I have to say, I am quite excited about the SCBWI Winter Conference this coming weekend. The funny thing is that I was very close to NOT attending this year. I had reasons...mostly financial. But now that it is only days away, I am so happy I decided to go. (It helps, of course, that it is right in my backyard!)
If you have never been to an SCBWI conference, I recommend going at least once. Many regions put on fabulous conferences...in fact, I am HOOKED on the NJ chapter's. Its amazing.
But before you go, here are a few of my tips....
- Find your Tribe. One of the MAIN reasons for attending conference is to mix and mingle with others who share the same passions as you. Therefore, make sure to create opportunities to meet people. Its really not that difficult. Conference is filled with such opportunities. So take advantage of them! You might be a "in your pajamas and in bed by 9pm" person, but for this one weekend....embrace the fun! I met some of my bestest kidlit gals when I wandered into the hotel bar after a Critique Session instead of heading to bed. It was 11pm, but I have never regretted it. Be bold and have a blast!
- Bring business cards. You are going to meet a lot of people and when you get back to your writing cave on Monday you are going to want to find them on Facebook, subscribe to their blogs or shoot them an email. So, business card swapping is HUGE at conferences. I designed mine (with my picture....because its easiest to remember my hair than my name) on Vistaprint.
- Be realistically open-minded. You are about to rub elbows with some of the best and soon-to-be best. And although you might be one of them, you might also have a lot to learn. Ask questions. Take criticism. Its part of the journey.
- Practice your pitch. A question I was not prepared to be asked at conference last year was, "What are you working on?" My answer was "picture books"....until I realized that I was actually being asked to pitch my manuscript. You are going to be asked...so practice.
- Take notes to share with others afterward. You are going to be listening a lot and be given a lot of little nuggets of wisdom, tips, etc. And by Monday it might all seem to run together and you might not be able to remember any of it. So, do yourself a favor, and take notes. What helps me is then to blog about a particular session or write up notes for my critique group. That way I don't just stick my notes in my desk drawer and forget about them. In retelling and summarizing for others I am actually making sense of the info for myself.