EVENTS Getting the most out of SCBWI's 2023 Conference


Whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned delegate, Network News & Events Editor, Stephanie Cotela shares her top tips for getting the most out this year's SCBWI Conference.

When:  Nov 04, 2023 – Nov 05, 2023

Where: Manchester Metropolitan University

Set an Alarm

I know this seems obvious, but there's a lot going on. Set an alarm for the events you've booked, 5 to 10 minutes before the event/talk/workshop is scheduled to start. I am famously known for stopping to chat with someone on my way to wherever I'm supposed to be going and ending up late. Give yourself plenty of time to get from A to B. It is better to arrive early, give yourself time to prepare, mentally and physically – instead of rushing into something that's already started, like me. 

Hot tip: For those of us planning to party like it's 2023 on Friday evening, arranging a hotel wake up call for Saturday morning might be a good idea. 

Be Social


This is not about schmoozing and networking at the conference. We all know the importance of socialising. I'm talking about social media. Have you written a book that you will be promoting at the conference? Do you have a work-in-progress you plan to pitch? A particular industry professional you would like to meet? Start posting about it now. Show off your book, talk about your work, reach out to other delegates and industry professionals. If, by chance, someone happens to see your posts and recognise you and/or your work, well that can give you an "in". 

Don't stop there, take lots of photos at the event, post to your favourite social media platforms. Follow up with folks you've met, with a simple, "hello, lovely to meet you". It might not seem like much, but it could lead to something wonderful. You never know.

Hot tip: Schedule your posts in advance to avoid tapping at your phone during the conference. Post real-time photos, etc. when you have a quiet moment between events or at the end of the day. You don't want to miss any of the action. 

Be Prepared

Being prepared not only puts you ahead of the game, but it also helps to quell any nervousness you might have, especially if this is your first SCBWI conference. Have you practiced your elevator pitch? Have you decided which workshops/panels you would like to attend? Is your portfolio in order? There's a lot going on and a lot to remember. My hot tip: keep notecards handy. In your pocket, in your purse, any place with easy access. Write down a few questions, your pitch, names of people you would like to meet, titles of books you would like to purchase or have signed. It might sound silly, but in a crowded room with so much going on at once, it's easy to miss something.

Hot tip: Practice your elevator pitch aloud. Know it so well, it just rolls off your tongue. Be ready to answer questions about your book. You don't want to get caught out over-explaining or losing the plot (pun intended) altogether. 

Work the Room 

Those three words can be terrifying for an introverted creative, like myself, but we socially awkward loners need not panic, there's a room full of our people. Bear in mind, that everyone at the conference shares your interests. Everyone is working towards similar goals, regardless of how far along they are in their journey. This is your opportunity to learn from your peers, make new friends, and learn about your craft. To make it easier, you're welcome to wear fancy dress. Come as your favourite book character or chat up someone who is dressed as your favourite literary hero. 

Hot tip: If all else fails, imagine everyone in their underclothes!

Promote Yourself

If you are participating in an event, book signing, workshop or talk, let your fans know about it. Build some buzz, again social media goes a long way here. Why not create your own hashtag – i.e. #stephaniesevent. 

Offer a free book, audiobook or e-book to the first say, 5-10 people who arrive at your event. 

Hot tip: Follow up after your event, post photos, celebrate giveaway winners, thank your fans for coming.


Go Offline

I know it sounds crazy, but not everything has to be digital. Printed marketing material can also go a long way. Sure you can lug a bunch of books with you, but how many? What if you run out? Why not print out a batch of postcards to advertise your book, let your readers know where they can buy it online, after the conference. How about business cards including your email address and social media handles? People are happy to grab anything small enough to fit in their pocket, or swag bags.

Hot tip: Canva is a great tool for creating lovely, print-friendly images. 

On that note ...

Don't Forget the Swag

Bookmarks, trinkets, pins, stickers, sweets... oh my! Everyone who is anyone loves a bit of book swag.

Hot tip: If you can swing it, themed goodie bags are always a crowd pleaser! 

But the most important thing you absolutely, positively must remember is...


Find the full conference program here.

There is still one week to get your tickets, and a few 1-1s spots available too. Book your Conference tickets here

See you in Manchester!

*Header illustration: Ed Vere


Stephanie Cotela
 is the Network News & Events Editor for Words & Pictures online magazine. She writes across genres from children’s picture books to adult crime fiction and is particularly fond of ghost stories. Originally from New York she has been living in and around London for nearly two decades. Her debut middle-grade novel The Ghosts of Hawkthorn will be released in 2024.

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