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Lonely in Leprechaunland!

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Hey Guys,
I've finally found quite a few leprechauns, but that is where the trouble begins.
My good friend Colleen has been promoted to SCBWI Ireland regional advisor and given the massive responsibility of organising both nationwide and regional activities.  Apart from her, I am the only one who attends nearly every meeting and she has asked me for suggestions on how we could expand our membership base.
I've made a few suggestions re: our small existing group attendance such as workshops, critique groups and informal meetups, which is what we really have existing as is. I would just like some hints on what other activities we could engage in. Otherwise I fear our group will diminish completely and Colleen puts so much work into the national chapter it would be a shame.

#1 - January 14, 2015, 08:07 AM
« Last Edit: January 14, 2015, 08:46 AM by thunderingelephants »

You already mention workshops, but something our region did recently was implement workshops like this: We took a year to offer free workshops every month to the writing community at large, not just SCBWI members. We advertised through our local Facebook writers group and through our regional newsletter. The workshops were very good and very successfully attended. This year we are having to charge a small fee (about $10 a workshop) to keep the events going, but I think the initial investment of not charging attracted additional members into the group.

Our region also offers a couple organized critiques a year with published authors providing feedback for a small fee, one conference, and one writing retreat. Local members also organize writing workshops for kids at local libraries and bookstores, though these events are not directly sponsored by SCBWI, they are supported by advertisement in our newsletters.

Are these the kinds of ideas you are looking for?
#2 - January 14, 2015, 09:24 AM

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One thing that appears to work is to have informal coffee-shop meet-ups every month so people can get to know one another, say briefly what they're working on, and then chat about the topic of the day. I know the Madison, WI, area has a very successful one, and my region is trying to get something like that going this very week.

The advantages of this approach are that the  events don't cost more than a cup of coffee, you meet people more informally, and the time and venue can vary to make the commute easier and the time convenient to the widest number of members. For example, one meet-up could be in the morning so SAHM and evening shift workers could attend and others would be late afternoon/evenings meetings, for people with outside jobs, still others on the weekends.

I have noticed that these meet-ups are often listed as "not an official SCBWI event" -- maybe for liability purposes.
#3 - January 14, 2015, 09:33 AM
« Last Edit: January 14, 2015, 09:35 AM by AnneB »

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You might go as a group to a nearby author signing. Perhaps a bus ride (if necessary), then lunch and the talk/signing. It might draw a slightly bigger crowd, and bring in some wannabe writers who don't feel quite bold enough yet to attend a workshop. (Some people imagine that everyone else at a writers' workshop is John Irving.)

Good luck, Thundering! Good of you to work on this.  :clover
#4 - January 14, 2015, 11:08 AM
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Yes, I organize the Madison YA/Middle Grade events and they are very successful! I think we've had as many as 9 people at our largest gathering, and all told probably 20+ different people have come at one time or another. I think the key is publicizing it well and reaching out to non-SCBWI folks. SCBWI Wisconsin has a frequently-updated homepage on the SCBWI site, a well-run Facebook page, and a well-organized and active Yahoogroups listserv. I advertised our Madison meetup on the NaNoWriMo message board in November and am trying to think of other ways to reach out to people who haven't even heard of SCBWI but might be interested ...
#5 - January 14, 2015, 01:12 PM
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For illustrators a sketch-crawl is always popular. Also, a completely social event where people get together at a local eatery or bar to talk shop and what-not.
#6 - January 14, 2015, 01:26 PM
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Thanks for all of those suggestions, guys. I think the problem is that although many of us are based in the city where myself and Colleen reside, they are really not that committed. It is only myself and Colleen who are actually SCBWI members. She wants to make it a bit more official for all involved and by implementing some activities, particularly for the illustrators who often get overlooked. Our real problem is promotion of activities.
Anyway, Colleen attended the British SCBWI conference last November which gave her many ideas. I might get there before my 50th!
Thanks for your suggestions. I'll pass them on, but if you have more I'd be delighted.
Cheers, TE. :grouphug2
#7 - January 15, 2015, 08:45 AM

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We organized a "reading night" where anyone (SCBWI member or non-member) could read from their work. We also said people could invite friends or family to hear them read. Because, you know, reading your work aloud is sort of a big thing. It was a free events. Everyone paid for their own dinner and we had a private room to read our work to one another and give written feedback. The written feedback was to save time and stay positive and prevent each reader from feeling like he/she had to explain the entire project to the group. We added new members that night and are planning to make this a regular event.
But in your case what may help the most is taking a survey of the members in your chapter and asking them what they want to see as far as events and when is the best time for them to meet (and the best place).

Good luck!
#8 - January 17, 2015, 06:32 AM
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A new Twitter chat has just started for Irish authors, maybe if you join in you'll find some more participants? Hashtag is #YAie, next one is Jan 29th and of course you can look through the previous ones.
#9 - January 17, 2015, 08:08 AM
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Thanks for that, Girl Friday. (love your name, by the way)
Ironically, Colleen and I met today since we were both in the city. She is travelling up to the capital next Sunday for a brunch for other writers and illustrators and since I have free travel I will mosey on up myself separately.
It's a step or a train journey in the right direction!
#10 - January 17, 2015, 11:35 AM

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Glad it's going well, Thundering. Enjoy.
#11 - January 17, 2015, 12:25 PM
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