Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2015 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference FAQ

Got questions about the Austin SCBWI 2015 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference? We try to answer them below. Click here to register for the conference. And click here for the schedule.

NOTE: Daylight savings occurs on Sunday, March 8. Clocks will move forward one hour. If you are registered for sessions on Sunday, make sure you change your clocks on Saturday. No refunds will be given if you are late for an intensive or pitch.

Where is the conference being held?

The Austin SCBWI 2015 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference is being held at the Austin Marriott South, 4415 South IH-35, Austin, TX 78744. Complimentary parking is available around the hotel and in the parking garage underneath the hotel.

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

Austin SCBWI has a block of discounted rooms at the Austin Marriot South priced at $139 a night. Go here to book a room. The room rate includes complimentary wi-fi and parking, but it does not include breakfast. The hotel does not offer a shuttle service from the airport, but it's located a little less than 10 miles away if you're considering a taxi. The hotel does offer a free shuttle service into town if you would like to do sightseeing. The last day to book rooms at the discount price is Feb 13, 2015.

How much does the conference cost?

The Austin SCBWI 2014 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, March 7, 2015, from 8am to 6:30pm and Sunday, March 8, 2015, from 9am to 2:30pm. You can choose to come either day or come both days for a 40% discount. Get a bigger discount with early-bird pricing if you register before Jan 31, 2015. The price for each day includes lunch.

Prices are:

Early Bird (By Jan 31, 2015)

  Members Students Non-Members*
Saturday Only $140 $150 $180
Sunday Only $90 $100 $130
Full Conference (40% discount) $195 $210 $258


From Feb 1, 2015 until the conference date

  Members Students Non-Members*
Saturday Only $170 $180 $210
Sunday Only $120 $130 $160
Full Conference (40% discount) $242 $258 $306


*The difference between the non-member ticket price and the member price is equivalent to 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: Austin SCBWI Conference Registration, 2305 Little Elm Trail, Cedar Park, TX 78613.

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 Jan 26, 2015. After that, you may receive a 50% refund. No refunds will be issued for manuscript critiques after Jan 20, 2015. If your spot is filled prior to the submission deadline of Jan 31, 2015, you will get a full refund. Pitches and Publishing Consultations will be refunded in full if the spot is filled prior to the conference.

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

Saturday will have a full day of 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.

For writers, Sunday offers pitch sessions in the morning, plus two craft-focused two-hour intensive sessions. For illustrators, two craft-focused two-hour intensive sessions and one will include a pre-conference assignment. The track for writers includes sessions with author Jennifer Nielsen and agent Jill Grinberg. The track for illustrators includes sessions with illustrator/author Tom Lichtenheld and Creative Director Kristine Brogno.

What is the First Impressions Panel?

During the First Impressions Panel, members of our faculty give their first impressions — a quick 2- to 3-minute discussion — of art and writing submissions. Artists can submit one image no larger than 1,600 pixels in either direction and no more than 5MB. Writers can submit one piece with the first 5 sentences of their manuscript. Editors and agents say that the first 5 sentences can often tell them whether they'll like the full manuscript, so your opening is crucial. If you check this option, you can send your submission to Shelley Jackson before Feb 23, 2015. Please note: Submissions will be shown on a first-come, first-serve basis. We will get through as many as we can in the allotted time, but some submissions may not be shown.

Is there other social time?

Saturday night you can hang out with the conference faculty and attendees at a pre-paid dinner. 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 10-minute one-on-one manuscript or picture book dummy critiques or portfolio reviews. View the faculty bios hereWe 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 critiques, read the instructions on our Critiques Submission page. The deadline is Jan 31, 2015. If you have to cancel a critique, refunds will only be given through Jan 20, 2015, to allow time for us to fill the spot. If you cancel after Jan 20 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. If you would prefer not to be included in the award, please note that when you register.

What are the consultations with Cynthia Leitich Smith?

This year, 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 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 can not 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.

How does a pitch/consultation work?

You must be registered for Sunday to sign up for a pitch/consultation. Pitch sessions cost $30 and are 10-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.

Pitch times may not be changed on the day. If you miss your consultation time, we can not guarantee that you will be able to get another 10 minutes, so please keep an eye on the time. Aim to be in the pitch area at least 5 minutes before your scheduled timeslot.

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.

Portfolio Showcase entrants get an opportunity to submit their work for a juried selection of professionally printed note cards that are given to each faculty member and will be available at the conference. Showcase entrants will receive an email with more information after registering. For more information on guidelines, awards and note cards, visit the Portfolio Showcase page.

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/author Don Tate. 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 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 2015 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 Gale Albright.

Important dates:

Jan 26, 2015 – Last day for full refund

Jan 31, 2015 – Submission deadline for manuscript and picture book dummy critiques

Jan 31, 2015 – Last day for discounted early-bird pricing

Feb 13, 2015 – Last day to book hotel for discounted price, and last day to send in submissions for the First Impressions Panel

Mar 6, 2015 – Last day for online registration

Mar 7-8, 2015 – Conference days

Click here to register for the conference.

We look forward to seeing you in March!