Writing Excuses hilarity, conferences and conventions for children’s/YA

Today’s Writing Excuses covers conventions you (writers) should be attending, but they didn’t really have time to cover conventions and conferences specifically geared for children’s books (and I actually am not sure if any of them have been to anything except the occasional BYU Writing for Young Readers). I’ve been meaning to post something about this for a while, so this sparked me to remember to do this post!

(And remember to go back to Writing Excuses next week, when they talk about what you should be doing at a writing conference/convention.)

Before we get into that, though, I had to share a hypothetical scenario that Brandon and Peter, long-time friends of yore, came up with after I twittered about Dan‘s US cover. My tweets get imported into Facebook, and in answer to this tweet:

I am Not a Serial Killer (and you can too)–friend Dan Wells’s book’s US cover is revealed: http://tinyurl.com/kkfrjx (he’s @johncleaver)

Peter posted this in reply on Facebook:

Well, according to Brandon:

Q: If the gang from Writing Excuses were put in a horror film, obviously Dan would be the killer. But what order do you think everyone would die in? And how would they die? (The victim list includes: you, Howard, Jordan, Pemberly, Stacy, and Peter)

A: Ha! Well, let’s see. If Dan were the killer, I think he’d try to take out Howard first, since Howard is obviously the most dangerous of us all. Though he sees me more often, so he might try to get to me first. I’d put it in this order:… Read More

Pemberly (he’d leave the women for last because he’s a very gentlemanly killer.)

And then Stacy would take Dan down in a surprise ending. She’d edit him out of the script or something.

So if you know the Writing Excuses guys, watch out for Howard, but perhaps even more, watch out for me!

On to conferences. In the podcast, the guys cover several different types of gatherings that writers might attend: literary conventions, anime conventions, media conventions, conferences and trade-shows. In children’s books, we don’t really have conventions for fans in the same way that fantasy/scifi has conventions (Comic-Con, DragonCon, anime conventions–these are big gatherings where vendors set up booths to sell (or give away) things directly to fans). Though we might consider a parallel to that to be school visits, which aren’t exactly a big thing in adult books.

Trade shows, of course, are the same for both adult and children’s–BEA (Book Expo America, a show for booksellers), ALA (the American Library Association’s annual and midwinter conferences, a trade show for librarians, obviously), IRA (the International Reading Association, a show for teachers, especially elementary teachers), NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English, kind of more of a conference than a trade show compared to the others above, high school English teachers). Obviously, IRA and NCTE tend to attract more children’s and YA books, and of course educational publishing, but there’s some crossover.

In the children’s book community, though, the biggest conferences to be aware of fall under either literary conventions (according to their definitions, though we might call them conferences interchangeably) or conferences (again, according to their defs). Which ones should you be aware of?

Literary conventions

  • SCBWI New York
  • SCBWI Los Angeles
  • Local SCBWI conferences like those hosted by the Seattle, Chicago, Houston, and New England SCBWIs

All of the above are great — and inexpensive — places to attend classes on craft, getting published, and marketing your book, meet guest editors and writers, network with other writers, and all sorts of other beneficial activities. You might meet people who you’ll end up forming a critique group through, or you might discover that a guest editor is looking for something that you write; often editors who work at houses that are closed to unsolicited/unagented submissions are open to submissions for a limited time from conference attendees.

Connected with these things, if you aren’t familiar with the activities hosted by your local Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), you should investigate. Most chapters host a lot more than their yearly conferences–they often have monthly meetings, offer a listserv, have members looking for critique groups online and in person, and man other local resources. You’ll be able to find out information on both the national and local organizations at the link above.

Conferences (aka workshops or seminars)

  • BYU Writing for Young Readers
  • Clarion
  • Chatauqua
  • …I know I’m missing several — what am I forgetting?

It’s getting late, which is why I’m forgetting a lot. I’ll save this post and add to it tomorrow, but in the mean time, feel free to post conferences I’m forgetting in the comments.