Friday, October 17, 2014

Have you joined SCBWI yet? (and why I did)


Are you a member yet???

After a couple of years of putting it off, I finally joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) at the beginning of October, and last week, my membership package finally winged (wung?) its way across the ocean and made it here to me.

Yes, it’s true.  I’m legit now.


Well, kind of legit.  They have a checkbox when you join that forces you to admit that, if you’ve self-published your kids’ books (even if you have been published for adult writing, which I have), then you are not exactly a “published” author.

That part didn’t feel so good.

Nevertheless, I was excited to have a good look through “the book,” the writing / publishing guide and directory that’s included with membership, but there wasn’t much there I hadn’t seen elsewhere.  There’s some good information about self-publishing, and a helpful guide to publishing companies as well as author services and other resources.

If you’ve joined, SCBWI, it may be because you have a busy local group.

For many writers, this is the biggest perk of joining SCBWI.  Local groups all over the world hold meetings, offer critique groups, etc.  Living in a non-English-speaking country, there isn’t really one here.  The “local” SCBWI group meets in the centre of the country, and most of the people involved don’t seem like native English speakers.

(Their next meeting, on October 30, is free and open to “authors, illustrators, and their friends.”  And it’s held in Hebrew, a language I only pretend to be able to speak.)

I’m also missing another huge perk:  conferences.  There are regional ones in most areas… again, in places where people speak English.  The nearest conference coming up is in Holland in April 2015.

So why did I join if I can’t do either of these things???

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure.

First, for the online forums, which is a big thing for me.  I hope to become as active on there as possible.  I’m interested, perhaps, in collaborating, but also in finding more critique and feedback than I’ve gotten so far.  They also have tons of resources online that are available for download.  I figure it can’t hurt.

Second, for the legitimacy.  Surrounding myself with serious, like-minded people seems like a step in the right direction.  It’s also a way of showing editors and/or agents that I’m serious if I decide to go in that direction (which I may).  Long-term SCBWI membership apparently helps more, but I figure even just springing the cash for the ID card (yeah, there’s an ID card) demonstrates something.

I also get to display the lovely SCBWI badge at the top of my blog.  I have incorporated it rather crudely here, but when I get a chance, I will do something better with it. 


Hmm… even to me, these reasons sound rather skimpy. 

I know that for many writers and illustrators, having an active local group can be a make or break in terms of whether their SCBWI membership is worthwhile.  Without one here, I’m still not entirely “sold” – even though I did pay up for this year, at least.

Are you a member?  Do you love it?

Whether you write or illustrate (or edit or publish!), I’d love to know what you’re getting out of (and putting into) your membership.  Has it been a worthwhile investment in your career?  Have you participated in any of the contests and/or conferences?  The forums?

I’ve been away due to Jewish holidays, but the season is grinding to a close, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Let me know in the Comments section!


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