Guest Post By Shirin Yim Bridges
MCWC Faculty 2011 and 2013, MCWC Advisory Board Member
Author of Ruby's Wish, one of Publishers Weekly's Best Children's Books of 2002 and winner of the 2003 Ezra Jack Keats award; The Umbrella Queen, named one of the Best Children's Books of 2008 by TIME magazine; the forthcoming Mary Wrightly So Politely; and The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses. All her books are about girls who manage to exert themselves and do the unexpected.
My sister, Natasha Yim, is a self-proclaimed conference junkie. By which she means if there’s a writers’ conference, she’ll try to find the funds to attend. She usually gets to at least one a year (she’s a MCWC alum), and sometimes as many as three. It was at a writers’ conference that she found a publisher for her most recent book, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas. Similarly, she met her agent beside a swimming pool at a social event.
I am a conference pusher. Whenever I teach or speak about writing and publishing, I tell anyone who will listen that conferences are the only short cut left to getting published by someone other than yourself. But is this true? I subject my oft-repeated assertion to closer scrutiny in my blog at goosetracks.me.
Conferences are how the book industry does business. In addition to the writers’ conferences, there are the booksellers’ conferences (BEA being the largest one in the U.S., usually held in New York), and the library conferences (the behemoth being ALA). As an author, publisher, and speaker, I attend on average eight to twelve conferences a year.
That many conferences does not a happy camper make. I’ve just returned from this year’s ALA National Conference in Las Vegas. It was a very successful conference for Goosebottom Books, at which we introduced our new series, A Treasury of Glorious Goddesses.
There’s one conference that I look forward to every year though: the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. It has everything that I tell my students conferences offer: the opportunity to improve your craft; the opportunity to meet other authors like yourself; the golden chance to put your manuscript in front of agents, editors, and publishers.
And it has something that I value even more—community.
You’ll see what I mean when you get there. As you watch shy newcomers being greeted by the million-watt smiles of board members; as you see conference regulars embrace each other as at a reunion; as faculty shake hands and slap each other on the back, and turning, include you too; listen out for Louis Armstrong:
I see friends shaking hands
Yes, it’s a wonderful world.
Shirin Yim Bridges
Only an invitation to speak at the SCBWI East Australia and New Zealand Conference in Sydney, Australia, prevents her from joining the MCWC community this year.