Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2016 Golden Gate Conference

Date(s) - 03/04/2016 - 03/06/2016
8:30 am - 9:30 pm

Asilomar Conference Grounds
800 Asilomar Avenue - Pacific Grove, California [CA] 93950


The 33rd Annual SCBWI Golden Gate Conference and Retreat will be held March 4-6, 2016 at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, CA. Conference kickoff on Friday starts around 4:00pm. On Saturday, the event runs from 8:30am all day until around 9:30pm. The conference closes around noon on Sunday. 

IMPORTANT! Please Note: Registration for the Golden Gate Conference requires TWO steps. Your registration here with SCBWI covers conference attendance and optional consultations only. Attendees must then register directly with Asilomar for housing (meal tickets are included). There is an additional cost for housing that is not included in the SCBWI conference fee. Two-night double occupancy at Asilomar is $377.60. Two-night single occupancy is $550.70. See the HOUSING section below for details. 




Over the years, the Golden Gate Conference has gained a reputation as one of the best intimate gatherings of authors and illustrators. Recent speakers include Daniel Handler, Jon Agee, M.T. Anderson, Paul Fleischman, E.B. Lewis, David Shannon, Arthur Levine, Cynthia Lord, Gary Schmidt, Carolyn Mackler, Diane Muldrow, Namrata Tripathi, Lin Oliver, Jacquelyn Woodson, David Weisner, Anne Ursu and Dan Yaccarino

The conference is limited to a small group of approximately 120 people. The Asilomar grounds are on the Pacific Ocean near Monterey Bay in Northern California, two hours south of San Francisco. Many of the Asilomar buildings are historic, and the famous dining hall, designed by Julia Morgan, provides a friendly, personal gathering place for conference attendees and speakers. You can see the conference grounds in more depth at

This year’s conference theme is: LIVE YOUR STORY. Come embrace your unique career path, seek out new challenges, and focus on the journey while practicing your craft. Our personal life stories and experiences make us special and give us inspiration to create our best work. Whether your passion is picture books, middle grade, YA, or non-fiction, we hope you'll gain new friends, inspiration for the year ahead, craft-intensive take-aways, and new business know-how.




Our 2016 faculty includes:


Averbeck_smJIM AVERBECK  –  Author/Illustrator
Jim Averbeck works, plays, and evades the law in San Francisco, California. His first book, In a Blue Room, was a Charlotte Zolotow Honor book. His popular books Except If and Oh No, Little Dragon! feature charming protagonists with pointy teeth. His book, The Market Bowl and his middle grade novel A Hitch at the Fairmont were Junior Library Guild Selections. His most recent book, One Word From Sophia, was an IndyNext Top 10 for Summer 2015. Spy agencies can find Jim online at


Minju_smMINJU CHANG  –  Agent, BookStop Literary Agency
Minju Chang joined BookStop Literary Agency in 2006. She is looking for humorous and inventive picture books with heart, especially those written by author/illustrators; contemporary or historical MG and YA; and narrative non-fiction that shines a spotlight on strange or unknown mysteries of the world. She accepts all genres but favors evocative and heart-warming magical realism; gripping adventure stories; school stories with a funny or spooky twist; and relationship-driven teen novels. She is a fan of unlikely heroes and misfits and anything related to 19th-century British literature.


Rana DiOrio founded Little Pickle Press in 2009 to create high quality, high impact media that catalyzes meaningful conversations with children. In 2015, she launched Relish Media, its YA imprint. Rana has also authored six picture books in the award-winning What Does It Mean To Be…?® series. Striving to be the change it seeks, Little Pickle Press was named a Best for the World B Corporation for three consecutive years and ForeWord Reviews' Independent Publisher of the Year in 2014. Follow her on Twitter @ranadiorio and Little Pickle Press @LPP_Media. 


Ledbetter_smEMMA LEDBETTER  –  Associate Editor, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Emma is an associate editor at Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. Her background includes internships at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Nickelodeon, and Nick Jr., and a B.A. in Art History from Yale University. Books that Emma has edited include The Backwards Birthday Party, a picture book by singer/songwriter Tom Chapin and John Forster and illustrated by Chuck Groenink, and I Don't Like Koala, a hilarious picture book-noir from Sean Ferrell and Charles Santoso. She continues to look for captivating voices, enchanting artwork, humor, and charm in a range of formats—particularly picture books, chapter books, and middle grade novels. She is especially fond of Edward Gorey, Clementine, and Frances the Badger. 


