As I was on the T this morning (that's public train transportation in Boston ;) ), drinking my coffee and reading the Jan/Feb 2007 issue of the SCBWI Bulletin, it dawned on me what a wealth of information that was packed into this slim newsletter. I was reading first-hand insider tips and experiences being shared by long-time illustrators and authors in the children's publishing field. It was an experience not unlike the novel you can't put down...but, for the time spent, the take-away lessons were way more applicable to my professional goals! Let me state, for the record: there is not an inch of wasted ink in this newsletter. There are articles here that run the gamut - something for every part of your 'self': your creative self, your business self, your marketing self, your professional self, and all the roads that flow around, in-between and behind it.
To join SCBWI, you do not have to be a published author or illustrator! They are all-inclusive. Once you join, you get some great reference materials for the shelf, useful information on their web site (much of which is available to non-members too), and opportunities to join artist and writer meeting groups in your own geographical area. You are joining into a community of people who typically work solo and really appreciate the feedback and support of their peers. And then, there is the aforementioned SCBWI Bulletin, which alone is worth the price of admission!
There is a bi-monthly regional newsletter for my area as well, and there might be one for yours, too (I live in Massachusetts, and we have the NESCBWI Newsletter). The cost of your annual membership is not included in your subscription, but it is so worth the extra cost! For instance, in NESCBWI's Newsletter, I get information tailored to my geographical area and a complete run-down of what's going on at publishing houses - who is moving, who is leaving, what's new, if anyone's closing shop, and who is going on maternity leave (okay, that last one I have not come across yet, but I know it is only a matter of time). Plus, there are articles and art work (a few of my own illustrations were even published in the last issue!)
The cost of joining SCBWI is less than $100 a year - I think I paid somewhere around $70. It's already paid off for me several times over. If you are on the fence about joining because you feel you would get more out of it once you are published, please reconsider and think about joining now instead! No time like the present! :) It's a great combination general resource, industry community and support group. It may just help stoke your creative fires as well as inspire your practical business and marketing mind - all around important things for each and every one of us.
(This is a public service announcement from an independent party)