Writers’ Conferences

As the new year begins, I start to ponder what conferences I should go to this year, particularly since I have a new science fiction manuscript to start pitching. I’m a big believer in writers’ conferences for several reasons. They are great places to for learning skills and getting updates on the publication world. Also, everyday writing tends to be a solitary activity and attending one of these events allows me to swim in a welcoming, nourishing community of like-minded individuals. I always come home with contacts, ideas and a renewed energy for writing and marketing. Finally, I’ve had more success in pitching to literary agents during conference events than sending in query letters or tweeting during agent events. They come to the conferences looking for specific projects. If yours sounds like it matches, then they are highly likely to request more.

I’ve done some research on national, regional, and local conferences coming up in the next few months and want to share the info with you. The items below are not an end-all, be-all list but merely a starting platform. If you recommend one not listed here, please write to me and I’ll give it a shout out as well.

Note: The names are linked to websites for more information.


15-18: San Francisco Writers Conference. The website states that they have pre-and post-event master classes, 100+sessions. 20+ literary agents for speed dating, and 100+ attendees so it is a large conference. The price is $845, which is about right for a four-day event that includes multiple meals.

23-25: Genre-LA hosted by the West Coast Writers Conferences specifically focuses on sci-fi and fantasy work (among others). Looks well organized and it is not that expensive to attend. It includes 1-on-1 ProCritiques with agents and Editors. The only problem is that the information at the website still mostly lists the 2017 conference.


7-10: 2018 AWP Conference & Bookfair. This huge conference (12,000 attendees) is in Tampa, Florida. It is a true networking event for writers, teachers, editors and publishers. I’ve never been but it doesn’t strike me as a place for performing manuscript pitches. If you know otherwise, please let me know!

10-11: Chicago Writers Association Writers Conference features 16 guest speakers. This small, regional conference is dubbed “Let’s Just Write, An Uncommon Writers Conference” with the ticket price running around $300. The website does not list a lot of information.

22-25: New York Pitch Conference is not a conference in the traditional sense. It has an application process and keeps the attendance small. You meet with writing experts the first day and use your pitch to analyze your book. After that you get the chance to pitch to editors in the big NY houses. I’ve been to this event once and it was a nerve-wracking weekend. However, the information was great and I got two requests for my book from top NY houses. Unfortunately, I was still new to the business and the book wasn’t ready to be shopped around.


April 6-8: The Muse & The Marketplace is hosted by GrubStreet. They offer a Manuscript Market, which is a 20 minute critique session with an editor or agent, and Shop Talk Lunch for meeting professionals.

April 12-15: Pathways to Publication hosted by the University of Wisconsin Madison’s Writers’ Institute. They are featuring seven agents and a critiquing service. They also have an unusual offering for 30 writers who are willing to work with a coach for six months on a novel. This seems like an excellent opportunity for authors struggling with starting their book.

April 19-21: Las Vegas Writer’s Conference 2018 is hosted by the Henderson Writers Group. This regional conference offers little information (so far) at their website but the previous keynote speakers are impressive. This year they are offering a full day workshop with Jane Friedman.

April 27-29: Pikes Peak Writers Conference is hosted by a writer’s group of the same name. I went to this conference a few years ago. The people were warm and friendly. The sessions were extremely helpful and taught by real experts. It offers a prequel day, a query 1-on-1 critique session with literary agents and a contest. At the time I attended, the prequel day was aimed at research information for paranormal and urban fantasy writing. This year the focus is more on crime, space and the writing process.

National Conferences with Early Bird Prices

Thrillerfest, July 10-14, Advanced price ends Feb. 28, 2018

Writer’s Digest, August 10-12, Cheapest price ends Feb 6th and then they go up to the next cheapest level, which ends April 17th.

I’ll post more conferences as their time draws nearer. If you have one you want me to discuss, please contact me

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