Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Session Ideas

3 Sessions Ideas to Put Opposite First Pages and Newbie Sessions

Denise Vega (Rocky Mountain)

One of our biggest challenges each year is coming up with a session we can offer opposite our First Pages sessions for those who had “been there, done that” and were looking for something different.

Because of our budget and room constraints and the fact that we run the Picture Book and novel First Pages sessions concurrently, we always need a session that will appeal to a broad range of writers—picture book through young adult. Illustrators were also welcome, but we always have an illustrator session also running.

We finally settled on a few different types of session that seemed to work well and were well received. You could consider rotating through these year-to-year or conference to conference, depending on how many events you have each year. Tip: These options are great opposite any session that is geared more to newbies or those who are earlier along in their careers.

These are always led by a facilitator/moderator to keep the discussion going and on track, including having prepared questions in case the discussion lags, which it rarely does once it gets going!

Marketing Roundtable
Though we encouraged those with published books to attend, all are welcome. We ask participants to bring both marketing strategies that worked, didn’t work and their questions about marketing.

A Networking Session. This is a free form session for authors interested in sharing ideas—marketing, writing, promoting, revising—whatever questions or solutions they bring with them.

Author Professional Roundtable
What Worked (and Didn’t Work) for me: Children’s Writers On Children’s Publishing. Similar to the previous option, but with a broader focus on maintaining a career, authors shared their writing experience with each other, bringing questions and concerns about their careers as a whole. “We’ll share our triumphs, false starts, and mistakes in a way that helps us learn from each other.”

Marketing Topics
This is a tried and true option for us because even if an authors don’t have a book published or under contract, they can save these tips until they do. We’ve had marketing and publicity experts, as well as sessions on author visits, social media, speaking in public, and more.

Niche or more focused topics
We like to offer sessions that authors may not have considered and are valuable. Often authors who didn’t think they would be interested in a topic have gotten excited about exploring a new market. We’ve covered non-fiction, writing for the educational market, magazine writing, children’s book apps, and writing for online markets.

Offering a range of sessions that will meet the needs of attendees at different places in their journey is always a challenge, but hopefully these ideas will work for you or will stimulate even better ideas for your region.


Denise Vega is the award-winning author of six books for kids and teens, including her most recent teen novel, Rock On (Little, Brown), and a picture book coming in 2017 (Knopf). She is RAE for the Rocky Mountain Region (CO/WY) and is on faculty at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop as well as the newly-created Low Residency Mile High MFA in Creative Writing, both in Denver, CO. She lives in Denver with her family, where she eats a lot of French fries and chocolate, but usually not together. You can find Denise here