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Writers’ Conferences

Information, spotlights and reviews of writing conferences nationwide that feature literary agents, published authors and more.

Writer’s Digest Retreat on the Water: Nov. 13-16, 2014 in Florida

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Escape with your writing for the weekend! The Writer’s Digest Retreat on the Water (Nov. 13-16 in Celebration, FL) is your chance to escape the demands of everyday life and immerse yourself in your craft for a few purposeful and peaceful days. Enrollment at this Retreat is limited—you’ll enjoy the close mentorship of the instructors and the attention to your individual manuscript that only an event this small and exclusive can provide.

At the retreat, your work will be read, discussed, revised and reexamined with the goal of prepping it for review (and consideration) by industry professionals. Whether your goal is to secure the attention of an agent or editor, or simply entice a reader looking for a great book, the Retreat will help to make sure that your initial pages and plot are as compelling and lovingly crafted as possible. You’ll also learn how to pitch your work and have an opportunity to practice with the group! The Retreat provides you with a relaxing environment in which to write for long periods of time without interruption or distraction. You’ll also participate in numerous sessions and critique groups where you’ll enjoy the camaraderie of your writing peers. Read more

Conference Spotlight: The 2014 Arizona Writing Conference (Nov. 21-22)

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If you read my blog, you know I am constantly traveling to be part of awesome writers’ conferences across the country. On that note, I am very exciting to be a part of the 2014 Arizona Writing Conferences — two full-day “How to Get Published” conference events in Arizona coordinated by the SSA (Society of Southwestern Authors). On Friday, Nov. 21, there is an all-day event in Phoenix; and on Saturday, Nov. 22, there is a separate all-day event in Tucson. (The one-day schedules are both the same.)

These writing events are a chance to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch an agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. There is even a “Writers’ Got Talent” event in the middle where registrants bring their first pages and get them read aloud. Faculty (literary agents) give their thoughts on what was working or not working with the writing. Read more

Conference Spotlight: The Indiana Writing Workshop

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I’m exciting about teaching some sessions in Indianapolis this November (especially since it’s so close to my hometown of Cincinnati). It’s all part of the 2014 Indiana Writing Workshop on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, which is an all-day event designed to give you all the information you need to know to move forward and get your book published. Read on to learn much more about the event, including the two agents & one editor in attendance taking pitches from writers — Jen Karsbeak of Foreword Literary, Whitley Abell of Inklings Literary and Andrew Scott of Lacewing Books. Read more

WD Has Awesome Writers’ Conferences in both NYC and LA in August 2014. The NYC Event Has a 50-Agent Pitch Slam!

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As we do each year, Writer’s Digest is putting on some awesome (and HUGE) writers conferences on both coasts of the country. These conferences bring together writers from all over the country, and lead to all kinds of good things, like signing with agents, meeting your writer friends for life, keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry, and/or simply recharging your writing bat. Read on for more info. We hope to see you there. (The NYC event is from Aug. 1-3, 2014, while the LA event is from Aug 15-17, 2014.) Read more

Conference Spotlight: The Minnesota Writing Workshop in St. Paul (Sept. 6, 2014)

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If you live anywhere near the Minnesota area and are looking to get writing instruction as well as pitch agents & editors, then keep reading. Coming up fast on September 6, 2014 is my appearance at the Minnesota Writing Workshop. (This is my first time teaching in Minnesota, so I am pumped.) This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Sept. 6, 2014, at Subtext Books in St. Paul, MN. In other words, it’s one day full of classes and instruction designed to give you the best advice concerning how to get your writing & books published. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres and writers for all age groups are welcome. Read more

Live Near Cincinnati? Learn About Writing & Publishing For Free at the Downtown Library on July 15, July 22 and July 29

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I have the amazing opportunity to teach 3 summer evening workshops at the downtown branch of the Cincinnati Library in July 2014. Come out and learn! The flyer below will answer all your questions, but here is the gist. All events are two hours long (approx.) and free of charge. Attendees are welcome to ask questions. You don’t have to sign up. Just come to the downtown branch (address on the flyer below) and settle in for some learning. Click past the jump for details on the July 15, July 22 and July 29 events. Read more

My Adventures in … Fort Collins 2014

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Recently I gave the keynote speech at the 2014 Northern Colorado Writers Conference. The whole event was an amazing blast. The NCWC is based in Fort Collins, CO, an amazing city to visit. It’s filled with college students, fun people, indie shops, microbreweries, and the like. I have pasted some fun pictures from the event below in the post. If you like anywhere in the area of Fort Collins, check out this event in years to come. It’s hosted in the spring (usually March or April) and has great people, agent pitching, sessions, gatherings, critiques, and more. It’s my second time teaching (after 2008) and I’m glad I went again. Read more

Live Near Little Rock, AR? Come See Me Speak on May 3!

