Writing conferences: A Place to Learn the Craft

Looking online for resources as a new writer can be confusing. If you google “how to get a book published,” many of the first results you see are ads for resources that are sketchy at best—pay-to-play publishing, self publishing, vanity publishing. (While self publishing is a valid route, it’s important to know all your options before deciding self publishing is the right way for you.)

Change the query to “how to get a children’s book published” and the results aren’t much better. Eventually you may stumble on the helpful Frequently Asked Questions page for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), an excellent resource for new writers looking to improve their craft and figure out the publication process. But navigating all the resources out there, good and bad, can be tricky.

Sometimes, you need to cut through the layers of information overload and just learn from publishing professionals directly. This is where writing conferences come in—which offer this and much more.

There are many good writing conferences across the United States (and the world). The SCBWI has local chapters that host monthly events, and the regional chapters tend to host at least one writing conference a year to which they bring editors and agents from New York City and elsewhere to teach, network with attendees, and critique their work. Many writers come away from conferences having met multiple like-minded writers with whom they can start a critique group. Other organizations also host more intensive workshops, such as Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, a conference that has gained national acclaim.

Color of Children's Literature Flyer - VERSION V (March 20, 2016; 9h51)While these conferences are excellent general resources—and many of them are working hard to become more welcoming spaces for writers of color—we also recognize that without meaning to, sometimes general spaces don’t give writers of color the support they need in an industry dominated by white editors, agents, and authors. There is something to be said for a conference that begins with a mission to connect writers of color with information about publishing—from publishing 101, to improving craft, to networking with publishing professionals.

One such conference is Kweli Journal’s children’s book writing conference, which is holding its second annual writing conference on April 9 at Scandinavia House in New York City. The conference is only $100 for a full day’s programming (this is a really good price for a conference like this) and more than 25 authors, editors, and agents will be on panels and teaching workshops throughout the day.

The keynote speaker will be Edwidge Danticat, author of the Oprah’s Book Club pick Breath, Eyes, Memory and the YA novel Untwine, among many other acclaimed titles. Our own Joseph Bruchac, author of Quick Picks Top Ten title Killer of Enemies and more than 120 other books, will be there, as will Stacy Whitman, the publisher of our Tu Books imprint. Jessica Echeverria will be at the conference representing our picture book editorial team.

In the morning after the keynote, authors will learn from publishing professionals about how the publishing process works, and what their options are (self publishing, small presses, large publishers, whether you need an agent), and then the afternoon will break out into roundtables and critiques.

For a full list of publishing professionals who will be at the conference, check out the Kweli Journal website. We hope to meet you at the conference!

When: Saturday, April 9, 2016, 8 am — 8 pm

Where: Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016

Price: $100

Click here to register.

If you are not in the New York City area, fear not. Here’s a list of other writing conferences around the United States that have been recommended by writers we know:

British Columbia, Canada

Surrey International Writers’ Conference

California

SCBWI Summer Conference

Florida

Sun Coast Writer’s Workshop

Massachusetts

New England SCBWI Regional Conference

Oregon

Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writing Workshop

Willamette Writers Conference

Pennsylvania

The Highlights Foundation hosts workshops throughout the year

Western Pennsylvania’s SCBWI conference

Utah

Writing for Charity

Specifically for teens: Teen Author Boot Camp

Specifically for writers of speculative fiction: Life, the Universe, and Everything

Virginia

SCBWI Mid-Atlantic Annual Conference

These are only a small sampling of the excellent writing conferences out there. If you’re going to Kweli, let us know so we can look for you! If you can’t make it, feel free to recommend your favorite writing conference to learn about writing for children and teens.

4 thoughts on “Writing conferences: A Place to Learn the Craft”

  1. Kansas City, Missouri
    April 29-May 1, 2016.

    Missouri Writers Guild is hosting an all diverse line-up (editors, agents, authors) for the children/young adult literature track during its 101st annual state conference. (There is also a guest line-up for adult poetry, nonfiction and fiction)

    http://missouriwritersguild.org/2016-mwg-conference/

    Children’s faculty includes:
    Janelle Walden Agyerman, Agent
    Adriana Cervantes, Agent
    Philip Martin, Publisher – Crickhollow Books
    Georgia McBride, Publisher – Month 9 Books
    Eileen Robinson, Publisher – Move Books
    Rachel Russell, Keynote, NYT’s Bestselling author of The Dork Diaries)
    Gwendolyn Hooks, Author
    Crystal Allen, Author
    Angela Cervantes, Author

    Plus April Roy and Napthali Faris will discuss what ALA committees look for when choosing award winning books.

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