Writing Info

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators California Conference (August 2012)

I went to my first national SCBWI conference and had such a good experience.

Here’s a breakdown of 10 things I learned at the conference (in no particular order):

1.  Do a critique:  so many of the published authors I met said they got their break from meeting an agent or publisher at a previous SCBWI conference.  It was usually after a critique session and the editor would say, “hmm…I liked this…send me the whole manuscript after the conference.”  So next time I go to a conference, I’ll be sure to sign up for the critique.  You never know.

2.  Pay attention to who is around you:  I just happened to be getting tired in the middle of one of the days (because I’m 5 months pregnant), and I needed to take a short break.  I picked a spot all the way in the back of the hotel sitting area and practically lay down on a bench.  I was staying with a friend, so I didn’t have a hotel room I could run into.  But that turned out to be in my favor because I ended up meeting a spectacular woman, Pamela Wells, on that same bench.  Her website is below.  She was chock-full of good advice because she’s been published three times and has a movie coming out with Selena Gomez as the main character!  If Pamela hadn’t said hi to me on that bench, I would have totally missed my opportunity to meet her!


3.  Patience:  Oh my!  So many published authors said it took them 7 or even 16 yrs to get published.  They were right about to give up when…boom, they got an agent, etc.

4.  Have business cards on hand:  People wanted to trade cards with others.

5.  Contact all of the people whose cards you received:  It was wonderful getting in touch with everyone one-on-one over email after the conference.

6.  Children’s books are short nowdays:  They’re 750-1,000 words at most.  Josh Adams, a literary agent, said that even though 2,000 word children’s books used to sell well, they’re not selling now.

7.  Text without illustrations:  When submitting a children’s book, send the text alone.  The editor will pair you up with an illustrator of his/her choosing.

8.  Book signings are fun:  Check out my pic with the Fonz!  The authors want to sign and take pics with you.

9.  During a peer critique group sit back and let people give you their thoughts without interrupting them.

10.  Agents don’t want you querying them with a project that’s the same as a book they already have.  They don’t want that competition for their current project.  So doing homework on agents is recommended before sending a query letter.

If you went to the conference and have more tips, please share them below in a comment!  I’d love to hear other tidbits of knowledge!

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