Friday, August 5, 2011

First-time conference-attendee orientation

The 40th annual SCBWI Summer Conference has begun, and the first event was an optional first-timers attendee led by Jolie Stekly, a member of SCBWI Team Blog and a recipient of the organization's volunteer of the year award.

Jolie Stekly
Jolie, a conference vet, is helping newbies understand what to expect from the weekend.

She warmed us up by asking a variety of questions--Is this your first time here? Are you a writer? An illustrator? Both? Are you a man? (These events are known for being packed with women--just wait till you stand in a bathroom line for the first time.)

If you were here in this room right now, you might want earplugs. People are introducing themselves to each other and the noise is impressive!

A few tips from Jolie:
  • If you swap business cards, write a reminder on the back so you can connect the card to the person.
    Chelsea Mooser of the SCBWI
  • If you're able to be yourself, then you have no competition. So don't feel as though you're in a competition with the people next to you. The SCBWI is a supportive tribe (with more than 22,000 members worldwide).
  • Passion, patience, and perseverance will see you through
  • If there's a book you want to buy, get it before the speaker does a keynote. Books do sell out. 
  • With editors and agents, be respectful and interested in them as people (and don't slide manuscripts under the bathroom stall or ask to pitch). Good conversation topics are things the editors and agents said in their sessions, and the books they've worked on.
And here's an assignment useful for all participants: Write down three reasons you decided to attend this conference. (Achievable goals--editors and agents do not carry bags o' contracts to hand out at conferences.)

Jolie has walked all of us through the many events planned throughout the conference: the published attendee book sale, manuscript and portfolio consultations, the poolside dance party, the Golden Kite luncheon and more. (She also revealed that Judy Blume is here. THE Judy Blume.)

Jolie Stekly on Twitter
Jolie's Monday morning writing prompts blog
Judy Blume on Twitter


  1. Jolie is the best! And Judy frickin' BLUME, what a wonderful weekend it's going to be.

  2. Ah, how I wish I was attending this year. I'll be following all the blogs, though.