At the 2016 SCBWI Conference, I was fortunate/very scared to be chosen from a number of entries to pitch my work-in-progress, Beyond Belief to a panel of publishers.
I had barely written anything of the manuscript, but the full concept was in my head, and I was applying for a VicArts grant to go to Paris to research my book. Beyond Belief is about Algerian Muslims who saved Jewish children during WW2 is set predominantly at the Grande Mosquée de Paris and surrounds, so I wanted to go to Paris to immerse myself in the history and setting of my story.
I pitched at the SCBWI Conference hoping that a publisher might ask to read the manuscript, and this would be something positive I could put on my grant application.
Pitching to a panel of publishers was probably one of the most nerve-wracking things I've ever done, but the SCBWI people who ran the session, Katrina Germain and Tracey Hawkins were so positive and encouraging.
I was surprised and excited when nearly every publisher on the panel said they would like to read my manuscript. Not only that, delegates at the conference approached me afterwards and said they would also love to read my book.
One of my wonderful illustrator friends at the conference (who I met through SCBWI) suggested that seeing there was so much interest in the story I should submit to her US agent ... and less than a week later, I was offered representation by the fabulous Jill Corcoran. (I had been looking for a US agent for about 4 years).
I recently received word that there are also New York publishers interested in reading my story, and I'm pleased to say that I was successful with my grant application and head to Paris for a month on 31st March.
I've been a member of SCBWI for over 10 years and it has brought me so many amazing opportunities and friendships, both in Australia and overseas. My 2009 YA, Letters to Leonardo was published as the result of an assessment by Margaret Hamilton at the 2008 Conference. I travelled to Nevada USA twice after being awarded a SCBWI mentorship to work with New York Times bestselling YA novellist, Ellen Hopkins.
The SCBWI Conference offers amazing networking opportunities with fellow creators, and the chance to meet publishers face-to-face and learn about the craft of writing and illustrating. If you're serious about your work, I recommend that you start saving now for the next SCBWI Conference in 2018.
Dee White is the author of 16 books for children and teens, and a number of plays, articles and poems. She has two new books for children due out this year. K9 Heroes will be published in August by Scholastic, and Dee's first picture book, Reena's Rainbow (Illustrated by fabulous Tracie Grimwood) will be released in September with EK Books. Dee blogs at http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com and you can find out more about her at her website http://www.deescribe.com.au