From Rookie to Pro: Mastering Conference Etiquette for New Authors and Illustrators

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by Romy Natalia Goldberg

Texas: Brazos Valley RA

A conference can mean different things to different people, from a chance to network, to show your work or even meet your dream agent face to face. No matter what your goals are, here are a few etiquette tips to help you make the best impression on your community and future industry partners. 

Review and follow guidelines provided in conference registration materials

Conference organizers have your back! Conference materials include SCBWI’s behavior guidelines and submission details for all faculty. Be sure to review them ahead of time! 

Be respectful of other attendees

Remember, in addition to your work, agents and editors will be asking themselves whether you will be an enjoyable person to develop a working relationship with. Don't be that person that hogs all the Q & A time or dismisses other people’s ideas publicly. Be courteous and respectful at all times. 

Keep criticisms of other creators in your private group chat!

Unless someone is violating the SCBWI code of conduct, keep your criticisms private. This is a small community and people will remember if you are willing to put others down publicly. 


Your community is just as important as the faculty

While it is tempting to laser focus on hobnobbing with faculty members, in the long run you’re better served by spreading your networking efforts out.  It may seem cliché but kid lit really is all about community. Among your fellow conference go-ers are potential critique partners, future blurb writers and maybe that one person who will pass along a project that wasn´t right for them but is perfect for you. 

Stay cool! 

One of the main professional benefits of a conference is getting to meet agents and editors in person. These encounters will provide the perfect openers for your future query letters. Be sure you make a good impression so “we met at All Y’all” triggers a positive response! Do not hand faculty unsolicited manuscripts or dummies. During in person critiques, resist the urge to push back against constructive criticism. Instead, ask follow up questions and be sure to thank the faculty member for their time.