Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 5, 2017

How To Prepare For A Writing/Illustrating Conference


Some of you will be attending the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City this coming weekend. Even if it is not on your schedule, you probably will attend something else during the year. It is always good to be reminded of the things you need to do to prepare. Here are some of the things I came up with.

  1. Read through all the information given to you for the conference. You spent a lot of money to attend, so make the most of your investment. Use the information below to help prepare.
  2. Print out your Personal Schedule, if you received one. If not, look through the conference schedule to plan what workshops you want to attend and who you would like to meet.
  3. Make a plan on what you want to happen. You are always better off when you have goals. Doesn’t mean all of your goals will be reached, but you will do better than just floating around.
  4. List the names of agents, editors, etc. that you would like to meet. Look on Google and search for information about each of the names.

    A. Write down things like what books they
    have edited or represented.
    B. See if you can find a picture of them.
    C. Make notes on what you would like to ask if you meet them.

  5. Does the conference assign you a table at lunch? Do you know who is sitting at your table? If so, Google search them, too.
  6. If you are not assigned a lunch table, don’t sit with your friends.I know you won’t listen, but this is a good time to meet people you don’t know. If you sit with your friends, you’ll talk to them and could miss meeting an important contact.
  7. Develop a Pitch, even if you are not going to a pitch session. Usually people will ask about what you are working on. You don’t want to ramble. They’ll think you don’t know what your book is about, if you can’t discuss it clearly in a few minutes. Develop a pitch for your work or book and memorize it. (Here’s a Pitch Link.) It’s easy to get excited and forget, so write it down and put it in your folder. Occasionally, look at it to help you remember what you have practiced. If your lucky you’ll run into an agent or editor in the elevator and you will be prepared.
  8. Pack your business cards and make sure you bring enough. If you have a website, make sure it is included on your card. Place them in a spot in your bag where you can reach them without rummaging around. Someone else will step up and start talking while you are trying to find your card and you’ll miss the chance to keep the conversation going.
  9. You may have some show interest in your manuscript. Make sure you can get on line and send it to them. Most editors and agents will not want to walk around with full or partial manuscripts, but I would print out a few pages, in case the opportunity presents itself.
  10. If you are an illustrator, bring postcards you can hand out to show off your work. Catugeau Agency has a great post about how illustrator should prepare. Click Here to Read.
    Don’t forget you bring your portfolio and have your website ready for viewing. IMO, every illustrator should have their own website, even if they can be found on other websites. If someone shows interest in your work, it is okay to ask if they would like to met during the conference to talk more.
  11. Be thoughtful of other conference goers. Don’t monopolize an editor or agent at a workshop, lunch table, etc. Everyone wants their chance, too. Try to strike the right balance. I have seen people stand back and not talk to an agent or editor because they were too timid to talk to them. Remember, they want to discover that next great author or illustrator, so be polite and talk to them.
  12. Don’t forget to bring money, credit cards, and your check book, so you can support a fellow author or illustrator by buying a book. Look over the books in the bookstore and help support a fellow writer or illustrator.
  13. Remember to bring a sweater.  Hotels in the summer can be cold, so be prepared.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Excellent post Kathy! Thanks. btw… I’m really looking forward to the conference!


  2. Great advice! I’ve been attending conferences on and off for a couple of decades now but am never as prepared as I should be. Thanks, Kathy!


  3. Just a note from my experience: agents and publishers hate to be pitched to when they are in an elevator, restroom, etc. Wait until the official pitch time to give it to them. Also, I have found it helpful if you practice your pitch out loud, at home before the conference. It will give you more confidence when the time comes.


  4. wonderful advice….and do check out our post at WAY TUGEAU blog….and please, no pitching in the ladies room! (thanks Pat….) LOL


  5. Great tips Kathy. Many of them have helped me get the most of my conference experiences. One more tip to add. Introduce yourself to fellow conference attendees…some of the best writing buddies I have were from saying “hi” to a stranger and getting to know one another by sharing the writing experience. We are all look forward each year to reconnecting and have kept in touch.


  6. Excellent list, Kathy 🙂 You can never say these things too often, especially for newbies!


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