Whether this is your first conference or your fifth THE INSIDE TRACK FOR NEW ARRIVALS covers everything from getting ready, attending the conference, including conference etiquette, and things to think about when you are back home.
Your Regional Team has worked to provide as much information as possible. We are excited about this conference and we want this to be your best one ever!
How do you get the most from our conference?
Some hints to ensure the conference is successful. It takes thinking ahead.
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Make a list of goals you want to take-away from the conference.
Perhaps you want to meet people in your area.
Or, you want to get a better handle on how to revise your work.
Or maybe, you are want a better understanding of what it takes to get an agent.
Or, you are having a critique. Make a list of questions to ask the professional who critiques your work. Be prepared when that person asks if you have any questions.
What skill do you most want to improve? List your skills on paper. Attend the workshops that will help you improve that skill.
Visit the Faculty page, their bios [and the books they agent or edit] and what programs they will be presenting prior to attending the event.
Visit your local library or bookstore to check out the ones in your favorite genre: Picture Books, Middle Grade, or Young Adult. Nothing pleases a writer, editor, agent, illustrator, or art director more than when you talk with them about their work.
Visit the websites of at least three presenters. Check out their books at the library. Many of their books will be for sale in the conference bookstore.
Write down specific questions for presenters on 3×5 note cards to ask them at the conference. If’ it’s a webinar, make sure to type it into the chat box so the moderator can see it. Most websites list a contact page with an email address, in case you don’t get to ask them at the conference, you can contact them later.
Prepare business cards or postcards with your name, email address, website, and blog to exchange with fellow attendees and to offer to editors and agents (if asked), if you’re attending a conference.
Illustrators are invited to bring their portfolio to display at the Portfolio Showcase generally on one of the nights of the conference. You may display one promotional item—either a postcard or a business card.
Bring a notebook to keep all your notes in one place. Some conferences do not have enough electrical outlets for you to plug in your computer.
You can put it in front of your computer when you get home, and transfer your handwritten notes to your computer. If you are bringing a digital device make sure the battery is charged. The space may not have WiFi.
You can add information from handouts by scanning them into your computer, or by typing what you want to remember from the handouts.
Buy two pens that write just the way you like a pen to write.
Write a pitch for your manuscript and print on a 3×5 card. If it doesn’t fit on the 3×5 index card, it’s too long.
Put the emotional essence of your story in a one-sentence elevator pitch.
Carry a copy of your pitch with you to the conference.
Practice giving your pitch in front of a mirror. Use eye contact. Memorize it.
Leave your manuscript at home. You know your story. This is a time to take in information about the art and craft of writing for children. You will get lots of ideas. Write them down. You will have plenty of time to process all the information when you get home.
[Remember, it is unprofessional to give your manuscript to an editor or agent during the conference.]
The conference dress code is comfortable and layered, it may be warm outside in September, but the conference rooms can be chilly. Wear comfortable shoes. Bring a sweater or blazer.
We work to make this a valuable and valued environment for all participants. Please read our Professional Conduct & Event Policies which detail our Recording and Blogging, Anti-harassment, Photos taken at events, our Attendance requirements and requests and how we deal with food restrictions.
You may want to bring a tote, a backpack, or a small, wheeled bag to carry the books you purchase, the conference packet and any handouts the presenter may distribute.
Come to the conference with an open mind, ready to learn.
Leave your worries at home.
Anticipate a weekend of stimulating experiences filled with learning and fun.
WELCOME TO THE CONFERENCE
Check in at the SCBWI registration table
Pick up your conference packet containing conference schedules and maps of the facilities.
Wear your name tag. Writers and illustrators are a friendly lot and we want to get to know you and invite you to participate with our groups. Put a few business cards behind your name tag to make them handy to share.
Talk and listen This is a time to network with other writers from the moment you walk in the door. That’s what the conference is all about.
WHATS IN YOUR CONFERENCE PACKET?
The conference schedule
A conference evaluation form (Some conferences will send you an online survey)
Submission guidelines with the names, addresses, and submission guidelines for editors and agents so you can submit your best quality manuscripts after the conference.
Need a list of nearby restaurants nearby for dinner or late-night catch up sessions with friends?
Writing and Illustrating for children is fun—it is also a career choice and we look for professional behavior.
