SCBWI Europolitan Conference Recap (Paris, March 2013)

Hello gentle reader,

this week again I’m taking part in the Tursday’s Children meme hosted by Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez. It is “a weekly blog hop where writers come together to talk about whatever inspires them.”


Today I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned at the SCBWI Europolitan Conference I attended last week in Paris. In case you don’t know, SCBWI is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. As its name implies, it is an awesome way to network with other writers.

The Paris conference had an amazing faculty, with YA authors Amy Plum, Sara Grant and Lenore Appelhans, agents Jennifer Laughran and Jenny Savill, and editors Heather Alexander (US Penguin) and Elizabeth Law (ex-Egmont USA), among others.

EM Castellan - SCBWI Euro Con

Spending two days with these awesome people, you can understand I came home with a notebook FULL of writerly advice. Here are a few things I thought I could share in a few bullet points…

  • Betsy Bird, the NYPL’s Youth Materials Specialist and blogger for School Library Journal, once said “Most publishers look for books that have either windows or mirrors.” It means a novel needs to open onto new worlds or to reflect the reader’s life.
  • If you’re writing YA fiction, personal marketing is essential. Social networking with your readers is what will sell your books to teenagers, not a marketing plan devised by your publisher. (Amy Plum)
  • Networking with other writers before publication is a great way to have support and to avoid stress. (Amy Plum)
  • Forget about trends. Write a book as original as possible within its genre. The book will be published in 18 months at the earliest, who knows what the trend will be by then?
  • Voice is what matters. (Jenny Savill)
  • Do things in your own time. Don’t rush. Write a great book. Learn, Write, Revise. (It took Sara Grant 17 years to get published. Now she is a best-selling author).
  • When revising, start with macro-revising (revising the story, the plot, the characters) then micro-editing (word doctoring). (Sara Grant)
  • Before you query or self-publish your book, make sure you know: the book’s most appealing quality, who will read it and why, what the gist of the story is, what makes it stand out from similar books on the market. (Heather Alexander)
  • A query or a blurb should answer the questions: Who, What, Where, Why do I care? (Jennifer Laughran)

I could go on, but we’d be here all day… 😉 Needless to say I returned from the conference really inspired and ready to write ALL THE THINGS.

Have you ever attended a writers’ conference? Did you find it helpful and inspiring? Feel free to leave me a comment below, and to visit the other Thursday’s Children posts here.

20 thoughts on “SCBWI Europolitan Conference Recap (Paris, March 2013)

  1. kiperoo says:

    Oooh, neato! I’ve attended two SCBWI events in Europe and love how much smaller and more personal they are than the big ones here in the US (which are also good, just different). I always feel inspired to dig in after a conference, and it sounds like this was a good one!

  2. sugaropal says:

    Cool! I have yet to attend a writers’ conference. Maybe someday…in the meantime I’ll enjoy them vicariously 🙂

  3. Liz Penney says:

    That sounds fabulous! Thanks for sharing the insights.

  4. I’m so jealous. Was it at WICE? I lived in Paris for a few years; in fact, I met my husband there!

  5. Mia Celeste says:

    Thank you. I appreciate getting some tips.

  6. Miss Cole says:

    “Do things in your own time” is the advice I need to have someone shout at me on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

    Thanks for sharing! Sounds like it was a really awesome conference!

  7. paulalharvey says:

    Ah! I love these tips, thank you for sharing them! Every week, I find a blog post that’s so good I have to print it out- this week, it’s this one! Thanks again for sharing the tips!!

  8. Thanks for that that’s really helpful advice. I’ve never attended a writer’s conference – sounds interesting. 🙂

  9. Shanah says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and the stuff you learned. I am going to my first conference next week and I hope I have as rich of experience as you. 🙂

  10. Dannie Morin says:

    SCBWI Conferences are some of the BEST sources of inspiration. I’m fortunate enough to live about 40 minutes from the site of our state’s annual conference. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  11. Pat Esden says:

    I love conferences, though I think it’s a toss up if I learn more from the speaker or from just talking with other writers. Thank you for sharing what some very wise advice.

  12. christineallenriley says:

    Thank you so much for these lovely little treasures you shared! It’s much appreciated! 🙂 I love going to conferences, btw!

  13. Veronica says:

    ZOMG so jealous! And so excited, because I’m attending my first conference at the end of the month. Back in the good old USA, which I haven’t visited in MONTHS! (In all honesty, my excitement at this point might be about 85% Taco Bell cravings….)

  14. Kate Frost says:

    Sounds like a fascinating couple of days – great tips too!

  15. Laura Oliva says:

    All excellent advice! I especially relate to the advice on knowing your book and your market BEFORE you publish. I thought I did, but it turns out there was a lot more to discover- something I only realized after I self-pubbed the book. C’est la vie.

    Also, Paris? Get outta here. That must have been FABULOUS!

  16. Glad that you found some great motivation at the conference! Conferences (not writing conferences per-se, but any type of networking and workshop event) usually make me exhausted.

    But reading my notes and reflecting on what I learned a few days later always helps turn that exhaustion into motivation!

    Thanks for sharing these points 🙂

  17. Great advice! Thanks for passing it on! 🙂

Leave a Reply to kiperoo Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s