A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Western New York SCBWI conference in Syracuse. The speakers were Shawn Goodman, author of the Delacorte Press YA Contest winner for best debut, Something Like Hope; Donna Farrell, children's book illustrator and website designer; and Noa Wheeler, editor at Henry Holt Books.
I try to attend the Syracuse conference every year, so it was nice to catch up with old friends. I met some great Central New Yorkers at a weekend novel retreat a few years back, including Shawn, and it's inspiring to see so many people from that retreat still writing.
If you're just starting to learn about the business, day conferences are essential. But after you've been to them for several years, should you still keep going?
I think there are benefits:
- Affordability. This conference provided me with inspiration and ideas without breaking the bank.
- Networking. This includes the invitation from a closed house editor to submit, but it also helps me stay in touch with writers outside of the Rochester area in my SCBWI region.
- Enthusiasm. It's hard to find the energy to keep going sometimes. Conferences can provide a nice kick in the butt.
- Insider information. This is a great time to ask editors and writers about what's selling and how lists are being affected.
- Getting in touch with the "zeitgeist." I'm writing a science fiction novel, and I keep hearing that everyone and his brother is writing science fiction. But you know what? My first page was the only sci fi entry in the first pages session. So maybe I should stop being discouraged by the "I'm so sick of science fiction" crowd.
So I'll continue attending the Syracuse conference every year. It's small and intimate, and it's also part of what I do that helps me identify myself as a writer. And our coordinator does an awesome job!
Are you an SCBWI member? Do you attend your local conference every year?
-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages