Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Conference Schedule

* Conference schedule subject to change


PRE-CONFERENCE: Friday, November 9
Embassy Suites
Kansas City-Overland Park

Pre-conference manuscript consultations and portfolio reviews with the conference faculty will be held Friday evening. Preregistration is required for these critiques and there is an additional fee. Note: these consultations typically sell out quickly after registration opens. Registration will open Aug. 25th at 9 a.m. for SCBWI members only. General registration opens Sept. 8th.

*Manuscripts for critique are due October 5th by 5 pm. Please submit your manuscript to with the following subject line and document title: FacultyLastName_Title_YourLastName. For example, if your name is Jane Doe and you are submitting a manuscript entitled Best Book Ever for critique with Barry Goldblatt, you would title your document and the subject line of the email as follows: Goldblatt_BestBookEver_Doe.  Manuscripts should be in Times New Roman, 12 point font, double-spaced, using standard manuscript formatting. You may submit the first ten pages of your novel with a one page synopsis (synopsis should be single-spaced) OR one full picture book manuscript. 

Pre-conference critiques will be scheduled late afternoon and evening Friday at the conference hotel, the Embassy Suites Kansas City-Overland Park, 10601 Metcalf, Overland Park. All participants will be contacted prior to the event with their specific critique time. Please check in at the table outside the Meadowlark Room in the lobby area at least 15 minutes before your consultation time. The Embassy Suites is located at the intersection of I-435 and Metcalf, approximately one block north of the interstate on the east side of the street.

Due to the overwhelming success of last year’s Mix and Mingle, we are introducing our NEW AND IMPROVED MIX AND MINGLE from 6:30 pm to ??? — click here for details!


CONFERENCE: Saturday, Nov. 10
KU Edwards/Best Conference Center
Overland Park, KS

8:15 – 8:45 am
Best Conference Center Lobby
Packet pickup, coffee   

Welcome and announcements

9:00 – 9:50 am 
Agent/Editor/Art Director panel:                                                                                                                                                                          

Susan Chang, Senior Editor Tor Books; Barry Goldblatt, Agent, Barry Goldblatt Literary; Wendi Gu, Associate Agent, Janklow & Nesbit Associates; Annie Nybo, Editor, Albert Whitman & Company; Alexandra Penfold, Agent, Upstart Crow; Jasmin Rubero, Associate Art Director, Kokila.

10:00 – 11:30 am
Extended Breakouts

1. Barry Goldblatt: From the Middle of the Map to Pushing the Boundaries of your Creativity      

Have you ever wondered just how deep your creative pool goes? In this session, Barry will help even the most imaginative storytellers push through artistic boundaries and find new, uncharted lands within themselves. If you’ve found yourself wondering how to unleash your creativity, let Barry help you find out.                                        

2.  Susan Chang: From Acquisition to Publication                                                                                                                          

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the doors of a publishing house? Join Tor’s senior editor as she gives an inside look at the acquisition and editorial process. What improves the chances of work being bought? What are the challenges and joys of the ensuing editor: author partnership? Find out how to prepare yourself for the editorial process, and how to harness it to improve its final outcome: your book.

3. Wendi Gu: Crafting the Perfect (and sellable) Nonfiction Book Proposal      

Are you a nonfiction writer looking to increase your proposal sales? Or are you just interested in the nonfiction market? Join Wendi as she gives an inside look into what makes a nonfiction book proposal sell, and what keeps it from getting picked up.  

4.  Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman: The Creativity of a Collaboration

Have you ever wondered what the relationship between author and illustrator is really like? Alexandra and Suzanne discuss their collaboration for the picture book All Are Welcome. How much do author and illustrator really communicate? How much input is there on the artwork? Bring all your questions for this frank and honest discussion. 


11:45 – 12:45 LUNCH
Each participant will be given a lunch table assignment upon conference check-in, so we can mix and match and talk children’s books with other attendees.  A faculty member or PAL (traditionally published SCBWI member) will be seated at each table. Buffet lunch. The vegetarian option should be reserved when you register.

1:00 – 2:00 pm 

1. Cynthia Leitich Smith: Inclusively Diverse: Writing Characters Across & Within Identity Elements

The world is a beautifully diverse place, and our stories should reflect that diversity. But adding diversity to manuscripts can be daunting. In this session, Cynthia provides a framework for writers struggling to include more honest, authentic voices in their work.

2. Alastair Heim (and guest panel): How to Juggle Life, Work, AND Writing

How many times have you prioritized something (just about anything) ahead of that manuscript you’ve been editing? If you’re like most writers, the answer is too many times to count. Join PB author (and local SCBWI member) Alastair Heim as he leads an all-star panel of published SCBWI authors and illustrators in an honest discussion of what works, and what doesn’t, when balancing life, work, and writing. Featuring panelists: Brenda Maier, Traci Sorell, and Sarah Walsh

3.  Jasmin Rubero: The Fine Art of Dummy Making

What is an art director looking for in a dummy? Join Jasmin Rubero as she gives the inside scoop on what art directors want to see. Bring your questions as she walks through the steps to a great dummy.

2:15 – 3:15 p.m.

1. Susan Chang: World Building
Some stories transcend in their ability to take the readers to new, unique, and completely unforgettable worlds. What allows some books to captivate their readers for days, months, even years after they’ve been read? Often, it is the immersive world the writer was able to create. As a Senior Editor at Tor, Susan has seen every type of world, and knows what works and what doesn’t.

2. Barry Goldblatt: Navigating the Agent/Client Relationship
What is it like to work with a literary agent? From the query process to day-to-day communications to red flags, Barry provides a roadmap for your journey to finding and working with the right agent for you.

3. Annie Nybo: The Moral of the Story: A Workshop on Writing Issue Picture Books
An interactive presentation discussing the difference between writing a children’s book with a moral, writing a light issues book, and writing an institutional issue book. We’ll focus on the picture book market and talk about how to write a story without being didactic.

 4. Suzanne Kaufman: Action, Reaction, and Interaction and the Power of Pose and Expression in Picture Books
Are you looking to take your work to the next level? In this hands-on craft session, Suzanne will help you learn to draw emotions in action. Dig deep and let your work power up!

3:25 – 4:20 pm

1. Cynthia Leitich Smith: The Joke’s On You: Writing Humor & Comedic Elements
This session looks at the importance of, and how to go about, adding humor elements to your work. Even stories not designed for comedy need brief moments of levity. Comedic elements provide a release of tension and make the written world more realistic and fulfilling.

2. Alexandra Penfold: Picture Book Revision, Tapping into Your Inner Editor
In an encore from the summer Los Angeles conference, Alexandra Penfold draws on her own experiences as an editor, agent, and an author to guide you into becoming your own best editor.

3. Annie Nybo: Spotting Plot Problems
In this presentation, Annie will discuss plot structures and provide ways to assess (and possibly correct) plot problems your work may be suffering.

4.  Jasmin Rubero: Creating Content
What are art directors really looking for? Jasmin Rubero discusses how to create content that appeals to the children’s book market. 

4:30 – 5:00 pm
Closing Keynote, Wendi Gu

5:00 – 5:30 pm
Reception and book signing


Embassy Suites
Kansas City-Overland Park

One-on-one career consultations will be scheduled Sunday morning at the conference hotel, the Embassy Suites Kansas City-Overland Park, 10601 Metcalf, Overland Park. All participants will be contacted prior to the event with their specific consult time.


9 am- 11 am

Come and meet with fellow writers to receive feedback on your writing. All critiques will be on the spot with no prior reading. If you are interested, please select the appropriate box at the time of registration so we can plan accordingly. Participants will be divided into PB, MG, YA or NF at the time of the session.          There is NO extra charge for these critique groups.


Manuscript Submissions After the Conference:  

Conference attendees are allowed to submit one manuscript (or query for agents) to faculty members following the conference if your work fits the editor’s or agent’s guidelines.  Attendees will receive specific submission guidelines for each faculty member in your conference packet at the event.