Wednesday, April 17, 2013

First Timer Tips for Writers Conferences

As the conference Co-director for the New England SCBWI conference (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), I’m not thinking about much for the next two weeks besides the conference. My brain is full of workshop titles, master schedules, room setups, meal counts, faculty roommate preferences, and so much more. So putting together a post about anything else this morning was pretty impossible. (Shout out to the Director of the conference Joyce Shor Johnson. I’ve had a blast working with her (@the writejoyce) to put it all together. 

The conference is the first weekend in May in Springfield, Massachusetts. The theme is Word by Word: The Art of Craft.

I’m excited to report the conference is sold out—it’s an intimate (!!) gathering of 650+ of the most wonderful writers and illustrators. We’ve got stellar faculty like Nova Ren Suma, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, and Greg Fishbone (and many, many more!). We’ve got keynoters Sharon Creech and Grace Lin. We’ve got editors (like Melissa Miller and Julie Ham) and agents (like Brooks Sherman and Jennifer Laughran and Linda Epstein) and fun, oh my! (For the full list of faculty, here’s the link:

I’ve been tweeting #FirstTimerTips—and will continue to do so up until the conference, but most of these apply to seasoned conference attendees of all types of conferences, so I thought I’d repeat them here. Stay tuned to my twitter feed (@KristineAsselin) as we get closer to the first weekend in May.

Feel free to add your own conference tips to the comments section. If you leave me your twitter handle, I’ll add it to my own tips and credit you!

Remember, if you're a first time conference goer--the most important tip is to have fun!

#nescbwi has something for all skill levels, published & unpublished. You belong here, so take advantage of all the things. #FirstTimerTips

#nescbwi If you're an introvert, try saying hello to one person in your first session. Just hello. Then, do it again. #FirstTimerTips

#nescbwi 2013 has gone mobile! Schedule, maps, twitter, faculty bios & more for iPhone/Android, free!  #FirstTimerTips

#nescbwi Take advantage of special events like the Genre Meetups and the Literary Treasure Hunt. #FirstTimerTips

#nescbwi Make eye contact in the elevator and say hello. It's all about networking! But don't pitch your book unless asked. #FirstTimerTips

#nescbwi Dress is business casual. Remember this is a professional organization and you're making a 1st impression! #FirstTimerTips

#nescbwi  Bring business cards. You can print yourself or make inexpensive ones, but have something with your contact info. #FirstTimerTips

If you're interested in knowing more about NESCBWI, go to our website ( We’re sold out this year, but as the conference Director for next year, I invite you to register early in 2014 for Create Bravely: Make Your Mark.


  1. #nescbwi You will likely feel "information overload." Don't worry! Just let it all flow over you, picking out the bits that apply to you and your work. #FirstTimerTips from @nancytandon

  2. It looks amazing. I wish I lived there and good get in on all that goodness. So cool that you're the co-director (and exhausting!)

    have a wonderful time, and your tips are excellent. I read recently to have business cards behind your name badge so you can easily pull one out. after 2 weeklong conferences, I'm still horrid at handing out my cards, but I will try this method next month when I get to go to a writing conference-Woot!

    1. I hope you get to a conference soon, Robin! It's a great way to focus on your craft, meet new friends (and old) and network with industry pros!