Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

October 2018 Meeting – What You Don’t Know About SCBWI

By Susan Johnston Taylor

Membership has its perks, as they say. But SCBWI has so many programs for writers and illustrators that even long-time members may not know about all the opportunities available to them.

The October meeting of the Austin chapter covered SCBWI benefits and programs in detail. In case you missed that meeting or if you need a refresher, I’ve compiled a recap below.

SCBWI programs that are open to all
• Monthly meetings: Austin chapter meetings are usually held on the second Saturday of the month at BookPeople and feature speakers on a range of topics including finding an agent and understanding state book awards. Non-members are welcome to attend these meetings. Check the events calendar for upcoming dates.
• Webinars:* Webinars allow members and nonmembers to hone their skills and sharpen their business savvy from home. Recent topics for Austin webinars have included writing verse novels and planning school visits. Replays are available to webinar attendees for a limited time. The Nevada chapter maintains a list webinars available across all chapters.
• Workshops:* Full-day workshops let members and nonmembers examine a topic in depth. Recent workshops have covered picture book illustration and writing queries and synopsis.
• Retreats:* Weekend retreats allow for more intensive study, including workshops and professional critiques with editors and literary agents. The Austin chapter has hosted retreats on novel writing and picture book writing.
• Annual conference:* Austin’s annual SCBWI conference attracts over 250 people each year with workshops, professional critiques, a portfolio showcase for illustrators (with the winner getting a chance to design the chapter page banner), pitch sessions, submission opportunities and a silent auction. The 2019 conference is scheduled for May 18-19. SCBWI also hosts larger annual conferences in New York (winter) and Los Angeles (summer).

*SCBWI members get discounted rates on ticketed programming, even in other regions.

Members-only SCBWI Austin programs
Critique groups: Austin has several critique groups for writers and illustrators, including one that meets immediately following the monthly meetings at BookPeople.
Critique registry: Through the critique registry on the SCBWI website, members seeking critique partners can submit a request and get paired up with others.
Book clubs: The Austin chapter has book clubs for picture books, middle grade and young adult that discuss books via Facebook.
• Illustrator events: Emerging and established illustrators meet for regular events such as Third Wednesday coworking and Fourth Tuesday Sketch Night. Check the events calendar for upcoming dates.

Members-only resources
SCBWI Podcast: Listen to podcast conversations with kidlit luminaries like Mike Curato, Peter Brown, and Connie Hsu.
The Book: The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children: Each year, SCBWI publishes a 300+ page directory with information on submitting work to publishers or agents, publicizing books for children, planning school visits and more. Members can access a PDF version* or order a hard copy.
The Bulletin:* This quarterly print magazine includes members news and interviews, reviews of books related to the craft of writing or illustrating, features on marketing, selecting a writer’s residency and more.
Insight:* SCBWI’s monthly email newsletter features editor interviews, member news, illustration prompts and more.
• The Pro-Insider:* This quarterly email newsletter is distributed to all PAL (Published and Listed) members.
Masterclass DVDs: Children literature luminaries Richard Peck and Tomie dePaola share insights on craft in these DVD masterclasses, available for $14.95 each.

*Free with SCBWI membership

SCBWI members-only marketing programs
• Events submission: Through the website, members can submit an event such as a book signing or look party and a volunteer puts it into events calendar and posts on social media.
• Member news and interviews: Members can email news (book contracts, awards, etc.) to Sam for sharing on social media and inclusion in the enewsletter. Member interviews are by invitation-only and provide inspiration to other members.
Speakers Bureau: This searchable database connects authors with schools seeking speakers for author visits.
Illustrator Gallery: This searchable database allows members to showcase their illustration style.
Members Bookstore: Members with traditionally published or independently published books can create a page and sell books directly through SCBWI’s website.
Reading program: Starting in 2019, the Austin chapter is working on a new program to encourage schools and libraries to participate in a reading challenge. Kids who have read the most books will get prizes and libraries with the most readers will also get prizes (member books!). As part of program, members will pay a small fee but they will get books into libraries all over Texas. Other chapters have created reading challenges, and we are collecting name suggestions for our challenge.
Conference booth and roundtable sponsorships: Texas chapters cosponsor a booth at the Texas Library Association (TLA) conference. In 2019, TLA is in Austin April 15-18, and volunteers are needed to help with booth. SCBWI is also sponsoring a roundtable on What’s New with Texas (covering picture books, middle grade and young adult) and plans to have a booth at the Texas Book Festival in 2019. Internationally, SCBWI sponsors a booth to highlight members books at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.
• Bookstore opportunities: The chapter is in touch with local bookstores about opportunities for members.
Recommended Reading Lists: Lists highlighting members books are distributed to bookstores and libraries around the country.
Monthly Book Birthdays: Each month, SCBWI celebrates member books released that month. On the first Monday of each month, all of the books released that month are displayed together on the book birthday page and promoted through social media. Each book birthday announcement remains in the site for two weeks. Submission information for this free promotional opportunity.

Award/Scholarships – Local
Artistic Support
Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award: This is a one-year mentorship given through the annual conference
Emerging Voice Illustrator Mentorship: This is a one-year mentorship given through annual conference.
Portfolio Showcase Contest: The winner of this contest gets a year’s membership, art supply gift card, design of chapter web/enews header plus promotion.
Scholarship for Creators of Diverse Characters: A picture book writer, a novel writer, and an illustrator receive a full conference scholarship. Another picture book writer, a novel writer, and an illustrator receive a half conference scholarship.
• NEW! RA Scholarship: This conference scholarship aims to help lift the voice of an author or illustrator who wants to make a career in children’s literature.

Other Awards
Meredith Davis Volunteer of the Year Award: The winner of this award receives a free year’s membership and a bookstore gift card.
Betty X Davis Young Writers of Merit: Named for the oldest and most revered member of the Austin SCBWI chapter, this award recognizes an Austin-area elementary, middle and high school student for their writing abilities.

Members-only social benefits
• Online discussion board: SCBWI’s Blueboard is the members-only online discussion board where you can ask and answer questions on the craft and business of creating children’s books, share good news, and more.
Austin SCBWI Facebook Group: The newly created Facebook group allows Austin members to ask and answer questions, share resources, and more.
• Conference Saturday dinner: The Austin conference includes a Saturday dinner, available only to members who are attending the conference.
• Occasional socials: The Austin chapter organizes occasional social gatherings including an annual holiday potluck.

Members-only discounts
• 15% off Nielsen BookScan Services
• 60% off Publishers Weekly subscriptions
• Discounted print or digital subscription to Writer’s Digest
• 10% off customized websites from Squarespace
• 20% off licensing for Scrivener and Scrapple software
• 10% off at BookPeople in Austin

Ready to join SCBWI? Create your profile here.

If you’d like to find out more about the Austin chapter or volunteer with the chapter, email us at