ProTalk Discussion: Getting the Most out of SCBWI - 7/5/05


Log file opened 7/5/05
Verla: All right... we are now ready to begin...
*** Verla has set the topic on channel #kidlit to ProTalk Discussion - Getting the Most out of SCBWI - IN PROGRESS
Verla: So does everyone know what SCBWI is? (The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators)
Anne_Marie: Why don't you tell us so it will be in the transcript? :)
Anne_Marie: :P
Verla: It's an organization that is devoted to helping writers and illustrators of children's literature become more professional... more likely to become published
Verla: it's a world-wide network with regions in many countries around the world
Verla: I've recently become a Regional Advisor with my "own" area ... which means I'm setting up regional meetings, workshops, and conferences and am available to assist people who want to connect with other people for critique groups
Verla: Today it costs $75 to join for a year, then it's $60 to renew your membership each year after the first.
Verla: I'd like to hear what SCBWI has done for each of you (that are members)
Verla: I know without SCBWI conferences and workshops, I would not be published the way I am today! Or nearly as "professional" in my knowledge about the whole "publishing" world
Anne_Marie: Well, for one thing, I've met a lot of great people. It's nice to have friends with common interests and you don't find that sitting at your desk.
LindaJoy: I've been in SCBWI since around 1988 and mostly I enjoy it for the friendships
kdbrazil: I just joined SCBWI because of a very sweet friend who gave me a year's membership
Verla: heh heh, that's two votes for friendships...
Verla: Wow, kd... that's a great friend!
kdbrazil: she is a great friend
Verla: SCBWI has a lot to offer besides friendships, though...
LindaJoy: I already had sold when I joined SCBWI, and mostly found the conferences helpful to widen my knowledge and friendships
Verla: who can name some of them?
Anne_Marie: Conferences and the message boards, if you like those things.
Verla: #1 that comes to my mind is Education.... learning more about the craft of writing and also about how and where to submit stories
Verla: One great way to take advantage of your SCBWI membership is definitely to attend local workshops and conferences.
kdbrazil: I think for me, it hasn't offered tons yet because i live overseas but it has offered me the chance to feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself and that I am taking myself seriously as a writer.
Goody2shoe: I still need to join
Verla: another advantage that you have no matter where you live, kd... is to mention that you are a member in your cover letters
Goody2shoe: So tell me more about it
Verla: I've often heard editors say they are happier to get manuscripts from members of SCBWI...
Goody2shoe: Oh yeah thats a good one Verla!
LindaJoy: yeah, editors do say that when speaking at SCBWI events\
Verla: because they say the overall quality and relevancy of their manuscripts are better suited to their needs
Verla: probably because of the workshops and conferences that members attend
kdbrazil: i need to remember to do that verla! I keep fogetting to add "SCBWI member"
Verla: you SHOULD, kd!
Verla: SCBWI has a roster they put out yearly.
Goody2shoe: I also would like the chance to mingle with my peers.
Goody2shoe: Isn't there something coming up in Los Angeles?
LindaJoy: The conferences are always great -- local ones more intimate and Nationals just plain exciting
LindaJoy: Verla and I will be in LA the first weekend in August for Nationals/LA
Goody2shoe: That's where I live !
Verla: you get one when you first join... then if you want another, you should send a SASE envelope and request one. Be sure it's a big sized one! (I normally use the post office's Priority Mail large envelope.) You can also request a copy of the informational booklet at the same time... and lists of agents and publishers... and updated grant applications, etc.
Verla: It's one of the two biggest SCBWI conferences around, Goody. You should try to come if you can. (But it's not cheap!)
Goody2shoe: Where is it going to be held?
Verla: SCBWI has two yearly international conferences. One in LA (Aug) and one in New York (Feb)
LindaJoy: Century Plaze/LA from Aug 5 - 8
Verla: Thanks, LindaJoy
Goody2shoe: Century Plaza Hotel?
Verla: yes, in their conference rooms, Goody.
Goody2shoe: I live less than 5 miles from there!
Verla: local conferences are much less expensive (and also are much shorter.)
Verla: It's $400+ this year, isn't it Linda?
Verla: but it lasts DAYS and you get SO much out of it...
LindaJoy: I think I paid $410, but that was an early bird fee\
Goody2shoe: Can you just attend the workshops?
Verla: not the least of which is to meet Linda and I in person, Goody. LOL!
LindaJoy: If it's not full, members can come for one or more days
LindaJoy: Or just call the hotel and meet for one of the lunches if you don't go to Nationals
Verla: the workshops last the entire time, Goody. That's the fee for the workshops. Hotel and meals are extra
LindaJoy: I plan to be over at the Brentano's on Aug 4th around 2PM
Goody2shoe: I better hurry and sign up
Verla: yes, because you don't want to miss out, Goody. You can sign up on line now!
