Last updated on April 10th, 2019
Writers and illustrators often work alone. But it’s important for them to connect with others in their field. Colleagues can provide you with inspiration, or perhaps after comparison you realize that your own situation is not quite so bleak. Your fellow illustrators can help you solve problem or support you on the way to finding solutions yourself.
Writers and illustrators form groups of many different levels to get together to discuss their craft, as well as to socialize. Sometimes professional networking is accomplished, but that should not be the focus of a writers’ or illustrators’ group.
Conferences are a great way to connect with others interested in children’s books. And here, professional networking is definitely a big part of the equation. SCBWI (Society for Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators) has chapters worldwide and sponsors many regional conferences in addition to two national conferences per year.
A unique conference is the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature One-on-One Conference. It usually takes place on the third Saturday of October. The conference started in 1970 and is the country’s first and longest-running children’s book conference.
Attendees submit an application and a writing sample or book dummy which is evaluated by the conference’s review committee. If your application is accepted, you get to be a Mentee. The conference day includes a 45-minute critique of a writing sample or book dummy by a mentor who is also a professional in the children’s books field. The professionals are published authors or illustrators, editors, agents, art directors, and book designers.
The conference also includes a panel discussion, Five-on-Five Group Discussions, and a keynote address. The Five-on-Five Group Discussions are always lively. Mentees can hear others ask questions they always wanted to ask, and questions they never thought to ask.
Consider a writing conference as a step to meet a community of like-minded writers.