How would you like to attend the best writers conference for authors this year?
Writers conferences can be some of the best investments to make in your writing career. And guess what? There are plenty of writing conferences for authors in North America taking place all year round.
Now you might be thinking…but, I haven’t written a book yet. Shouldn’t I become a published author first?
The good news: No, you just have to love writing books and be willing to improve your craft.
A writer’s conference has something for every type of writer—fiction, nonfiction, memoir writing, or children’s books—there are writer events for everyone. You just have to do the research and find the conference that best fits your specific needs, location and price.
Writers conferences and workshops are available in most cities across North America and you can find one near you to attend this year.
Here is a list of the best writing conferences for authors we will cover in this post:
- San Francisco Writers Conference
- San Miguel Writers Conference and Literary Festival
- Digital Author and Indie Publishing Conference
- Author Advantage Live
- Santa Barbara Writers Conference
- Sewanee Writers Conference
- Writer’s Digest Annual Conference
- Writing Day Workshops
- Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers Conference
- AWP: Association of Writers and Writing Programs
How to Choose the Best Writers Conferences
The writing conference you choose to attend will depend on several factors. These author events are held all over North America throughout the year, so finding a workshop or conference to join is easy.
Here is a list of suggestions to consider when deciding on the best author event to sign up for.
Experience level: Are you just beginning your author journey? Or, have you been writing for years with multiple books published? Depending where you’re at in the process will influence the type of conference and related workshops to attend.
Geographical location: The location of the conference has a lot to do with your choice of event. Local events are ideal for time and travel expenses. Conferences located further away could still be a worthy investment if you don’t mind traveling.
Cost: The prices vary but you can find some great deals with each event. Depending where the event is held you may have to pay for your air travel and hotel. Events held in large chain hotels often have a deal with the hotel to provide a discounted rate to conference participants.
Event Size: Do you prefer a huge gathering of authors, such as the 12,000+ participants that attend the Association of Writers and Writing programs every year? Or, something smaller scale that runs for a longer period like the Sewanee Writers Conference.
Top 8 Reasons to Attend a Writers Conference
You know why you want to join a writer’s event…to become a prolific author and sell thousands of books around the world. Or, meet up with that book agent that has taken an interest in your story and is prepared to pitch it to one of the big 5 publishers.
A writers conference or author event is a decision that should be a definite YES if you get the opportunity to join. As we will see, there are plenty of good reasons to sign up for an event.
Bottom line: As an aspiring or already published author you should be attending at least one event a year if not more. Even if you haven’t published a book yet but are in the middle of a great outline and you know clarity on turning your idea into a published book, joining a live event could be the magic sauce to make that happen.
Here are 9 reasons an aspiring or professional author should join a live event. Be sure to make it a goal for this year!
#1-You can connect with professional authors
Writing can be a lonely profession. You sit alone for hours a day typing up [or transcribing] material for your book. You might go days without really talking to anyone, which is not recommended. Get out of the house and get connected!
One of the best reasons for signing up for a live author conference is, it puts you in immediate contact with writers just like you.
Everyone has a story to tell. Joining the conference allows you to connect with people one on one, share your story, and get reassurance that you are not alone. You are on the right path.
You can get reassurance that writing a book is awesome and there is nothing else you’d rather be doing with your valuable time. You’ll have the chance to hang out with other writers going through the same fears, uncertainty and, of course, excitement to be part of such an event.
#2-Opportunity is in abundance at author events
You meet amateur and professional authors at events. This is fantastic and very motivating. But there are also big opportunities to hook up with literary agents.
What is a literary agent?
Someone very important that usually represents a publishing house and they are seeking new talent, that next idea that sells, and a face behind the story that could sweep America up when it is published. So yes, it could be a big deal to get connected with an agent.
#3-It is an investment in your career
Are you focused on building a full time career as an author? If yes, or even if this is part time and you want to build your name and platform before taking the leap, attending a writers conference can jump start your career. It builds important connections, expands opportunity, and defines your clarity of purpose!
#4-It is an investment in your future
If attending an event can jumpstart your career as an author, imagine the possibilities for the rest of your life! You get to quit your day job and write full time. You can pump out story after story and build up a big enough platform that you never have to worry about the future again, as your books are selling in the thousands every month. Now that is real momentum.
#5-Self Publish or Traditional?
