Is SCBWI worth joining?

  • Hey all,

    I'm considering joining SCBWI, but the chapter for my state (Utah) is up north and I'm down south. I've contacted them and they said there aren't any critique groups in my end of the state. So I'm wondering: is it worth it to join if I can't attend the weekly critique group? Are there other benefits to it? Their website doesn't really list a lot, as far as benefits, so I'd like to hear from other members/former members. Thanks for any insight!

  • I'm a member now, but I haven't really seen much advantage, but I too don't have a chapter close either and haven't really looked into much else. The Book has good info on the children's lit world, and there are inspiring stories and chances to enter your work in for competitions and newsletters... I imagine if a conference came close to you it would be a fun networking experience too. It is such a large society and I'm not sure how to navigate it, that's why I'm liking SVS a lot more. But like I said though I'm not really taking advantage of membership at the moment.

  • @bharris Thank you for the insight - that's really helpful! I'm so glad I asked - $100 a year doesn't sound like much to many people, but right now would really strain our budget, so I wanted to be sure it was worth it. I contacted them again and haven't received a response after over a week, so that leads me to believe that the chapter in my state probably isn't especially active anyway. I think I'm going to hold off and look for other organizations to join...Thanks again!

  • SVS OG

    I am lucky enough to have a chapter close by that is active (Upstate NY) so I feel my membership worthwhile. I believe you don't have to be a member to attend the conferences BUT the price for registration is higher for non-members. That may also depend on the conference though. So if there wasn't an active chapter nearby but I wanted to go to the conferences, I would consider just paying the higher conference registration price rather than paying for the whole membership.

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    This is an interesting question and one I tend to see frequently. The answer has a few parts:

    1. If you are a beginner, SCBWI is AWESOME! There is so much good information there and will orient you to the industry in a way that's tough to get otherwise. The NY and LA conferences are SO worth it and you will rub shoulders with many published authors and artists. Local chapters offer a great way to meet folks who are doing the same thing as you. Different cities have different levels of participation in their chapters. West coast and east coast tend to be pretty good. Anything in the middle of the US will vary.

    2. If you are intermediate, SCBWI is still an ok value. It starts to become a little redundant. There is only so many ways you can hear how to make a dummy or enhance your story telling. Still, it's good networking and it's value is in filling in gaps in your skill set and understanding of the industry. If you have a good local chapter, it can really be beneficial at this stage in your career.

    3. If you are advanced or pro, SCBWI is of little value. It caters to the beginning to intermediate artist. There is value in becoming a speaker at either local or national events. It can be seen as a way to boost your professional resume'. I know both Will and I do many lectures for SCBWI and they are always fun.

    Hope that helps some...

  • @Sarah-LuAnn Ah, I didn't realize that I could do that - that makes a huge difference...I'm interested in going to the conferences, so I'll look into that - thank you!!

  • @Lee-White Thank you for the great info, Lee - that helps a lot! I didn't realize that the organization also offers information... I'd definitely be interested in attending a lecture by you and/or Will - which chapters do you give lectures to? Do you ever make it to Utah, by any chance (that's where I live)?

  • From the event calendar it seems like my local chapter is very writer focus and not much goes on the illustrative side. I am very interested in attending the conference in April so if I can at just a higher price that would be great. Not sure if the attending guest review your work however which is what I would like. I don't mind however supporting the industry and if I can learn somethings remotely that would be awesome as well.

  • @Stephanie-Hider Attending guests do review your work--if you pay for a portfolio review or manuscript critique. And then it is first come/first serve in who reviews your work (anywhere from art director to fellow illustrator). Some chapter's conferences allow anyone to put their portfolio out for all to peruse and the visiting lecturers will almost always look at them. (That is how my friend's agent found an illustrator for one of her books.) Another way the conferences help is if they have intensives. The intensives have smaller enrollment sizes so the teacher can work with you on a more personal level. I've had some great "free" critiques from attending those.

    @amberwingart Though you can't join now, if illustrating in children's books is your dream, it would be worth saving up for. You aren't limited to your chapter. I often attend conferences in nearby states. And I know people from all over come to my chapter's conferences. Plus, it is a great community --much like SVS. And while I totally agree with Lee White's assessment, I have some good friends who are very accomplished authors who are still part of SCBWI because it is an easy way to get even more contacts...something that never ends, even if you are accomplished. That, and conferences are like a huge reunion for them.

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