Goody2shoe: I went to Brentanos last week
Verla: that's how I signed up this year
Anne_Marie: I want to meet you and Linda Joy in person, Verla.
Verla: me, too, AM!
Anne_Marie: But LA is way too far.
LindaJoy: I love going there and seeing who has books there
Anne_Marie: When are you coming east again?
Verla: (not any time soon right now, AM. Phooey!)
LindaJoy: I'd love to come east -- just waiting to be invited to speak at a writing event
Goody2shoe: *going to get credit card*
Verla: There is one very important fact about SCBWI....
Verla: that everyone should know...
Verla: normally, you will get "out" of SCBWI directly proportional to what you have put "into" it.
Verla: So volunteer!
Verla: kd, is there a Region in Brazil for SCBWI members?
Verla: (and Brazil is a VERY large country, so I'm mainly asking about near you...)
Goody2shoe: Verla - What can you volunteer for?
Verla: volunteer to help with a conference or even put on a mini workshop day yourself
kdbrazil: there is but I sent the advisor a note about 2 months ago and never heard from him!
Anne_Marie: I put on workshops in my city through SCBWI.
Pickles: in Nebraska I set up my own critique group
Anne_Marie: At the regional level, I'm on several conference committees. I enjoy it a great deal.
Pickles: and helped with conferences
Goody2shoe: Thats great AM
Verla: ask if they need help with newsletters or other regional activities... memberships, etc.
Verla: write again, kd. If you don't hear back this time, contact SCBWI and ask why...
kdbrazil: okay
Verla: Regional Advisors are supposed to "be there" for their regions.
LindaJoy: also I have 20 Conference Tips at and these tips are specificially targeted for SCBWI/LA
Pickles: yes, but some aren't as active as others...and in some regions it's hard to be active even when you want to be
Verla: Oh, Gail. While we are talking about how volunteering in your region can help you get the most out of SCBWI
Verla: Gail's done a huge amount of volunteering for her region!
Pickles: but as kia says "normally" volunteering is a good thing
Pickles: I"ve been in several different regions and have had a variety of experiences
Verla: yes, pick. And if your region isn't as active as you'd like, ask your regional advisor if you can help by putting on some mini events yourself.
LindaJoy: I've heard of some cases where volunteering led to driving editors around, getting some great one-on-one talks
^GailM: Yup, volunteer and you will get editors in your car and find yourself in a small group having lunch with an editor.
Verla: ask what you can do to get something "going" in your area
Verla: very true, gail!
LindaJoy: (Of course I heard this from Gail)
Verla: I'll be having my volunteers have a dinner with the speakers at our conference in Sept
^GailM: I've met mybe 10 editors, and they call me by my first name.
^GailM: Robbie Mayes at F,S & G feels like a son. He's a cutie and always sends me personal rejections.
LindaJoy: I'm really looking forward to Verla's conference (especially since I get to be a speaker)
Verla: It's going to be a great day, Linda. This Saturday I have a workshop day featuring Deetie...
Cassandra: Hi Gail, Deet, LJ, Kia, AM, Goody, KD, Niman and Dill
Verla: and it's going to be a great day, too...
LindaJoy: Dee will make a great speaker! And she has good WIN news, too, like Cass
Note: Deetie and Cassandra both placed in the WIN contest
^GailM: I was lucky when I joined the local chapter as they were pretty active.
Verla: yes, some areas aren't as active as yours, Gail.
Verla: sometimes a region is huge, and it's very hard for a Regional Advisor to manage to have events close to some people
^GailM: We had 9 meetings a year and a conference. We tried a Smooze, and it was fun, but so informal.
Cassandra: Gail, what region are you?
Verla: and some regions don't hold many events... one per year is all that is "required" of an RA... although many RA's try to hold more than that
^GailM: Western Washington
Verla: My new region is Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. We're trying to hold four events a year... three short workshop sessions and one full day conference right now
^GailM: If an RA can get lots of folks to volunteer, they are willing to hold more events. We have probably 20 on our Advisory Committee, and I've been on and off the committee over 6 years.
Verla: wow, that's a BIG advisory committee, gail! (mine is three people and myself! LOL)
^GailM: We have like 5 who plan the conference and the two retreats.
^GailM: Any time we can have a booth or presence, we do it.
Verla: volunteering to assist in your region is a wonderful way to get "in the loop" of a region
^GailM: That gets more folks to join, and increases the numbers coming to meetings, etc.
Verla: Oh, I just thought of one great advantage to conferences...