Talking to authors, agents and publishing consultants can certainly help you to make a firm decision.
Once decided, you can decide the type of self publishing course to take. Or, the traditional publisher you want to approach with your manuscript. Attending the conference gives you answers to uncertainty.
#6-Pitch your book idea to agents
You have an idea for a book but you aren’t sure if it is any good. You told a few people and, while they didn’t laugh, it wasn’t the reaction you expected.
What you need to do is practice pitching your book idea to the people who can listen to what you are working on. That may be a literary agent at the event or just fellow authors. But talking about your book ideas is a brilliant strategy for moving on the writing journey.
Many authors get stuck because the don’t share their ideas. The concept of telling people about your writing project can be scary, overwhelming, and if left to simmer too long, fear takes over and you get stuck.
So, joining an event gives you the opportunity to talk about your books. You are writing your first book and need some confidence boost? Great. Talk about your writing. Published five books and need clarity on your sixth? Excellent. Put it out there and get solid feedback.
#7-Write off the writers conference as a business expense
What? Even if I am not earning money yet? Yes, you can claim what you spend as a business expense including the cost of the event, air travel expenses, and your hotel. You get to travel and can claim it as a write off for your author business.
#8-Get pro writing tips from successful authors
A friend of mine was stuck for weeks on her book. She had written a few thousand words but then it dwindled and died off. She wasn’t sure what happened.
After attending a writer’s conference, she was back on track and writing again after one of the speakers had said something prolific about the art of writing. It was a quote from Ernest Hemingway:
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”
As creative writers, getting stuck is part of the process. When you come in contact with writers and publishing experts that know what it takes to be a successful writer, this enhances your writing skills as you learn new tactics and methods for improving the craft.
Pro writing tips can make or break your career as an author. Many give up because they didn’t have the guidance of someone to help along the way. You don’t have to be a statistic of people who “wanted to write a book” but someone who IS writing a book and is on target to publish soon.
Here are 3 quick pro writing tips I picked up over the past year:
- Writer’s block doesn’t exist. It equals lack of clarity in one’s style and indicates you have research, deep thinking or more writing to do in order to get unstuck.
- Set up a writer’s work station. Keep it clean and use it for writing. Decorate your station with motivational quotes by authors or even famous writer pics. Make it so that you want to spend 4-6 hours comfortably there. Use writing prompts to get you started every morning.
- Set aside time for reading. Stephen King has been quoted as saying that “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” So reading is critical. Set aside 30 minutes a day for reading. Write when you have to write, and read when you must read.
#9-Boosts inspiration and gets you motivated to write
Your writing might need a perk, or that momentum to get you started. Attending a writer’s conference will fill you up with enough creative juice to get the fingers flying onto your keyboard before the event is finished.
I always feel charged up after talking ‘shop’ with other writers. It is a great way to build rapport with authors and support each other on the author journey, regardless if you are self published or thinking of going with a traditional publisher.
Now, here are the 11 best writers conferences I recommend:
#1- San Francisco Writers Conference
The SFWC is a 4-day long writer’s conference held in February that targets mainly fiction and nonfiction authors. It is made up of freelance writers, indie authors, editors, agents, and keynote presenters.
All this talent is combining to bring the best to the publishing world to support authors everywhere to write, publish and thrive as authors.
You can join multiple panels that include how to write a book, pitch a book proposal, turn your blog into a book, or master the art of character dialogue.
This conference is great fun and very rewarding for all of the writers and book publishing associations that attend. A definite blend of art, culture and relationship-building.
Who Is This For: Writer’s looking to make those critical connections for their writing. Or you want to take part in one of many panels available to boost your writing and publishing skills.
Location: InterContinental Mark Hopkins, San Francisco, CA.
Contact: [email protected]
#2- San Miguel Writers Conference and Literary Festival
In a town that has been a gathering place for artists and writers since the 1930s, San Miguel de Allende [a small town in Mexico] is the perfect place for a writers conference.
This annual event has a strong tie to culture as the town is a boiling pot for artists, writers and performers. The event hosts 12 master classes with over 750 participants, not to mention another 10,000 seats are taken in attendance of the conference at eight main stage ballroom events.
The event is heavily focused on building relationships with the community, networking, and cultural exchange of thousands of people from all over. The event takes place over the course of 5+ days and hosts a variety of keynote speakers and workshops.
