Posted by: Katie B | July 2, 2011

NJ SCBWI Annual Conference – June 2011 – Wrap Up

Every year I like to try out the different seminars and conferences available to unpublished (and published) authors.  So far I’ve tried the NY Metro SCBWI Professional series, the New School’s Children’s Writing Seminar series, the Rutgers (RUCCL) Conference, and several NJ SCBWI events including First Page Sessions, Mentoring Sessions, Professional Networking Dinners, and Writer’s Workshops.  This was my first Annual Conference hosted by the NJ SCBWI and, based upon my objectives for the conference, I thought it was great.

I’m at the stage where I treat each conference like an impersonal interview.  I want to meet as many of the industry professionals as possible to see if we’d be a good fit.  Are they looking for my sort of material?  The author – editor – agent relationship is very personal.  Could we make it work?  I’m also looking to improve my craft.

The NJ SCBWI Annual Conference satisfied both objectives.  It was well attended by industry professionals and the structure allowed you the opportunity to meet most of them in a stress-free environment.  There were classes to attend, pitch sessions, and one-on-one critiques.  Each element allowed you to hone your craft while meeting a slew of professionals.  If you didn’t meet them in a training session, you could meet them at lunch, or during coffee.  And have a real conversation.  What a treat.

My criticism of some other events was that there wasn’t the time to get to meet all the professionals attending.  Either the set up of the event doesn’t allow for enough mingling time, or there are simply too many people and too few professionals.  I did not feel that this was the case at the NJ SCBWI Annual Conference.  I also felt everyone attending was very approachable.

My other issue with some events promising a professional critique was that my work hasn’t been carefully reviewed.  Basically, I don’t feel like I get what I paid for.  In this case, my submission was torn apart (ouch!) in a very “constructive” way, and I received a two page, single space, typed critique from my mentor detailing all her comments.  While painful, it was invaluable.

If you’re looking for an event to attend in the future, this one would be worth checking out.

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