Jennie Lynn Johanson
Navigating L.A.'s SCBWI Conference
I recently attended the SCBWI 47th Annual Summer Conference in Los Angeles. This was my second time attending the conference and once again it didn't disappoint. I learned so much from the workshops and the speakers were prepared with presentations full of beneficial tips and information. So for anyone attending future SCBWI conferences, the following are some of my tips that will hopefully contribute to you having a positive experience.
Do your homework. I suggest researching all speakers i.e. agents, authors, illustrators, publishers. I used the schedule on the SCBWI website to find out who was presenting for each workshop and panel presentation. I created a simple note taking sheet with a mini bio of each presenter along with their photo on the top. Below is a template you can use to make your own note taking sheet. It made it so much easier as I was taking notes especially during panel sessions. I was able to look at their photos and know who was speaking and their role in the industry.
Meet up with others to discuss the workshops and compare conference notes.
Be a planner. Take the time to look over the schedule and use your research from above to choose which workshop best suits your needs. I chose according to the topic, the presenter and how useful the information was for me at this point in my writing career. The printable schedule is very easy to follow with the workshops color coded according to whether you are an illustrator or a writer or if it's a general workshop. There is a very nice flow to the schedule leaving enough time in between workshops.
Get involved. The conference doesn't have to be a solo event. There are many opportunities to get connected with others at the conference i.e. regional chapter meet ups, annual themed party and even morning yoga! I suggest getting involved with your regional SCBWI chapter since many members attend the conference. It was so helpful to meet up with others to discuss the workshops and compare conference notes. Also you can connect with people attending the conference from the SCBWI's Facebook page.
Take note of the SCBWI hashtags so you can stay in the networking loop.
Be ready to network. It's pretty amazing the networking possibilities at the conference. So bring business cards to have at the ready and if you're an illustrator bring postcards, bookmarks or stickers with a sample of your work. Be sure you include your website address and your social media information. Plus take note of the SCBWI hashtags being used throughout the conference so you can stay in the networking loop.
Lastly, I have put together a checklist of suggested items to take to the conference. You'll be thanking me for reminding you to bring a rolling bag so you aren't walking around unbalanced all day. Also the coffee shop line might be a tad long, so reserve it just for your coffee needs and bring your own snacks. Hope you find this checklist helpful and hope to see you at the next SCBWI conference!