SCBWI CONFERENCE 2022 For newbies


Calling all conference newbies and lone rangers! With the conference in less than a week, fellow newbie Anna Gamble shares the top tips and advice she's been given to ease you into this big weekend.

I don’t know about you, but I have a bubble of excitement (and slight trepidation) as this year’s SCBWI BI Conference creeps ever nearer. In less than a week, we’ll be gathering to inspire and be inspired in our writing, illustration, and children’s publishing endeavours.


Gif of a woman putting hands to face in nervous excitement (Credit: via GIPHY)

So, I’m thinking, if you’re a newbie like me (or just out of practice with in-person gatherings), it’s time for a little reassurance and a few tips to prepare you for a cracking weekend. I’ve done my research; I’ve picked the brains of the committee and other old timers, and have pulled together some handy hints for you…


1. Keep an eye out for updates on the SCBWI Facebook page, Twitter and in any mail outs with final bits of information and opportunities to connect with fellow attendees. You might even consider car sharing – it's a great way to find a buddy before you even get there! There's now also a Newbies & Lone Rangers Facebook Group you can join.


2. Take advantage of the Friday Fringe events to ease your way into the weekend and meet people before the conference begins. There’ll be volunteers and fellow members who are keen to help newbies and lone attendees to settle in, and the new venue means all attendees are in the same boat this year in terms of knowing the venue and surrounding area. The Friday afternoon events – the Scrawl Crawl (writers) and Sketch Crawl (illustrators) are open to everyone so, if you haven’t already booked, don’t worry – afternoon walk ups are very welcome! Full details are here.

Manchester Art Gallery (left) [Picture credit: Andrew Brooks] & The Portico Library where the Sketch Crawl & Scrawl Crawl will begin

3. Arrive early on Saturday and take some time to settle in, find your bearings, have a coffee and meet fellow newbies. Registration opens at 8.45am at MMU Business School, and again there will be volunteers on hand to answer your questions and put you at ease (they'll be wearing badges/sashes and are happy to help throughout the weekend). There will also be the opportunity to meet with your local network organisers and volunteers before the conference kicks off at 9.30am.


MMU Business School. 
[Picture credit: David Dixon]

4. Talk to anyone and everyone! So, this is obvious, but it’s the top tip everyone offers up for a reason. The weekend will be full of opportunities to hear from industry experts on all things children’s publishing, but it’s also your chance to chat with like-minded people who would love to hear all about your latest writing or illustration project and bounce their own ideas around in return. If you’re a little nervous, you can always ask questions. You’ll be surrounded by creatives who are eager to talk about their projects given they’re usually surrounded by the glazed-over eyes of their loved ones who have heard it all before!


5. Research the faculty team. Is there anyone coming you would love to meet? This is your chance to chat with them, perhaps share your latest pitch and make important connections for the future (although not in the toilets perhaps… these are pitch free zones!). If you have the opportunity to chat with an editor or agent, relax, be yourself and remember, they’re human too.


6. Make a note of your timetable, your 1-1 slot time (if relevant), and where you need to be. There will be lists available at the conference to check these (room numbers will be available on arrival), although you can check which sessions you selected by visiting your "Event History" which can be found in the "My Home" section of the SCBWI website (top right). You’ll also be able to scan the programme QR code to access the full programme on your phone throughout the weekend (we’re going paperless this year!)


7. Make sure you have all you need. Check out Natalie Yates's article that featured in W&P last week, which includes "what to bring" reminders and more. In addition to Natalie's thorough list, you may also wish to bring your own travel mug for teas / coffees if you have one (and like to be eco-friendly) and a refillable water bottle – you'll be able to top up as needed throughout the day. You may also wish to donate a book or "few" to our book appeal to support local schools. Whether your own or written/illustrated by others, all are gratefully received.


8. Party dress up? Go with what’s comfortable. There will be all out costumes and subtle nods to the theme, "All things Manchester", as well as regular party wear. You’ll fit in whatever you choose, so you be you!

Photo of conference partygoers. [Picture credit: SCBWI British Isles]

9. Finally, enjoy yourself! The weekend will flash by in a heartbeat, so make the most of this chance to immerse yourself in a slice of children’s publishing, make connections and new friends, be inspired, hone your craft and bounce home with a notebook, head and heart full of possibility!


If you have any questions feel free to ask us on the Facebook SCBWI Group, on Twitter, or you can email the relevant volunteer – contact details can be found here. The SCBWI conference pages on the website also have timings and information for you to peruse as needed.


Don’t hesitate to get in touch, we are happy to help and can’t wait to see you THIS weekend. 

*Header image: design by Tita Berredo; illustrations by Jim Field


Anna Gamble’s finest moment was performing Beckett in a wheelie bin dressed as a clown. She’s been fascinated by the magic of stories since she was a girl and followed it into a career in the arts. She joined SCBWI in 2020, so hasn’t met anyone in person yet! Volunteering seems like the perfect way to attend the conference as a newbie and Anna is helping out with the website content and PR. She is also Social Media Editor for Words & Pictures and has been pursuing a career in publishing (editing and agenting) since her youngest started school. Her day job as a Teaching Assistant and her own two kids means she literally spends 24/7 with children (and children’s books – yay!) Her own writing? It’s at the bottom of the pile of course, but she will finish something one day! | @anna_gamble_

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