Do This For Your Children's Writing Career: Join SCBWI!

Thursday, May 30, 2013
I admit it, I'm a joiner. I belong to three writing groups and a critique group: Missouri Writers' Guild, Saturday Writers (a local chapter of MWG), and SCBWI. I think the best way to keep your head up and words on the page, while you are pursuing your writing career, is by networking, discussing, and being around other writers. It's important to do this in person and online, and it's important no matter what genre you write.

But if you are a children's writer or illustrator, fiction or nonfiction, for ages 0 to 18, then you should seriously consider joining the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, otherwise known as SCBWI. I'm not usually so opinionated--and I'm hoping that some of my fellow WOW! readers and SCBWI members will chime in here, too--but there is not a better organization for children's and YA writers in my opinion.

First, it's only $85 for the first year's dues, and $70 after that. This is for an entire year, and so per month, you are only spending $7.08 a month on your writing career the first year, and $5.83 a month after that. Don't go to Panera Bread for lunch one day each month, and you've got the dues. Plus, if you are claiming writing expenses and revenue on your taxes (which you should be), the dues is one of your writing expenses!

For your membership, you get a plethora (thank Cathy Hall for this great word choice! ) of FREE writing resources from the inside track on agents and editors who are accepting manuscripts to magazine listings to children's book reviewers and blogs. You can build a profile on their website as well as numerous other membership benefits, which you can check out here.

I'm not going to repeat everything their site says because I'd rather share personally how I've used SCBWI in my writing life. First, I love the fact that when you join the national level, you are automatically put into the state chapter FOR FREE. This is where you will do a majority of your activities. State chapters have free workshops as well as paid conferences and retreats. Members always get a discount to the paid events. Most state chapters have a message board, website, and/or newsletter that is full of information you can use for your writing career. And best of all, real, live writers in your very own state, many published and knowledgeable, are now accessible right at your fingertips. They want to help you and talk with you because you are fellow SCBWI members.

Conference @ the Hyatt Regency
When I lived in Illinois, I found my critique group through SCBWI. I participated and led free shop talks and networked with some very well-established authors. We attended the LA conference at the beautiful Hyatt Regency hotel, where I learned all about Facebook and blogging and started both in August 2008. I'm sure that my career took off, and that I sold more books as a result of this. I know a lot more people in the business and am surrounded by great marketing ideas and creative brilliance all the time. Currently, in Missouri, I've been asked to lead a writing workshop on June 8--this is a paid speaking opportunity where I can also sell books. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

If you are looking for an organization with professional children's and YA writers, full of benefits--including ones that will help you get published and market your book--then go to SCBWI now and sign up!

Please share your experiences and opinions if you are a member, too. Questions are great, too!

Margo Dill teaches several online children's and YA classes for WOW!, including one on taking hold of your career, another on short fiction, and a novel writing workshop, too. For more information, check out the WOW! classroom. 


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--You certainly present a convincing argument. Are you getting kick-backs from SCBWI? ;)

Donna Volkenannt said...

Hi Margo,
Love your enthusiasm and passion about SCBWI.
You are not only a joiner, but also a doer and mostly a giver. You deserve every bit of success you achieve because you have earned it!

Renee Roberson said...

Even though I haven't published anything for children yet, a friend talked me into joining in January:) I've already applied for one of the WIP grants and hope to attend the fall conference here in Charlotte, N.C. I'm sold!

Margo Dill said...

@Sioux: HA! I wish. NO, I just really think if someone wants to be published as a children's writer, SCBWI is awesome--the free resources and state chapters are reason enough! :)

@Donna--Oh my gosh, thank you, and I think you brought a tear to my eye.

@Renee: So glad you joined and you are finding it useful. :)

Cathy C. Hall said...

Oh, yeah, I'll happily sing the praises of SCBWI, Margo! I joined in January, 2009 and attended my first conference in February. I didn't know a soul. I didn't have a critique group, didn't really have any idea what I was doing. Flash forward four years and what a difference! I've met SO many writers, just like me. I've rubbed elbows with authors whose names were on books I read to my kids. (It's embarrassing how tongue-tied I got around Jane Yolen, who by the way is just a delightful and down-to-earth person) And best of all, I learned a ton about writing for children (and P.S. it's not the same as writing for adults!).

I shudder to think where I'd be without SCBWI. That's how scary much I love this organization! :-)

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