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Writing, Illustrating & Publishing => Upcoming Education & Writer Events => Topic started by: Verla Kay on September 11, 2004, 05:31 AM

Title: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Verla Kay on September 11, 2004, 05:31 AM
There is a discussion over on the "Moderator's Only" board (yes, there is another set of boards that is invisible) that has been going on for a couple of days because one of our moderators is attending a conference this weekend.  We were all giving her hints and tips.  Els posted about HER first conference and when I responded to els' post, it created a veritable hysteria amonst the moderators.  I decided it wasn't fair to leave all of you folks out of the fun, so I'm double-posting and putting it here so you can all see it, too.  I don't understand what they found so darned funny about it though.  I think my right thigh is FINE.  Just the way it is....

That said, here's the post:

I was so scared about going to my first conference I bought a business suit (dress and jacket- heck, even nylons!).

Okay, els.  This calls up a story from my past.  Many, many, many, many, many, many, many years ago, when I was a District Manager for House of Lloyd Toys & Gifts, I earned a free trip to Portugal on my group sales.  It was a "training" trip, taken with others who worked for the company that had also reached their sales goals during the previous year.  We had a number of sales meetings during the trip, in order to learn new procedures, company policies, and the highlight of the meetings was when we all got to SEE (and touch and feel!) the new toy line for the next year. 

I'd done very well with my sales that year.  In previous years, I'd gone on several of these big trips, but I always looked (and felt) totally out of place - an unkempt housewife amonst sharp-looking business women.  This year I had not only earned the trip, I even earned some money to go along with the trip!  So I decided to treat myself to a beautiful suit to wear to the main meeting.

The suit I found was incredible!  It was hot pink ultra-suede - a brand new product in the early 80's.  And it cost me a veritable fortune - $500!  (Back then, you could buy a HOUSE for $500.  Well, not quite, but it was the down payment on a house!)  This, from a frumpy housewife who'd never spent more than $20 on ANYTHING to wear in her entire life!  I just knew I'd be making my first "grand entrance!" 

The day of the meeting, I felt SO good!  So sharp!  So smart!  With my head held high with pride, I started down the (luckily carpeted) stairs into the meeting room, and... you guessed it... tumbled head over heels down the entire length of the long staircase, landing at the bottom on my back, feet spread wide and pointing UP the stairs. 

Everyone gasped, and several people rushed over and tried to help me up... but with my feet UP the stairs, I couldn't get up.  Laughing and crying in humiliation, I gasped, "Please!  Let me do it myself!"  As they let go of me, I spun myself around so my feet were hanging down the stairs, and was then able to stand up. 

So much for my "grand entrance."  It was grand all right.  But it certainly wasn't the way I intended to make a splash with my beautiful new suit! 

SEE what you did, els?   You brought all that humiliation back to me again.  And yes, I've been laughing about this for years, now.  :dr  :dr  :dr  Got a lot of laughter mileage out of that hot pink suit with the mini-skirt.  And I still have it.  Today, I think the skirt will fit my right thigh.... 
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Lisa M. on September 11, 2004, 06:42 AM
What an image, Verla!  Hope you didn't get hurt!!!  Did you ever take a picture of you in it?  It would be fun if you could post it.  (I'm sure it's in storage if you have it.) 

Lisa  (who still keeps clothes that no longer fit.  I'm just sure they will one day soon)  :faint:
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Verla Kay on September 11, 2004, 07:06 AM
:dr Lisa.  The only thing that got hurt was my pride.  (And it definitely took a tumble!)  I honestly don't know if I have any photos of me in that suit or not.  I'd have to dig through six hundred thousand boxes to find it if I did.  (Well, when you keep digging back into the storage units - we have two of them in order to fit all our stuff in them - it FEELS like six hundred thousand boxes....)  And after searching through both units TWICE, I STILL can't find my Civil War research books that I NEED in order to finish writing the book I'm contracted to write for Putnam.   :fury
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: WriterMel on September 14, 2004, 12:57 PM
Only you, Verla, only you................

Mel

 :balloongroup:
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Margherita on May 26, 2005, 07:20 PM
You all seem to know a lot about these things, so I have a dumb question I want to ask.

