“10 Notable Writers’ Conferences in America”
Where do you go for a community of writers? For a craft lecture or one-day workshop? For an opportunity to show your work to people who might help you publish it? Does such a place even exist?
Yes! It’s called a writers’ conference.
These events are happening all around you. People come from all over to connect with other writers and learn from the authors who know how to help you succeed. Ranging from just a couple of days to nearly two weeks, writers’ conferences could be just the thing you’re looking for to test out your manuscript to a professional audience, and maybe, just maybe, get the break you’ve been waiting for.
From Pennsylvania to California, all of these writers’ conferences have something unique to offer. Be a part of a workshop, panel, pitch session and more with experienced publishers and writers just like you. You can get so much out of attending one of these events, so read more about them and click on their link to see if you could make it this year. For those worried about their pockets, many of these conferences offer scholarships! So make sure you pop into their websites to learn more about it.
Here is my list of 10 Notable Writers’ Conferences in America (in no particular order).
San Francisco, CA – February
Spend four days in the beautiful bay area at the San Francisco Writers’ Conference. You can join over 100 presenters that include best-selling authors, literary agents, and publishers, focusing on being one of the “friendliest literary conferences around.” That title could be due to their ample after-hours events like no-host dinners at different San Francisco restaurants, casual community events at the bar, or even just the staff they have on hand.
The time is packed with sessions discussing everything from the business of publishing to the craft of writing. It also hosts a “Speed Dating for Agents” portion where, for an additional fee, you can pitch your book ideas one-on-one to a room full of literary agents.
Ripton, VT – August
The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference was started way back in 1926. This ten-day literary intensive conference is now held annually every summer in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont. With a focus on community, Bread Loaf seeks to include writers of all ages and experience levels, welcoming both published and unpublished writers with diverse backgrounds and writing styles.
20 different workshops are offered in two-hour increments over the ten days, with ten people being assigned to each group to provide an intimate experience. And who is leading the groups? Just some of the most notable writers of our time, including recipients of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, U.S poets laureates, MacArthur Fellows, and more! Get to know agents, discuss manuscripts, and share ideas at one of the most prestigious conferences in the country.
Boston, MA – April
Held annually in Boston, this three-day conference is put on by the literary organization Grub Street. Over three days, more than 130 interactive sessions on the craft of writing are put on by emerging and established authors. With more than 800 people in attendance, this event is big and rightfully so. They feature awesome events like Literary Idol, where the first page of your unpublished fiction is read in front of a packed audience and a panel of three judges, and Shop Talk Happy Hour, an inclusive networking event (with drinks!).
This is also one of the conferences where you can have your manuscript looked at by an established literary agent. At their Manuscript Mart, you can pay an additional fee to meet with a literary journal editor, an acquiring editor at a publishing house, or a literary agent. They will evaluate 20 pages of your manuscript beforehand and discuss it with you in person. Sounds pretty practical to me!
Santa Barbara, CA – June
Since 1972, the Santa Barbara Writers Conference has been gathering writers from across the world for their six-day, six-night beachside conference. Enjoy the ocean while meeting and creating community with likeminded literary people.
They have 30 teachers who teach five full days of workshops, and they offer speaker and panel events too. Five evenings are marked with various keynote speakers, followed by book signings and a chance to talk with inspiring authors. On top of that, one-on-one manuscript consultations are available to registered attendees.
Atlanta, GA – Fall
Once voted best writers’ conference by readers of The Writer magazine, the Atlanta Writers Conference is here to help you get the most out of your writing. This conference gives you access to eight top publishing acquisition editors as well as eight literary agents currently seeking new clients.
Additionally, they host events like query letter critiques, editor Q&As, agent Q&As, and more. Heading down south for this two-day event might end up being a great decision for all those searching for an intimate conference capable of yielding big results.
Minneapolis, MN – November
NEW WRITERS’ CONFERENCE ALERT! This conference set to premiere in November has big aspirations, so I felt like it needed to be here. Organized by the incredible literary organization The Loft, this conference will combine genre-specific events with pitch events and more to blow writers away. They’ll bring authors, speakers, agents, and editors into town for three days of literary community.
Though some aspects will be genre-specific, the majority of the conference will be aimed at bringing all writers together to take part in workshops and create lasting relationships. If you’re already published, have completed a manuscript or are wanting to become more prepared to publish your work, get to Minneapolis this November for the first Wordsmith Conference.
Various locations – Spring
AWP has certainly come a long way since starting out in 1973, when they had only 6 programs and 16 presenters. Now with over 2,000 presenters, 500 readings, panels, and art lectures, this annual event is packed to the brim with activities to take part in. That’s why it holds the title for the largest literary conference in North America.
Every spring, AWP takes over a new US city, gathering over 12,000 writers from across the world to create a temporary literary oasis. With their booming popularity and thriving community of attendees, AWP is the perfect place to meet some of your favorite writers and network with writers from across the globe.
During the event, they also hold a book fair which they started doing in the mid 80’s. With over 800 presses, literary organizations, and journals from around the world attending that event, it’s just one more of the many reasons to attend AWP at least once in your lifetime. And since it sounds like small press heaven, you know I had to include it.
Sewanee, TN – July
For almost two weeks in July, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference takes over The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. The conference gathers top-notch faculty members who create workshops and craft lectures in poetry, fiction, and playwriting.
The Sewanee Writers’ Conference is supported by many generous contributors, one being the estate of Tennessee Williams. They offer ample scholarships and awards for attendees, and Conference participants receive assistance that cover a whopping two-thirds of the actual cost of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Join prominent literary agents, distinguished writers, and literary critics as they gather to create two weeks of literary bliss.
Jackson, WY – June
Set in beautiful Jackson, Wyoming, this writers’ conference has been thriving for nearly 30 years. Typically in June of every year, professional and novice writers travel to the conference from around the world. With activities like open mics, workshops, readings, and networking, it’s a great place to get to know people and share your work.
The conference is held in the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts, which is in walking distance to all the town’s many attractions and shops. The town in surrounded by lush green mountains and fresh Wyoming air. It’s a truly a serene place to hold a writer’s conference, which is probably why so many writers choose to keep coming back.
Philadelphia, PA – June
Since 1949, The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference has maintained a mission “to bring writers together for instruction, counsel, fellowship, and the exchange of ideas.” The event takes place right in the heart of Philadelphia, in walking distance of many prominent landmarks, and it is held annually over a weekend in June. With 60 years of experience, I think it’s safe to say people really find something special in this conference.
It is filled with activities to fill your weekend from morning to night. Find out how your work competes by entering a manuscript in one of the contests held at the conference. Join in on a Q & A with literary agents and publishers. Read a few sample pages at their Friday night peer critique. The list goes on and on, so before I lose my breath, head on over to the website to see what amazing things they’re up to.
What other writers’ conferences should we know about? Let us know in the comments!
About the Author
Thank you for reading “10 Notable Writers’ Conferences in America” by Jaylynn Korrell! If you liked what you read, please spend some more time with us at the links below.