I attended my first SCBWI conference this past Saturday in St. Paul. I can’t emphasize enough how much conferences have helped me with my writing–maybe not so much in craft (although there’s certainly some of that), but in opened doors.
This was only my second conference. The first awarded me 2nd place in a writing competition and introduced me to the woman who would become–just four months later–my agent. The second introduced me to Middle Grade editors, who randomly chose the first pages of my new WIP from a pile, read it out loud to the conference, and then gave it a very positive critique. (woot!) My agent will be adding them to our submission list. But the part I like the best is meeting other writers.
The night before the conference, Elissa Hoole contacted me on Twitter, said she noticed I was going to MN-SCBWI, I said “Hey, let’s try and find each other!” We spent the day together, talked to newbie writers through lunch, and had a great time. Elissa’s debut novel, KISS THE MORNING STAR, comes out in 2012. She’s also a middle school teacher in Duluth, and her kids run a book blog. She asked if her students could interview me. Of course! How crazy flattering is that?!
So the point I’m trying to make is, there are lots of ways to make industry contacts, build a readership, and market your book, but they all come back to one thing: Leaving your House and Meeting People! Never forget that the root of “published” is “public.” Get out there at meet yours!