Many times, when members of the kid lit community are asked to give advice to aspiring children’s book authors and illustrators, one of the top recommendations is to join SCBWI. If you’re following this blog, you’ve probably already done that. Maybe you’ve attended an SCBWI conference or workshop. But are you getting all the benefits of your SCBWI membership? For example, have you discovered SCBWI’s webinars, masterclasses, and podcast? There may be some resources you’re missing out on!
Our Eastern PA chapter works hard to offer programs throughout the year that will benefit our members, including the Annual Pocono Retreat, Fall Philly, Illustrator Day, workshops, field trips, studio tours, and other opportunities to meet publishing professionals and fellow authors and illustrators. Check the Upcoming Events links on our website at epa.scbwi.org and here on this blog.
In addition to our programing, members can plan and attend Meet & Greets. There’s no registration fee to attend these gatherings, which are often held at coffee shops or bookstores and are a fantastic opportunity to connect and network with other authors and illustrators. Details are posted on the Upcoming Events and Meet & Greets pages on our website. Meet & Greets throughout the region are planned by YOU—our members. Simply contact our Meet & Greet coordinator. Once you’ve planned your Meet & Greet, we’ll post the information and send out an e-mail announcement. Our members have hosted nine Meet & Greets in the past year, with more in the coming weeks.
Another popular feature of our Eastern PA chapter is our ever-growing list of local critique groups. Critique groups are a way to exchange useful feedback with other members. We have a variety of groups to choose from (online groups, in-person groups, picture book groups, novel groups, illustrator groups, and varying combinations of each). Critique groups are available in many locations throughout our region, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, contact our critique group coordinator to start one up. Or if you’re looking for a one-time critique swap, join our EPA Critique Swap Facebook group (Eastern PA members only). More information about this group can be found here.
Our chapter’s homepage (epa.scbwi.org) has all the information you need for upcoming events, critique groups, and Meet & Greets. Just check out the green bar on the right side of the homepage screen. You might want to consider bookmarking this homepage so you can check back frequently!
Another benefit of being an SCBWI member is having the opportunity to participate in events in neighboring chapters as well. Our region is located near several other active SCBWI regions, including Western PA, New Jersey, New York, and Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia. These chapters host events throughout the year that may only be a short car or train ride away. Click on the links below to find out what’s happening, and follow them on social media to stay up to date on nearby events.
- Western PA (https://wpa.scbwi.org)
- New Jersey (https://newjersey.scbwi.org)
- New York: Metropolitan (https://nymetro.scbwi.org)
- Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia (https://mddewv.scbwi.org)
At the national level, SCBWI offers some extremely useful resources for members. The Book: Essential Guide to Publishing for Children is SCBWI’s definitive publication for children’s book authors and illustrators. It covers everything you need to know, whether you’re just starting out or have already launched your book. Topics include
- Standard manuscript formatting guidelines
- How to write a query letter and synopsis
- How to prepare an art portfolio and book dummy
- Information on self-publishing
- Publisher listings
- Editor listings
- Magazine listings
- Directories of literary agencies, independent editors, book reviewers, and writing courses
- Listings of grants, fellowships, residencies, and retreats
- Information on publicizing and promoting your book
- School visits
- Legal questions
The Book is updated each year and is available for all SCBWI members to log in and download from the SCBWI website (https://www.scbwi.org/online-resources/the-book/).
In addition to The Book, SCBWI produces a podcast featuring interviews with award-winning authors and illustrators as well as industry professionals. The podcast is available free for members at https://www.scbwi.org/podcasts-new/. SCBWI also offers two masterclasses on DVD, featuring instruction from Tomie dePaola and Richard Peck. These are available for purchase at https://www.scbwi.org/masterclasses/.
SCBWI holds two national conferences each year—the summer conference in Los Angeles and the winter conference in New York City. But sometimes the cost of a large conference and the inconvenience of travel make it hard for members to attend. That’s why SCBWI has been expanding its programing through webinars. Webinars are online seminars that you can attend from the comfort of your own home or anywhere you can connect to Wi-Fi. Regional chapters throughout the US and abroad are hosting webinars featuring a variety of topics with expert faculty. Webinars are open to SCBWI members and nonmembers for a fraction of the cost of a conference or an in-person workshop. In addition, each webinar is recorded, so registrants who are unable to attend the live event have access to the recording. A list of current and past webinars has been compiled by our friends from the Nevada chapter, which can be accessed via this link on our Eastern PA homepage.
Whether you’re new to SCBWI or have been a member for years, whether you’re just starting your children’s book journey or have fifty published books, we hope all of our members can get the most out of SCBWI’s plethora of resources and opportunities. And if you’d like to get involved, we are always looking for volunteers to help us with the behind-the-scenes magic that makes it all happen. Send us an e-mail at SCBWIEPA@gmail.com if you’d like to help out.
Laura Parnum writes quirky and humorous middle grade novels and is a freelance fiction copyeditor. Almost everything she does relates to books and writing, from maintaining EasternPennPoints (the official blog of the Eastern PA chapter of SCBWI) and leading an SCBWI critique group to assisting at an elementary school library. She has also provided reading and writing support to kids from kindergarten through high school. Laura and her family live in Philadelphia with two lovable reptiles. You can visit her website at www.lauraparnumbooks.com and follow her on Twitter (@LauraParnum).