So, you’re writing a Young Adult manuscript–maybe you’re just starting out, or maybe you’ve got several completed manuscripts under your belt. Maybe you’re looking for an agent. Or maybe you’ve already got an agent, and you’re looking to network with kidlit professionals. You know there must be resources out there to help you on the road to publication, but where to begin? Where to find conferences, conventions, and writing groups for young adult writers?
There are some excellent communities, organizations, conferences, and conventions you should know about. I’m going to break it all down here–your one-stop-shopping spot for everything Young Adult (or middle grade).
Writing Groups for Young Adult Writers
Writing Groups for Young Adult Writers – The Blueboards
If you’re just starting out, the first place I suggest you check out is Verla Kay’s Blueboards, a wonderful online community of kidlit writers and illustrators hosted by author Verla Kay. Here, you’ll find everyone from newbie writers to multi-published authors posting in a warm, welcoming environment. Topics discussed include agents, publishers, craft, submission process and standard “wait” times, and just about everything else, book related. You can also find critique groups, critique partners, beta readers, and a range of support. If you register (and I highly recommend you do!), you’ll be able to access more forums. I truly think this is the best place to begin your quest–and best of all? It’s FREE.
Writing Groups for Young Adult Writers – SCBWI
SCBWI: The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is an excellent writing group for young adult writers that welcomes both unpublished and published authors of children’s books, including YA. There are several regions, which host local events and conferences, as well as the biannual conferences (winter and summer) on a national level. Editors and agents attend both local and national conferences, and this is a great way to make some connections and bypass the so-called “slush” pile. I know of at least a few agents who only take queries from client referrals *or* from conference attendees–in other words, if you attend a session with them at a conference, they’ll give you permission to query them. Similarly, some publishing houses that only accept agented submissions will allow SCBWI conference attendees to sub to them directly. I know of several YA and middle-grade authors who “found” either their agent or publisher through a SCBWI conference. And like the Blueboards, you will also find a “community” of kidlit writers on the SCBWI message boards, as well as critique groups (both online and local, “in person” groups).
Writing Groups for Young Adult Writers – Romance Writers of America
For those of you writing YA with a romantic plot/subplot, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) is a great writing group for young adult writers. If you join the National organization (open to both published and unpublished authors), you can then join the YA special-interest chapter, YARWA. As a member of RWA, you can attend the annual National Conference where YARWA hosts a chapter meeting/party that’s always fun and informative. The conference has a full line-up of workshops offering tips on craft, business, publishing, promotion–just about every topic you can imagine, and many specific to the YA market. Publishers also host “spotlight” sessions where they discuss their lines/imprints, and what type of books they’re publishing, and what they’re currently looking for. There are also smaller, more intimate local conferences held throughout the year, plus plenty of list-serves, yahoo loops, and other support mechanisms.
Writing Conventions for Young Adult Writers
RT BOOKLOVERS CONVENTION
After the staff at RT added a special YA-focused “Teen Day” day-long event to their annual convention, RT has become a huge draw for the YA crowd.
I’m sure there are many other wonderful resources out there for YA authors–feel free to mention them in the comments! But this should serve as a good starting point as you begin to move toward your next goal, whatever it might be. Good luck!
Looking for emotional support in your writing group? What about a Writer’s Support Group.
Kristi’s YA debut, HAVEN, was released by Simon Pulse in Feb. 2011. She also writes adult fiction (historical romance) as Kristina Cook and Kristi Astor. Visit her online at www.kristi-cook.com.