Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Words in the Woods Registration

Date(s) - 08/11/2017 - 08/13/2017
4:00 pm - 12:00 pm

East Bay Camp at Lake Bloomington
24248 Ron Smith Memorial Hwy - Hudson, IL 61748

Woods-3 2

Registration is FULL!

If you are interested in adding your name to the waitlist for this event, please email Names will be added in the order they are received (time/date), and you will be notified if an opening is available for you to register before May 31st. Thank you!


Escape into the woods and discover the secret of improving an existing manuscript!

Katie Heit (Assistant Editor from Harpercollins/Greenwillow Division, biography below) and Sean McCarthy (Agent/Owner of Sean McCarthy Literary Agency, biography below) will lead you through intense revision strategies. Advanced critique of your manuscript by the editor or agent is included. Then, work with groups and the speakers to prepare your manuscript even further for submission.


Spend the weekend lakeside at East Bay Camp just 12 miles north of Bloomington, IL, in a casual atmosphere.  Socialize at an evening bonfire, let your hair down at a lively book-themed costume party, and network with other children’s writers. Make and take home a creative camp craft.


If you are interested in learning more about East Bay Camp at Lake Bloomington and the accommodations, please click the following link:

(The sleeping rooms have bunk beds, with 4-6 beds per room. But for this conference, we are planning to take up only about half of the facility's maximum space, so few if any people would have to climb up to a top bunk. You do have to bring your own sheet/pillow/sleeping bag. The facility doesn't supply these. The building attendees will be staying in has dormitory style/community bathrooms.This is a church camp facility, so although it's not like a hotel, we won't be roughing it either. Solid roof, solid walls.)


Registration opens April 7th, 2017.

Admission price includes pre-retreat critique, meals, and accommodations. 

SCBWI Members: $325 Nonmembers: $365

Manuscript Critique Guidelines:

All manuscripts: 

             10 Pages total maximum

              12 point font (standard font, such as Times New Roman, Arial)

1-inch margins

Double spaced (for poetry, see below)

Your name, e-mail, title, format (picture book, middle grade, YA, etc.), genre (romance, mystery, biography etc.) must be at the top of the first page. (no title page is necessary and text may start immediately after the identifying information).

No introduction letter or illustrations, please. These will be removed.   

If your book format is a…     

Picture Book: Submit ONE picture book manuscript, 10-pages maximum.

Novel: Submit the first 10 pages of the ms (even if this cuts off mid-chapter); your optional synopsis may be single-spaced AND it must be contained within the maximum ten pages.

Poetry: this includes rhyming picture books, novels in verse, and stand-alone poetry collections. Poetry submissions should conform to the PB and novel guidelines above; however, they may be single-spaced with a double space between stanzas, per industry standards. Feel free to format your poetry to allow for a standard of approximately 250 words (e.g. putting verses into multiple columns, etc.).Stand-alone collections (i.e. a group of poems intended to be published as one book) must have a page break at the end of each poem. 

Manuscript Mailing Instructions: Information will be provided after registration has started.


Speaker Biographies

Katie Heit

Katie is an assistant editor with Greenwillow, an imprint of HarperCollins. She has been with HarperCollins since 2014 and started out as the Greenwillow Books intern in 2013. She has worked closely with many acclaimed authors and artists, including Kevin Henkes, Christie Matheson, Victoria Schwab, Lynne Rae Perkins, and Heidi Heilig. She has a background in art, with degrees in both English and graphic design from Notre Dame, and she works closely with picture books at Greenwillow. She is also on the lookout for funny middle grade and young adult manuscripts, especially those with strong female friendships. She loves anything that has a memorable voice and a compelling story.  

Sean McCarthy

Sean established Sean McCarthy Literary Agency in 2013, emphasizing a comprehensive approach in assisting clients with their literary careers.

He began his publishing career as an editorial intern at Overlook Press and then moved over to the Sheldon Fogelman Agency.  He worked as the submissions coordinator and permissions manager before becoming a full-time literary agent.  Sean graduated from Macalester College with a degree in English-Creative Writing and is grateful that he no longer has to spend his winters in Minnesota.

He is drawn to flawed, multifaceted characters with devastatingly concise writing in YA, and smartly paced mysteries or adventures in MG. In picture books, he looks more for unforgettable characters, off-beat humor, and especially clever endings. He is not currently interested in issue-driven stories or query letters that pose too many questions. His clients include Zachariah OHora, Hyewon Yum, Mark Fearing, Kurt Cyrus, Jamie A. Swenson, Andrea Offermann, and Judith Robbins Rose, among others.

You can follow Sean on Twitter ( for his thoughts on publishing news, the inevitable hipsterfication of Astoria, and the Mets' starting lineup.

For questions regarding the retreat or registration, please email Anastasia Ely:

This event is fully booked.