SCBWI Conference Worth It?

  • Hi guys, I'm looking into going to an SCBWI Conference for the first time. I'm sure many of you have been already and can let me know how it went. I know that it's a good opportunity for networking and critiques but I'm trying to decide if it's worth the cost for me.

    I'm living in Montreal and this year's Canada East event is in Ottawa (2 hour drive away) so if I'm going for the three day weekend, I would have to take a half day off work, drive 2 hours, stay 2 nights in a hotel at $160 plus tax, on top of the conference fee of around $400, and an illustration critique of $50. So for everything together: printing an updated portfolio, book dummy and marketing materials, plus food and gas etc, it's going to cost me between $800 and $1000 to attend the conference.

    I want to go because I feel like I need to put myself out there more and really pour myself into this industry. For the people that have gone to conferences before, do you guys think it would be worth it?

  • Pro SVS OG

    @Melanie-Ortins I‘ve been to four SCBWI conferences (two in NY, two in Europe) and three major book fairs (twice in Bologna, once in Frankfurt).
    One thing I can say before any comment: it‘s important to „show up“ - in the publishing business as much or more as in any other business. Conference and fair expenses are part of the marketing budget that we - as a business - have to spend to be present on the turf.
    That said, it depends very much what stage you’re at and what you’re hoping to achieve. Are you ready to showcase your work? Are you looking for a community, or maybe critique partners? Are there gaps in your industry knowledge? A SCBWI conference can be a good experience to build community and deepen your knowledge of the business. Some have showcase events, and if you participate and you’re lucky, you may get your work under interested eyes. But in my experience they’re more useful to learn about the business. Every SCBWI chapter and conference has a unique setup and programme, so it’s not possible to make general comments - you should look into the agenda of the one you’re aiming at and see if there’s enough in there to get you interested. In the very least, you will get to know other people who work in children’s publishing and learn from their experience.

    Personally, I think SCBWI conferences are very useful at the beginning of a career, less so when one has oriented itself a bit better. At the moment, I invest more money and effort in book fairs, because that’s where I get most new business contacts. On the other hand, it is thanks to SCBWI that I found some great critique partners, including writers who have introduced me to their editors and brought about illustration never know.

  • hi Melanie,
    I can't give advice as I am new to this game as well. I live in Newfoundland so a trip to that same "local' conference is thousands of kms away 😞 I just learned about it this morning, I think I might look into it a little more and airfare costs (it's a 3 day drive so I am NOT doing that lol!!!!).It's probably not afforadable for me but I'll let you know if I end up going 🙂

  • @Coley Yeah, that's really far to go. We definitely need more Canadian SCBWI chapters. That being said, I think I'm probably going to try and go this year so if you do manage to make it, let me know! It would be nice to meet up with some other SVSers

  • @Melanie-Ortins yes that would be so cool to meet up 🙂 My husband just mentioned air miles points to me so I'm going to check it out and start adding up costs to see if I can manage it. I also emailed the canada east people to ask a few questions so hopefully I will hear back. I haven't even joined SCBWI yet lol.

  • @Coley I actually haven't joined either but I probably will, especially if I'm going, since it adds a discount to the conference price

  • SVS OG

    @Melanie-Ortins i live in the Philippines and therefore have never attended one but They’re worth it or at least I think they are. Take my word with a grain of salt. 😅

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