Happy Tuesday! I (Lindsay) am busy doing all of my children’s laundry, stocking the fridge for babysitters and the hubby, making lists of homework due dates and when to scoop the kitty box, finishing up a few notes for Critique-A-Thon, and packing for Pocono. Whew! Hope you’re also happily checking off items from your to-do list.
Here are a few tips from our wonderful co-RA Donna Boock to help you get organized pre-Pocono. See you soon!
What should I bring? If I have materials (stories, finished artwork etc.) completed, should I bring copies? Or just cover/query letters? Or none of the above?
Most likely, none of the above.
The only work related materials you should bring will be for your own use or use in one of the pre-conference intensives. The conference is not the place to pass on your work to an editor or agent. Many of them will ask to see attendee work, but they will not want it then and there. They will want it to be submitted formally, as per their guidelines.
That all said, the great part of attending a conference is that most editors and agents (even those with closed-submission policies) open their doors to conference-goers.
Do I need to buy books for signing in advance?
There will be a bookseller onsite with selected faculty books for signing.Please note: The bookseller will only accept cash or check, no credit cards.
Do bring a notebook/journal. You may also want a separate notebook/journal or section related to your current projects. It’s amazing how many ideas come to you about your particular project as you listen to a speaker. It’s nice to jot those things down, because as much as you think you’ll remember, you might not.
You should also bring business cards. If one of your goals is to network with other writers and illustrators attending the conference, sharing your card and collecting them from others is a great way to do so.
If you’re an illustrator bring postcards in addition to business cards to exchange. Also, considering bringing a few easy-to-transport art supplies for sketching during the workshops, just in case you get a burst of inspiration.
Other homework for everyone: Make sure your blog, website, Facebook page and SCBWI Profiles (including Illustrator Gallery and/or Speaker’s Bureau) are up-to-date! After meeting people they will probably want to know more about you so don’t leave them with nothing but a year-old blog entry.
I’m an unpublished author and/or illustrator and have been told that I probably won’t get hired from the get-go, but I want to get the most out of this. Publishing a book is my dream.
You have been advised correctly. Make sure you work your way through the event with realistic goals, of which there can be many. Conferences are not a place to get a contract or to be hired, instead they are an avenue to learn more about the industry, improve your craft, and create connections that can lead you to finding the success you’re looking for. The more you are educated about the industry the more likely you are to getting published. And there is no better place to get educated than through SCBWI. This is most certainly an industry that requires a great deal of research, patience and perseverance, but if it’s your dream, you’ll surely be willing to put in the time and energy it takes to find success.
How should I approach an agent or editor? Do you have any pointers on asking if you can send them a query letter?
The good news is that most of the editors and agents will open their doors to submission or query letter. Focus on learning about the editors and agents while at the conference, and then only submit to those who seem to be a good fit for you and your work after (and only if your work is ready). So, if you do get the chance to speak with an editor or agent, don’t tell them about your work (unless they ask), instead ask them questions that give you more insight into their personal interests and taste. It’s highly likely the conversation will turn to your work.
Also before coming to the conference you should be able to answer these two questions in one sentence. 1) What do you do? 2) What are you working on? Yes, one sentence.
How is pitching to agents/editors handled at this conference? Is there any formalized time during the conference to meet with agents/editors? I didn’t see any place in the agenda where one could sign up for a one-on-one; do we just do hallway/elevator pitching?
There are no formal pitching sessions. And you should not pitch to the editors or agents in the hallways, at lunch, or between sessions. As mentioned in the previous answer, editors and agents greatly appreciate questions that allow you (and others) to get to know them and their house/agency better so that you can submit to or query them once the conference is over if they are a potential fit. Being overly aggressive is a sure way to turn off a potential colleague.
Can I bring a laptop?
You can bring a laptop. That said, there are some things you might want to consider when deciding to bring it or not. If you choose to take notes on a laptop during sessions it can often be quite distracting to those around you, so please be considerate when making a seating choice. Also, there will be limited option for plugging in to a power source. A notebook is probably your best choice for taking notes. As far as internet connection, there is wifi available.
What should I wear?
Springtime is gorgeous at the Highlights Foundation. It is a beautiful, natural, wooded environment. Attire is casual. You may wish to connect with nature and walk or hike so shoes for that are recommended. Yoga is offered, so you may wish to pack for that as well. Also, consider that if it rains, you might want to bring rain boots. Jackets aren’t out of the question for May in the Poconos either. Layers are suggested.