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I got home yesterday from the SCBWI's winter conference, which was held at the Grand Hyatt in New York.

Usually I'd do a full report of who said what and when, but SCBWI's blogging policy asks that conference reports be kept to impressions and general comments (a policy that I can completely respect as it does mean the SCBWI gets speakers who will be honest in their comments).

As such, I'm going to restrict my conference report to general comments about the flavour of the comments coming from panellists and speakers. Anyone who wants to find out more about the conference should check out #ny12scbwi on Twitter, where a lot of other attendees have Tweeted about sessions and linked to their own reports.

I'm also going to break my report into 2 posts, with today's post focusing on the Marketing Intensive for Professional Writers that I took on the Friday 27th January. I'll do a second post on the main conference itself tomorrow.

A list of the Conference faculty can be found here.

This was a day long event with a variety of talks on everything from using social media to creating book trailers, school visits, working with publishers and emerging trends in publishing technology. To be honest, there was so much talked about here that I don't really know where to begin, but I've set out below the main bullet points that I took away from it:

- A presence on social media - especially an established platform on social media - can be helpful in getting a manuscript past an acquisitions committee because it helps them to know what the author can do to help them to sell the book and potential markets to target.

- You should only do the social media you're comfortable doing. If you're insincere or uncomfortable then it shows through quickly.

- Think about how much spare time you've got, what different social media platforms there are (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, blog sites, YouTube, message boards etc) and work out which ones best suit your personality and the time you've got available.

- Consider which age groups are most likely to use which social media sites and which sector you're trying to target - e.g. teens, parents, teachers or other educational professionals, librarians etc.

- Start to see yourself as a brand and develop a cohesive web presence.

- It's not as difficult or expensive to create your own book trailer as you may think. There is a lot of material available through Creative Commons licences and there's stock photograph and music sites that you can use for minimal fees. The best place to start if you're interested is to check out Darcy Pattison's website, which is a fantastic resource and can run through this more coherently and simply than I ever could:

Book Trailer Manual

I would definitely recommend checking out her examples on that page - the trailer for 14 Cows For America was spectacular - the more so given that it was done on a low budget.

- Nick Glass and Deborah Hockman Turvey talked about doing US school visits. Again, there was a wealth of information, including the particular nature of the US education system (which as a Brit I'm not too au fait with) so I'd point you to their websites:

teachingbooks.net is run by Nick Glass that helps schools, libraries, illustrators and authors to come together.

visitingauthors.com is run by Deborah Hockman Turvey and helps libraries, schools and conferences to work with authors and illustrators.

- Websites are less effective for author promotion than social media because you need to find a way of driving traffic to your website. If you are going to have a website then make sure it's properly designed and keep it up to date. Also make sure that your website is put on the cover of your book.

- You can pay someone to design your website for you (in which case, check out their work, try and speak to existing customers and get a price for design up front) or you can check out free web hosting sites that'll let you do it yourself.

- SCBWI is developing a new initiative for its members in 2012 - SCBWI LAUNCH PARTIES, where authors can take out a page for their book launch where the member can control the content, put up reviews etc. More information will be released on the SCBWI website during the year.