I have the opportunity to attend a fiction writing conference in a couple of weeks (the attendance is a perk from my job).  The conference will have authors, experts and most important to me, agents.  (I'm one of the legions of unagented writers out there...)

My question is this: How should I comport myself?  How does one approach literary agents and other experts?  Is it gauche to have writing samples/business cards/resumes on hand?  I want to know how to make the most of this conference without being a doofus.  I live in a rural state and opportunities like this don't come up often at all.

Any advice would be much appreciated!  :EmoticonHelp2:
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: angela on May 26, 2005, 11:10 PM
Margherita,
I'll pass on to you advice given to me before my first writers conference.
1. LISTEN CAREFULLY to what the editors agents say (don't be star struck) they are people - each has their own taste and agents have different ways of doing business - i.e. some one ms at a time, some children's only, some only fiction - so listen carefully.
2. Consider if you have any ms / proposals that are a match and then chat with the agents / editors at the appropriate time (most conferences have mid day or post day gatherings).
3. Be able to sum up your ms in a sentence or two and say why you think that editor would like it. (I.E. "I notice you have three nf historical pb on your list. Would you be interested in a manuscript about my grandfather who invented .... ") If you get a friendly nod, continue... "it takes place in the Amazon where the invention is still being used today."
4. My friend advised me to ask all the agents and editors "What exactly are you looking for?" or "What type of ms would you find exciting?" I got up my nerve and tried these lines and they didn't work for me (maybe it was obvious they were rehearsed or maybe these lines are used a lot. Then Kent Brown (Highlights) said in an ICL chat "An editor will never be able to tell you what they are looking for because all editors are looking for something new and amazing - something they've never seen before." (I'm paraphrasing here - you can probably find the transcript on-line). But, the point is it didn't really matter what my 'opening line' was, the point is to start the conversation.

I wouldn't bring copies of my mss. But, before you go make a list of all your ms with one / two sentences descriptions and take it with you for your own reference. After you hear the speakers you can glance over your list and see if there is a 'match'

Have fun!
Good luck!

And let us know how it goes!!!

-Angela
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Harrietthespy on May 27, 2005, 04:40 AM
That's funny.  When I was new I asked Kent Brown the same question.  He said, "I don't know - I publish what I like and that happens to be a lot of different things.  So don't write a story that you think I would like, write a story that you like and send it to me."

I did, he liked it.

So ditto everything Angela said.  One addition - network with other writers.  Often registrants focus so much attention on the editors or agents that they miiss the most valuable part of the conference - their peers.  I have a number of friends who were unpublished when we met at a conference back in 2000 who are doing very well now.  We can trade tips and advice and marketing news.  We can critique each other or just sigh and comisserate over long waits for editor responses.  One friend is now coaching me through revision notes (what to negotiate, what to stay firm on).

I can give you some feedback from my most recent conference.  We offered private sessions (for free) with any of the faculty with slots offered on a first come first serve basis.  99% of the attendees wanted only the agent from the Writers House or the editor from Randomhouse.  That's a classic newbie mistake.  They were pitching their manuscripts before they were ready to take that step.  Given that most of the editors from regional publications had many open slots, as well as the published authors, a better solution would have been to go to those people first and get advice and help with polishing.  A friend of mine who as a faculty member said the same thing happened at a conference she attended - everyone rushed to see the "star" editors/agents and ignored the award winning authors who were ready (and willing) to coach and mentor.

So don't underestimate the value of networking with the people sitting in the audience next to you.  You'd be surprised how many long-lasting relationships you will form from the experience!

Print up some business cards on your computer so you can pass them out (if asked).  That will help you stay in touch with the other writers you meet and form a connection with.

Oh - and have fun.  This is a job but it supposed to be fun!!! So remember that is the number one ingredient!....Christine
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: HB on May 27, 2005, 06:57 PM
Ditto.

