Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 13, 2011

Conference Stats and Ideas

Many of you have asked to hear the stats from the conference.  Here they are:

We had 299 people attend.  That is everyone, including the editors and agents.

We had  354 critiques, portfolio reviews, and special consultations.

Attendees came from 23 different states.

One Hundred and Thirty-Nine people received pitches and 142 people attended a First Page Session.

Fifty-six people attended the First -Timers Session and from the feedback, everyone who attended got a lot out of the session and it helped break the ice for people who did not know anyone.

One Hundred and forty-seven attendees came to the Mix and Mingle on Friday night.  We had a long line for the food this year, but we have already talked to the hotel about how to correct the situation.

Below are places where we spent a huge amount of time and still made mistakes. 

Every year, we try to put attendees with as many different editors and agents as possible.  Example:  You may have signed up for a number of critiques, so the first thing we do is check what you said you were submitting and then check that against the list of what each editor or agent does and then assign you to someone we think is a best fit for you.  Second we look to see if you signed up for a first page.  If  you did we put you in a session where you can meet two other editors.  Then if you have a pitch we try to put you with an agent that you hadn’t seen.  Lastly, we try to put you at lunch on Saturday and Sunday with two other editor/agents that you haven’t seen.  This is a nightmare.  I think we did a pretty good job in getting the job done, but there were a few mistakes and some people complained they were scheduled for a pitch with an agent that didn’t do what they wrote.

So we have decided that next year, we are going to do things differently.  We plan to have an online registration, where you will pick your lunch tables both days and you will pick the First Page sessions you want to attend, along with the workshops.  When something is sold out, it is sold out and you will have to look for the next best thing to attend.  So people who sign up later, will have to chose from what is still available.  Also we need people to know that if they decide at the last minute to leave the conference early, they possibly could miss getting their critiques, due to the fact that it is not a simple task to move someone when there is a huge web of critiques, pitches and first page sessions assigned. Moving one thing throws off everything else.  We will continue to do our best, but a last minute change is like turning a hose directly on a spider web – the whole thing can collapse.  Trying to do these types of changes two days before the conference causes a huge mess, an awful lot of stress and increases the risk of mistakes on everyone’s schedule.  We are looking for ways to avoid the stress and hope by pointing this out, people will try to do better on their side of things to help.

Next year we plan to have editors and agents come in earlier on Friday, so you will be able to choose to do critiques on Friday.  This way more people can be scheduled for their critiques when workshops are not in session.  Of course, we will still need to have some attendees doing critiques during workshop sessions, thus another reason to sign up early for the conference.

This is how we plan to do the pitches next year.  We will have sheets of paper up on display with each agent listed for each day and their times.  If you want a pitch, you will need to look at your schedule and decide on who you want to see and what time you want to see them.  That way there shouldn’t be any complaints.  If the agents left on the sheets do not appeal to you, you just do not have to sign up for a pitch.

The raffle was a great success, but some people want it to go faster.  I am taking suggestions on this, but here is my idea.  We pull the winning tickets before lunch on Sunday and record the names on the sheet of prizes.  Anyone who wants to attend to make sure there is no hanky-panky can stop in to watch, but you do not have to be present.  We will post the winners, for people to see and then at the end of the conference, the winners can pick up their prizes.  Things that fit in envelopes can be mailed if the person is not present, but hard to mail items winners must pick up their prize or it will be given to someone else.

I spent all of Thursday and most of the conference writing checks for the faculty.  I was totally tired on Saturday night, but did not get to bed until 2:30 am because I had to finish writing the checks.  It also is very tiring and uncomfortable to have everyone bombarding me and pulling at me at the end of the conference, so for the Annual Conference, the policy has changed.  Next year everyone will have their check mailed to them within three weeks after the conference.

Authors who want to participate in the book fair MUST sign-up to participate.  They need to take responsibility to make sure we know they want their books ordered.  I do not have time to check everyone who I think wants to participate and call to double check.  All authors on the faculty must fill out their registration forms.  This will help avoid problems.  Hint:  Reading the e-mails I send out is a good thing to do.  I want everyone to be successful, but the conference is a massive undertaking and we do not have time to hold everyone’s hand.  Sorry.

Some people complained they were too cold in the hotel.  This is something that happens no matter where we hold the conference and something the hotels cannot fix.  It seems all the hotels have a central system that is run from some remote computer and cannot be adjusted.  So everyone needs to make sure they have sweaters, etc. to put on if one day is too cold.  Example: This year Saturday was cold and Sunday was okay.

We had 70 people reply to the conference survey, if you want to voice your opinion, you need to do so by June 21st.

If you have ideas, we are open to hearing them.  Some people left ideas on the survey and I wish I knew who they were, so I could e-mail and explain if we tried the suggestion and it didn’t work or just to let you know if we had thought of it and it wasn’t possible.  We do listen to all your ideas and consider them.

The picture at top is Ame Dyckman, Conference Committee – volunteer leader and our official Chapter Cheerleader.

Second picture was taken in the Humor Intensive on Friday.  From left to right:  Audrey Vernick, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Marietta Zacker, and Darlene Beck-Jacobson.

Third picture: David Caruba leading Agent’s Panel.

Fourth picture:  Nanci Turner-Steveson and Betsy Devany, our raffle committee chairs.

Here’s and excellent summary of David Caruba’s Marketing Report by Marcy Collier.

The September 30th-October 2nd Writer’s Retreat Weekend is filling up fast, so please sign-up soon if you want a spot.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. How great to see a pic of smiling Ame! She most definitely IS the Chapter Cheerleader! 😀 I love the other pics, too!

    These stats are astounding, and the ideas you’re throwing out there to help make things less stressful for all the prep for the monumental task of organizing this conference sound good to me! To me, anything that works well and makes it easier for you and Laurie, is a good thing! After all—you SHOULD have a life outside “all things NJ SCBWI!” LOL Just once I’d like to see the two of you enjoy the conference as much as everyone else 🙂

    I know I met someone who didn’t open his email and never got the general schedule because of it, and didn’t read the instructions on how to use the personal schedule WITH the general schedule. It’s imperative for anyone attending, whether it’s a regular schmo like me, or faculty, that when emails are sent about the conference, especially from you, to read them because they contain important info.

    Anyway, is the Sept. 30-Oct. 2 the “freebie” weekend?


  2. Kathy,

    The Conference was spectacular!

    I’m glad to see your systems are evolving to be more efficient and less burdensome to you and Laurie (and all the volunteers).

    Do you have a final $$number for the eBay auction and how it compares to your old system? I thought putting it on eBay was brilliant.

    Thanks for giving us the best SCBWI conference in the world!



  3. The conference was amazing. Whether you do things differently next year or you do them the same, I’ll be there.

    Thanks for everything!


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