SCBWI Golden Gate Conference

April 1, 2012

At the beginning of March, I attended the Golden Gate Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) at the Asilomar in Pacific Grove, California. I went knowing that I would not be pitching my work since I had recently acquired an agent for my novel, Between Shadow’s Eyes (www.jillhedgecock.com).

I have attended SCBWI events in the past with the goal of meeting an agent or editor, but this time I had no agenda. It was great to sit back and listen to the speakers and absorb knowledge without the distraction of a scheduled critique or pitching session. I was free to take notes or browse the grounds if I wasn’t interested in a topic, whatever my heart desired.

On the last day of the conference, the editors in attendance announced what kind of books they were seeking. To my surprise, one of the editors seemed like a good match for my novel. A quick email to my agent, and viola! a query letter was submitted. Another fun outcome of the conference included a sidebar conversation with agent Josh Adams on blogging.  His advice- don’t blog if it takes you away from other writing projects.


Real Life D’oh

February 19, 2011

A recent article in my local paper caught my attention—a “Real Life” essay in which a free-lance writer shared her reflections on rejection letters.  Having plenty of experience with rejection letters myself (what writer doesn’t), I read on.  The author wrote non-fiction articles, but had an idea for a children’s fiction piece, so she’d queried several magazines about her work.  When her efforts met with rejection, she decided to expand her queries to children’s book publishers.  She was overjoyed when she finally received a request to see her manuscript from a big publishing house.  

Hurray for her success!  I cheered along with her…until the next sentence.  She hadn’t even written the story yet.  I just about sprayed the kitchen with my morning tea.  Yikes! 

Rule #1 of fiction: Don’t even think about querying until you have a completed and polished manuscript.

The writer then told how she’d whipped off the first draft of her manuscript over the weekend, polished it up the next week, and mailed it off.  My jaw hit the countertop. 

Rule #2 of fiction: Writing a children’s story is not easy.  Every word counts.  Plan on working at your craft and rewriting the whole thing several times.  Then when you think its perfect, get feedback from trusted writer friends.  And revise again.

Needless to say, she received a rejection. The sad part is that her idea might have been great.  The outcome might have been different, if she’d spent more time on her manuscript.

The best piece of advice that I give to any aspiring children’s author is to join the SCBWI. That’s the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  This organization is a goldmine of information and support.  The packet of resources that you receive upon joining is worth every penny of the membership fee.  And that’s just the beginning of the benefits.  Check them out at www.scbwi.org.  Believe me, you’ll thank me for it later.