Plus, take a bit of time to research the speakers ahead of time. I like to read books by authors that will be speaking and get a better idea of what the editors have edited and agents have sold in the past.
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Cana on May 28, 2005, 05:15 AM
Ditto what everyone else has said. Take copious notes. Get a feel for which ms might match a particular editor/agent. If the opportunity presents itself, by all means mention your ms to that editor/agent. (Without being a 'stalker'...grin.) Dont' take copies with you to give to them. They won't want to take it back for reading material on the plane. These conferences give you the opportunity to send it to them at a later date when your fairly certain it's polished to a gleaming finish. Takes you out of the slush pile to their desk. No guarantee of acceptance, of course, but at least you'll know the editor will see it. Mention that you attended the conference in your cover letter and consider putting it on the outside of your envelope as well.
Take copies of you ms with you if you wish. Not for the editor/agent, but to share with writing buddies you'll have a chance to make at the conference. Many spontaneous critique sessions form at conferences. Networking and learning from other writers is more than worth the cost of attendance. Most of all, have fun. Happy writing. Cana
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: LindaJoy on May 29, 2005, 12:48 PM
I love conferences and am already signed up to attend the SCBWI National conference in Los Angeles this August.  Verla Kay will be one of my roommates (we love to share and cut expenses).

This will be my 16th year for this big conference and I've learned lots of tips to make conference going easy.  I posted a list of conference tips on my alternate website: www.LJSingleton.com

Enjoy!
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Margherita on May 31, 2005, 07:29 PM
Thanks, everyone, for the tips.  Your advice is extremely helpful and definitely appreciated.  I am such a conference novice and rather shy to boot, so this is going to be a trial by fire.  Plus, I'll be there in a professional capacity unrelated to my fiction-writing aspirations, so that might be odd. :eh:

At least I'll be forarmed with a lot of good info (that will at least minimize my typical idiot-factor)!  ;D

Thanks again.
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: mhdavis on March 04, 2008, 01:17 PM
I'm attending my first conference and wondering if any of you have advice on how I can get the most out of it? I've put in the first ten pages of my YA for a critique.

Thanks!
Megan
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: ghoulinpajamas on March 04, 2008, 01:24 PM
I've found that one of the most important aspects of a conference is networking. Not only because you can meet great people and make friends who really GET you, but also find out great resources and connections. As a naturally quiet person, I had to sort of force myself to not be that girl reading a book by herself at lunchtime. Through my first conference I met someone who referred me to a published YA writer who did a paid critique for me which transformed my novel from readable to submittable. At my third conference I met fantastic friends, and heard about this website (among other great pieces of advice). Good luck and have fun.
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Stephanie J. Blake on March 04, 2008, 01:28 PM
talk to everyone you meet and don't be afraid to approach groups or singles
take lots of notes
thank speakers AFTER they are off the stage, don't approach right before they go on
don't hover around editors/agents and act stalkerish, it's okay to be normal and chat :)
drink a ton of water
wear comfortable clothes and shoes
bring a sweater/jacket because the rooms can get cold
have a 3 sentence description of your book ready (elevator pitch)
HAVE FUN!
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Pippa on March 04, 2008, 01:52 PM
Here's a few DON'TS:

Don't feel overwhelmed - everyone there is not writing the same genre or way you do, so your writing can make it to print.

Don't think for a minute that you, or your writing, is insignificant.

Don't worry about sleep. You'll catch up when you get home.

This is a fantabulous learning opportunity - ENJOY!
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: DerekJ on March 04, 2008, 02:12 PM
Here's a few DON'TS:

Don't feel overwhelmed - everyone there is not writing the same genre or way you do, so your writing can make it to print.

Don't think for a minute that you, or your writing, is insignificant.

And if you're going to the SCBWI National conference (aka the Lin Oliver memorial Love-In's for Jane Yolen and Arthur A. Levine), BOY will these two self-esteem anchors be under assault 24/7.     :stars

Used to be a ritual, but now I've tried switching to a Regional conference (10 pages...Let me guess, New England, right, mh?  ;D) , just because I got tired of putting up with the hassle, pressure, and unintentional psychological hammering.
Seeing as I pretty much only go for the pro-critiques in the first place, and Regionals might offer a little more small-scale attention.
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Cozy_Writer on March 04, 2008, 02:49 PM
 :hearts  Megan, you might also consider having cute but inexpensive business cards made up.  You will be meeting so many people, it's nice to have a card to hand to people with whom you would like to stay in touch.  I recommend including your name, phone number, web site address, email address, mailing address - whatever you would normally jot down for someone.
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: anita on March 04, 2008, 06:32 PM
You've gotten great suggestions already. 

