If you are new to SCBWI and are worried you won’t know many people at the conference, get to know us before you arrive. The easiest forum to do this on is our SCBWI British Isles Facebook Page. There is always a lot of conference chatter on there as well as all kinds of other useful discussions and everyone is very friendly and supportive. Dip your toe in the water and make a few friends, get chatting. (This is what I did my first year, I was so excited when I finally got to meet everyone face to face at the conference).
If Facebook isn’t your thing then follow us on Twitter @SCBWI_BI. We will run some discussions as the date approaches using #scbwicon16 and you’ll have the opportunity to ask all the questions you would like to, no matter how silly they sound!
Okay, it might not be possible for everyone, but if you can, arrive in Winchester on the Friday afternoon and join in the Friday Fringe. There will be several fun and informal discussion forums set up in lovely venues around the city where you can have a coffee and a chat as well as a sketch or scrawl crawl. In the evening there is the Friday critique group, it caters for work from picture books up to YA and is an excellent opportunity to get a fresh perspective on your work as well as start to make friends. This is followed by a meal and a trip into town for plenty more socialising.
Set the Alarm
We open registration early to first timers on Saturday morning. When you have registered come and meet the conference buddies for a coffee. This is a group of SCBWI Network Leaders and volunteers who have been attending the conference for many years, just the friendly bunch to help you settle in. Keep a look out for them through the weekend as they will be on-hand to answer any questions or just to chat.
There are a whole host of small roles that you can volunteer to help with such as selling badges or raffle tickets and it’s a great way to get to know people. We usually put out a call for help with these roles a month before the conference, and don’t worry, volunteering for them won’t mean that you’ll be kept busy all weekend, we’ll assign you a short slot and be very smiley at you. You never know where it might lead; I started out selling badges six years ago!
Meet the Professionals
The conference provides an amazing opportunity to meet with a whole range of industry professionals that you rarely get anywhere else. Don’t feel scared to talk to them, they’ve come to the conference especially to meet people like you. They are happy to hear your pitches, or if you are not feeling that brave, they are just as happy to talk to anyone who is passionate about books. And if you’ve booked a professional one to one or portfolio review you will be given a face to face slot with a professional who is there just to talk with you.
Hopefully this step by step guide will not only help you come away from your first conference with fresh vision for your work, but also with friends who will help you achieve it.
Good luck and we’ll see you again next year!
Your friendly neighbourhood Conference Co-Chair