Last weekend I attended one of my favorite word nerd events of the year. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Fall Retreat! Three jam-packed days of fun, professional development, networking opportunities and books. Books, books, books… so many books.
It’s easy to see why this is one of my happy places, but just in case my reasoning isn’t 100% transparent, I thought I’d spell it out. Are you ready to learn more about this incredible international literary organization? Then read on.
Reason #1: You should join SCBWI because it is an invaluable resource for industry knowledge.
In addition to in person events like conferences and retreats, SCBWI has a whole host of resources available via the good old internet. These resources include: eNewsletters, podcasts and my favorite: The Bulletin. The Bulletin is a quarterly publication that comes to my mailbox (both email and real!) filled with helpful articles on craft, tips for running your author/illustrator business and more. SCBWI also offers members access to “The Book” a digital and print resource full of EVERYTHING you need to know about the field of children’s writing. From creating a book trailer to maximizing the effect of your social media presence, from best practices to an agent directory, this book has it all. You can learn more about these resources HERE. The SCBWI site also has great information on contests, awards and local events.
Reason #2: You should join SCBWI because you can directly network with authors, illustrators, agents, editors, art directors and publishers.
Last weekend at the conference I chatted with a real live New York literary agent while I stood in line for breakfast. At lunch I sat with a New York Times Best Selling (Wisconsin!) author. I listened to presentations by editors and art directors of the BIG 5. I walked through an art show with (and was critiqued by) a YALSA award winning author. I sipped lemonade and ate late night cookies with the winner of the Middle Grade Manuscript of the Year. I had books autographed for my children and viewed advance reader copies of forthcoming books by authors I admire. All like it was no big deal. For a weekend I got to live a literary dream… sitting at the table in the room where it happens with the big kids and rockstars. There are no velvet ropes or VIP sections in SCBWI. The organization is open to everyone and generous with their knowledge, people, and connections.
Reason #3: You should join SCBWI because it is inspiring.
Throughout the weekend my hand was kept busy writing down all of the inspirational things presenters had to say. When I made copies for my writing group back home it amounted to 8 pages of wordy wisdom. Here are a few of my favorites!
In fact, I was so inspired I plan to attend another SCBWI event in just two weeks, this time in Iowa. Another perk of being involved in an international organization is that you can attend events nationwide (and world wide!) for your same membership fee.
Reason #4: You should join SCBWI because you can give back to the word nerd world that you love so much!
SCBWI gives you so many ways to give back. For example. At each conference, attendees donate books (their own or ones they purchase from the conference bookstore). We fill a huge basket. (Imagine one of those cool, tall, woven laundry baskets you covet from Target… over flowing with books!) At the end of the conference one lucky attendee is selected and random and given the basket… not with the intent that they keep it, but that they give it to a school. Any school of their choice. I didn’t win, but if I did, I think I would give it to the Appalachian Library Initiative run by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. My sons’ library is pretty fantastic. And most of the kids who attend their school have the resources at home to fill their shelves with books. So, I think I’d want the books to go to a place where they were desperately needed.
Through SCBWI you can also volunteer to mentor a less experienced writer or illustrator, help out at the conference, organize smaller group activities by being an area-representative, or by offering your skills in the form of another position like my friends Jane Kelley and Silvia Acevedo who run the Wisconsin chapter SCBWI blog and are the Indie/Self Publishing Coordinator, respectively. So many ways to get involved! So many ways to give back!
Reason #5: You should join SCBWI because you will make all sorts of new word nerd (and awesomely art-y) friends.
Last year was my first year in SCBWI. I showed up truly knowing only one person. (Hi Jane!)(This doesn’t count the people whose names I “knew” from the front covers of books!) This year I greeted almost a dozen friends by name. Throughout the year I had gotten to know them via in person events and Facebook. Not only do friends make attending the conference fun, but they also add sunshine to what can at times feel like a lonely work world. Sometimes it’s a note in the mail or encouragement via social media. Other times it’s a quick response when I message with a question or a personal review of a product/class/book I’m interested in. The people I have met via SCBWI are some of the friendliest word nerds (and artists) around.
So, are you convinced?
Do you have a children’s book lurking around your brain and you want a little help and encouragement from some new friends to give it a try? Have you been playing around with words and/or art for a while now and are ready to take it to the next level? Are you looking to be a part of an amazing community of creators? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then join us today! Just click HERE to learn more and get started.
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