Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Creating Community Using Zoom

Janice Yuwiler (San Diego)

One of the many things SCBWI offers to those working in the children’s book industry is the chance to come together. To share ideas and lessons learned. To get feedback on our work, career and business tips, and push ourselves and our careers to new heights. Internally we talk about our tribe and the sense of community and support we provide each other. It’s the same for those in the regions we serve.

But creating community in regions that span vast distances is not easy. Fortunately we have a new tool at our disposal – Zoom Video Conferencing. There are many things about Zoom that in my experience make connecting remotely with Zoom more effective than the older systems I’ve used.

What does this mean? With Zoom it’s possible to schedule a monthly “Drop-In” for those interested to meet and talk. You can hold webinars on a more regular basis. You can identify a topic and have a round-robin sharing or discussion around a theme. Maybe highlight a PAL member or a debut author/illustrator and have them share their experiences/lessons learned. In short, you can provide a way for your members to get together remotely on a regular basis to share, which in my experience is what helps build and support community.

Zoom features that lend themselves to creating community:

Single Link to Join

  • Participants need only to click on a link to join.
  • You can use the same link over and over once created.
  • It’s easy to create the link. (When creating a calendar appointment within the Google calendar associated with your account, click on the blue button marked “Make it a Zoom Meeting” then share the link listed within the detailed appointment. You can edit an existing calendar appointment to add a Zoom link by clicking on the blue “Make it a Zoom Meeting” button.  A video on creating a link can be found here)


Quality Images 

  • Zoom provides clear images of all participants so you can clearly see those on the call.
  • You can “tile” your screen so you can see at least 25 participants at once and scroll through images of the rest.
  • You can touchup your appearance so it’s not so awful seeing your own image (Click on the ^ next to video on the bottom toolbar, choose video settings, and select “touch up my appearance”)


Share Feature 

  • You can use screen share so everyone sees the same image. (Select “Share” on the bottom toolbar, find the screen you wish to share, and click share) 
  • Participants will be able to see both what is being shared and images of participants on the call, although fewer participants can be seen at one time.


Chat Feature 

  • Allows those who don’t feel comfortable speaking in public to type their comments into the Chat feature. (Click on “Chat” on the bottom toolbar) 
  • Participants can chose to send their chat comment to a specific individual or everyone on the Zoom conference.


Breakout Groups

  • You can break participants into smaller groups so they can talk among themselves. (Select “Breakout Rooms” on the bottom toolbar. You can assign people randomly or assign participants to specific groups)
  • The groups are private groupings. Discussion and any chats posted while within the group can only be heard/seen by members of that group.
  • Note:  As the host you will not be part of a group, although you can enter and join a group at your discretion. The groups can contact you if they have questions and you can send text messages to all groups as needed.



  • You can record the meeting for participants and those unable to participate to review later. (Click on “Record” on the bottom toolbar)


For more information visit the Zoom Website.


Janice M. Yuwiler joined SCBWI in 2000 and served in many positions including Critique Group Coordinator and Assistant Regional Advisor before serving the San Diego Chapter as Regional Advisor for 10 years. Her published books reflect her background in public health and her desire to put the latest breakthroughs in science and medicine into the hands of young readers. Now RAE for the San Diego Chapter, Janice is having fun writing both picture books and science fiction in addition to her continuing work in nonfiction.