The SCBWI Summer Conference is two days away and I am super excited!!! (You can tell, can’t you?)
What’s the SCBWI Summer Conference? It’s one of the biggest annual events facilitated, and attended by members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. From August 5 – 8, 2011, children’s books writers and illustrators get to attend a variety of workshops to increase their knowledge of the craft, listen to keynote speakers who know the ins and outs of the publishing industry, and network with the myriad of authors, agents, editors and publishers who will be attending the conference.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the SCBWI, and one of the highlights of the four day conference is Saturday night’s 40 Winks Ball. There will be food, drinks, music, dancing, and tons of people wearing their sleepwear best. Yes, we are going to be partying poolside in our pajamas, and I hear there’s an award for best dressed, too. It’ll be a time for writers to let loose, unwind and re-discover their fun side.
Of course the next day, it’ll be back to work with the last day of workshops and keynote speakers. Monday is actually optional and will be attended by those who have registered for the intensives or small group critiques with top-notch authors, agents and editors.
These are all the awesome things I’ve heard about, at least. And I am bursting with excitement because it’ll be my first time attending!
Yup, I’m a conference neophyte. But that’s not going to stop me from preparing for the event like a pro. (At least, it’s not going to stop me from attempting to prepare like a pro)
Here’s my to do list before the conference:
1. Read various blogs, posts and articles about past summer conferences so I know what to expect.
2. Read every last scrap of information from this year’s conference—including Esther Hershenhorn’s awesomely helpful article Confessions and Secrets of a Veteran SCBWI Conference Goer.
3. Download the Guidebooks app for the SCBWI Conference on my smartphone.
The app has general information about the conference, maps of the conference venue, a list of keynote events, a schedule for each day of the conference, and even a twitter app that lets you follow #LA11SCBWI’s every move. The best thing about the app, (aside from being FREE) is that it allows you to check the various workshops and events scheduled, so you can create your very own customized schedule of activities. (It also has a useful to do list function).
4. Print out a copy of the conference schedule and highlight the workshops and keynote events you want to attend. Or, if you have a smartphone, download the guidebook app and customize your schedule.
You can set the app to set off an alarm 10 minutes or more before the activity, to remind you of it. That way, you won’t be late for any workshop.
5. Prepare a list of things to bring to the conference.
My list looks like this:
Wallet (Wouldn’t want to miss out on buying amazing books for various authors to sign—nor do I want to drive to the conference without my license)
Cellphone – (A useful device for saving contact numbers, addresses and what not of the many new people I’ll get to meet at the conference)
Keys (yeah, that’s obvious)
Pill Organizer – filled with medicine I might need for emergencies. I get migraines sometimes so some Excedrin will definitely be in there. In case I eat something that doesn’t agree with my sensitive stomach—some Zantac (and maybe some Immodium) will come in handy. And if I encounter something I’m allergic to, it will be useful to have some Benadryl around.
The conference is all about networking, so it’s always a good idea to look my best in case my dream agent happens to be walking by and we strike up a conversation.
For those who will have rooms at the conference hotel, this shouldn’t be a problem. But for locals like myself, who will be driving 20 miles or more to attend, having these items in our bags might be a lifesaver.
Hairbrush/comb and other hair accessories (hair bands, clips, etc) (to keep our hair in order)
Dental floss (Oh yes, you don’t want to be caught smiling with some salad greens sticking out of your teeth)
Breathmints/ Mint gum (You don’t want to be offending anyone with dragon breath either. A toothbrush will be useful after meals, but who has time to brush their teeth with the many activities going on?)
Hand lotion (meeting new people usually entails shaking hands. It’s always best not to shock anyone with rough, dry palms)
Hand sanitizer (best not to pass around germs either)
Tissue (well, you know what to do with those)
And for those who use make up, a make up kit. I’m allergic to cosmetic products so the people I meet will have to make do with my actual face.
Business cards (just because I’m unpublished, doesn’t mean I can’t hand these out. Business cards are a valuable networking tool)
Business card holder (this gadget holds business cards, and has an extra pocket for holding all the other business cards I’ll be collecting. Esther Hershenhorn gives this great advice when collecting business cards: Note on the back something personal about the person, to reference if and when you connect post-conference – a book title, a publisher, a subject matter, a hometown.
Manuscript copies & Illustrators portfolio (for those attending the intensives on Monday, as well as the Friday night critiques.
Netbook (My handwriting is atrocious so I’ll probably be using this to take notes in the various workshops I’ll be attending)
Notebook & Pens (An essential part of a writers arsenal. It’s going to come in handy for taking notes in case my netbook isn’t accessible)
Camera (I love pictures. I’ll probably be taking tons with old and new friends alike—it’ll be a great way to remember the conference by)
Extra batteries (I’m not taking chances. I don’t want to miss out on great photo ops with a favorite author just because my camera died on me)
Emergency cellphone charger (My smartphone batteries don’t last too long and with a long conference day ahead of me, it’ll be a comfort to know I can recharge it for emergencies)
Extra shirt (you never know when an accident might happen and having an extra shirt to change into can make a big difference)
The night before the conference, you might want to do the following things as well:
1. Prepare what you’re wearing the next day (in case that alarm clock goes off late, at least you won’t have to worry about your wardrobe for the day)
2. Prepare the things you’re going to bring and have them all ready to go.
3. Plug in the hotel address in your GPS if you’re driving, or at least have the address easily accessible somewhere in your car. If you’re staying at the hotel, you’ve probably explored the various conference rooms so you don’t need to worry (lucky you!).
4. Withdraw some cash from the atm. The cash will come in handy especially for parking fees.
5. Get a good night’s sleep. You’ll need all the energy you can get for the next day.
Well that’s all I can think of for now. I’m sure I missed something else, but hey–it’s my first time attending. Next year, I’m sure this list will be longer.
Do you have any other suggestions for preparing for the conference?
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