Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Importance of Professional Organizations

About 9 months ago I was sitting in front of my computer banging my head on the keyboard. I had been submitting my manuscript for a couple of months to various literary agencies and had some interest, but no luck otherwise. I knew my manuscript needed work but I knew nobody in the biz, as it were, and had no idea what to do. Aside from my trusty Writer's Market book, I was basically on my own. I had read the blogs of other writers and knew that there were organizations for romance writers (Romance Writers of America) and sci-fi writers (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) but I hadn't heard of one that dealt with young adult fiction.

So I went to good old Google and typed in 'young adult writers organization.' The first thing that popped up was the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I was quite excited and read through the website, thrilled that I'd finally found what I was looking for. I signed up right away and emailed the names listed on there as local reps. I was lucky to find Writers' Groups in Geneva and Dundee (both 15 minutes from where I live). I have since joined both groups!

SCBWI provides a lot of opportunities and support for aspiring writers. It was great to be able to bring my work to the critique groups and get feedback from other writers. It also taught me how to be more critical of my own writing by critiquing others. It has also given me so many opportunities to meet and get to know other writers at all stages of the game. There are also the yearly conferences, both locally and in other states that offer so much in the way of learning about the business through editors and agents and how to be a better writer and improve your craft with pointers from published authors.

I'm looking forward to the SCBWI National Conference in L.A. at the end of July. I'm also grateful for all the wonderful and talented writers that I've had the luxury of working with these last nine months. I don't know what I'd do without Laura, Sarah and Natalie, along with the rest of our critique group members!

If you are starting down the path towards getting published, I encourage you to find the organization that fits your writing and join it right away. Get active about your career. I would say it is the best 75 bucks I've ever spent! Good luck!

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