Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Author Extras

First Pages Sessions 

(included in your conference tuition for SATURDAY attendees)

Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall as editors and agents read that crucial first page of your manuscript? In these sessions, you will see and hear initial reactions of editors and agents to actual first pages submitted by conference attendees.

* Picture Book First Pages with agent Minju Ching and Andrea Spooner.

* Novel First Pages with agent Sandra Bond and editor Kat Brzozowski.


What to Bring:  THREE COPIES of the first page of one manuscript with a maximum of 18 lines of text on the page. (ONE manuscript per person).  Please PAPERCLIP your pages – no cover sheets, no staples. Only paperclipped pages will be accepted, and since we will not have supplies at the registration desk, please plan ahead.

How to Participate:  Turn in your three paperclipped pages at Saturday's registration. We will have containers at the registration table marked PICTURE BOOK FIRST PAGES and NOVEL FIRST PAGES.  Please submit only ONE first page per attendee, so we can enable as many writers as possible to receive feedback. 

Note: Pages will be drawn randomly from the pile and read out loud after which the industry professionals will provide feedback. Please understand that due to time constraints, there is a chance your page may not be read and critiqued. On that same note, much (oh, so much!) can be learned from listening to the feedback on pages that are read and critiqued, especially since you may hear with an objective ear when nothing is on the line. We encourage you to embrace this experience whether your page is drawn from the pile or not!


  • *Maximum of 18 lines of text
  • *Use one-inch margins all around, double-spaced, 12-point Times.
  • *Center your title at the top, drop down two spaces, and start your text (your first line of the 18 lines allowed).
  • *Please note in the upper right corner whether it’s a picture book, chapter book, middle grade or YA novel, or non-fiction.
  • *Your name is optional. 
  • *Manuscripts not adhering to formatting will be removed from the pile.

Click this link for an example: First Pages Sample Formatting

***Attn: Picture Book Authors. Are you nervous about first pages?

Would you like an extra opinion on your work before turning in your sheets?

On FRIDAY, September 16, 2016, Ana Crespo, author of THE SOCK THIEF and the MY EMOTIONS AND ME series, is offering **free**, 10min, one-on-one first-page critique conversations to picture book authors.  Ana will be in the hotel lobby from 3:00 pm until 5:00 pm.  Feel free to stop by. If you have any questions in advanced, please contact Ana at (note: Let's make sure we do not take advantage of Ana's generosity. I know all of you can't make it on Friday, but please do not ask Ana to critique via email as she has books to write and deadlines to meet. Her email address is here in case you have further questions about Friday).

  NEW   Pitch-a-Palooza!(additional fee $10)

**pre-registration required**

This is a unique opportunity to have a personal, 8-10 minute appointment with Alex Barba, an agent of Inklings Literary. She wil be taking a limited number of pitches during Letters & Lines from middle grade or young adult fiction writers. This is your chance to have one-on-one face time with an agent, ask specific questions about your project, and find out what is working and what's not in your pitch. Registering for Pitch-a-Pooloza is a separate transaction from registering for the conference (especially since we've just added it as a bonus offering). For all the details and to enroll in this unique offering please click here 


One-on-One Manuscript Critiques (additional fee $40 members, $65 non-members)

This is a unique opportunity to have your writing professionally critiqued. On a space-available basis–pre-registered and properly submitted manuscripts will receive a written critique and a 10 minute, one-on-one appointment with their critiquer at the conference. Unlike writing contests, the Manuscript Critique provides each entrant a valuable and constructive critique from a published author, an agent, or an editor. DEADLINE: Friday, August 5, 2016 (Since the deadline has passed and this offering is SOLD OUT, please consider Pitch-a-Pooloza above)

For full details on submitting for one-on-one critiques, visit the Manuscript Critique Page

  NEW   Member Book Sales

SCBWI has recently made changes to the policy allowing self-published and independently published books to be sold at conferences and events. All members who are attending the conference may sell ONE (1) title (up to ten copies of one title) through our conference bookstore, whether that title is traditionally published or independently published. You will need to be present for the book signing Saturday afternoon of the conference.

Deadline to register for this option: August 12, 2016Due to the popularity of this offering, the book table cannot accept books which have not been registered by Friday, August 12, 2016. There are no exceptions to this deadline to ensure books arrive on time. We also cannot sell books by members who will not be attending the conference. 

For instructions on registering, visit Book Sales Instructions 

Critique Connect

Getting valuable peer critiques is one of the most important steps in becoming a better writer. This is a time to connect with other writers and/or illustrators in your area and start up a critique group or partnership. Attendees who register for the Critique Connect will be grouped according to the geographic region indicated in their membership so they can get to know others living nearby.  

