Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Registered and Ready to Go! Your Conference Prep Checklist

By Heather Phan

The SCBWI Southern Breeze Spring Mingle 2023 conference is just over three weeks away and you are registered and ready to go!


Now it’s time to zoom in on Tuesday, March 7th, at 7:30 p.m. EST (6:30 p.m. CST) for the pre-conference 411, “Kid Lit 101: An Overview of Publishing Literature for Children”, presented by Jo S. Kittinger, Regional Advisor Emeritus and author of more than 35 books for children (so we’re guessing that she knows a thing or two…). Ms. Kittinger—let’s call her Jo; we’re family here—will present a brief overview of the nuts and bolts of publishing for children, after which you’ll learn more about how to get the most out of an in-person conference and have the opportunity to ask questions and join a small-group breakout to get to know your fellow Breezers and conference attendees better.


All. That. In. One. Zoom. Session. Eeeeeee!


(We know, right?!)


Next, it’s time to begin prepping for the big day. Use our conference prep checklist below for some things to consider.


Determine your goals. Whether you are yet-to-be-published and just looking to learn more, eager to meet industry professionals and other creators, or ready to showcase your portfolio or pitch your work, determine what you would like to accomplish on conference day and what you would like this experience to mean to you. Pull your ideas into hard focus and get specific. We suggest one-to-three SMART goals tailored to your conference day. But don’t let us put a number on you—you know yourself and what will work best for you so: you do you. Whatever your goals and their number, make them SMART to make them work for you.


Pro Tip: Going in with clear goals helps you better identify opportunities that are right for you. Know where you’re going to know how to get there.  


Plan your day. It’s time to review the conference schedule, your selected breakouts and other activities, faculty bios, and our FAQs page. Who’s Winsome Bingham, you ask? Or Victoria Ying? Just read their bios on our faculty page for more info. Getting a headshot? Be sure to see the photographer’s recommendations for taking a great picture. Want to donate a new or gently used children’s book to the Joan Broerman Book Basket? Wonderful! Decide on your title or make a note to check out the conference bookstore when you’re onsite. Have a question to ask during your breakout’s Q&A? Pick up a notebook and start jotting. Still want to donate to the silent auction? Be sure to do so by Saturday, March 11th! Think you might want to grab a bite in Buckhead after the conference? Find a few options here. Can’t decide between the fancy schmancy shoes or the comfortable ones?


Pro Tip: Wear the comfortable ones.    


Finalize your travel arrangements. Whether you’ll be visiting from out of town or driving your regular commute, now’s the time to get everything in order. Check your plane tickets or review your route—we know, the GPS does all the work, but it couldn’t hurt, right? Have all the apps you need installed? Got your snacks? Success favors the planner!


Pro Tip: Grab a piece of paper or open a new note on your smart phone or other device, and every time you think of something you need to do, write it down or type it up. Give yourself several days to think over what you’ll need to do to be ready for conference day, and then add as you go. You may find it easier to write things down as you think of them; give time to get time.


Polish your pitch. Speaking of time, be kind to your future self and practice your pitch, your elevator speech, and maybe even your small talk and your favorite jokes in advance! Practice alone or with friends, family, neighbors, cats, dogs, or fish—with an aside that fish may not really be the best audience for your jokes—or download a copy of our pitch practice Bingo card.


Pro Tip: Feeling amazing? Take the 100 Pitch Challenge and practice your pitch 100 times anywhere, anytime, and with anyone (or no one) before conference day. Once you hit a perfect score, give us a shout on social media to let us know! #100pitches


Organize your materials. Gather your business cards and other materials as applicable. Pack up the notebook in the pro tip below and a couple of pens—one for you and one to lend because that’s a nice way to make someone’s day.


Pro Tip: If you’re a notetaker, get a notebook in advance of the conference day. Label pages for each keynote and breakout session and leave enough space in between to write down all those great insights you’re sure to hear. Add a section for general notes and another for to-do’s. Designate a page for random, inspired ideas or sketches. Your notebook will be a record of your day and a handy reference for your later to-do’s.


And now, relax—you’ve got this! Be sure and grab a copy of our “Registered and Ready to Go” graphic on Twitter, post and give yourself a shout out on social media! #registeredandreadytogo


For those who haven’t yet registered, save the date! The deadline for a seat in the room where it happens is March 18th so register today!