When I first started writing and illustrating, I researched which programs would be best for creating my artwork, pulled out my second edition of The Confident Writer, by Constance J. Gefvert, and shopped around for a good self-publishing platform. In my ignorance, I thought these were the only tools I needed. When I discovered the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, it did not take long to decide to become a member. As one of the largest existing organizations for writers and illustrators, it is “the only professional organization specifically for those individuals writing and illustrating for children and young adults in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia.”
SCBWI offers a wide range of benefits. Besides acting as a network for the exchange of knowledge between writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, etc.; they also sponsors two annual International Conferences on Writing and Illustrating for Children, offer dozens of regional conferences and events, publish a quarterly magazine, SCBWI Bulletin which provides information on the craft and business of writing and selling books for young readers.
Through this organization, I was able to reach out and contact critique groups and editors, and give my work accreditation. The contacts I made at conferences gave me advice and helped me pave my own course towards success. The quarterly bulletin always has valuable insights on the industry, and tips on how to improve and market myself. It also gave me a platform to show off my work while I created my website. This allowed others to contact me for services or just compliment me on my illustrations.
I highly recommend that anyone involved in the children’s book market become a member of SCBWI. In fact, if you are writer or illustrator, even if is not for children, I suggest that you look for an organization like SCBWI. Some other suggestions are Authors Guild, WriteForKids, Children’s Book Insider, The National Association of Independent Writers and Editors, The Association of Illustrators, and The Society of Illustrators, just to name a few. Of all my budget expenses, my membership to SCBWI is the most worthwhile, and it is tax-deductible.