Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2016 Conference FAQ

Got questions about the Austin SCBWI 2016 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference? We try to answer them below. Click here to register for the conference. And click here for the schedule.

Where is the conference being held?

The Austin SCBWI 2016 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference is being held at the Crowne Plaza Austin, 6121 North IH-35, Austin, TX 78752. Complimentary parking is available around the hotel.

I'm coming from out of town. Where should I stay?

Austin SCBWI has a block of discounted rooms at the Crowne Plaza Austin priced at $129 a night. Go here to book a room. At the hotel's reservation page, choose your dates then click BOOK and you'll see the discounted rate applied. The room rate is available for stay during the conference as well as three days prior and three days after the conference, and the rate includes complimentary wi-fi and parking, but it does not include breakfast. The last day to book rooms at the discount price is April 23, 2016.

How much does the conference cost?

The Austin SCBWI 2016 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference has tiered pricing so that even those on a budget can afford a part of it. The full conference runs Saturday, May 14, 2016, from 7:30am to 6:45pm and Sunday, May 15, 2016, from 8:30am to 3pm. You can choose to come either day or come both days for a 20% discount. Get a bigger discount with early-bird pricing if you register before March 18, 2016. The price for each day includes lunch.

Prices are:

Early Bird (By March 18, 2016)

  Members Students Non-Members*
Saturday Only $150 $160 $200
Sunday Only $100 $110 $150
Full Conference (20% discount) $205 $216 $270





From March 18, 2016 until the conference date

  Members Students Non-Members*
Saturday Only $180 $190 $230
Sunday Only $130 $140 $180
Full Conference (20% discount) $248 $264 $312





*The difference between the non-member ticket price and the member price is equivalent to roughly half a year's membership. If you would like to become a member before registering, you can do so at

Is lunch included?

Yes, lunch is included in the Saturday and Sunday prices. Coffee and water also will be provided, as well as an afternoon snack on Saturday. Breakfast is not provided.

What are my payment options?

You may pay via credit card with PayPal or you may choose Pay Offline and mail us a check. If you're paying with check, complete the registration form, then mail your check to: Samantha Clark, Austin SCBWI Conference Registration, P.O. Box 170312, Austin TX 78717.

What if I have to cancel?

We understand that situations change and things come up. If you have to cancel your reservation for the conference after you're registered, you may get a full refund up to April 8, 2016. After that, you may receive a 50% refund. No refunds will be issued for manuscript or dummy critiques after March 18, 2016. If your spot is filled prior to the submission deadline of April 1, 2016, you will get a full refund. Portfolio reviews, pitches and Publishing Consultations will be refunded in full if the spot is filled prior to the conference. No refunds will be issued for critiques, reviews, pitches or consultations that were missed during the conference, unless the faculty member performing them has to cancel.

What's the difference between the Saturday and Sunday sessions?

Saturday will have a full day of critiques, inspirational keynotes and craft-based breakout sessions. During the breakout periods, you may choose from four sessions, including one for illustrators, one for professional development and two for writing craft. There is no additional charge for breakout sessions. All critiques are held on Saturday.

Sunday offers agent/editor pitches and two craft-focused intensive sessions (three hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon) in three tracks: Novels, Picture Books and Illustrators. You must pick your sessions at registration. All pitches are held on Sunday.

Is there other social time?

The lunches and cookie break on Saturday are great networking opportunities. Also, Saturday will end with book signings and an open bar. For more, you can hang out with the conference faculty and attendees at a pre-paid dinner on Saturday at 7pm. The cost is $30. Please choose that option when you register.

What should I do if I have special dietary needs?

Our registration form allows you to let us know if you are a vegetarian or need gluten-free food. If you have further needs, please email us.

How do the critiques work?

You must be registered for Saturday to sign up for a critique. Critiques cost $45 for a 10-minute one-on-one manuscript or picture book dummy critiques or portfolio reviews. View the faculty bios here. We highly recommend that you research the critiquers before you register for a critique.

For illustrator portfolio reviews, bring your portfolio on the day of the conference. For more information on general portfolio guidelines, visit the Portfolio Showcase page.

For manuscript and picture book dummy critiques, read the instructions on our Critiques Submission page. The deadline is April 1, 2016. If you have to cancel a critique, refunds will only be given through March 18, 2016, to allow time for us to fill the spot. If you cancel after March 18 and the spot is filled, you will receive a full refund.

Please note: If you sign up for a critique or review, you will miss some of the breakout session or keynote going on at that time. Unfortunately, that is unavoidable due to a very busy schedule. Critique/review times may not be changed on the day. If you miss your critique/review time, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to get another 10 minutes, so please keep an eye on the time. Aim to be in the critique area at least 5 minutes before your scheduled critique time.

Manuscript critiques will be eligible for Austin SCBWI's Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award, with the chance to win a year's mentorship with author Liz Garton Scanlon. If you would prefer not to be included in the award, please note that when you register.

What are the publishing consultations with Cynthia Leitich Smith?

New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith has offered to do 10-minute one-on-one consultations with attendees. This is an opportunity for you to talk to a well experienced author about the publishing industry, your goals, career strategies and marketing. This is NOT an opportunity to get your work critiqued. Cynthia is also doing manuscript critiques separately.