Location: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
#3-Digital Author and Indie Publishing Conference
Are you an independent author who is self published? In that case, you definitely want to attend the Digital Author and Indie Publishing Conference.
As the event states, this is for any author who wants to:
- Be your own boss at book publishing
- Learn more about the business of self publishing
- Sharpen up marketing and book sales skills
- Build a platform to promote their work
- Sell more books
- Use courses as a means to generate more passive income
In other words, you are an independent author that wants to build an empire selling books and you need more know-how from the experts. Workshops run for three days and are held in the Greater Los Angeles area.
You will have a chance to get your work critiqued as well as a follow up with ProConsulations to discuss the future of your writing and publishing options. The event also has a KeyNote Address Luncheon where you can listen in on presentations from professionals in the industry.
There is also a popular no-host cocktail party on Friday night, an Early Morning Breakfast Workshop, and the Renegade Late Night Read and Critique on Saturday night.
Labeled as an “educational and inspirational” conference, the Digital Author and Indie Publishing Conference is a must-attend.
Location: Los Angeles, California
Contact: [email protected]
#4-Author Advantage Live (Self-Publishing School)
This year a new conference is being held in Austin, Texas. The presenter will be Self-Publishing School. Following the success of funneling over 5,000 students through their VIP—Blank Page to Published Author, Chandler Bolt and his team of self-publishing experts are building on this success by hosting the first-ever live event: Author Advantage Live.
For the first event held from September 20-22nd, over 300 participants, together with the professional self publishers at Self Publishing School, will lead participants through a series of workshops.
The event is broken up into a series of workshops covering these topics:
- Day 1 – VIP/VIPF (Crafting your story) / The VIP course teaches the basics in book writing and how to use storytelling as a means to drive your message home. The purpose is to build confidence in the author and develop a relationship with readers through crafting a story that sells.
- Day 2 – SMB (Expanding your reach) / If Selling More Books is your goal, this course teaches the fundamentals for book marketing.
- Day 3 – CBA (Developing your audience) / Writing a book is one path for authors to take. But how about Course Building for Authors? In this workshop, develop the technique to create, launch and market your own courses.
Author Advantage Live is set up to help you get anything you want in life – speaking, coaching, build your dream as a career author—You’ll have the chance to bring your critical questions about self publishing to the experts on site ready to help you start your book publishing journey.
But there’s more…
Mastermind Group Discussion
Sunday morning there will be a Mastermind group discussion, Participants will have a chance to engage with each other and ask open questions about…of course, book publishing and everything that goes with it!
This event is slated as one of the best and most anticipated author events of the year.
Location: Austin, Texas
When: September 20-22
Website: Author Advantage Live
Contact: [email protected]
If you’re interested in learning more about what the company has to offer, check out our Self-Publishing School review.
#5-Santa Barbara Writers Conference
Established in 1972, the elite Santa Barbara Writers Conference is one intense-filled week of mingling with authors and publishing professionals.
Taking place in none other than Santa Barbara, participants engage in lectures, workshops and informal conversation about writing style, craft, networking and anything related to book publishing.
What can you expect at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference?
According to the schedule for June, 2019, you can expect to take part in:
- 5 evening keynotes by well-known authors
- One-on-one manuscript consultation
- 5 days of workshops led by professional authors
- Poolside cocktail reception (Nice!]
- One week of networking and making friends
- Book signings and mingling with famous authors
The full week costs $699 or $150 for a single day. Not to mention, Santa Barbara is not a bad place to hang out in for the week.
Location: Santa Barbara
Contact: [email protected]
#6-Sewanee Writers’ Conference
The Sewanee Writers Conference is an extensive 12-day retreat that takes place in July in Sewanee, Tennessee, at The University of the South.
What do attendees do for 12 days?
The event is based on a workshop model and each participant is assigned to a workshop that is led by two faculty members. Workshops meet five times, on alternating days, to form the core of the 12-day program.
Faculty members will choose pieces of participants’ manuscripts for consideration in the workshop setting. However, rather than developing new material, attendees are encouraged to finish the work they submitted for review and commentary.
This is a fully immersed workshop that is highly focused on developing writing skills and confidence as a writer. The workshops and presentations are usually led by a distinguished group of writers, critics and agents.