Our speakers are professional writers and illustrators who have been tested and found success in a very competitive marketplace, children’s literature. They work not only at their own writing and illustrating, but are willing to put together programs and share their hard won knowledge. Please read our policy on blogging and recording.
Turn cell phone ring to silent. Be conscious of others if you text, tweet or blog.
Choose a seat Find a space near the back of the room if you’re are working on a laptop or tablet so as not to disturb those around you.
You can print a list of the breakout sessions you marked on your registration.
In your confirmation email received after registration is a link to your confirmation page.
You are not required to attend these sessions, but it gives your Regional Team the information it needs to select rooms for the sessions.
Be on time for sessions. Late arrivals distract the speaker and the participants. Remain throughout the entire presentation. If you find you must leave for personal reasons or for a critique session, be courteous and walk out as quietly as possible.
Most speakers provide time for questions during their sessions. Ask general questions about writing, publishing or illustrating rather than those specific to your project.
Water glasses and pitchers of ice water will be available in each meeting room; however, eating during a session is unprofessional.
Speakers are available for the weekend. You may speak briefly to the presenter after the session, but do not monopolize their time. Rooms may need a new set up.
Thank the presenters and the organizers for what you liked about the conference.
We do provide an evaluation form. Please hold your comments on any issues you may have and complete and hand in the form.
FINALLY, IT’S THE CONFERENCE…
Take notes using your new spiral notebook/composition book or your laptop, tablet, phone, etc.
Do hand out business cards. Communication is the key. Savor the meeting of each new person. They could be the next step up to help you reach your goal. Ask for their business cards, too.
If you receive a business card from an editor, agent, writer or illustrator, note what they said on the back of the card. It will come in handy later.
Do you feel lonely and out of touch with people? Plan to talk to the people who sit beside you in the workshops. Exchange names, email addresses, and business cards with them. Here are possible questions to start your conversation:
- “What are you writing?”
- “Are you in writing group? Is it online or face-to-face?”
- “How do you find time to write?”
- “Do you write best in the morning or at night?”
If you happen to meet an agent or editor in the elevator or at lunch, remember he/she is human, like you. Ask one of these questions or one of your own:
- “What is your favorite project right now?”
- “How do you know when a book is right for you?”
- “What’s your advice for writers?”
- “What’s your advice for illustrators?”
The editor/agent might even ask, “What kind of writing do you do?” This is a perfect lead in for your pitch. Hold your head high. Look the editor/agent in the eye. Pretend he’s your best friend and tell him your pitch. You may offer the editor or agent a card.
Remember, you will have the opportunity to submit after the conference.
Take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep. Take a short walk between sessions. Watch what you are eating. List twenty things for which you are thankful each morning before you get out of bed.
TIME TO PROCESS—
It has been busy couple of days. Take some time. You listened to a lot of information.
Read and organize your notes from each workshop. Write at least three major things you learned from each workshop. Include important information from the conference handouts.
Sleep, if you’re tired. Accept yourself and others as you are. Be thankful for what you have. Be grateful for where you are. Put the fun back into your writing.
Make a top ten list of things that you learned at the overall conference.
Revamp three writing goals using the skills and information you learned, such as:
Read ten books in your chosen genre
Read three books on the craft of writing and/or illustrating.
If a book inspires you, buy it or borrow it from your public library.
Visit the website of three people who shared business cards with you.
Email three people who shared their business cards with you.
Remind them how you enjoyed talking with them.
Thank them for sharing a resource.
Congratulate them on their manuscript or book.
Compliment them for being brave if they read their story at open mike.
Thank them for giving you a new way to look at a problem.
You may want to prepare a new post card, business card, bookmark, logo image, or email signature to promote you and your writing. Use your book titles and blurbs/pitches.
Join a writer’s critique group in person or online.
Create a website and/or blog. Advertise it on Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus, and Pinterest.
Create an author/illustrator page on Facebook and post news of your publishing journey.
After you’ve had your manuscript or illustration sample critiqued by a critique group, critique partner, or beta reader, submit a manuscript/postcard with sample illustration to an appropriate editor or agent.
If your manuscript or illustration fits the needs of an editor or agent who presented at the conference, submit it. Mention in your cover letter that you attended the SCBWI Carolinas Conference. Use the submission guidelines and send-by dates listed in your conference folder.