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The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

SCBWI-BI Conference – Is it Worth It?

Protecting Wonderful Author,  Fiona Dunbar’s Modesty: Conf 2010

The annual SCBWI British Isles conference is open for booking and I didn’t hesitate before signing up. I’ve hardly missed one in years – in fact I’ve been trying to remember if I’ve missed one. Sadly, no one has helpfully produced a list  so I can’t tick them off.

I think my first was in 2004. I have a vague memory of one the year before but  no actual evidence.  In those days, writers held a seperate event to illustrators but it was still held in Winchester – different building same calibre of amazing speakers. Malorie Blackman was the keynote that year and her warmth and honesty were such an inspiration to me. I have an image of her wafting a sheaf of rejection letters in her hand but I think she probably drew that image with her words and it just stuck, in all its comforting glory.

Quote from Malorie Blackman ( don't give up_
No picture of Malorie Blackman but this Inspiring Message!

Malorie Blackman had rejection letters? Malorie Blackman?

Jeremy Strong spoke of his determination to get published and Julia Donaldson brought her guitar. She may not have

With Giant of Children’s Fiction Philip Ardagh Conf 2010

done. I’m a writer, I make stuff up without even realising. There were editors and writing lecturers and I SUCKED the day up like a vampire. I went away alive with the possibility that, I too would one day be published. I just needed to learn what I could, keep writing and not give up. It’s all there in my file from 2004. Along with the thick wad of rejection letters.

Actually, it’s a very thick wad of rejection letters. I may have to excuse myself for a minute to make some tea…

Okay, feeling better…

So, what did the conference do for me?

Why am I going again this year. I’ve got my publishing deal now, why bother?

Because every time I’ve attended, I’ve come away with improved:

  • Skills
  • Friendships
  • Contacts
  • Inspiration
  • Tenacity
With The Completely Fabulous Frank Cottrell Boyce Conf 2012

Those are the building blocks of your writing career. And as SCBWI has grown, so too have the ranks of published authors and nearly published writers and illustrators within it. There is a new Pulse strand that I’ve booked for – how to do school visits and a debut de-brief session. Plus four keynote speakers – the hilarious double act of Sarah Macintyre and Philip Reeve; Jonny Duddle and David Fickling.

There are:

Fringe events – mass critiquing!

1-2-1 sessions with publishing professionals


And a fantastic pirate themed party on Saturday night to celebrate all our new launching books for 2015!

To say I’m looking forward to it is a tiny understatement.  Have you booked your place? Well, what are you waiting for?

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Still not convinced?  Here’s my impression of 2011 conference , a write up of a picture book session from 2012’s conference, another on Lin Olivers Writing Comedy Session from 2012  and my gushing over excitement after 2010.

2 thoughts on “SCBWI-BI Conference – Is it Worth It?”

  1. Oh yes, Lin Oliver was hilarious as the MC for the book launch in 2012. That’s definitely the first one I attended. Met a shed load of awesome people! I’ve been twice now, and this year will be my third. Going with my Regional Advisor (pirate) hat on to try to glean some knowledge from the conference committee.

  2. I’m with you, Kathryn — I always come away from an SCBWI conference with gems of inspiration, increased knowledge and a boost to my writer’s spirit. Wish I was still in the UK to go to this one. Have fun, all!

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