^GailM: SCBWI is a great place for newbies, too. They learn so much at the meetings and conferences. It's a great place for the experienced, too, as they can network like crazy, sort of like the internet is a great place to network.
Verla: that's a wonderful place to meet other writers who you might like to form an "in person" crit group with, too
LindaJoy: I formed my first crit group by being at a conference and making a group with the writers I was sitting by
Verla: if that's not an option, or if there's no one there that you want to link up with, you can go through the SCBWI roster and find people from your area to contact
^GailM: You learn from the masters at conferences. Sometimes I think I won't attend a meeting because it is just a writer or illustrator, and then someone tells me to go, I do, and it gives me so much inspiration.
^GailM: I get pumped after meetings.
Verla: I find just sharing information with other attendees at conferences is often as beneficial (if not more so!) than actually listening to the speakers!
Verla: yes, the inspiration alone at those sessions is awesome!
LindaJoy: Gail, I've had that happen, too, where a workshop that didn't sound interesting turned out to be inspiring
Anne_Marie: When I first joined SCBWI, I opened up the red roster and emailed a bunch of people.
Verla: The roster is a lifesaver!
Anne_Marie: I made some great friends that way.
LindaJoy: My first book sale came from listening to an author at a writing meeting and subbing to her publisher
Anne_Marie: Another thing I do with the red roster is contact fellow writers with fan mail. :)
Goody2shoe: What's the roster?
Verla: it's a list of ALL the SCBWI members in the world, Goody. It's HUGE now
Verla: I just got the new one... let me look...
Verla: the 2005/2006 SCBWI roster has... <drum roll> ...
Verla: 344 pages in it!
Verla: SCBWI puts out a yearly list of book publishers, of magazine publishers, and of agents, too
LindaJoy: My 2nd sale came from talking to an editor at a conference and asking specifically how to sub to a specific line of books
Anne_Marie: Not the big guys--they get enough fan mail. But if something really strikes me in a LADYBUG for instance, I may write the author.
LindaJoy: And recently a SCBWI friend recommended me for a writing opportunity
Anne_Marie: And I usually try to contact my illustrators, too, using the red roster. It's easier than writing c/o the magazine.
Verla: NETWORKING, LindaJoy!
Verla: That's one of the GREATEST advantages of SCBWI
LindaJoy: yup--I love networking
^GailM: I've been in charge of the subscribers for about 5 years, and sat at the table where folks sign in, so now almost everyone knows me. I now send out the email newsletter, and everyone talks to me at meetings like they know me. I always take a high profile job because I'm an extrovert. Networking.
Verla: they bring in Editors and Agents
Verla: so you can actually talk to them in person
LindaJoy: Actually it's just talking about books -- something hard to do with normal people -- that's so addictive
Verla: and listen to what they have to say
Anne_Marie: You mean, normal people don't read children's books?
Verla: they bring in authors and illustrators so you can be inspired and learn from them
^GailM: AM, normal people don't. Sorry to disappoint you. They read adult books.
LindaJoy: AM--normal people don't understand about stressing over one word, dreaming dialogue and getting excited over a good rejection
Verla: most people who aren't writers or illustrators don't talk about book like we do, AM...
Verla: right, LindaJoy
Anne_Marie: Maybe I should have put a smilie after my post. I realize none of us are normal. :)
Verla: they talk about how they liked a book, or the characters... but they don't talk about plot points, viewpoints, what words should be cut from the story, etc.
^GailM: Normal people don't understand about stressing over hearing voices of characters in our head. Or maybe we're the normal people and the others are strange.
Verla: I like your second choice best, Gail. <grin>
kimmar: networking, networking, networking
^GailM: My SCBWI chapter is a big family.
LindaJoy: I enjoy so many people from my chapter, too -- wish we had more meetings (but next one is same as Verla's Idaho conference where I'm speaking)
Verla: SCBWI has yearly grants available only to its members, and also awards (like the Golden Kite Award) which are given ONLY to SCBWI members
^GailM: I got word of a large health organization holding a big function in the city, and they were looking for an author or illustrator with a recent book. I thought of Barbara Hicks with jitter bug Jam, and referred her.
Verla: SCBWI can help keep you "in the loop" about other awards and grants that are available in your area, too
Verla: (if you have an active region... if not, try volunteering to be the person to dig out that information and share it with your area.)
LindaJoy: Not to only say good things about SCBWI...I still think their bi-monthly newsletter doesn't offer much compared to other writing organization
LindaJoy: I wish they'd include more articles
Verla: but each region has the opportunity to have its own newsletter, LindaJoy. And you can subscribe to any newsletter. You should sign up for (and pay for) Gail's chapter newsletter, Linda. You would love it!