You must be registered for Saturday to do a consultation with Cynthia. If you miss your consultation time, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to get another 10 minutes, so please keep an eye on the time. Aim to be in the consultation area at least 5 minutes before your scheduled timeslot.

Publishing consultations can be purchased until the day of the conference. If they're sold out, you can join the waitlist in case there's a cancellation.

How does an agent/editor pitch/consultation work?

You must be registered for Sunday to sign up for an agent/editor pitch/consultation. (Please note: These are with agents and editors. Publishing consultations with Cynthia Leitich Smith are separate and listed above.)

Agent/editor pitch sessions cost $30 and are 3-minute timeslots when you may either pitch your story to the agent or editor, or simply ask questions about the industry or their agency or publishing house. The session allows you guaranteed time with that person. A pitch is not a guarantee of acceptance of your manuscript, so make sure you are practiced and ready to go.

NOTE: Your pitch should be practiced and brief, one to three sentences that you can say in 60 seconds or less without rushing. It is a teaser, not a synopsis. Author Nathan Bransford talks about writing pitches on his blog, but you can find numerous other posts on the topic online.

Pitch times may not be changed on the day and cannot be rescheduled if you miss your slot. Aim to be in the pitch area 5 minutes before your scheduled timeslot.

Agent/editor pitch/consultations can be purchased until the day of the conference. If they're sold out, you can join the waitlist in case there's a cancellation.

I'm an illustrator. How can I have my portfolio in the Portfolio Showcase and be included in the judging?

To be included in the Portfolio Showcase, you must sign up for it when you register for the conference (must be attending Saturday). There is a $5 fee. When you sign up, you are automatically entered into the judging for the showcase winners. If you do NOT want to be included in the judging, please check that box in your registration.

The Grand Prize winner of the showcase will have the opportunity to design a header for the Austin SCBWI website. That illustration will be on display on for the following year and included in a gallery of past headers going forward. The illustrator will be promoted along with their artwork, including links to their website.

Maximum size for standard portfolio: up to 14" width (unopened) and height. For liability reasons, no electronic portfolios, such as iPads, will be allowed as part of the showcase. If you only bring an electronic portfolio, it will not be displayed and your reservation fee will not be refunded.

Are there other promotional opportunities for illustrators?

Yes! All illustrator attendees who are members of SCBWI may send us promotional postcards of their work to be included in the faculty gifts. Postcards must be a maximum of 6 inches by 8 inches and must be received by Illustrator Coordinator Amy Farrier by April 30. Illustrators will receive information about how to submit their postcards after they register.

How can I be considered for the Emerging Voice Illustrator Mentorship?

Portfolio Showcase entrants can choose during registration to be considered for the year-long mentorship with this year's mentor, illustrator Marsha Riti. More information here.

What do I need to know about the Silent Auction and Austin SCBWI store?

Austin SCBWI is completely volunteer run, and the fees we charge are used to pay for our events, including the costs of bringing in qualified speakers, food, printing and more. We try to keep costs low for attendees, and to that end, we have other opportunities that enable us to raise funds, while you get something fun as well.

Our annual conference includes a Silent Auction with items that you can bid on. Check out the list of items here. Please bring cash or your checkbook. To donate an item for the Silent Auction, please email auction coordinator Sandy Powers. Look at our Silent Auction page for more information.

Austin SCBWI also has mugs, notebooks and t-shirts available with the gorgeous artwork designed by local illustrator Caitlin B. Alexander. Visit our shop at

I'm published. How can I get my book in the conference bookstore?

Published SCBWI members who are registered for the conference by April 6, 2016, may have one of their books for sale in the conference bookstore on Saturday, May 14. Choose the "I am published" option when you register and you'll get an email after April 6 with details. Please note: Any books that are not available by conference time will not be included in the bookstore.

I'm registered. How can I access my registration?

After you have logged in to our website, you can access your registration details by clicking on the My Home button in the top right corner, then clicking Event History in the menu on the left side of the page. A list with all the SCBWI events that you have registered for in the past 2 years will appear. Choose the Austin SCBWI 2016 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference to view your registration details.

I'm registered. How can I add to or change my registration?

If you'd like to add a critique, pitch, the Saturday dinner or other extra to your registration, please email Austin SCBWI Regional Advisor Samantha Clark.

This does not answer all my questions. Who can I ask for more information?

If you have any other questions, please email Austin SCBWI Assistant Regional Advisor P.J. Hoover.

Important dates:

March 18, 2016 – Last day for discounted early-bird pricing

March 18, 2016 – Last day for refund for critiques

April 1, 2016 – Submission deadline for manuscript and picture book dummy critiques

April 6, 2016 – Last day for published SCBWI members to register for the conference and get their books in the conference bookstore

April 8, 2016 – Last day for full refund

April 23, 2016 – Last day to book hotel for discounted price, and last day to send in submissions for the First Impressions Panel

April 30, 2016 – Last day that we can receive promotional postcards by SCBWI member illustrators attending the conference

May 13, 2016 – Last day for online registration

May 14-15, 2016 – Conference days

Click here to register for the conference.

We look forward to seeing you in May!