Monday, November 30, 2009

Is Membership in a Writing/Illustrating Organization Right For You?

About a year ago, when I finished the first draft of my YA novel and was enjoying some minor success with freelance non-fiction, a friend suggested I join a writer’s organization such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).  At the time I didn’t join because I thought:
  • It’s too early; my novel isn’t finished.
  • I’ll have to pay dues and won’t get anything out of it.
  • I will embarrass myself because I don’t know what I am doing.
Boy was I wrong.  In November, I attended the SCBWI Regional Conference in Palatine, IL.  For a couple hundred bucks, I received 10 hours of detailed information on writing and publishing for children and young adults.  This information came not from academic types but from actual published writers, agents and editors!  They talked about picture books, middle grade, young adult, and non-fiction markets, what sells and what doesn’t. 

I found myself wishing I had joined earlier.   Changes I had made to my writing based on hard knocks and sheer dumb luck, were laid out for the taking for the smart folks who had joined during revision one.   Fortunately for me, the lectures validated my story and helped to give me the confidence to take the next steps toward submission.

When I came back from the conference, I joined and am now a card-carrying member.  Guess what?   Included in my membership packet was a publication guide filled with targeted advice on writing query letters and formatting manuscripts, and a listing of editors and agents that are looking for YA --just what I needed.

Are you a newbie writer thinking about taking your passion to the next level?  If so, here are some links to organizations that can help you get there.  Don't be afraid!

  • http://www.scbwi.org - Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators
  • http://www.rwanational.org/ - Romance Writers of America
  • http://www.sfwa.org/ -Science Fiction Writers 
  • http://www.mysterywriters.org/ - Mystery Writers 
  • http://www.thrillerwriters.org/ - Thriller Writers 

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