LindaJoy: Yeah--I'm sure I would
Verla: up to date information comes out very frequently... via email, too.
Verla: Gail, you send that out, don't you?
^GailM: And also, the International dues are a little steep for someone who is just starting. I was able to join just the chapter to start, and i guess that will continue a little while.
Verla: actually, it's not "legal" to join only a region, Gail...
LindaJoy: The local chapters are great
LindaJoy: The last workshop in Davis, CA had 3 editors from New York and like over 300 attendess
Verla: when you join international, you join SCBWI... and are automatically a member of the organization.
Verla: you can subscribe to a region's newsletter without joining SCBWI IF the region allows it.
^GailM: I only proofread the newsletter in print. I write and out the e-newsletter.
Verla: Yikes! Only ten more minutes!
Verla: Does anyone have any questions about SCBWI they'd like answered?
Verla: Or any comments about it they'd like to make?
^GailM: Another good thing about getting involved is you pay no dues to the local or International. That's a little over $100 for the opportunity to network, meet editors, get inspired and have fun.
Verla: right. One yearly fee ($60 for renewals/$75 to join originally) and you get all the benefits.
Anne_Marie: I'd just like to reiterate that you get out of it what you put into it.
^GailM: Just finding a critique group is worth the price. Your spouse is not a good critique group.
Verla: Also, when you travel, you can check ahead and see if the region near where you are going is having an event while you're there. If they are, you get to attend for the SCBWI members' price... because when you join SCBWI you are a member for ALL regional events
Anne_Marie: The more you volunteer, the more fun you'll have, more contacts you'll make, more you'll learn, etc.
Verla: Very true, AM!
Verla: Right, Gail!
Verla: If you go to France, or Australia... you can attend their local events, too! (or any of the other countries that have regions!)
Verla: I'd like to say that I have met, In Person, Cassandra, Deetie, Kimmar, LindaJoy, Meg and GailM... at SCBWI events!
^GailM: Gail Carson Levine was scheduled to be in the Seattle area a few years ago, and she had an evening that was unplanned. She contacted the RA and asked to meet for dinner with local members. We put together a dandy feast and took her from her hotel to talk children's books while we all ate dinner.
kimmar: fun gail!
Meg: wow
Verla: wow... that was awesome of her, Gail.
^GailM: And we had a grand time.
Verla: But I'm not surprised. Most children's writers I've met are just plain NICE people!
^GailM: I've taken editors on tours of the city, here. They are so young. Just like one of my students.
Verla: which is another reason to join SCBWI. You will meet the GREATEST people there!
^GailM: So, everyone is so quiet because they are at the web site filling out the paperwork.
Verla: LOL Gail... probably!
Verla: Any last comments or questions before we end this ProTalk?
LindaJoy: I've met dee, Verla, Gail, Cass and Meg
LindaJoy: I'm going to see Meg this coming Saturday in fact
^GailM: If you're serious about writing, it is worth it. If you're not serious, save your money.
LindaJoy: good point, Gail
Verla: Good comment, Gail
kimmar: I've gotten way more than my money's worth
Verla: I know I got more than my money's worth, too.
Verla: between the printed materials they put out, the conferences and workshops, and the networking contacts I've made... I've found it priceless to me.
Verla: That's why I'm now a Regional Advisor. I'm hoping to give back to others a little of what SCBWI has given to me over the years
Verla: (And then *I* get to pick the speakers for my region, too. LOL!)
^GailM: Another thing to do if you are serious is to read the entire internet that pops up when you put in Children's Writing or children's books. You will have gotten an unofficial MFA in kidlit.
Verla: Okay, Gail... I don't know what an MFA is.
Verla: Manufacturer's Funky Aroma?
^GailM: Masters of Fine Arts.
Verla: Oh.. Duh. (See, I never went to college, so I don't know these "college" terms. You don't have to have gone to college to join SCBWI. Another advantage!)
Verla: Okay, if no one else has anything they want to add to this discussion, I will now declare it "finished!"
kimmar: when this talk's officially over, can we break out champagne for Judy, Cassandra, and Anne Marie?
^GailM: Uncork the champagne!
LindaJoy: good idea, kim
LindaJoy: We have some celebrating to do here tonight
Verla: Happy Writing, Happy Illustrating, and CONGRATS to our Finalists and Winners in the WIN contest! Judy, Cass and AnneMarie!
LindaJoy: Let's all meet in the party room...decorations and dessert waiting!
*** Verla has set the topic on channel #kidlit to Writers & Illustrators of Children's Literature Meet Here Nightly - Welcome!

NOTE: A great celebration party took place in the chat room after the ProTalk ended....

Verla Kay
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