With a workshop this long [12 days, remember!] the University does offer room and board [single or double dormitory rooms] which is a nice bonus and is included in the cost of the conference fee. University buildings are accessible for people with disabilities and parking spaces are available with reservation.
Another bonus of this conference is participants receive assistance covering two-thirds of the actual cost to attend, thanks to a memorial fund set up by Walter E. Dakin
The biggest challenge would be convincing your employer you have to take two weeks off work to attend a writer’s conference.
Location: Sewanee, Tennessee
Contact: [email protected] or 931-598-1654
#7-Writer’s Digest Annual Conference
The annual Writer’s Digest Annual Conference is a heavy-hitter when it comes to author events. If there is any event of the year you can get to, this should be at the top of your list in addition to Author Advantage Live.
This event focuses in on advancing your career as an author to turn your passion for writing into a business. The event covers a wide range of topics that includes:
- Building a sustainable writing career
- Promotion and marketing tactics
- Developing an author brand
- The business of Traditional and self-publishing
- Mastering the writing craft
Educational workshops are led by industry experts in book publishing with dozens of writers, editors, and publishing experts available to discuss your questions about writing and publishing that next bestseller.
The Legendary Pitch Slam
You can participate in the Pitch Slam, a rare opportunity to pitch your idea directly to agents and editors who are always on the lookout for good talent. The experts provide feedback on the best way to deliver a pitch so you can refine and improve your sales pitch. Each pitch typically lasts three minutes, and includes your 90-second pitch and a 90-second response from the agent/editor with feedback.
This great opportunity could get your foot in the door of a big publisher, land the deal of a lifetime, or put you in contact with the right agent who can best represent your work.
You can register here for the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference.
Location: New York City
When: August. Here is the current schedule.
Contact: [email protected]
#8-Writing Day Workshops
This is a one-stop workshop that includes everything from talking to literary agents to writing your book and marketing for publication. The Writing Day Workshops are full-day “How to Get Published” writing events that happen across the United States throughout the year. If you struggle to make it to any of the location-specific events, the Writing Day Workshops is a great alternative.
With locations in California, Ohio, Florida, New York, Colorado, Ontario (Canada), Indiana, Arizona, Texas, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Georgia, you can certainly find something to get to on a 1-2 hour plane ride. Check the calendar for a complete list of all their dates updated monthly.
Here is a breakdown of the workshop themes that may be held depending on the event:
- How to Market Yourself and Your Books: Author Platform & Social Media Explained
- How to Get Published in Literary Magazines
- How to Self-Edit Your Manuscript
- Everything You Need to Know About Agents, Queries & Pitching
- Your Publishing Options
The workshops are lead by accomplished authors, editors and marketing pros in the publishing industry so you are getting the best instruction from professionals working in the business.
Literary agents are on-site at each event to answer your questions about publishing and, you can practice delivering your pitch to a real editor or agent and receive individual feedback.
Location: Across the USA
When: All year round
Contact: [email protected]
#9-Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference
With its beginnings in 1926 and the oldest writers conference in the United States, TheBread Loaf had its beginnings from 1926. In fact, one of the writers who founded the conference was none other than Robert Frost himself.
Hailed as a literary summer camp in the Green Mountains of Ripton, Vermont, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference runs for a total of 10 days. The conference is made up of a diverse combination of workshops including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry leading the way.
The conference is hosted and instructed by faculty members whose lectures focus on special writing and certain aspects of the writing craft. Participants also have the chance to meet with experienced editors, literary agents, and publishers who provide information and answer questions.
This conference is not for light weights. It is a serious dive into the literary world with thousands of applicants per year and only about 250 are selected. Many participants go on to achieve literary success and recognition, and others pass on their experiences at Bread Loaf to their own writing students.
The big difference with the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and other author events is, the focus is not on actual writing during the retreat. The retreat is set up for learning and not on-site writing. Participants are encouraged to take what they learn in the workshops and write at home.
The Bread Loaf Society has an additional three conferences that run and they are:
- Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference
- Bread Loaf Translators’ Conference
- Bread Loaf in Sicily
Location: Bread Loaf Inn, near Bread Loaf Mountain, east of Middlebury, Vermont.
Contact: [email protected]
#10-AWP: Association of Writers and Writing Programs
Every year over 12,000 participants take part in one of the biggest author events of the year—the AWP, Association of Writers and Writing programs. AWP is now listed as the largest literary conference in North America.
