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Top Ten Best Writer Conferences (IOO)


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Typical Panel of Dubious Worth
Below, we've assembled a list of the best writer conferences currently available. But before choosing one over the other, keep in mind your goals as a writer. Where do you want to be as a commercial author five years from now? And consider asking yourself these questions also: 
  • Do I know how to properly pitch a project?
  • Will I settle for self-publishing or no?
  • Do I know precisely what genre I'm writing in, and is the genre found on the shelf, searchable as a category on Amazon? 
  • Do I know my comparables and how to best choose them? 
  • Have I immersed in my chosen genre well enough to know how it has evolved over the past few years?
  • Will this writer conference be a networking opportunity that puts me in touch with business professionals who will also provide advice on my work?
  • Will this conference be honest with me in terms of reaction and feedback?
  • Will I learn things at this conference I can't learn in a writer magazine

1. AWP Conference
The AWP Conference is one of the biggest and most popular conferences in the writing world. By BEA standards, it's small, but more than 12,000 writers and readers attend annually, with up to 650 exhibitors and a large book fair. Tip: don't buy any books until Sunday because by then the frustrated indie booksellers will practically be throwing them at you. Keep in mind this is mostly for literary writers/authors. If money is tight, genre writers should steer clear.

2. Algonkian New York Pitch Conference
An event held four times a year in the publishing capital of the U.S. for upmarket, literary, and all genre novel-length fiction except for mainstream romance. Features include extensive pre-event novel foundation assignments; attendees allocated to small-group editorial/pitch workshops; one-on-ones with commercial acquisition editors in an environment without timer buzzers or background noise; and each writer's workshop leader present during all pitch sessions for support and project clarifications as needed. Workshop faculty include successful agent-authors and former acquisition editors at major houses. Programming also includes first-page "hook analysis" and the famous/infamous post-pitch drinking fest on early Saturday evening (all secrets revealed--attendance not mandatory).

3. Santa Barbara Writers Conference
The Santa Barbara Writers Conference focuses on writers honing their craft and networking with other authors. Informative, yes, but for commercial genre writers, networking with publishers and/or good agents is a better idea. But it's held during the summer in Santa Barbara, and that is a plus due to the terribly beautiful paradise of SB where the moon rises in the east.

4. San Francisco Writers Conference
Of all the conferences that make you feel like your are part of a grand but futile horde, the San Francisco Writers Conference is an event that should not be missed. From the opening gala to over 60 sessions with presenters, as well as 3 minute-timer pitch sessions. If a big conference with lots of agents and panels is what you want, it doesn't get much better (or crazier) than the SFWC. The location on Nob Hill in SF is stunning, and don't miss the parties!
 
5. Agents and Editors Conference/ Writers League of Texas
This conference is a great place to network with industry professionals and other writers, while learning "everything" about publishing. Expect the usual panels, lectures, one-on-one meetings with editors, and opportunities for authors to pitch books to agents. Pretty much the usual fare, similar to SFWC. If in Austin, a bonus, of course.
 
6. Yale Writers Conference
This conference in New Haven, Connecticut has two sessions; session I is an intensive nine-day long conference for those who wish to explore craft. Session II is for writers who are focusing on a more specific genre. If you're looking for an intimate workshop, this is a conference that might well impact your writing career. If you can stick it out for such a long time, and afford it, you deserve a medal.
 
7. Writers Digest Conference
This is a conference for networking and learning about the publishing industry! You have arrived. Seriously though, a good event for newbies looking to lay a foundation.
 
8. Chicago Writers Conference
This is a conference that shows writers how to get published through conferences, workshops and different literary events ... We're not sure what this means. Best to investigate.
 
9. Women Writers Conference
This is the longest running literary festival of women in the nation and has over 1,000 attendees per year. At this conference you can get advice on how to improve your manuscript, speak with editors, and connect with other female writers. 

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Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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