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I am speaking at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, AR, on May 3, 2014. It’s the Arkansas Writers MFA Spring Publishing Conference. The university was nice enough to invite me down to speak for a day. It’s a quick, simple day of sessions that can help writers, and includes my talks on:

1) How to Get Published: What Writers Can Do For Their Career Right Now
2) Everything You Need to Know About Literary Agents and Query Letters
3) Book Publishing Options Today: Your Paths Explained Read more

Conference Spotlight: The Northern Colorado Writers Conference — Fort Collins, March 28-29, 2014


Coming up fast is a great writing event in Fort Collins, CO — The Northern Colorado Writers Conference, happening March 28-29, 2014. I will be speaking at this event, which features sessions, agents, and more. The theme this year is “2014 Writing Odyssey: To Publishing and Beyond.” Because the conference serves to give the most personal attention to all attendees, the event is limited to 130 attendees, so don’t waste time checking out the 2014 NCWC. All levels/genres of writer are welcome. Read more

7 Tips for Pitching to an Agent or Editor at a Conference


Tip #1: If you can get a pitch session with an agent/editor, do it! Agents get tons of queries every single day, and a good 90% of them come from people who haven’t worked very hard to perfect their craft. Agents know that if you go to conferences, you’re likely in the 10% who have. If you go to a conference and pitch, you’re likely a top 10% writer who has a book close to being worthy of representation. It also gives both of you a chance to meet each other, and that’s invaluable.

GIVEAWAY: Peggy is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: MikeHays won.) Read more

Conferencing for Introverts

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You’ve decided this is it, the year to attend a writer’s conference. Forms are filled, hotel and plane tickets are booked, and a satisfied warmth fills you at pulling the trigger on this writing milestone.

But as the day approaches, your brain buzzes. What to wear? What to bring? You look in your closet and suddenly forget what looks good together, what fits, and what shoes work with which pants. The jeans you love seem too run down. That skirt you wanted to bring is too dressy. Or is it? Maybe you could wear it to the pitch you scheduled. And then it hits: FULL BLOWN PANIC. You forgot about the pitch you booked while high on the glow of finally taking the leap. Read more

My Adventures in … Los Angeles and Writer’s Digest Conference West 2013

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I know it was 6 weeks ago, but I still wanted to post some great photos of our latest Writer’s Digest Conference — this one in Los Angeles in late September 2013. It’s always great to meet west coast writers. I know our agents who attended the Pitch Slam and met writers commented that the talent pool at the event was quite high. That’s exciting to hear, and likely means we’ll add to our large growing list of WD conference success stories. Our next WD conference will be sometime in 2014 in New York City — either in the summer or fall of 2014. See you there! Read more

Literary Agents Explain Why They Attend Conferences (and It’s Not What You Think)

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Every week literary agents receive hundreds of query letters from aspiring writers who are hoping to interest the agent in their project. Why then, would agents take time from their busy schedules to go to a writers conference and meet yet more writers in person?

I’ve worked with over a hundred literary agents during the 9 years I’ve been organizing the Backspace Writers Conferences held twice-annually in New York City, as well as the newly minted Salt Cay Writers Retreat taking place this October on a private island in the Bahamas. So I asked a few of my favorite agents why they attend writers conferences. Read more

How to Maximize a Book Festival Appearance: 9 Tips


This past weekend, I had the honor of signing books at my local (awesome) book festival: Cincinnati’s Books by the Banks Book Fair. It happens every year in the fall, and this was my third appearance. Every time I sign books at a regional fair in Ohio or Kentucky, I seem to get better at interacting with readers. If you’ll be appearing at a future book fair to promote your traditional or self-published book, here are some quick tips that may help you.

1. If possible, stand. I’ve read multiple places that you make a better first impression if you’re standing when people first meet you. So stand if your health allows it. Read more

Pitch Agents and Producers at our Writer’s Digest West Conference: Sept. 27-29, 2013 in Los Angeles

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The second annual Writer’s Digest West Conference is approaching quickly! We at WD are planning a grand event in Los Angeles from Sept. 27-29, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. The conference is actually 3 events in one. We have a traditional awesome writers conference, a screenwriting conference, and a self-publishing conference going on at the same time. Read on to learn all details. There are ample opportunities to not only meet speakers and sit in on sessions, but also pitch lots of literary agents and film pros. (Also, early bird pricing ends July 19, so sign up early for a discounted price.) Read more

Conference Recaps and Photos: My 2013 Conference Gigs in Austin, Clarksville, Pittsburgh, and Middleburg, VA


During the last three months, I have spent a lot of time meeting writers at conferences nationwide. It’s been a whirlwind teaching season, and I want to share some info about these great 2013 writing events I’ve spoken at, so you can check them out when they come around again in 2014 (because you definitely should!). Recently, I got to present at the Agents & Editors Conference in Austin, TX, the Clarksville Writers Conference in Clarksville, TN, the Hunt Country Writers Retreat in Middleburg, VA (near DC), the Kentucky Writers Conference in Bowling Green, KY, and the Pennwriters Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. All were great events. Read more to learn when these conferences will happen again, and see some images of the 2013 happenings. (All events take place between April-July.) Read more

