Many conferences that I have attended have been through SCBWI. I have attended the national conference, and various one-day workshops for writers and illustrators. Since I knew nothing about this field when I started, except my love for children’s books and my desire to be a children’s book illustrator, I have found the workshops to be immensely helpful.
Through conferences and workshops, I’ve learned a little about every aspect of children’s books and publishing. Topics have included everything from writing techniques, what to include in your portfolio, marketing tips, advice for school visits, critiques of manuscripts and portfolios, contests, how to get an agent, what types of stories editors are looking for, what type of art to include in a portfolio, what to do while your waiting for that big contract to come in, how to land an agent, how to build your online presence, and so much more. It can be overwhelming! And, while some things are about stages that I haven’t reached yet, overall there is great information to store for later, or immediately put into action.
Another great thing about conferences are the opportunities to meet people and the relationships that start to build. When I first started out, I didn’t know anyone in this field. I was very lonely and missed being around other creative types. Through the conferences I learned about various gatherings, schmoozes and critique groups, that happen in person and on line.
Conferences are definitely worthwhile for beginners. There’s a lot to learn about writing for children, publishing and marketing. Conferences and workshops are steps that can point you in the right direction.
See you at the next conference!
-Veronica Walsh, children’s book illustrator