Not to be negative, but it seems that when I'm at conferences, people all too often ask inappropriate questions, or that they should know the answer to or should be able to find an answer to elsewhere.  One example is that an editor might mention in a workshop that they only take agented submissions.  Someone often stands up and asks "how do I get an agent?"  This drives me crazy, because then the editor will spend 5 minutes answering a question that should never have been asked, because the author should already know the answer to that, or should realize they could find the answer elsewhere, and that the question isn't specific to this editor. 

Not that you'd do that, of course.  If you're reading the BB, you've read a lot about this business. 

I know no question is supposed to be stupid, but sometimes they just aren't asked at the appropriate time or place.

 Have fun!

anita
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: jeanreagan on March 04, 2008, 07:08 PM
Great suggestions, but let me add my two cents . . .

If you're not in a critique group and you're attending a regional conference, then you might want the goal of finding a critique group.  At my first conference, I stumbled upon one that has now been meeting for nearly four years!  That was an unexpected benefit of my first conference.

I'm a shy-ish person, so I found it helpful to be upfront about being a newbie.  I said, "This is my first conference."  As a result, folks were really friendly and encouraging. 

Later, as a newbie at a particularly intimidating (so I thought) conference, I sat in the parking lot watching people (many editors, 'cause it was near NYC) stream in, I said to myself, "Well, they all look like kindergarten teachers!  I can handle a conference of kindergarten teachers!"  and in I went.  I told myself never to be intimidated by a conference of children's writers and editors ever again!  And I haven't!  (Well . . . maybe a little bit every now and then. . . )

An easy, great question to ask when you're waiting in line or when you sit near people is, "So what do you write?"  Or, "Have you been to this conference before?" 

Have fun! 
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: buglady5 on March 05, 2008, 04:15 AM
You have some super suggestions here.  I strongly support the notion of NOT being an introvert at a conference.  The only way to get your money's worth is to network and mingle and converse.  Speaking of money, I also want to add that it's a good idea to keep track of your conference expenses for tax time.  Keep registration, travel, and hotel receipts, as these can be deductions at tax time.

One more thing, bring along paper to take good notes, money to purchase books (as there is often a book sale at conferences), and bring some representative samples of your work.  You just never know what circumstances might arise at a conference.

Enjoy!

buglady
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: cynthea on March 05, 2008, 05:56 AM
Hi Megan, how exciting! My very first conference was like a historical moment for me!  You can really get a LOT out of it, if you put yourself out there and meet people!  You've gotten lots of great suggestions already.  I wrote up some conference tips that talks about what to wear, business cards, and all that. HAVE FUN!

http://www.cynthealiu.com/2007/07/29/250/top-dos-and-donts-attending-a-childrens-writer-and-illustrator-conference/

How I met my lovely critique partners:
http://www.cynthealiu.com/2006/05/22/30/how-i-found-my-critique-partners/
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: andracill on March 05, 2008, 07:12 AM
The biggest thing about conferences for me is that you're surrounded by other writers -- what a great feeling!  Definitely share, chat, listen -- enjoy :)

I usually attend conferences around here that are for all genres (rather than just children's) -- and the workshops/seminars have been invaluable.  But the people are the best -- I met CC last year :D  I also met Victoria Hanley (I think that's how you spell it), and we had a lovely talk one afternoon.  Hillary Bell was there, as well (she's pretty quiet and reserved, but had a nice smile).  Meeting local authors is one of the real joys, imo.  Lets us know that we're all just people on our paths!

Have fun!!
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Duskydawn on March 05, 2008, 07:23 AM
Well, you've got loads of great advice so far. (If you're at the NESCBWI Regionals, I'll see you there!)

So, let's review:

- Be open to possibilities, people and inspiration
- Have a notebook, pen and business cards handy
- Don't be shy & be honest (everyone really is so helpful and welcoming!)
- Be comfortable, but be willing to pop out of your "comfort zone" to make those important connections
- Drink water, eat appropriately, listen to the pearls of advice and experience
- Have fun! Be inspired! Meet your fellow authors!

