There is an interesting debate about the merits (or lack of them) of membership in SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) over at Fuse# 8 Production. (Thanks to Read Roger for the link.)
If you are a writer for kids/teens, read through the various arguments. They are interesting.
My opinion? I would not be published if it hadn’t been for SCBWI. Plain and simple.
I joined in 1992. I had some experience as a journalist and a burning desire to write for children, but no idea how to go about it. I went to the first conference organized by the SE PA regional chapter (and the dynamic duo of Sue Campbell Bartoletti and Lisa Rowe Fraustino) and started my slow learning curve. For years I attended conferences and slowly began to learn how to improve the quality of my writing, and how to submit my manuscripts and behave as a professional when my work was eventually published. Both of the editors that I now work with consistently were people I first met at SCBWI conferences. (They cheerfully rejected my work for years when it was sub-par.) SCBWI gave me the tools I needed to forge my dream of being an author into reality.
(Please note the time line for anyone who is looking for an overnight success: started writing: 1992. First picture book published: 1996. First picture book out of print: 1998. First novel published: 1999. Still working very, very hard to learn how to write better.)
I agree with the posters who point out that SCBWI doesn’t offer as much for published writers as for people new to the field, but I still keep paying my dues and feel deeply connected to the group. If you want to write for kids and teens, do yourself a favor and join today.