SCBWI Conference Recap!

{They spelled my name wrong but that's okay! I love SCBWI!}

Oh, hello giant face of myself!

(Note to self: Pluck eyebrows more often. I know you hate it but just do it. The End.)  

On Saturday, I headed up to the little town of Buckeystown, Maryland, about 45 miles northwest from DC, for the annual MD/DE/WV SCBWI Conference! Whew, that's a lot of initials, eh? But it was quite fun!

When I arrived at the conference center, I was hit with a bit of nostalgia. Four years ago, I attended my very first writer's conference, which was also hosted by the MD/DE/WV SCBWI chapter. Back then, I was getting ready to query the first book I ever wrote, my eyes all shiny with hope. That conference was so many things to me: inspiring, overwhelming, so very exciting. And I was hit with those same emotions all over again on Saturday—but now as a not-so-new, slightly battle-worn, but still very excited writer. And I had new business cards! Mwahahaha!

The conference classes hit a wide range of topics, from licensing artwork to pitching chapter books to making your fiction more real. I attended more of the business-y classes like "What are foreign rights?" and "How does an editor acquire your book?" I probably should have headed to the craft-based workshops, especially as I tackle Round 2 of editorial revisions!, but...oh well. I just love learning more about the business of publishing! It's quite fascinating, no?

Maybe it's just me?

Anyway, here are a few of my highlights from the conference:
* Two agents and an editor continually stressed the importance of an online presence. Even if you're not into tweeting or blogging, make sure you have a simple website that is easily google-able.  
* When choosing a literary agency, check out who handles their foreign rights. An agency with a strong foreign rights agent or a foreign rights partner can get your book to readers around the world.  
* I was super impressed by agent Cheryl Pientka of Jill Grinberg Literary Management! She was funny, smart, and knew her stuff. If I were looking for an agent, I'd definitely put her on my list. Go forth and query her, I say! (While I'm plugging agents, go query my agent Jim McCarthy too! He's the best! And he's hilarious! And he has a cute puppy!)
* On a pub specific note, an editor at Bloomsbury mentioned that her house is looking to expand beyond fantasy. They still love fantasy but would like to diversify their list more. I thought that was interesting, and I thought this underscored the importance of finding a good agent. A good agent would know this stuff!  
* While I was heading to the bathroom of all places, I bumped into a veteran writer who gave me my very first conference critique four years ago! And she remembered me! It was such a cool blast from the past, and I hope to have a career like hers one day. She just pubbed her 26th book! 
* Lastly, I got to meet some cool people! First, I chatted with a local illustrator who has just happened to work on national marketing campaigns and numerous picture books and MG novels. Her name is Jaime Zollars and her work is so very colorful and evocative and even a little gothic-inspired. 
Second, I got to have lunch with Scholastic editor Jenne Abramowitz! I wasn't sure if I should say anything to her because I'm super introverted and didn't want to bother her, but a mutual friend made the introductions and I stammered out a quick, "Hi, I'm Caroline and I'm a Scholastic author and my editor is Jody Corbett and it's so nice to meet you and how are you liking Maryland?" Fortunately, Jenne was super funny and gracious and hopefully didn't think I was too weird. 

But I AM WEIRD! I can't help it!

Well, it's seven o'clock and I need to get to the mall to shop at J. Crew. Um, hello, 25% off sale! After that, it's back to revisions and revisions and Top Chef Masters and more revisions.

Can you tell I've had too much sugar today?

So are any of you heading to a conference soon? Do you have a favorite one? I think my fave would be the Highlights Chautauqua conference! So pretty and it lasted a whole week! Writer bliss!

{The main conference room in between workshops.}
{The view outside of the center. My home state is beautiful!}

Oh, sorry about the blurry pics! I didn't take my DSLR with me because my laptop ate up most of the room in my purse. First World Problems.