Whew! I’m finally back in the swing of things after attending SCBWI NY 2016, and having a whirlwind couple of weeks! I celebrated my 5 year anniversary with my boyfriend, went to New York for 4 days, filmed a promo video at Skillshare HQ, attended SCBWI NY, celebrated my birthday, got exciting news (!), and finished my next coloring book just this morning!
I heard from a few people at the conference that they had read my previous blog post about the SCBWI LA Conference and that it was helpful for them prepping for their first conference, which is awesome! So I thought I’d do another in-depth post about this conference for any New York first-timers next year.
Just as a quick recap of my conference experience:
- It was awesome actually knowing a few people at the conference this year! The last time I went to SCBWI NY in 2014, I didn’t know a single soul. So don’t fret, you’ll meet people that will become your book friends for years to come and conferences to come! The Twitter group #kidlitart always has a group of people at the conferences, so that’s a great way to have some people to look out for if you don’t know anyone.
- My “To Read” list has grown far too long
- People really like to argue about what is nonfiction and what isn’t
- Rainbow Rowell is amazingly awesome and is probably the friendliest, most will-you-be-my-best-friend-iest person I’ve ever met, though I didn’t actually meet her, I actually just sat like 50 feet away from her.
- “Every book should start where everything changes.” –Judy Blume
- No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.” –Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House
- Little Brown is a spectacular publisher that publishes spectacular books
- Have you heard of the Yale paper clip experiment? Basically, Yale researchers were studying creativity and genius and developed an experiment where they sat down a group of kindergarteners and asked them to come up with as many different ways a paper clip could be used as they could think of. Prior to conducting the experiment, the researchers said that anything above 100 ideas would be “genius level”. So how many kindergarteners do you think came up with 100 ideas? ALL OF THEM. The researchers then repeated the experiment with 10 year olds. Only HALF of the group came up with 100 ideas. Then the researchers repeated the experiment with 15 year olds. What do you think the average number of ideas was for that group? 3. Each 15 year old came up with an average of only 3 ideas. This is heartbreaking.
- Gary Schmidt can make a whole room cry.
- Writers see everything as sacrament. Everything has importance.
Before the conference began on Saturday, I spent Friday exploring New York on my own, and visiting Skillshare Headquarters! While I was in town, Skillshare asked me to come by and be part of a teacher promo video they’re filming! Meeting the Skillshare team, seeing their awesome office space, and being filmed for a video was definitely a fun experience! I’m so glad they asked me to participate and I can’t wait to see and share the video with you when it comes out! Ok, so now I’ll jump into the conference insider tips! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section!
WHERE DO I STAY?
- The hotel the conference is held at (Grand Hyatt) is SUPER expensive even with the SCBWI discount. Some people find a roommate to split the cost of a room, but it’s still probably $100+ a night. I mean come on, we’re in publishing not the tech world, right?
- If you’d like to save some money and are willing to give up a little convenience, try looking for an Airbnb! I’m extremely lucky to have a sister who lives in Brooklyn, so I always stay with her in her apartment. Another friend of mine stayed in a different hotel on the same block as the Hyatt and saved at least $50 a night.
- One thing to consider if you don’t stay at the Hyatt though, is that you’ll have to be able to get around the city! But you have tons of options: walking (this year the high on Saturday was 15 degrees. I froze!) take an Uber, or take the subway.
- Don’t be scared of the subway! It’s not so bad once you get the hang of it and only costs about $2.75 per trip. You can use the app, NYC Subway to help you plan your routes. Just remember there’s no wifi down in the stations. If you’re there for 4 days like I was and are going to be running all over town like I was, I would advise getting the unlimited 7 day ticket which costs $31. You get the most bang for you buck that way and won’t have to worry about taking short train stops.
- With all that said, the Hyatt is reeeeeeally nice, so if you have the extra money to spend, it would be nice and more convenient to just stay there. Personally, I’d rather spend my money on food…
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
- It’s winter! In New York! It will be COLD! This year was mind-chillingly cold, though it’s not always so bad. The high on Saturday was 15 degrees, and it dropped down to 9 degrees that night when I was walking to the subway.
- If you’re staying in the hotel, all you’re going to have to do is take the elevator down to the conference from your room, so you can wear whatever you want with disregard to the weather. I would recommend slacks/nice pants/skirt with a nice sweater/blouse. Make sure you bring layers because some rooms are cold and some are warm. Mostly cold though. And wear comfortable shoes!
- If you’re like me, and you didn’t stay at the Hyatt and therefore have to walk and take the subway, you’re gonna wanna bundle up! This is pretty much what I wore each day, pictured above. I wore a hat, a giant scarf, an undershirt, two form-fitting sweater, a loose sweater, a coat, leggings, pants, and two pairs of socks. You gotta do what you gotta do.
- They do have a coat check at the conference, but it’s like $4 per item, so I just stuffed everything in my bag.
WHAT SHOULD I BRING?
- A notebook to take notes! I like the tiny little moleskin because I can tote it everywhere and it’s light.
- Your portfolio if you’re an illustrator
- Your book dummy if you’re showing in the Portfolio Showcase
- A big stack of postcards! You want enough to hand out to everyone you meet, and enough to leave out with your portfolio at both the Portfolio Showcase and Art Browse. I brought 200 postcards and had about 10 leftover, so it seems like the perfect amount for this conference (which is smaller and shorter than LA).
MOST IMPORTANTLY: WHAT WILL I EAT?!
I don’t know about you, but when I travel, where and what I’m going to eat is high priority. I usually go in to a vacation with a Google Doc full of places I want to go. So here, have my research!
Restaurants I went to this year that I highly recommend:
- Ivan Ramen: You have to get the Tokyo Shoyu Ramen (pictured above). Perfect for such a cold winter!
- Hugo & Son’s: Italian, tasty pasta and pizzas—try the Fiamma!
- Shake Shack: There’s one right below the Hyatt in the Grand Central food court! There’s also a ton of other food options down there.
Restaurants I’ve been to previously that I highly recommend:
- Momofuku: RAMEN. Amen. Try the pork belly steamed buns too!
- Milk Bar: Try the Compost Cookie, Corn Cookie, and definitely the CRACK PIE.
- The Grand Central Market: A bunch of great, healthy, and cheap options for a quick lunch during the conference. Try the chocolate rugelach from Zaro’s Bakery!
Don’t Forget You’re in New York!
Try to leave yourself some time to do something non-conference-y while you’re in New York! I didn’t attend the Illustrator Intensive this year, so I took that day as an extra day just to explore the city, but even if you don’t have an extra day, you’ll still have a couple hours in the evening to go adventuring! The city in itself is crazy, so get out there and experience stuff!
Even with all the excitement of New York, I’m still glad to be back home. Texas welcomed me back with glorious 75 degree pure sunshine, and I couldn’t be happier to soak it all up.
I hope this post helps out if you’re thinking about going to the next SCBWI NY Conference! I tried to answer some of the questions/worries I had before my first NY conference, or things I would have liked to have known before going. Anyways, it’s an awesome experience, and no matter where you are in your career, I think it can be a huge help to everyone and you’ll come away inspired, reinvigorated, and with more direction for your work! And maybe best of all, you’ll meet a bunch of really friendly and wonderful people who love the same things you love. :)
Hope to see you at the conference next year!