To this I add: talk to EVERYBODY! Seriously, some of the best contacts I made were in lines for book signings, waiting in the bathroom, sitting at a table. Don't leave empty chairs next to you -- sit close to people and join-in conversations. The critiques are perhaps the best avenue for getting a look into the professional world: write down everything, be open to the advice and most of all, know that by being there, you are in the top echelon of your chosen field. You have stepped up to the plate, you are taking this seriously and so you should remember that you DESERVE to be ther and have good things happen!

Kudos & live it up!
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Jean Reidy on March 05, 2008, 09:44 AM
Yup, yup. All great suggestions.

But my strongest advice is to let your first conference be organic. Certainly, go prepared and maybe even organize your WIPs in a binder or a summary sheet. Sign up for the sessions that most interest you. And then let it flow. If you go in feeling like you have to sell yourself or your book or that you have to meet loads of folks or editors, your stress level might hinder your "absorption" of everything else you might learn at the conference. Soak it all in. Collect all the info you can in hardcopy - handouts, publisher's catalogs, editor information - then you can review it on your own time.

And then commit to your career that this will not be your one and only conference. Be on the lookout for others in your area.
Jean
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: SproutQ on March 05, 2008, 11:15 AM
Did someone already suggest keeping notes on the people you meet so you can drop them a note to follow up after the conference is over?
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: mhdavis on March 05, 2008, 03:00 PM
 :wow

You are all awesome! Thanks so much for the Dos and Don'ts. I wouldn't have thought of most of these suggestions, especially business cards.

I'm in Nor Cal so I'll be at UC Davis on April 5th... And definitely not eating lunch alone!

 :thanks

Megan
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Chris_YAandFilm on March 05, 2008, 11:21 PM
My first conference was LA in 2002, but my first regional chapter was based in Davis. I also went to Davis for college. The local public library quickly became a second home; I still have my Yolo County library card. Attending the conference helped me realize I really wanted to be a YA writer.

Definitely take some business cards or at least make a note of who you meet. Even today I'm still in contact with some of the people I meet there - I think I even met Verla, but was probably too shy to say much.

You might also think about taking extra copies of your MS to have an personal MS exchange with other writers. I can't remember if its scheduled for Davis or not, but sometimes conferences have informal critiques between attendees.

I'm jealous, I'd love to be in Davis in April. But I gotta graduate first and to do that I have to finish my thesis.

Have lots of fun.
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Stephanie Ruble on March 06, 2008, 07:37 AM
Great advise so far! Have fun.

Soak up as much as you can, but don't worry about missing a session if you are oversaturated and need a break (this is more for the longer conferences, but you never know). You pay a lot for conferences and you should try to go to all the sessions that you can, but if you really need a few minutes to yourself (to rest, jot down a new story idea inspired by a session, etc.) then take those few minutes and then rejoin the conference.

Network with other writers and illustrators.

Hope your first conference is an awesome, inspiring experience!
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Estee on March 27, 2008, 12:54 PM
I'm going to this conference too, and it's my first!  Can someone define "dress comfortably"?  Like business casual, or levis and a sweater, or sweats and a ratty t-shirt?  I hate being wrongly dressed.
Estee
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Gabby on March 27, 2008, 01:57 PM
Business casual. Nice slacks or skirt and a top, or a non-fussy dress for women. Nice slacks, polo, or button down shirt (no tie needed) for men...see cynthea's tips for dressing which she earlier posted.  Choose something you feel both comfortable and confident in. Layers are a good choice.

I do want to say that if being "extroverted" even for a short time, really, really REALLY stresses you out .... don't push. Don't be someone you aren't. Be polite, talk to people, but don't feel stressed if you don't want to work the crowd ... especially if the energy spent being "extroverted" is going to keep you from absorbing and enjoying the conference. Years ago, I let this get under my skin, but it so happened that one of the presenters, an accomplished author and my friend, told me not to sweat it. You don't want to crawl under the rug, but you don't have to feel like you have to force it either. Be comfortable, have fun, take what you need and want from the conference at your own speed. I personally know how draining it can be to be surrounded by extroverts for several hours, so if you need to pull back and be quiet during a break or two to regroup ... do so.


Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Stef on March 27, 2008, 02:23 PM
Very timely for me--I'm going to my first conference at the end of April (I get to meet Donna J!).  Thanks for all the advice,  I'm bookmarking this page for sure.
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Jill C. on April 10, 2008, 10:07 AM
Great advice on this topic:

http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2008/04/hot-tips-for-conferences.html
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Karen Bly on August 12, 2008, 11:50 AM
Hi everyone, I'm new to children's writing. I'm working on the ICL course right now. I'd love to attend a children's writers conference in the upcoming year. Does anyone have recommendations for a newbie? I'm mostly looking for education, encouragement, and inspiration. I don't have a manuscript I'm trying to shop (yet!). Thanks for any and all insights. BTW I'm in NY so would like something i could drive to NY, NJ, PA, CT.
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Marissa Doyle on August 12, 2008, 11:54 AM
The New England SCBWI conference, held in April in Nashua, NH, might be a possibility for you--it's big, but very friendly.  New Jersey's is another to consider--smaller, but closer to you.

Have fun choosing!
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: jeanne k on August 12, 2008, 12:13 PM
My first conference was NJ SCBWI in 2007. it was really good. I did find myself inspired. I believe the annual conferences are in the summer. The chapter has other workshops throughout the year as well that look great, although I've never been to any.

I haven't been to any other conferences, yet.
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: lauriew on August 12, 2008, 12:17 PM
NJ may be small, but we're mighty (not to mention friendly). Last year our faculty provided 180 one-on-one critiques for attendees. We had 20 agents, editors, and art directors plus the fabulous Eileen and Jerry Spinelli.

We're just starting to recruit faculty for our June 5/6, 2009 conference. So far we have:
Richard Peck - Newbery Award Winning Author
Steve Meltzer - editor Dial & Dutton
Michelle Poploff - editor Random House

We also offer many other events during the year. Check us out at http://www.newjerseyscbwi.com/allevents.shtml (http://www.newjerseyscbwi.com/allevents.shtml).  Laurie
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: anita on August 12, 2008, 12:44 PM
Take a look at the SCBWI website and see what's coming up.  The New England conference is in April, NJ is in June, and I'm not sure about NY, I think they have a couple chapters. SE PA is coming up in Sept.   If you aren't ready to submit, though, consider the focus of the conference.  Some of the NJ events (which I love) are focused on getting critiques and meeting editors and agents.  If you are looking for education and don't have a manuscript yet, they might not be the best choice.

There's also a conference at Hofstra in NY in May or June, which you could look into.  I think it has a lot of "how-to" type workshops, though I've never been.  And there's the national SCbWI in Feb in NYC, but it's mostly focused on meeting editors and agents, not much education. 

From what you've said, I would take a look at the SE PA or the New England conferences, for a first conference. (New England is bigger and longer)  But keep the others (esp NJ) in mind.  They all have their own focus, and there are plenty to choose from. 

anita
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Anne Marie on August 12, 2008, 01:13 PM
This is a little farther, but it's an easy train ride (and given gas prices, it might be cheaper to take the train).  If you want to do something sooner than all the (great) conferences listed above, the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI is right outside DC in Arlington, VA the last weekend of October.  It's a nice first conference because it's only one day and it's not too huge (about 200 attendees).

AM
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: dinalapomy101 on August 12, 2008, 01:21 PM
I'm in western NY and drove to Philly for the Fall Philly Conference last year (in Sept).  It was fabulous!  There are also smaller ones in NY depending on region.  THere will be a winter con in Syracuse this January!
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: angela on August 12, 2008, 02:07 PM
I've been to the SCBWI Mid-winter conf in NY 2x (and also attended the writers intensive the first year they offered it)

It was a wonderful experience!

Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Karen Bly on August 12, 2008, 03:02 PM
wow, lots of great recommendations, thanks everyone! Now to whittle them down. There's cost, travel time, and my impatience to get to one and get inspired! I think I'll try one of the regional conferences so I don't feel too lost, I like small and friendly.
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: SuzyWilliams on August 12, 2008, 03:36 PM
Karen - regional SCBWI conferences are a great choice for a first conference. You can see most of the events at www.scbwi.org go to Regions and click on Events. They are listed by month, not Region, but you can look at the upcoming events - and it should help you find one soon so you don't have to wait too long. Remember, you are welcome at SCBWI events in ANY region. We always love out of region people at our Nevada events and they come from as far away as NY, FL, VA, IL, Eastern Canada. I'm sure you'll find something special close to home. If you have questions, contact the RA and she/he will help. Good luck, SuzyW
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: MarciaK on August 12, 2008, 04:54 PM
Karen- If you are willing to wait until the summer, I highly recommend the Highlights Foundation Workshop in Chautauqua, NY. The event is limited to about 100 participants and meet your requirements for "education, encouragement, and inspiration." The week is full of practical advice and wonderful support for beginning writers. You also have the opportunity to meet editors and numerous published writers. For many, it is a life changing experience.
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: LindaB on August 12, 2008, 07:18 PM
If you get tired of the cold, come on down to Miami January 16-18 when we have our SCBWI Florida Regional Conference. Our confirmed speakers are Linda Sue Park, Lisa Yee, Ginger Knowlton, Elaine Landau, and Alexandra Cooper. I'm still in the process of confirming a couple more speakers.

The conference will be $225 and we usually have about 150-180 people so it's nice and small. The best thing is that there are plenty of flights to and from New York to Miami. We do a field trip to downtown Coral Gables Friday night to visit Books and Books, our large independent bookstore for a nightime reception in their courtyard. Our conference features hands on workshops, the ability to see all the speakers, first page critiques and paid critiques.

You can get more information at www.scbwiflorida.com. Information should be going up by mid-September.

LindaB
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Karen Bly on August 12, 2008, 07:29 PM
The Highlights conference does look lovely but it's a week long, which would be hard on my little ones. Plus it's a bit pricey. Maybe someday...
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: df on August 13, 2008, 02:54 PM
I'll echo that NE is a great conference, although it isn't small (but smaller than NY!). I think that Cynthia Lord is giving one of the keynotes next year.
Debbie
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: anita on August 13, 2008, 03:33 PM
Hi everyone, I'm new to children's writing. I'm working on the ICL course right now. I'd love to attend a children's writers conference in the upcoming year. Does anyone have recommendations for a newbie? I'm mostly looking for education, encouragement, and inspiration. I don't have a manuscript I'm trying to shop (yet!). Thanks for any and all insights. BTW I'm in NY so would like something i could drive to NY, NJ, PA, CT.

I think that the key here is that you want "education, encouragement and inspiration".  If that's the case and you don't have a manuscript, then carefully evaluate the topics for the workshops.  Some conferences (like the national SCBWI in NY) focus mostly on meeting editors, hearing about the editors and their houses. Others are more focused on how to write type workshops.   

anita
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: taradawn on August 14, 2008, 08:48 AM
There's every reason to start off small, especially when the NJ-SCBWI offers regular first page critiques. They're inexpensive (great value for the advice given), only 2-3 hours (4 hours if you stick around for dinner, highly recommended) and chock full of excellent information. I've made connections with other writers and learned a lot. The next one is in September--go ahead and sign up and I'll see you there!
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: austen on August 14, 2008, 11:52 AM
I don't have a specific conference recommendation since I live on the other coast,
but one thing I wish I would've known when I was choosing my first conference is
the difference between a sell-your-ms conference and a craft conference. One of
the regional conferences near me doesn't usually have big names and mostly authors,
but it's one of the best I've attended because the focus is on learning the craft.
It took me awhile to discover it, because I thought I should attend "big name" conferences, but I'm so glad I did!
Also, closer to your home is best, so that you can keep in touch with your new writer friends!
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Karen Bly on August 14, 2008, 01:40 PM
austen, that makes a lot of sense. i'll keep that in mind. thanks!
Title: Re: Tips for Going to a Conference
Post by: Mercedes Ortiz on September 02, 2015, 02:42 PM
Thank you all for the fabulous tips! Hugs! :)