I just attended the CYA Conference in Brisbane, and it was fantastic! I am in the process of writing a longer and more detailed blog about the weekend, but for those who can’t wait for that here are five reasons why I loved my CYA experience.
- Networking Opportunities
I live in Darwin where there are only a handful of children’s writers, so the CYA Conference was a great opportunity to network with other writers and illustrators of children’s books. I made a lot of new friends and everyone was really welcoming.
CYA has an emphasis on giving writers and illustrators feedback on their work. This is done through the competition (every entry receives feedback from two different judges) as well as manuscript assessments, pitching sessions and bootcamps. Writing can often be a lonely task. It can be hard to access critiques and advice on how to improve your work. If you are looking for feedback, I would highly recommend submitting your work in the competition or, even better, attending next year’s CYA conference.
- Access to Industry Professionals
CYA had a large number of publishing industry professionals on site, from highly successful authors like Belinda Murrell, Isobelle Carmody, Jack Heath and Ally Baker, to agents, editors and publishers. Some of these people were presenting, others were offering assessments, but all were approachable, warm and generous with their time and knowledge of the children’s publishing industry.
The conference began with the CYA Success Panel where seven authors and illustrators shared how attending CYA had led directly to their publications. This was hugely encouraging and a reminder that if you keep working hard and sending your work out that publication is possible. It also highlighted the value of face to face interactions and acting on critiques.
Finally, CYA for me was the saturation of a whole weekend surrounded by children’s books and the people who love to create them. We talked about books we loved, how to create wonderful characters, writing processes, current projects and how children’s books can change the world.
I am extremely grateful to the Northern Territory Government for their contribution of a Professional Development Grant that provided financial assistance towards my attendance at the conference.