Well-loved author, Australian Society of Authors board member and SCBWI conference regular, Hazel Edwards gives her thoughts on the value of attending conferences.
I love serendipitous meetings of ideas at conferences. Although there's a formal program, it's the informal meetings over coffee or even early morning walking in the park that's great. It's where at the last SCBWI conference, I met Maria Gill from New Zealand.
As a result of that exercise, Maria and I have been Skyping all year and next Saturday I'm doing a web chat on 'Authorpreneurship' from my Melbourne study to her Kiwiwrite4K conference in NZ. We've had a practice with the equipment organised by Massey University, so my face and voice will appear on the right conference wall at the right time, (allowing for 2 hours difference) and we're all learning new technology together.
Australian Society of Authors is publishing 'Authorpreneurship' in print and e-book format in June, so I'll be able to share both the content and the experience in my SCBWI sessions in Sydney, as well as in Qld workshops in mid June.
I think it is the interstate and internationalisation of creators which is so exciting. We can collaborate with colleagues, where ever they live. And we can share in person at a conference, but continue that relationship electronically afterwards. And recommend opportunities which may suit them.
Even though I'm format-challenged, I'm actively asking colleagues how they cope with new technology, to enable them to write and illustrate more effectively. We are all learning together, and this conference is an opportunity to share the REAL challenges we face. And to admit our 'stuff ups' too.
E-books are another area of challenge. And since the SCBWI meeting where illustrator Jane Connory and I talked of how rights-reverted, proven titles might be re-formatted as e-books sold from author sites like mine, with merchandise ,we've been working together on 'Project Spy Kids' and Frequent Flyer Twins' literacy mysteries series
Attending a conference gives an opportunity to see how others present their ideas. I learnt from an illustrator how to have a generic PowerPoint of visuals, but vary the comments according to the type of audience. And add some witty visuals.
So attending a SCBWI conference is an investment in ideas and colleagues at a time of rapid change, where we all need to develop new skills, but are unsure which ones.