SCBWI Sydney Conference: Reflections on Reporting

For the last few SCBWI Australia East & New Zealand Conferences, I've been involved as a Roving Reporter and for the last two, including the most recent 2019 Conference in Sydney in February, I had the absolute good fortune of assuming the mantel of Head Blogger, aka Media Coordinator, aka Head Gardener, aka Rocking Rover.

Not bad for one of the world's biggest Luddites. Fortunately, coordinating social media feeds, compiling a comprehensive blog log of every detail of the conference and directing a merry band of roving reporters is not just a matter of operating a smart phone - thank goodness! We'd be reading conference reports on slabs of slate if it were.

Why I did it

One of the most satisfying aspects of this role is the opportunity to nurture a fertile group of talented women (and man!) and witness the creative fruits of their labour flourish into useful, usable resource. (Yes, I adopted a slight flora turn of phrase for the blogging event this year.) Each Rover is a SCBWI member (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and was a conference delegate. Each diligently recorded night and day and performed beyond the call of duty, some even staying up way past a sensible bedtime (dancing the night away) to leave no detail unshared. It was pure ambrosia working with my accomplished RR team.

The results? 

A blog-full of detailed session outlines, creative insights, inspiring interviews, exhilarating highs and all the nitty-gritty behind-the-scenes-sensations that make up a successful conference. You could practically learn how to write, publish and market a children's book simply by reading the various reports our rovers gathered, perhaps even feel inspired to do so if you weren't able to make it to the conference in person - the true purpose of a conference blog.

Why attend a Conference?

It's a considerable investment of time, money and effort to join the fun of an international or even regional orientated conference. Some of the benefits that lure delegates include:
  • Session content - opportunities to extend your knowledge and abilities
  • Presenters - great to learn from, great to learn how to present (one day it might be you up there!)
  • Masterclasses - chance to develop your skills in greater depth with industry professionals
  • Networking  - expand your social presence, reach and confidence plus meet your cyber buddies IRL!
  • Critiques - first hand, one-on-one appraisals with industry professionals
  • Share time - chance to launch, expose your latest work or potential titles
  • Celebration - applaud others' triumphants and meet your literary heroes  
  • Fun - dance the night away among friends 
  • Be inspired
The RRers: (l-r) Giuseppe, Rachel, Leanne, Sarah, Ramona, Cherri, Yvonne, Katrin, Coral, Karen, Shaye and Dimity - Maria taking the photo!

Why read a Conference Blog?

Attending any sort of writerly conference results in a flurry of impressions almost too overwhelming to absorb. Information is being slung at you at a pace faster than your third act climax. It's hard to know how to process it all. Reading back on a session post allows you time to assimilate details at your own pace, post conference, thereby consolidating your own notes. Another reason a conference blog is so useful. It's a permanent reference.

The all important take-aways (and I don't mean Uber Eats)

I always learn something new from an event like this or at the very least, am able to crystallise past knowledge that I often forget to implement. For many delegates both new to the writing scene and those more practised, the Sydney Conference was a magnificent opportunity to grow, learn, extend oneself, accept, take risks and bask in the affectionate warmth of being part of a greater whole, of something special and ultimately - one day - rewarding.

Conferences introduce you to ways to develop understanding, strengthen ability and generate hope.

'Just as we are the masters of our own pens and paintbrushes, so too are we the captains of our own careers.'


Experience a few more quotes from delegates in my Vox Pop post. You'll find a few visual round ups of the Sydney Conference on my YouTube channel and at the official Conference Blog along with a riotous collection of happy conference snaps.


Whether you are a burgeoning author with serious publication intentions, a SCBWI member or just someone who indulges in creating with words and pictures and loves the buzz of tribe sharing, consider attending a conference one day. Meantime, check out the SCBWI 2019 Conference Blog. Both are rewarding experiences.

SCBWI QLD tribe having fun in Sydney

Suggested Conferences - here's but a few of the many conferences available to kid lit creators:
Artwork courtesy of Tania McCartney
Additional photos courtesy Maria Parenti-Baldey 

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