Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 23, 2011

NJSCBWI Events Explained

With so many new people signing up for our various events, some are getting confused on exactly what each one offers.  This encouraged me to write up the descriptions, so people could have something to refer to when they had questions on the NJSCBWI events.  I’m sure I have missed things.  If you have attended one of these events and notice something missing, please let me know.


Everyone who attends gets to hear their first page read.  These areheld during the week, starting at 4pm, ending a little after 6 PM.  There is an optional dinner is provided withthe editors.  Dinner usually ends by 8 PM.  Costs for members: $30, plus $30 for dinner.

All the first pages are read aloud by volunteer readers and two editors/agents give feedback on what they heard.

Everyone brings three copies of a first page of a single manuscript with them. Do not put your name on the paper, but do include a title and indicate the genre (picture book, chapter book, middle grade, young adult, non-fiction).

Your manuscript must fit on a single sheet of paper. If you submit a second sheet, only the first one will be read.

Use standard manuscript formatting—double spaced, 12 point Times New Roman or Courier font, one-inch margins all around, half-inch indents for each new paragraph, single column of text. Start at the top of the page, though, instead of spacing down like you normally would for a first manuscript page.  (This applies to all submissions, at all events)

A first page has 23 printed lines (not sentences!), including the title, of text from your manuscript.  That means if you have a picture book, you will be able to get a large portion of your manuscript on that first page.  It does not mean only the sentence or two
that would appear on the first physical page of the printed book.

If your text rhymes, put each rhyme on a new line. Do not leave a blank line between stanzas.


These workshops are one day workshops, typically held on Sundays.  Breakfast is available at 8:15 AM.  Program starts at 8:45 AM.

Everyone attending receives a 20 minute one-on-one critique.  Novel Attendees submit the first 30 pages of their manuscript along with a synopsis, 35 days prior to the workshop.  Picture book people submit their full picture book 35 days prior.

Everyone is placed into Writing Groups for peer critiques.  These are exchanged with your group a month before via e-mail. Each member of the group will read and critique the other group member’s submission prior, so everyone is ready to discuss their critique for each.

When one person in your group is meeting with their editor, someone else’s manuscript is being discussed by the group.

Lunch is provided in the cost of the workshop and attendees get to sit at lunch with the editor/agents.

Before and after lunch we have a First Page Session (Please see above description).

The day ends with a Q & A with the editors/agents.  End time is no later than 5 PM.


This is a small Weekend Workshop. Two editors spend the weekend no more than 18 attendees.  Start time 3 PM Friday.  End time 3 PM Sunday.  All meals are included in the cost of the weekend.  All meals are with the editors/agents.

Everyone receives a 45 minute one-on-one critique with their mentor.  The first 30 pages, plus synopsis or a full picture book text is submitted 35 day prior to the weekend to give the editors/agents enough time to critique.

At this time everyone will e-mail the other people in their group their manuscript, so they also will have time to critique in advance of the workshop.  Novel groups normally contain 5 per group. Each group critique receives 45 minutes, too.

Other things included during the weekend:

First Page Session (See above).

Various Workshops:

Example:  This year we are having Pitch and Blurb Writing, Word for Writers, Picture Book Layout and Page Turns, and Let’s talk Marketing.

A Writing Contest with prizes and winners.

Writing games.

Many Q & A Sessions with mentors.


 These workshops are one day workshops, typically held on Sundays. Breakfast is available at 8:15 AM.
Program starts at 8:45 AM and ends by 5 PM.  Lunch with art directors is included.

This workshop requires executing a prior assignment for the day.

Two art directors are assigned 10 illustrators each.  A few months before participants receive an assignment from their assigned art director.  Illustrators work on a sketch and send into art director.  The art director reviews what is sent in and replies comments on what he or she thinks could be improved.  The illustrators take those comments into consideration and complete the assignment.  On Illustrator Day, each group meets with their art director and each painting is discussed.

Everyone receives a portfolio critique with the other art director. Normally two craft workshops are included with registration.

Also the day corresponds with the Mentoring Workshops being held, so we display the illustrator’s artwork for all the editors to see in addition to the AD’s.  At the end of the day, illustrators parade their art into the room with the editors, and introduce themselves to the editors/agents.


Normally held in the beginning of June on Friday through Sunday.  Registration starts at 11:00 AM for Pre-Conference attendees.  Registration starts at 7:30 AM on Saturday for the conference.  Conference ends between 3 and 4 on Sunday.

Price includes meals, snacks, workshops.  Attendees can opt to sign-up for a Pre-Conference Intensive and a Mix and Mingle on Friday night with the faculty and other attendees.

We normally have 30 editors, agents, and art directors on the faculty, plus a big name author, illustrator and many
other published authors conducting workshops.  Last year we had over twenty-two.

Attendees sit with the faculty at both lunches.  Faculty is known for mingling with the attendees during the conference and we try to make sure you are placed with as many different faculty members as we can.

Fifteen minute one-on-one critiques are available and attendees can choose to sign up for more than one critique.  Also, special half hour consultative one-on-one critiques are available.  Plus, portfolio critiques for the illustrators.

Bookfair on Saturday afternoon.  Great place to network.

Workshops and Other Activities:

First Page Sessions

Pitch Sessions

“How to” workshops

Agents Panel

Two Keynote Speakers

Industry Report

Illustrators Exhibit

Logo contest

Silent Auction

Tote Bag with admission

Stickers to use when submitting after the conference.


Normally held in November.  Registration starts at noon.  No lunch is provided.  Space is limited.  An optional paid dinner is available for people wanting to attend.  Agent Stephen Frazer is out guest speaker.

This year we have editor Cheryl Klein, editor Rebecca Frazer, and illustrator Adam Gustavson, plus author Ame Dyckman, Anita Nolan, and Leeza Hernandez are teaching workshops on Saturday November 5th.

Cheryl Klein, Adam Gustavson, and Leeza Hernandez will sell books before dinner at the end of the afternoon.

There are no critiques involved with this event.  It is focused on improving your craft.

Princeton Hyatt Regency is offer special pricing on overnight rooms for anyone wanting to stay over and sign up for the Mentoring Workshop being held on November 6th. (See above.  That is where you can get a one-on-one critique.)


These are held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at various times through the summer.  They give members a chance to get to know editors, agents, and other member on a personal basis.  Everyone gets to introduce themselves at dinner and talk a little about what they do and present project.  Afterwards you may submit to anyone who you feel was a good fit for you.

Illustrators may bring postcards and a small portfolio.  The portfolio should be put aside and if an agent or editor asks to see your portfolio you may share it after the dinner. Postcards can be given out at dinner. Writer’s practice you pitch and blurbs.

Remember this is supposed to be a fun time and is not the place to pressure anyone.  Less is more.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. All of this just warms my heart and whets my creative appetite 🙂 How lucky are we to have such a great chapter?! Thanks, Kathy and Laurie 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: