An Amazing Conference for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

This post is about me. Not Ferdinand and Nina. (Sorry chicks)

Although...I take that back. It's really all about them.

This past weekend I attended a fabulous conference for children's book writers and illustrators. Friday through Sunday. My head is still spinning even though I didn't attend on Saturday because by the time I signed up for it in March, the Saturday workshops were full.

Friday and Sunday were enough.

It was titled "The Power of Re-invention". Which is perfect because after taking the workshops, listening to editors and agents, booksellers and teachers, published authors and illustrators, I realized that I've got a bit of re-inventing to do. Not much. Just tweaks here and there. But that is challenge enough!

In an illustration workshop, I sat next to an artist with brilliant red hair and a knack for children's illustration. She had been selected to create the conference logo:

NESCBWI 2016 conference logo illustrated by Julia Anne Young
NESCBWI 2016 conference logo illustrated by Julia Anne Young

That particular workshop was presented by published illustrator Sarah Brannen (who was presented with a prestigious award that weekend). With a few words she critiqued my portfolio. Those few words helped me see my own illustrations with fresh eyes and what it will take to make them so much better. Just tweaks here and there. But that will take time enough!

From the chief editor of Jolly Fish Press, I learned why it is so difficult for a new writer to get a publisher or an agent, what to do to get one, and what the landscape of publishing looks like nowadays. And how to make decisions based upon that.

In other workshops I learned how to best begin a story and how to best end it. From panel discussions and a Pitchapalooza event I learned how to give a one minute pitch, what booksellers are looking for, how children's reading has changed in the classroom, and oh, so many other things. It will take months to process it all.

I met other writers and illustrators that I will keep in touch with. I learned that it's necessary to join a critique group and that I absolutely cannot let my Twitter account languish any longer unused. (Sigh)

On top of all this learning, attendees have the opportunity to submit work to the agents and editors who were present that weekend. Our work is considered "solicited". Which is exactly what one hopes for!

So now to put what I've learned into practice on the new picture book I wrote a few months ago. Finish the illustrations, make a mock-up and submit it. That will take work enough!