The annual AWP Conference and Bookfair is a must-go-to destination for writers, editors, and publishing experts from all over the nation. The event hosts over 2000 presenters, 550 readings, panels, and craft lectures.
If you are looking to be part of the biggest event of the year, the AWP is one that you need to experience at least once in a lifetime.
Location: Changes year to year
When: March, annually
You are a thriller writer who writes mystery, suspense, and edge-of-the-seat stories! That is why the SleuthFest Annual Conference is the perfect event for you. Sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, this is an annual event takes place in Florida and runs for four days.
This conference includes writing and marketing workshops, networking events, and pitch sessions where you can practice your pitch with agents and editors. There are multiple workshops taking place throughout the day.
The workshops are very dynamic and dive into specific topics for mystery/thriller writers.
Workshops themes include:
- The elements of the private investigator
- Plotting basics for your novel
- The book business and how it can work for you
- The writer’s pathway
- From crime to conviction
- Medical treatment in fiction
You get the idea. Great workshops for the serious-minded thriller writer that needs training in tech writing or developing craft. This event has everything you could hope for.
The conference also includes:
- Critiques of your 25-page manuscript submission
- Social events to mingle with agents and favorite authors
- Agent & Editor strategy sessions for your work in progress
- Agent & Editor Appointments to pitch your finished work
- A forensic track with current forensic techniques & hands-on workshops / Yes, you get the chance to try your hat at actual forensic work. For me, this alone would be worth joining!
Location: Changes year to year
When: March, annually
Contact: [email protected]
Preparing for Your Writers Conference
If you are going to attend an author’s event in 2019 or 2020, you want to be fully prepared so when you meet people, you know what to say, and what to give away.
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If you are getting ready for an author event, do you have copies of your published book ready? Can you pitch your book idea in a way that it gets people charged up?
Ideally, the best thing you can bring to a conference are the obvious: an intriguing pitch, a synopsis of your book, and the first chapter (or short sample) of your writing.
If you haven’t published a book yet, you should prepare for everything you need to get published. Be ready to connect with agents and literary pros that can help you to get your book written, packaged and to market.
Here are a few suggestions of what you should prepare for a writers conference:
- A business card: You’re not published yet but you want to make connections. You can get a simple card made up with your contact info. I’ve met lots of people over the years where I was caught off guard by NOT having that card ready.
- A copy of your book [10 paperbacks at least]. If you are published, have copies of your book on hand. You’ll wish you did when someone asks “What is your book about?”
- A pitch of your manuscript.
- Research everything about the conference. Who will be there? Who do you want to meet? How will you approach that agent or publisher?
- Leave imposter syndrome at the door. One of the biggest challenges that sticks to many future authors, and even seasoned authors, is that lingering feeling of, “What am I doing here? I’m not a writer?” With this mindset, it will derail you from making positive contacts or approaching anyone at all. Writer or not, you didn’t sign up for an author event because you had nothing better to do. You are there for a reason. Now dance.
Ready to Sign Up for Your Next Author’s Conference?
You have been thinking about attending a writer’s event for a long time. And now, you have everything you need to take action. First, ask yourself several questions to just to get clear:
- What is the best event for me? Is it the Author Advantage Live event or The Muse and the Marketplace?
- What is drawing me to a particular event? The speakers? Size of the guest list? Convenient location? Workshop themes?
- Am I ready to sign up for an event now?
Joining an event is a no-brainer. You owe it to yourself as an author and a creative to scale up your skills as a writer and meet the people on the same journey as you.
You don’t know what could result from this. A literary agent private contact info? Your book idea taken to a major publisher? Meeting an author that you have always admired?
To mention, you could have a great time surrounded by all of those author personalities and that builds a strong sense of purpose: This is it. I am in the right place, surrounded by people who love books and writing, and now I’m part of a real group of authors.
Trust me: The feeling is beyond words. Now, go and experience it for yourself!
Scott Allan is a student success coach and in-house content creator at Self-Publishing School. He is a bestselling author of 12+ books that includes The Discipline of Masters, Drive Your Destiny and Relaunch Your Life. Scott has a passion for teaching strategic life skills and inspiring people to take charge of their lives. You can connect with Scott at: www.scottallanauthor.com