Two weeks ago I went to Winchester for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators UK conference – SCBWI, or Scooby, as it’s known.
It’s a brilliant event, with loads going on for both published and pre-published authors. This was my second year attending and, whereas last year I was a newbie, now I’m nearly a published author with my book Cogheart coming out with Usborne in 2016.
The conference weekend is a chance to catch a wealth of great speakers like David Fickling, Philip Reeve and Sarah Mcintyre, and Jonny Duddle, plus attend round-table sessions chaired by various lovely Scooby authors. You can also get a crit from fellow writers, or from agents and editors, but mainly the conference is a chance to meet friends old and new and discuss all things children’s-writing.
This year there were so many opportunities to do that, including the brilliant Pirate Party on the Saturday night – an excuse to dress up in the latest skull & crossbones fashion and pull pirate faces, if that’s your kind of thing. But coming away from the conference two events stood out for me:
The first was the Author Keynote by Philip Reeve and Sarah Mcintyre who, as you can see, are both masters of disguise. During their speech they demonstrated the many games, songs, drawing and stories they pack into school visits, and gave tips on how to create exciting events. There was a great game of Snakes and Ladders with both halves of the auditorium trying to win success and the legendary book shaped swimming pool.
But for me, the biggest take away from their lively and hilarious presentation was about the importance of moving around the stage, and making things colourful, energetic and fun.
Philip even advised authors to stand to read at panel events because it surprises the audience and makes you a memorable panelists. (Unless, that is, all the other panellists copy your move and do the same!)
The second stand-out session was the School Visits Demo with Mo O’Hara, Sarah Grant, and Steve Hartley. All three authors talked about issues you might encounter setting up school visits, as well as the fun of presenting your book to an enthusiastic audience of kids. All three performed a part of their school presentation – big, inspiring performances that featured, among other things: giant alien underpants, superhero capes, zombie goldfish, a staring contest, and interactive storytelling exercises. Again the take away was: own the stage, make things fun, interactive, energetic and varied.
The image that sticks in my mind, and seems to perfectly illustrate this ethos, was Steve, arms folded and chest thrust out, posing as Superman in his child-sized super-cape.
A few days after the conference I told a friend about these two great sessions. Her job involves speaking at a lot of corporate events, and she agreed that being confident and energetic is just as important, if not more so than what you have say. Then she mentioned this awesome TED talk by Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who you are. It’s all about Power Posing for confidence, and essentially a different take on all those presentation ideas.
With all this, and the many other amazing weekend sessions, I am beginning to feel much more prepared for the public side of being a published author, and I will definitely be back at #Scbwicon next year, and hopefully be part of their big author launch for 2016.