My husband is waiting for me with a pot of hot coffee, a loaded car, and a canoe paddle, so I’m going to make this post brief. I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in 1996 and attended my first SCBWI-Wisconsin annual fall retreat in 1997. I think I’ve missed only one year since then.
I go back year after year for three good reasons.
1. To network with other authors and illustrators. Many of the SCBWI members I met that first year also return every fall (along with a growing number of new members), so every retreat is a reunion of dear friends. I love hearing about their projects, progress, and successes! We Wisconsinites also have a rich tradition of sharing food and drinks along with our manuscripts.
2. To learn from the speakers. Even after all these years, I still collect invaluable information from the authors, illustrators, editors, agents, and art directors who speak. The market keeps changing, it helps to have updates, and it never hurts to hear another perspective.
3. To make contacts with editors. A conference provides opportunities for writers to meet with editors (and for illustrators to meet with art directors) and learn about their work, their previous projects, and their preferences. After many conferences, speakers accept submissions from attendees, sometimes even if their company policy is not to accept unsolicited submissions.
Over the years as I’ve become more involved with SCBWI, I’ve enjoyed taking on volunteer responsibilities, getting to know even more members, and occasionally being a speaker myself. Interested? You know you are! Check the SCBWI web site for regional events in your area, listed by date or by region. Whether you go as a shy observer, a willing participant, or a dedicated volunteer, go! And if you go to Wisconsin’s fall retreat, look for me!
We’re off to the river!
JoAnn Early Macken
P.S. Don't forget to enter the contest to win an autographed copy of Goliath: Hero of the Great Baltimore Fire by Claudia Friddell.