Marcus_smKENDRA MARCUS  –  Agent, BookStop Literary Agency
Kendra Marcus started BookStop Literary Agency in 1984 and since then the agency has grown to be one of the most well-known and well respected agencies for children’s books. Her authors and illustrators have received many awards and honors including the Pura Belpre, the Batchelder Honor, the National Book Award, and the title of U.S. Poet Laureate. Kendra gravitates toward quirky and funny picture books, fiction with unforgettable characters and stories that will bring her to tears. Unusual non-fiction, especially science presented in new ways and little gems of history are also her cup of tea. Stories with Hispanic or Latino characters are always welcome, and she is thrilled to find accomplished illustrators with a fresh style who can tell a strong story in pictures to accompany a text.


Pham_smLEUYEN PHAM  –  Author/Illustrator
LeUyen Pham is illustrator of over 80 books for children, including the New York Times bestsellers The Princess in Black by Shannon and Dean Hale, Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore, and Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio. She is the author and illustrator of A Piece of Cake, No Such Thing as Little, and Big Sister Little Sister. LeUyen lives with her husband and young sons in California. You can visit her online at



Santopolo_smJILL SANTOPOLO  –  Editorial Director, Philomel Books, Penguin
Jill Santopolo is an editorial director at Philomel Books (Penguin), where she edits many award-winning and best-selling books including A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff, Proxy by Alex London, A Dance Like Starlight by Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper, and It’s Your World by Chelsea Clinton. Jill is the author of the Alec Flint Mysteries (Scholastic), Sparkle Spa series (S&S/Aladdin) and Follow Your Heart books (Puffin). She holds a BA from Columbia University, an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and a certificate in Intellectual Property Law from NYU. Jill is also a thesis advisor at The New School.


Smith_smDANIELLE SMITH  –  Agent, Red Fox Literary
An agent at Red Fox Literary, Danielle Smith began her career as the well-known blogger behind the online review site There’s a Book. Her children’s book reviews have also appeared in top online and print publications such as Parenting Magazine and Women’s World. Smith’s expertise in children’s literature led her to a career as an agent eager to work with many more talented authors and illustrators. When she’s not got her nose in a book, Danielle can be found spending time with her two kiddos and husband exploring the town they love or playing the flute in local orchestras.


Underwood2_smDEBORAH UNDERWOOD  –  Author
Deborah Underwood is the author of numerous picture books, including Interstellar Cinderella, the forthcoming Good Night, Baddies, and the New York Times bestsellers Here Comes the Easter Cat, The Quiet Book, and The Loud Book! She has written 28 nonfiction children's books, and her work has appeared in National Geographic Kids, Highlights, Spider, and Ladybug magazines. She lives in Northern California with her feline companion, Bella. Please visit her online at


Vanderpool_smCLARE VANDERPOOL  –  Author
Clare Vanderpool is the award-winning author of two novels: Moon Over Manifest and her newly released Navigating Early. Moon Over Manifest, her debut novel, was awarded the prestigious 2011 John Newbery Award which is awarded annually by the American Library Association to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Her books have both hit the New York Times best seller list as well as the Book Sense best seller list. The recipient of much critical-acclaim, including seven starred reviews, a top ten Historical Fiction Kid’s Book by Instructor Magazine, a Junior Library Guild selection, and a Golden Spur award, Clare’s writing has connected with readers young and old. Most recently, Clare’s second novel Navigating Early was named a Printz Honor Book for Young Adult Fiction by the American Library Association. Visit Clare online at


Wind_smLEE WIND  –  Vice President of Digital, Communications, and Community Engagement, Little Pickle Press
Lee Wind, M.Ed. is Vice President of Digital, Communications and Community Engagement at Little Pickle Press. He is also the official blogger for SCBWI and his own, award-winning "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?" blog.
He is the author of the upcoming middle grade nonfiction "The Queer History Project: No Way, They Were Gay?" (Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster 2017.) One of his proudest moments was being named SCBWI 2015 Member of the Year.  





PLEASE NOTE: SCBWI does not handle Asilomar housing reservations. 
New this year, attendees can now register ONLINE with Asilomar for room and board. After you complete your conference registration, please continue to Asilomar's SCBWI housing registration page at:


Two-night double occupancy at Asilomar is $377.60. Two-night single occupancy is $550.70. 

Asilomar Conference Center allows us a very limited number of off-campus tickets. Thus, off-campus registration is first-come first-serve. However, we have negotiated with Asilomar to provide an alternate option after the first-come, first-serve tickets are sold out. Attendees may pay an additional fee rather than the full housing cost and stay off campus. To work out this special arrangement, please email RA Naomi Kinsman at

If you registered for an ON-CAMPUS slot, you must complete your housing reservation with Asilomar within TEN DAYS or email to request an off-campus housing exception. While we will do our best to follow up with you, if we do not follow this policy we reserve the right to cancel your conference registration with SCBWI San Francisco South, less a $25 fee. The conference may fill up and you may be placed on a waiting list. We appreciate your proactive communication and follow through, as it saves valuable volunteer hours.

