Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Conference Lessons Learned From #LA12SCBWI : A Writerly Wednesday Post

I'm back from L.A., where I attended SCBWI's summer conference. Talk about a whirlwind visit--and I didn't even get to eat at In&Out, or do any other Cali-type things, other than spend an hour in gridlock traffic.

But I had fun anyway. I was inspired by all the talented writers and illustrators, keynote speakers, and awesome hotel food. I made new friends. Told everyone about my book, and they graciously listened. Good stuff.

And then there were a few lessons I learned, which I thought I'd share with you fellow writerly people. In case you have conference on your calendar.

1. Get your friends' contact information
There were more than 1200 people at this conference--believe it or not, it's very easy to completely miss each other. Especially if you only know a person from web contact, and all you have to go on is a profile pic.

2. Bring tissues
The SCBWI organizers know how to pick their keynotes... I fogged up (read: tried to cover up my tears) during several keynotes, and you will too. No matter how hardcore you think you are.

3. Bring breakfast bars
L.A. is expensive, and a girl's gotta eat. Unless you like dropping enough money to feed your family for a few days on eggs and bacon, bring a box or two of granola bars. The kind with chocolate and nuts are recommended by the YA Sleuth.

4. Don't be a snob
I briefly talked to a few people (who shall remain anonymous) who were only there to suck up to the big shot attendees and ignored their fellow little people (that would be me). Don't be that guy. Little people will grow big, and they'll remember you...

5. Go
I always debate whether to go to one of these conventions, but then when I do, I wonder what I was moaning about. The inspiration is worth the cost, and then some--if you can afford it. If your budget doesn't allow, see about organizing a day-long powwow with your writer crew.

How 'bout you, fellow writers? Anything you've learned from conference visits?


  1. I was recently at the RWA nationals in Anaheim. With well over 2000 people there, I was lucky to bump into people I know from the blogs. And there were so many others I didn't meet up with.

    Since my family and I were hitting up Disneyland first, we rented an amazing house within walking distance of the conference and DL. This save us having to eat out (my husband cooked), and worked out to be cheaper than staying in a hotel. Plus, I got my exercise in, which most attendees didn't.

    At one session I went to, the speaker (who is a major book blogger) commented that she's had problems with authors who act too full of themselves. She no longer buys or reviews their books. There was one YA best selling author there who is a complete opposite. She is happy to talk to everyone, and remembers what it was like going to your first conference when you don't know anyone. She's so genuine, you can't help but like her.

    Awesome tips!

  2. You know, I think that might be the best way to attend these conferences: by combining them with family visits. That keeps everything in perspective too.

    Always wanted to go to RWA National--it always sounds so fun :-)

    Thanks for stopping by, Stina!

  3. Contact information is sooo important. And I also think that if you don't have a Twitter account beforehand, you should get one. The hashtags are the fastest way to find out what's moving and shaking in the populated conference atmosphere.

    I'm glad you had a good time. =)

  4. You're right, Jenny: everyone was tweeting up a storm. Unfortunately, I only have a pay-as-you-go phone that doesn't go to the internet, so I was left out.

    Maybe by next time, I'll have a newfangled phone with interwebz capabilities... :-)

  5. One day I hope to go to the big one. I'm excited about attending the regional SCWBI conference in September. It will be my first SCWBI conference. I really like our local writers group conference. It helps me on many writing issues, but not on the focus of children's writing. No. 4 sadly made me laugh. I've ran into that at several writer events.

  6. I think the regional ones are better (cheaper, not so big). Enjoy your conference--hope you'll let me know how it was.

    Yeah, number 4... The people that act that way now actually make me laugh :-)

  7. Thing I hate most is seeing someone is looking past you while you are talking to someone more worthy of their attention. Smart phones are just the death knell of conversation too.

  8. I felt like a complete dinosaur--I only have a basic pay-as-you-go phone, since I'm mostly home. Everyone was constantly tweeting, texting, instead of talking to the person next to them. I thought it was kind of sad.

    Maybe I'm getting old :-)