A Newbie Gets Ready for SCBWI LA 2015

I’m committed now. I’ve sent in the money and registered for my very first trip to the SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Annual LA Conference.

It was nearly impossible to choose from the great selection of intensive workshops. Because I’m the type of person who thrives on assignments with deadlines, I’ve decided that between now and the start of conference, I will do the homework for ALL the intensives, perhaps garnering some of the benefit from those sessions I will have to miss.

I’ve been a member of SCBWI for almost three years now, and feel I’ve just graduated from beginner status to young apprentice. I’m facing the very hardest part of my early career–the sucky middle. I know enough to know what I don’t know, but not quite enough to know how to figure it out. Enter practice.

In the spirit of the debatable 10,000-hour genius, I will dedicate time to my craft, as much as I can spare. Whether or not Malcolm Gladwell’s theory holds water, in truth I am only a writer when I write. Starting with the assignments from the intensive workshops, I developed this checklist of homework tasks, all to be completed before the conference begins July 31.

Homework for SCBWI LA Conference 2015


  • Complete 50 pages minimum of novel-in-progress
  • Complete and revise first chapter of novel-in-progress
  • Complete and revise a middle chapter of novel-in-progress
  • Complete a one-page synopsis of novel-in-progress
  • Write flap copy for novel-in-progress
  • Create and practice elevator pitch for novel-in-progress
  • Write a poem to be included in novel-in-progress
  • Select three favorite world-built novels

Picture Books:

  • Select three favorite published PB <500 words
  • Write one new picture book manuscript per month (4 new ms by August)
  • Rigorous revision of all existing picture book manuscripts (8 total, 2 revisions/month)
  • Create a dummy for one PB manuscript
  • Craft a pitch for one PB manuscript
  • Create a pitch page for all works-in-progress
  • Write queries for three most polished PB manuscripts


  • Tyrell, by Coe Booth
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart
  • The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin
  • On Writing, by Stephen King
  • Books by faculty authors
  • Books by faculty agents’ authors

Platform/Social Media:

  • Explore/bookmark faculty webpages
  • Explore/follow faculty on Twitter and Facebook
  • Create spreadsheet of interesting agents
  • Create spreadsheet of interesting publishers
  • Post weekly on Facebook author page between now and conference (16 posts)
  • Plan, write, schedule and post bimonthly on Author website between now and conference (8 posts)


  • Create/order updated business cards with head shot and website info included
  • Backup all work to flash drive
  • Get a 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge badge to wear to conference


  • Collect/pack faculty picture books for autographs
  • Decorate journal with badges from 12 x 12, PiBoIdMo, SubItClub & ReViMo

How about you? What will you be doing to get ready for the LA conference? Any tips for a newbie?

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