Housing refunds are subject to Asilomar’s terms and limitations, which you can review at Additional questions can be addressed to

If you have any questions regarding Asilomar room or board, please direct them to:

Betty Forbes at 831-642-4219 or Monday thru Friday (7AM-3PM PST). Please do not contact SCBWI or the SF/South regional team with Asilomar housing questions, as we will be unable to assist you.




Each year, we award the annual Golden Gate Writer’s Award–one for a picture book and one for a MG or YA novel. Editors will choose candidates for the Writer’s Award from those writers who submit their work for a paid manuscript critique. 

Please note: The Golden Gate Portfolio Award is now awarded to attendees of our annual Illustrator's Day event in September. However, a faculty committee will select "Best in Show" candidates from all portfolios displayed at the Golden Gate Conference.






15-minute manuscript critique with a faculty member. Your manuscript will be sent to the faculty member best suited to critique it. All manuscripts will be reviewed by an agent or editor. You will have an opportunity to indicate your top 2 picks for a manuscript reviewer in your submission materials.

The submission policy is as follows:

– One picture book manuscript of up to six pages in length (1,200 words max). You may only submit ONE picture book manuscript per paid consultation, regardless of the length.

– Or, for MG/YA novels, up to 10 pages (2,500 words max). You may include a brief one page optional synopsis in addition to your 10 page sample.


20-minute illustration portfolio critique with a faculty member. Please bring your portfolio to the conference. Maximum size: 11" x 17". Do not bring original art.

We will be hosting our annual illustration portfolio display, so we encourage you to bring your illustration portfolio even if you choose not to purchase an individual consultation. All portfolios of illustrators who attend the conference will be eligible for "Best in Show" awards. Again, please note: The official Golden Gate Illustrator’s Award is now awarded at our annual Illustrator's Day event in September in San Francisco.


Sit down with Lee Wind, digital media and marketing expert, to discuss your writer platform. Whether you are published or pre-published, it is never too early to start thinking through the online presence that will be key to your marketing efforts. Prior to the consultation, you will complete a form that will give Lee a picture of your current marketing efforts and your interests, be they video, blogging, social media, etc, for next steps. During the consultation, Lee will discuss this form with you and help you set specific action steps. 


NOTE: Select only ONE Friday Round Table option. The Editor and Agent Round Tables happen simultaneously during the conference.

The First Pages round table consultations will be held with up to five participants and one agent or editor. Each participant will bring to the conference 6 copies of the first full page of their manuscript (up to 275 words max of either a novel or picture book). Text should begin at the top of the page, double-spaced, 12 pt. font. Please include your name, title and genre. You will be paired with like-genre, if possible. The submission will be read at the beginning of the session and commented on openly by the agent or editor. Each writer will be given the opportunity to ask questions for clarification after the agent or editor comments on his/her piece, but otherwise, writers are asked to remain silent while listening to the faculty member's valuable feedback. In this way, you will have the opportunity to receive your own feedback and listen to the consultations of others.



SCBWI members receive the Earlybird registration price of $325 until November 30, 2015. Starting December 1, 2015, the regular ticket price for members will increase to $350.

On Friday night, we will have a TED Talk style program of three keynote speakers featuring local authors Deborah Underwood and Jim Averbeck along with Lee Wind, VP of Digital Communications and Community Engagement at Little Pickle Press. After the keynotes we will celebrate and mingle with our Regional Party and booksale. For those unable to attend the full weekend, we are offering a limited number of Friday Night Only tickets. See the registration options below.

The SCBWI registration system accepts VISA or MasterCard.

After you have made your registration selections below, click Continue. In a few seconds, you should see a pop-up window with confirmation of your information. NOTE: You will need to scroll down inside that pop-up window to see all information and enter your credit card number. If the pop-up window does not appear, you may need to allow pop-ups in your internet browser's preferences or switch to a different browser. 

SCBWI is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Membership dues support big-picture functions of the international organization such as the website and many online resources, award programs and scholarships, as well as the hard-working and visionary HQ staff.

Local conferences, such as Asilomar, are carefully priced to cover expenses. For all SCBWI events, members are given the lowest-cost tuition for attendance. The earlybird tuition for SCBWI members for the 2016 Golden Gate Conference is $325.

Our hope always, as your volunteer regional leadership team, is that as many of our members as possible will be able to join us at our yearly local conference. Our primary goal is to continue to build community among the members of the SF/South region of SCBWI and the Golden Gate conference is a huge part of that effort! Whether you're pre-published, traditionally or independently published, a picture book, mid-grade or YA author or an illustrator, we are confident that year after year our exceptional faculty will inspire you, develop your craft, and support your career growth.

​There will be no refunds after December 31, 2015, unless we can fill your spot from the waiting list. There will be absolutely no refunds after January 31, 2016. All refunds will be minus a $25 processing fee.