I joined SCBWI in 2008 and it’s been the best decision I ever made. I’ve been to many speaking engagements before I joined SCBWI, through the MFA program, but many YA speakers forget to mention SCBWI. I don’t fault them for it. They have a lot to usually get through, but I do think it’s a society everyone should join if they are even remotely interested in publishing in the YA, middle-grade, or picture book categories.  It’s not exclusively for writers either. It’s also for illustrators.

If writing for teens and children isn’t up your alley, I encourage you to join a writing society. There are so many out there and almost all of them offer their own membership benefits and have conferences throughout the year. This includes AWP, the Mystery Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and many, many more. Personally, I love writing picture books, MG, and YA books so SCBWI feels like its tailor made for me.

The first person to turn me onto SCBWI was my professor, Juan Felipe Herrera, for children and YA writing course. A children’s book author himself he knew the importance of joining a society like SCBWI. Through SCBWI one is able to make valuable connections with other authors, editors, and agents that you wouldn’t normally be able to talk to except through e-mail (if you’re lucky). SCBWI started back in 1971 and has since then grown to over 22,000 members worldwide with over 70 regional chapters that range from board books to YA (Young Adult) novels. It’s the largest children’s writing organization in the world.

I’m glad he did encourage me. I’ve also had other professors recommend I join SCBWI as well. Since I first joined, I’ve been to several spring conferences in Temecula, CA; and am attending my first ever Working Writers Retreat this weekend. At every event I’ve attended, I’ve made valuable contacts and more importantly, I’ve built up a network of like-minded writers who are all in the same boat. We all want to be published and we are all there to help each other out.

I’ll let you know how the event goes! Even after obtaining my MFA and attending other conferences, I still get nervous reading my own work out loud. I  think because I'm reading a little part of me. Even if it's a small part. 

In the meantime, happy writing!