The SCBWI Summer Conference is one of the biggest annual events facilitated, and attended by members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Children’s books writers and illustrators attend a variety of workshops to increase their knowledge of the craft, listen to keynote speakers, and network with the myriad of authors, agents, editors and publishers who will be attending the conference.
I attended the conference for the first time ever last year. About a week before the event, I made a list of things to do and things to bring. Now that I’ve had some experience, I have a better idea of how to prepare for the conference.
This year, the conference will run from August 3 – 6, 2012. It’s only three days away, but I’m already starting my preparations for the event.
If you’re attending the conference for the first time, you might find the following To Do List useful. If you’ve attended it before, the list might give you some great ideas about what to add to your conference packing list.
SCBWI Summer Conference To Do List:
1. Print out a copy of the conference schedule and highlight the workshops and keynote events you want to attend.
You can download a PDF copy of the schedule HERE.
2. Or if you’re a bit of a techie, download the Guidebooks app for the SCBWI Conference 2012 on your smartphone, ipad or android tablet. Customize your schedule.
This FREE app is awesome and super useful. It 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 a twitter app that lets you follow #LA11SCBWI.
This year, the app has some great new features such as a facebook link, a personal to do list, SCBWI Bookstore info, separate buttons for easy access to a schedule of Monday Intensives, Keynotes, Optional Activities PROtrack workshops, Illustrator Workshops, Nonfiction Workshops, and General Workshops. It even has a feedback button so you can give the organizers some helpful suggestions.
The App allows you to check the various workshops and events scheduled, so you can create your very own customized schedule of activities.
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.
3. Prepare your costume for Saturday’s pool party.
The pool party is a great way to meet other writers, let loose and unwind. This year’s theme is Hippie Hop. Go to the nearest Goodwill store or costume shop to rummage around for a groovy 60’s costume.
Hippie costume from CentreFashion.com
4. Gather all the books you want signed.
The conference features an autograph session at the end of each day.
Print a list of faculty members and speakers and see if you have any of their books.
When you register for the conference, they give you a packet that contains an autograph session schedule for each day. You can bring your books in or even buy the author’s books from the SCBWI bookstore and have them signed.
5. Prepare a list of things to bring to the conference.
Here’s my Conference To Bring List from last year. I’ve added/ removed some stuff based on last year’s experience*.
SCBWI Conference To Bring List
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. It’s also great for playing games in between breaks.
Keys – yeah, that’s obvious.
Pill Organizer – Filled with medicine I might need for emergencies. Excedrin for the migraines I’m bound to get. And in case I eat something that doesn’t agree with my sensitive stomach—some Zantac or Tums will come in handy. (A few caplets of Immodiums are in there, too) 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?
I like to use the Listerine Strips as an instant breath freshener. Be prepared for the really strong (and slightly bitter) minty taste, though.
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, or take them home.
Tissue – Well, you know what to do with those.
*Baby Wipes (small pack) – They have a variety of uses. Last year, I found myself needing some to wipe off greasy lunch stains from my hands and jeans.
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. SCBWI Conference veteran 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 & Accessories – 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 for my camera – 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.
Cellphone charger/USB 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.
*Jacket – The main conference halls and some of the rooms have the AC fully blasted. You’ll find yourself too distracted by the cold to take notes, unless you have a jacket.
*Water bottle – It’s always good to hydrate. Each room has a water dispenser and some cups for the participants. Sometimes, however they run out. It might be a good idea to bring one handy, just in case.
* Lunch – If you want to save up on some time and money, pack your own lunch. Besides, lunch lines can get really long and hotel restaurants might be pricey.
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. *Wear some comfortable shoes. You’re going to walking all over the hotel to get to the various workshop rooms.
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 and books.
*5. Prepare your lunch and snacks for the next day. If you have gastritis like myself, you’ll want to have something in your belly every three hours to keep away the nasty acids.
6. Get a good night’s sleep. You’ll need all the energy you can get for the next day.
Are you attending the Summer Conference this year? What’s on your To Do/To Bring list?
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