5 Ways to Go The Distance at an SCBWI Conference

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This year, the Oklahoma chapter of SCBWI ( will be hosting its annual conference in Oklahoma City with the theme “Go the Distance.” This yearly conference always presents top notch editors, designers, and agents (as well as Oklahoma’s impressive roster of published children and teen authors and picture book illustrators).

I’ve had the opportunity to attend this yearly event several times in the past, and here’s what I’ve learned about making the most of any SCBWI writers conference experience.

  1. Be a sponge. There’s no better time to soak up information about the publishing industry as it pertains to young readers than at a conference with headliners from the top publishers and agencies. So, instead of outlining your next love scene for your steamy young adult work-in-progress, remember not to waste those conference fees and TAKE SOME NOTES!
  2. Make friends. I can credit SCBWI OK in general, and the 2013 conference in particular, for giving me an amazing—AMAZING—group of writing cheerleaders—ahem!—friends. Same difference. Anyway, I like this group so much that I 1) blog with them, 2) enjoy meeting them for monthly critique group sessions, and 3) don’t de-friend them when they give me honest feedback of my work, but instead use that insight to make my writing way better!
  3. Present yourself with confidence. Pitch session with an agent? Manuscript “sit down” with an editor? Don’t sell yourself short. Present your idea with the passion that made you start writing about it in the first place, and practice, practice, practice talking about your idea so you don’t end up sounding like Elmer Fud! Also, wear appropriate attire. At least business casual. Maybe not a tux, but find something that looks like you should be speaking in front of others.
  4. Don’t be a stalker. Editors and agents are people too. If someone approached you clutching sweat-wrinkled pages of manuscript and oozing desperation, wouldn’t you feel a little “deer in headlights” too? So give these professionals space, respect their space, and talk to them like real people. If the right opportunity comes up to talk about your manuscript, talk about it in a friendly way. Sell it, but don’t tell them it’s the next Twilight or Harry Potter. Show them you understand the industry better than that.
  5. Beeee…yourself. Finally, the genie from Aladdin said it best. Be yourself. Writers are generally a little introverted, a little quirky, and a tad more philosophical than the vast majority of people. I love coming to conferences because I get to hang out with people like me, who appreciate what I do and how hard it is to do it. Keep true to your style, your personality, and your flavor of writing, and you’ll reap success that goes well beyond the conference.



“Go The Distance”

APRIL 16, 2016 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
OKC Embassy Suites Hotel
1815 South Meridian, Oklahoma City


Sara Sargent–Executive Editor with HarperCollins

Carter Hasegawa–Associate Editor at Candlewick

Karl Jones–Assistant Editor at Grosset & Dunlap

Jodell Sadler–Agent at Sadler Children’s Literary

Vicki Selvaggio–Associate Agent at Jennifer De Chiara Literary

Jason Henry–Senior Designer and illustrator at Dial Books For Young Readers

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2 Responses to “5 Ways to Go The Distance at an SCBWI Conference”

  1. Great tips, Megan! Thanks for the post. 🙂

  2. Erica Bollinger says:

    Thank you for being such a welcoming bunch at the conference! Wow! What a whirlwind experience. So excited.

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