Well, it’s been one week since the biannual SCWBI conference Sydney. I’ve finally had time to process an incredible 2 days. Below is a personal recount of my first SCWBI conference. Strap yourselves in for a roller-coaster ride!
I was pretty frantic pre-conference – finalising my folio and book dummy for the illustrator showcase, cancelled flight, being away from my son for the first time ever, but once I was on the plane I felt incredibly proud of what I’ve been able to pull together for my folio and dummy and full of excitement.
On Sunday night at the welcome dinner I met some amazing illustrators and authors who shared what they’ve been working on and gave me lots of tips for other conferences I might want to attend including Kid Lit Vic and CYA, I hadn’t heard of these and clearly I’ve been under a rock. Over dinner there was a spelling Bee (our table of illustrators and foreigners fared pretty well with 7/10). A large percentages of the illustrators at my table were published and I was feeling in awe whilst also feeling like a very small fish in a very big pond of talent.
Saturday night was the award dinner and dance. I had the biggest shock of the night; I won a writing award, a highly commended Andrea Pinkney award for my manuscript ‘Haircuts by Hernando’. I almost fell off my seat and spat out my salmon, I laugh/cried all the way up to the podium (big time ugly cry!). I really didn’t think I had a chance with all those amazing (and published) writers in the room. I can honesty say that I was more excited about this certificate than Michael Phelps was over his last Olympic gold medal. That night I skipped all the way home to my hotel (Broadway musical style) and barely slept from all the excitement.
On Sunday I received some excellent advice from publishers. Some things publishers are looking for in a portfolio are: realistic proportioned children, great faces with engaged eyes, tactile depth (not too “digital looking”) and no outlines. The highlight of my Sunday was the breakout illustrator Skype session (with Paul Zelinsky) and workshop at the end, which were both run by Sara Davis.
The conference was incredibly well organised by a dedicated and humble team. My advice for those of you wanting to go to SCBWI Sydney 2018 is – get as many critiques as your money can afford, get prepared early (for those of you partaking in the Illustrators Showcase) and enter all the awards and pitch opportunities (because you never know!).
Now more than ever I want to be a part of this industry. See you again in 2 years!