Every fall, usually in September, children’s book writers and illustrators from around the Carolinas come together for a three-day weekend conference right here in Charlotte.
The occasion is the annual SCBWI-Carolinas Conference, and next weekend (September 25 to 27) is THE weekend. SCBWI, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, is a national organization with chapters in various states and regions around the country.
As a relative newbie to the children’s literature (“kidlit”) scene, this annual conference is something I look forward to all year and reminds me that there is hope for my dream of one day becoming a published kidlit writer to come true. Maybe, just maybe, one day small children will hold my book in their hands and connect with words I’ve written, just as I do when I hold some of my favorite books in my hands, when I think about the first time I read Harry Potter.
But how can you get involved? What does this conference actually offer? And how does it impact you?
Well, first and foremost, you can get involved just by registering to attend.
Though this year’s conference is just a little more than a week away, and registration closes on the 17th (today), it’s never too early to start looking ahead to next year. Conference-goers pay different prices based on whether or not they are members of SCBWI. However, for a three-day-long conference, fees are relatively low, and, from my own experience, worth every penny.
If you aren’t planning to attend this year’s conference, but you’re thinking about learning more about the children’s literature community, consider joining SCBWI. Members have all kinds of benefits – access to information about agencies and publishing houses, tips on how to make your work shine, invitations to other conferences around the country throughout the course of the year, and more.
If you’re already planning to attend this year’s conference, or you’re thinking of signing up soon for next year’s conference, here are just a few of the weekend’s opportunities you just might get to experience:
- 1-on-1 critique of your work with either an author, editor, or agent. That’s right, participants who sign up for the manuscript or portfolio critique and send in their work can have professionals in the field weigh in on what’s working and what needs work. This is a rare opportunity in the publishing world, so if you’re serious about wanting to write for children, get writing and don’t miss this chance!
- Breakout sessions with some of the best in the biz. With almost three full days of conference-scheduled time, participants have a full menu of options to choose from for what kinds of sessions they want to attend. I typically go with a variety of options, some having to do with enhancing my writing, others with finding an agent, and finally one or two about the publishing process. Every session I’ve attended so far has been more than inspiring and informative, and I’m never short of amazed at the awesome feedback such extraordinary members of our field are willing to give.
- Time for critiquing others’ work and for your work to be critiqued. “Red Eye Critiques” as they’re known, allow attendees to be matched up with other aspiring writers for small-group critique sessions. So, if you’re not feeling up to letting the masters see your work, take the time to meet others like you, others just breaking onto the scene, and use feedback from them to chart your course.
So, what does this mean for all of you out there who have no interest in joining the world of children’s literature?
Well, to be honest it just means that for a few days next weekend you’ll be playing host to visitors from around the Carolinas and around the country. Whether you recognize or even see those visitors or not, just know that they’re here. Maybe consider saying hi to a few more unfamiliar people as you pass them on the street.
And hey, next time you’re at the bookstore, consider asking your friendly bookseller if there are any new books out by local authors. You may just find a new book to love, and you’ll be supporting those in our area who are out there doing what they can to make it in a world that isn’t always easy.
Connect with SCBWI Carolinas
(Photo credit: SCBWI Carolinas Facebook page)