Do I need to sign up for each breakout workshop individually?
No. You're free to attend the workshop you wish. As you study the schedule, look to what draws you and peaks your interest the most. We know how hard it can be to choose.
Can I bring someone to the Gala and/or the Golden Kite Reception if I pay extra?
No. There is only a certain amount of space we have and it is reserved for attendees only. Please do not put us in the uncomfortable position of having to turn someone away by trying to bring them in!
How do I make the most of the conference?
This will be the major focus of the First Time Attendees Orientation mentioned above. Hopefully during our brief time together we'll all get a great start to what should be an amazing weekend. Arrive ready to soak it all in.
The most popular question: What should I wear? Are jeans okay?
Think business casual, and know jeans are just fine. That said, we all know there is a spectrum of denim wear. The type you don in the garden is out, but a dressed-up pair is in. I've sported a pair of jeans to many conferences. Truly, you should wear something you are comfortable in, and I don't say that in a way that means physical comfort (although you should take that into consideration), but dress up your own personal style. What people choose to wear will vary greatly. A good rule of thumb: Wear something that you would feel comfortable in if you had the opportunity to say hello to an editor or agent, in which case you would want your clothing to say, "I take this opportunity seriously."
My other recommendation is to dress in layers. You never know if the hotel-conference room will be too hot, too cold, or just right (and it's different for every body and every room). You're also likely to find a drastic temperature change if you leave the Marriott (California heat outside, air-conditioning inside).
Will people really dress up for the Silver Linings Gala on Saturday night?
YES! People will definitely be decked out in costume for this fabulous party. The Saturday night gala is a highlight of the conference, but also probably one of the scariest parts for those attending for the first time. I encourage everyone to attend. That all said, you don't have to play along with the theme, but you can feel safe knowing the majority do, and you'll see everything from A to Z. Come in something that works for your own comfort level. Oh, and bring your dancing shoes.
What options are available for food – especially during conference hours – and what should we expect as far as prices go?
There are actually quite a few options for food. In the hotel, there are several restaurants, as well as a coffee shop and smaller food outlets. During lunch breaks there will be outlets with reasonable prices. There are also many restaurants at LA Live an outdoor entertainment center directly behind the hotel. https://www.lalive.com/eat
We try to be sensitive to food alergies, but we cannot please everyone. If you have special food requirements you might want to bring extra snacks that you know you can eat. We will be as accomodating as we can, but it's always good to be prepared.
Also, don't forget there is a buffet dinner during the Saturday night gala and Sunday golden Kite Luncheon all included in your conference fee.
I have been told that I probably won't get hired from the get-go, but I want to get the most out of this. This is my dream.
That is correct. Work your way through the event with realistic goals, of which there can be many. Conferences are not a place to get a contract or to be hired, instead they are an avenue to learn more about the industry, improve your craft, and create connections that can lead you to finding the success you're looking for. This is most certainly an industry that requires a great deal of patience and perseverance, but if it's your dream, you'll surely be willing to put in the time and energy. It is possible!
What has been your most effective ice-breaker when approaching an agent or editor? Or do you have any pointers on asking if you can send them a query letter?
This is a critical topic. The good news is, most of the editors and agents will open their doors to submissions or query letters for a period of time after the conference just because you are at the conference. Our advice would be to focus on learning about the editors and agents while at the conference, and then only submit to those who seem to be a good fit for you and your work after (and only if your work is ready). If you do get the chance to speak with an editor or agent, there's no need to tell them about your work (unless they ask), instead ask them questions that give you more insight into their personal interests and tastes. It's highly likely the conversation will turn to your work.
The one suggestion we have for everyone right now is to be able to answer these two questions in one sentence each. 1) What do you do? 2) What are you working on?
How is pitching to agents/editors handled at this conference? Is there any formalized time during the conference to meet with agents/editors? I didn't see any place in the agenda where one could sign up for a one-on-one; do we just do hallway/elevator pitching?
There are no formal pitching sessions, except the Pitch Session intensive on Monday for an additional $225 for the day. While they remained, attendees could sign up for consultations, which were the only formal opportunity to sit down with an editor, agent, or other industry professional.
Please do not pitch to the editors or agents in the hallways, at lunch, between sessions, in the elevator, or anywhere in between. As mentioned in the previous answer, editors and agents greatly appreciate questions that allow you (and others) to get to know them and their house/agency better so that you can submit to or query them once the conference is over, if they are a potential fit.
Is there any way to know when my consultation is scheduled prior to the beginning day of the conference? What should I bring with me to the consultation?
You'll receive your consultation information (consultant, day, and time) when you pick up your conference materials. It's great to have a copy of your submitted manuscript pages, as it gives you something to take notes on. But if not, do bring a notebook.
What should I bring? If I have materials (stories, etc) completed, should I bring copies? Of a novel, entire manuscripts or just first three chapters? Or just cover/query letters? Or none of the above?
Most likely, none of the above.
The only work related materials you should bring will be for your own use. (If you're attending the Post-Conference Intensives, you've been directed on what to bring, if required.) If you're having a consultation, as mentioned above, bring an extra copy of your work to take notes on while you listen to the feedback you are receiving. The conference is not the place to pass on your work to an editor or agent. Many of them will ask to see attendee work, but they will not want it then and there. They will want it to be submitted formally, as per their guidelines.
That all said, the great part of attending a conference is that most editors and agents (even those with closed-submission policies) open their doors to conference-goers.
Do bring a notebook/journal (I often like to have one that is only for the conference). You may also want a separate notebook/journal related to your work projects. It's amazing how many ideas come to you about your particular project as you listen to a speaker. It's nice to jot those things down, because as much as we think we'll remember, we often don't.
You might also consider bringing business cards. If one of your goals is to network with other writers and illustrators attending the conference, sharing your card and collecting them from others is a great way to do so.
Can I bring postcards or business cards?
Postcards and business cards are great things for illustrators to bring and fun to exchange with fellow conference attendees. If you would also like to bring your portfolio there are informal opportunities like Twitter meet-ups and the Illustrators' get-together for sharing your portfolio with other attendees.
Also, consider bringing a few easy-to-transport art supplies for sketching during the workshops, just in case you get a burst of inspiration.
Do I need to bring copies for the Peer Group Critique session?
You don't need to bring copies for the Peer Group Critique Friday evening from 7:30pm – 8:30pm in Diamond 1 (organized by genre), but you most certainly could. Many people appreciate being able to read and listen. That said, the number of people you share with, and the amount of time you have to share, will depend on who shows up. If you plan to participate, bring something you can share, and if you want to have additional copies, great!
Can I bring a laptop?
You can bring a laptop. That said, there are some things you might want to consider when deciding to bring it or not. If you choose to take notes on a laptop during sessions it can often be quite distracting to those around you, so please be considerate when making a seating choice. Also, there will be limited options for plugging into a power source. A notebook is probably your best choice for taking notes. As far as Internet connection, free wifi is available in your room using your Marriott Rewards number. (This is free to sign up for: http://www.marriott.com/
Is there a way to find a roommate?
If you are a member of SCBWI, you can get on the blueboards on the SCBWI homepage. There is a section called "Conference Connections" that you can post on.