Saturday, from 5:00pm – 6:00pm we will provide space for those who wish to connect for a spur-of-the-moment critique meeting. This is an opportunity to possibly meet new critique partners or to get fresh eyes on your work-in-progress. Please bring six copies of the pages you wish to work on. We recommend working on no more than three to five pages per person, and we recommend allotting a fair amount of time per person (with a timekeeper), so the hour is evenly divided. 

Writer Intensives

Pre-registration required/Offered on space available basis

Post-Conference Intensives ($75 SCBWI member-participants, Sunday, September 18, 2015, 1:30pm – 5:00pm)

Intensive sessions provide an opportunity to work on individual projects in a smaller setting under the guidance of a faculty professional. They are reserved for SCBWI members only and on a first-come, first-served basis. You must be registered for one or both days of the conference to register for an intensive. 


Picture Book Roundtable Intensive: Writing Irresistable Picture Book Characters – with editor Stephanie Pitts, Schwartz & Wade (SOLD OUT)

What makes a new picture book character stand out to an editor? Topics to be discussed include using voice to establish character, creating memorable and unique character traits, writing character arcs, and writing characters for nonfiction. Each participant will be allotted roundtable time to read/discuss their work-in-progress.


Sixteen copies (enough for you, Stephanie, plus each participant to each have a copy ) of a properly formatted picture book manuscript (one-inch margins, double space, 12 point font, Times New Roman, printed on single side, up to five stapled pages). Keep in mind, a timekeeper will be present, so if you use all your minutes reading, you cut into your time to receive valuable feedback.

Pre-registration required.

Picture Book Roundtable Intensive: Dummies for Smarties: Taking "Good Design Fosters Good Reading" to Heartwith Sylvie Frank of Paula Wiseman Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster (SOLD OUT)

Picture books are typically thirty-two pages—but why? And why does this matter to an author? In this jam-packed session, editor Sylvie Frank will dive into the details of the physical picture book, taking a close look at how production and design elements affect the text. Once we’ve explored picture book production and design, we will put our new-found knowledge to use by making picture book dummies out of works-in-progress. We’ll take a look at how a dummy can help to improve plot and pacing and show where to cut words. Finally, we will do a workshop on revising and selecting just the right words.


All participants in DUMMIES FOR SMARTIES should bring a work-in-progress picture book manuscript, PLUS scissors, glue stick, and four pieces of blank 8 1/2 x 11 paper. ALSO bring sixteen (16) copies (enough for you, each participant, plus Sylvie to receive a copy) of a properly formatted picture book manuscript (one-inch margins, double spaced, 12 point font, Times New Roman, printed on single side, three to five stapled pages). Keep in mind, a timekeeper will be present, so if you use all your minutes reading, you cut into your time to receive valuable feedback.

Pre-registration required.

Novel Roundtable Intensive:  Games to Unlock Your Writers Block – with editor Kat Brzozowski

This roundtable intensive will open with a thirty-minute session on games to unlock writer’s block. Are you stuck and you can't get unstuck? Have you fallen down the Twitter rabbit hole? Is your Netflix queue exhausted but your keyboard remains untouched? In this intensive, we'll have some fun and play games that will help reignite your creative spark and get the words flowing, and then each participant will be allotted roundtable time to read/discuss their work-in-progress.


Sixteen copies (enough for you, each participant, and Kat to receive a copy) of a properly formatted manuscript (one-inch margins, double spaced, 12 point font, Times New Roman, printed on single side, three to five stapled pages). Keep in mind, a timekeeper will be present, so if you use all your minutes reading or pre-explaining, you cut into your time to receive valuable feedback.

Pre-registration required.

Writing Craft Intensive: Earning the Transformation – with author Todd Mitchell

Join award-winning author Todd Mitchell for this three hour interactive session focused on the most helpful and effective techniques he’s found for increasing conflict, revealing characters, and writing stories that readers (and editors) won’t be able to put down.  

Topics covered will include:

• Developing sticky stories and elemental plots

• Spotting the difference between a story and a situation

• Creating effective hooks and discovering ways to begin in medias res

• The three most important things to know about your characters

• Pulling plot from character, and using plot to reveal character

• Increasing conflict, and manifesting internal conflict through external events

• Visualizing plot and character arcs

• Pushing your character to the end of the line to earn the transformation

• Techniques for plotting novels (plot/counter plot, snowflake method, etc.)

• Developing an effective story map (not a straight jacket)

An extensive packet is included with the session, as well as worksheets so you can immediately apply concepts to your stories and get feedback during the session. By the end of the session, participants will have a broader understanding of how to structure novels and how to make their characters’ journeys both compelling and believable.

What to Bring: Your current Work-in-Progress

Pre-registration required.

Please visit our Intensives page.