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

More Writers Conference Opportunities

Conferences, workshops, and retreats make the perfect place to hone your skill and meet other industry professionals. However, if you are like me, you find out about them just as the registration closes or the price becomes too expensive. That is why I put conference and workshop information here. I want to help spread the word so that other authors can investigate these opportunities before it is too late for them as well.

Writers Conference Online
One particular organization caught my eye because of its unusual structure. The Neverending Online Backspace Writers Conference is completely online, working through the Internet. The groups are small and paired with four literary agents. The organizers provide a four-day conference twice a month based on genre. That means you only deal with people in your specific field. Interactions are all through conference calls and discussion forums as the attendees examine their query letter and opening two pages. Clearly the advantage of this method is the savings in transportation and hotel fees, which often add up to more than the conference registration.

Thriller and Mystery Writers
While searching, I also found the Sisters in Crime website that lists a number of events in the US and UK. These dates are for 2014 but it at least gives you names and websites of US and some UK events so you can look up the organizers’ websites for information on 2015 conferences.

Opportunities for Meeting and Selling to Fans
If you are interested in mixing with readers and selling autographed copies of your books, then consider these yearly conferences as possibilities.

Bouchercon World Mystery Convention is located in Raleigh, North Carolina for the fall of this year New Orleans in 2016. The website clearly states that this is for fans of mystery writing so they don’t offer a lot of writer/author support.

ThrillerFest occurs every year in New York City in early July. It starts with events specifically geared toward emerging writers such as craft classes and a pitch session. It then moves into a fan festival with some of the publishing industry’s hottest names.

World Fantasy Convention is in Saratoga Springs, New York in November and states that the registration is already closed (amazing!) but they are taking names for their reservation list.

Worldcon is the science fiction convention for fans. This year, it is called Sasquan and will be hosted in Spokane, Washington. Although also a fan event, this August event includes activities that support writing, art, and game development.

If you know about a great or unusual conference, please leave a comment below and I’ll check it out.