCBWI biggies; their winter conference in New York, and the summer conference Los Angeles. Both feature a mega turnout of writers, high-powered editors and agents, plus workshops and other sessions galore. Newcomers can become lost in the shuffle and be thoroughly intimidated – but what a sensory writing experience!
Then, there are all those smaller SCBWI conferences that the various states (and many other countries) have several times a year: one for spring, one for summer, and maybe one for fall. If you want to enjoy the benefits of both the National and Regional (state) SCBWI conferences, you must join the National SCBWI, as well as your regional branch – otherwise you miss out on all the perks, and pay extra for each conference.
You ask yourself, “Networking for writers? Why? I’m not a CEO.
Are writing conferences really worth all that time and money?
You Bet They're Worth It--Every Penny!
- Where else could you bump into the most recent Newbery winner?
- Listen to well-known editors, agents, and writers offer opinions on writing and publishing.
- Meet the agent of your dreams.
- Chat with a famous children’s author and ask her/his advice.
- Find another writer who writes the same genre, and needs a crit partner – like you!
- Sit with 6 or 7 established and published writers, and pick their brains.
- Get an editor’s permission to send your manuscript to an otherwise closed publishing house.
- Ask the experts writing questions you have always wanted answered.
- Spend time with people who really “get” your passion to write!
- Treat yourself to one or more days with nothing to do except think, eat, and sleep writing for kids--dust bunnies, laundry, and the grocery shopping can wait. YEA!
SCBWI Homepage :
Some sections are for everyone, while others are for Members Only.
Check what you get for your yearly fee ($60): Awards and Grants, Discussion Boards, Marketplace, Links, Publications, Events, and more.
Regional + Overseas SCBWI Chapters:
This is where you can contact your state or overseas chapter, look at their website, and see what they have planned for the year.
Other Children’s Writing Conferences Worth Attending
Pacific Northwest Children's Book Conference (once known as Haystack)
Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop – at Chautauqua
Willamette Writers Conference
Oregon Coast Book Writers Workshop
The Muse Online Writing Conference: a once a year, free online conference: great for those short of cash, no baby sitter, or far from towns where conferences are held.
Southern Breeze (SCBWI)
Whitby Island Writer’s Conference
Jewish Children’s Book Writer’s Conference
Have I convinced you that conferences are worth the time and money, or do I have to pack my bag and make you a personal visit? Trust me – networking at great conferences will get you published faster than vacuuming up those dust bunnies, or keeping your kids in clean underwear!
HAPPY CONFERENCING MATES!
Margot Finke's biography and index to Musings.
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