SCBWI? Worth Joining?

  • So I wasn't sure if I should spend the money to join SCBWI. I'm not ready with a portfolio yet but I would like to attend one of the conferences since they seem so great. I'm not sure if this is a little putting the cart in front of the horse since I'm not ready to go anywhere .

    Is anyone a member?


    Worth the money?

  • I will be curious to see what people say as I have the same question.

  • I literally just joined a couple of weeks ago. I waited until I felt I was getting to a place where I'd start submitting to agents/publishers and although I'm not QUITE there yet, I think I'm close and will be shortly. I do think most of the benefits are for people who either are published or are actively trying (or who'd like to go to a conference).

    However, there's a number of things for beginners who aren't yet at the submission stage. Like joining a critique group in your area (and I've joined the listserv in my region too). And you can submit to Art Spot (for their magazine - if you're chosen they pay you), of course the information they give in it and on their site for members is helpful too. There's also a new monthly challenge for illustrators based on a word which could give you potential exposure. There's also an illustrator's gallery you can put your work on, bio and artist's statement - not sure if anyone is "discovered" through that, but can't hurt anyhow.

    I think it's crucial to join when you are submitting so that you have that on your "resume" to show that you're a professional.

  • SVS OG

    I joined almost two years ago now long before I was really ready but I wanted to take part in the local Illustrator meetings and network here in my area.

    That group has provided me with a tremendous amount of information about all topics related to children's books. Brought in guest speaks, held special illustrator intensive events with well know figures in childrens book illustration and so on.

    I have been more than thrilled what what I have gotten out of it - but I also dove in and put myself out there to take in everything I could as well.

    If you are hesitant to join - I would say look up the local chapters in your area and reach out to the leads. Often times you can join in a local meeting without having yet become a member and that might give you an idea if this is something you would enjoy and benefit from (outside of just the major conferences etc).

  • SVS OG

    I just joined a few months ago. At the time I was getting ready to send out my first mailer and really deciding to go for it in children's publishing.

    The local group here only meets during the school year, so I only made it to one meeting before they stopped meeting over the summer. They start up again next week, though, and I'm excited to be able to go and talk children's books with people IN PERSON.

    I've participated a couple of times in the Draw This! competition they do every month and its given me fun portfolio pieces if nothing else--one of which I chose to put on my mailer.

    I am also planning on going to the NYC conference this winter, and then a couple months after that there will be a regional conference up here specifically focusing on illustrators. I hope to get a lot out of those and maybe meet some editors and art directors, but we'll have to see.

    That is just my experience. I agree that seeing if you can go to a group meeting before deciding to join if you're unsure may be your best way of knowing if you really want to pay for a membership yet, that way you can meet the members you will probably be spending most of your time with, and also ask them what they feel their membership does for them.

  • I joined about 18 months ago. I thought I'd push my art but since have decided maybe I'll stick to drawing just for fun (for 'me' not a client) for now. I recently renewed my membership incase I change my mind again but I'm not sure my situation warrants it. The news mailouts seem to be quite writer focussed too. I attended an "anyone welcome" cafe meeting intro before I joined and I think I was about the only bloke. Being honest I probably felt a bit out of place because of that. Having said that, I think if I really wanted to get into the industry as a paid artist it would certainly be worth joining. I'm claiming my membership as a tax deduction against my freelance web business too.

  • I was also thinking of joining. The attend-a-meeting-before-paying thing sounds like a good idea. Most of the meet ups in my area seem to be very writer-focused, but maybe if I reach out to contact someone they can tell me where all of the illustrators are hiding. 🙂

  • This is informative, thanks. Maybe I should give it a try.

  • I would also check to see if there are any informal groups in the city where you live. Here in Cincinnati we have a collaborative illustrators blog that we can all add to. They have weekly lunch meetings to get to know local illustrators. I haven't gotten to go yet, but there are other options for meeting other illustrators in your area. But I still think I'd like to go to one of the SCWBI summer or winter conferences.

  • This course is worth every penny no matter what skill level you are. because the courses go through a step to step process. The tutorials range from beginner to advanced. There is plenty to keep the novice busy. I hope you join, as this course is really good.

  • @Rich-Green said:

    I have been more than thrilled what what I have gotten out of it - but I also dove in and put myself out there to take in everything I could as well.

    I super agree with Rich. I heard about SCBWI 2 years ago, pursued other art projects during that time, then this past summer decided to pay for membership. Since July it's been a great experience but like @rich-green, you gotta put yourself out there and participate.

    I recently attended the SCBWI LA Illustrator's Day on Sept 26 and left super inspired and met new friends. Plus, I won 30 minute critiques with senior designers from Random House and Scholastic. Totally unexpected! But it never would have happened if I hadn't stay up till 1am the night before printing and binding my portfolio. Talking to the designers also gave me outside feedback that helped me decide where to go next.

    Check to see if there are upcoming smaller workshops or 1 day events since non-members are welcome. I hear the 4 day summer conference is intense and amazing! I plan on going next year.

    I think the main point is to participate in some type of group/community that inspires you to keep forging ahead.

  • SVS OG

    @Lauren-M. Congrats on winning that critique that sounds like a fantastic opportunity!

  • Pro SVS OG

    Old discussion here - just wanted to mention that I have just joined SCWBI, although the Swiss chapter seems very small...But, the advantages of size: I got a personal welcome note from both the chapter coordinator and the illustrator coordinator, which I sort of found really nice and unexpected! Maybe it is because the chapter is really small, but it does indicate a certain level of engagement nonetheless!

  • SVS OG

    @smceccarelli I also just joined SCBWI - it was @natiwata's post last week about his successful conference that pushed me to finally do it.... Hoping that there will be similar opportunities at the UK events. Nice that you got a personal welcome note 🙂

  • Hey @Dulcie I just joined UK SCBWI in the last weeks too, and also because of @natiwata 's post!

    I did join a year ago, but let my membership lapse, as I wasn't sure I was getting enough out of it, but as others have said you need to put yourself out there to get anything back and I wasn't putting myself forward. Nate's post made me think I should rejoin and be more pro-active.

  • SVS OG

    @Nanette Hey that's great! Glad you are making the decision to be pro-active about it. It is great to actually get out and meet people for real, too.

    I've joined thinking that I'd like to have a consistent portfolio ready by the time conference comes round in November...even if I don't go, having a target/deadline is helpful.

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