Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Writer's Conference

OK, if you are a writer, and you haven't been to a writer's conference or workshop, think about what type of writer you are. Are you a hobby writer (just for fun) or do you want to be a professional writer? As with any profession, you have to move your knowledge forward. The best way to do this is to join a writer's group, and keep informed on when their events are.

If you write children's books, is the perfect place to start. Each state has something going on, or you can travel for regional conferences. Invest in yourself and go. You will learn so much.

So let's start with the Iowa SCBWI Conference in Bettendorf that I attended last weekend.

I drove almost 6 hours on a beautiful sunny day from South Dakota to go. I stopped at the Family Museum to do some research for a children's museum we are building in Sioux City, and then headed to the Lodge, where the conference takes place. Part of attending conferences is getting to know other authors. I had the privilege of going to dinner with Barbara, Barbara, and Barbara.

The conference started bright and early with Brett Wright, the assistant editor from Bloomsbury.

Here are my takeaways:

*Find a hook for your book!
*Catch the reader's attention right away. (First pages are vital to getting your book published! Start where the story starts, not at the beginning of the character's life or day.)
*First sentence! Though Brett will read the first 20 pages before he says "no."
*Create a sample sell sheet, see below to know what you need. This will help you sell your book and show you have thought it out. The information can be used in your query.
*Middle Grade should be 30,000 to 40,000 words.
*A long synopsis is a no-no.
*Proper formatting is a must!

Age Level

Handle: 1 line description about the book
Author Information

Selling Points

Books it will compete with, and/or compares to:

Check back later for more tips from the writer's conference, including questions to ask yourself before you start writing!


  1. This was a very informative post. I am so glad you shared/sharing with us. Thank you very much. So, the author must define the selling points of her book? Would you give me an example? Let's say the book, The Giving Tree.

  2. I'll use my book as an example, since it's fresh.

    Title: "It's Almost Time"
    Author: Debbie Bernstein LaCroix
    Age Level: 3 - 7
    Category: Picture Book

    Handle: A picture book that takes the readers through the experience of clocks.

    Description: (from Kane Miller)
    Two friends make their way through a clock-filled house, counting down, ready for all the different clock sounds to mark the hour. Cover your ears; it's going to be noisy!

    Chiming, ringing, buzzing and every other clock sound imaginable fill the pages of this exuberant and energetic picture book.

    Author Info: read my bio. ;)

    Selling Points:
    Introduces the concepts of time
    No other books like it in the marketplace
    Children will relate to the familiarity of something they see everyday
    Introduces Onomatopoia
    Introduces adverbs
    Fun read aloud

    I'd need to look up books that use a lot of sound effects probably, and then list a book on time.

    Hope that helps!

  3. Thanks for the example of a sell sheet.

  4. Thanks for the notes from the conference. That's interesting...a selling sheet. I liked your example. I grew up in Newton, Iowa, and am happy to know another 12x12er from the state!

  5. Conferences are so fun. Thanks for the notes from yours. My husband grew up in Iowa (Dubuque), so we visit at least once ever other year. (But I take it you're from South Dakota.)

    1. I'm on the border, so I can visit 3 states in 5 minutes. It's very exciting. ;-) But I was born and raised in IA.

  6. I'm leaving for the Canada West SCBWI conference in little over a week and I can't wait! The sell sheet is perfect. Thanks for the info.