Live Near Middleburg, VA? Come to the Hunt Country Writers Retreat, July 5-7, 2013

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If you live anywhere near the DC/Virginia/Maryland area, a great writers’ conference is coming up that you should take note of. The 2013 Hunt Country Writers Retreat runs from July 5-7, 2013 in beautiful Middleburg, Va. (1 hour from metro DC). This annual event features 1.5 days of sessions and instruction on the craft & business of writing, and features multiple literary agents each year who meet with attendees to hear book pitches. I’ll be at the event instructing — come meet me! Learn more below. Read more

Live Near Austin, TX? Come to the Agents & Editors Conference (June 21-23, 2013)

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The annual Agents & Editors Conference put on by the Writers League of Texas is perhaps the premiere literary conference in Texas. I got the chance to teach there in 2008 and was invited back this year (June 21-23, 2013) to be the keynote speaker. So if you’re interested in attending a conference that is 1) located in a great city, and 2) teeming with literary agents looking for writers, then this event is a great one for you. Read more

My Adventures in Edmonton, Canada — at the Writing in 3D Conference

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This past weekend, I got the exciting chance to speak in Edmonton, Canada at the Words in 3D Conference. The event — which had a turnout of more than 300 attendees (wow!) — was organized by the Get Publishing Communications Society, the Writers’ Guild of Alberta, and the Editors’ Association of Canada (Prairie Provinces Branch). The conference was wonderful and I got to meet a lot of great people. It was an unusual and unique chance to get so far north to teach (it got dark there at 10:20 p.m.), and I would recommend the event to any in Alberta or nearby in future years. Read more

Live Near Lexington, KY or Clarksville, TN? Two Great Writing Conferences Coming Up in June 2013


Do you happen to live anywhere near Lexington, KY or Clarksville, TN? If so, there are some great (and affordable) writing events coming up in June 2013 that feature literary agents in attendance taking pitches. I have the honor of teaching at both events and look forward to meeting writers at both. The first conference is the Clarksville Writers Conference, June 6-7, 2013. The second conference is the Carnegie Center’s “Books in Progress” Conference, June 7-8, 2013. Read more

Conference Spotlight: The 2013 PennWriters Conference (May 17-19, Pittsburgh)

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An upcoming conference you should check out is the 2013 Pennwriters Conference (May 17-19) in Pittsburgh, PA. Pennwriters is an awesome statewide organization for writers that has regional chapters and statewide events. Having grown up in Erie, PA, I have spoken to the Erie group several times, and I was even fortunate enough to present at the PennWriters Conference in 2011. If you live anywhere near Pittsburgh, check out this fast-approaching 2013 event. Read more

2013 Writer’s Digest Conference: Some Pictures

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The 2013 Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC was this past weekend, April 5-7, 2013, and everything was a blast. The sessions were well received, the attendees were nice, the big pitch slam was smooth, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Here are some pictures from the event to check out. I assume we will be having our event in April again in 2014. Join us! Or if you can’t wait that long, we will be having a west coast conference, Sept. 27-29, 2013 in Hollywood. Read more

Conference Recap: The 2013 San Francisco Writers Conference


I recently returned from the 2013 San Francisco Writers Conference. The event was, as always, very awesome. It’s a conference co-sponsored by WD and the folks out west who organize it (Larsen Pomada Literary Agents and their comrades) do an excellent job with it. The event happens every President’s Day weekend at the Mark Hopkins International in Nob Hill, SF. It’s definitely worth a look for your years to come. At one point, there were a whole bunch of agents on a panel and 4 agents in a row that said they signed clients who came to them at past years of the event. (Confession: I met MY agent at this event! Crazy!) Read more

Meet Many Agents (and Me!) at The 2013 San Francisco Writers Conference: February 15-18

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The San Francisco Writers Conference continues to be one of the most premiere writing events I’ve been to, and the 2013 event is fast approaching. Because of the city’s beauty and vast literary talent, the conference pulls in many nearby authors and agents, and also attracts publishing professionals from all over the country. It’s one of the largest conferences anywhere and frequently sells out.

This year’s even is February 15-17, 2013 at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in the middle of San Francisco. Join me? It has usual elements that make the conference great: sessions, panels, chances to meet agents and editors. And I’m very excited to announce that this year I will be teaching an intensive workshop at the end of the conference on Feb. 18 on “Platform, Blogging and Twitter.” It promises to be an awesome three-hour intensive. Learn all details of the intensive here, and read on to see more about the conference itself. Read more

Writer’s Digest Conference West in Los Angeles (Oct. 19-21, 2012) Has Sessions, Agents, Pitches and More

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After the great success Writer’s Digest has had organizing its event in New York City, we are very excited to be expanding to the West Coast as of 2012. Writer’s Digest Conference West is a new event in Los Angeles set for October 19-21, 2012. All the good stuff you have come to expect from a WD conference will be here — sessions, agents, bootcamps, the Pitch Slam, and more. Read more

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