Joining professional organizations can bolster your career, solidify beneficial relationships, and increase your knowledge base. It isn’t necessary to join every single organization; however, it does pay to do some research and explore the opportunities available to you.
If you have your business plan handy – or if you are firmly committed to your career goals – you will be able to make an informed choice as to which organizations will benefit you most. Here are just a few organizations that may be of interest to you with a short description of each.
The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators www.scbwi.org
The SCBWI was founded in 1971. Membership is open to writers, illustrators and others who are dedicated to children’s literature. By joining the national organization you are also a member of your state’s chapter. There are annual conferences in New York and Los Angeles. Members can access a bulletin board through the website that offers writing assistance and advice from other writers and artists. The SCBWI also offers several awards and grants to children’s book writers and illustrators. Membership dues are about $75 per year for new members.
Children's Literature Association www.childlitassn.org
The ChLA offers conferences as well as several publications included with membership. As posted on the ChLA website, the purpose of this organization is “to encourage high standards of criticism, scholarship, research, and teaching in children’s literature.” The ChLA also offers awards and grant opportunities. Annual membership is around the $75 mark, but is less expensive for students. Members outside the United States will pay a little more.
Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
This organization is actually a group on the social network Facebook. I am by no means an expert on Facebook; however, for networking purposes you should at least consider joining this group if you haven’t already. There is no cost to join and the most valuable benefit is the ability to share your achievements and network with other writers and illustrators. If you aren’t a social networker – nor aspire to be one – do not feel any pressure to join. But I need to note that the world we live in is changing fast and this seems to be part of the new frontier in marketing.
Local Library Associations
Many libraries have organizations that work in support of the library in your town. This is an excellent outlet to meet people in your community and share your dreams and ideas about writing children’s literature. You never know, you might meet someone who shares your ideas and a successful collaboration will be born.