Get the Most Out of a Writing Conference: A Guide

To get the most out of a writing conference depends on the reason you are considering attending one. Choosing a conference that meets your needs and interests is essential. Before you commit your time and money, there are questions you should ask:

• Do you need and/or want help with a manuscript?
• How much one-to-one help do you expect?
• Do you hope to learn from writers whose work you respect?
• Are you self-published and seeking marketing advice?
• Are you looking for a literary agent to represent you?

A writers’ conference might have a lofty reputation, but if it doesn’t offer what you are looking for, it is likely that it won’t be worth the cost. If it meets your criteria, you’ll have a positive experience and feel […]

Writers’ Conferences: An Investment or a Waste of Money?

Asking if writers’ conferences are an investment or a waste of money is a fair question. Some aspiring writers consider going to a writers’ conference as an investment in their careers. But no one wants to waste money attending a conference that isn’t likely to deliver what they’re looking for.

Creative writing conferences are thriving from coast to coast, from the Yale Writers’ Conference in New Haven to the San Francisco Writers’ Conference. There are conferences for every genre from science fiction to romances. They have become a growth industry.

Some writers attend conferences because they are looking for more than creative writing workshops and advice on marketing. Thousands of aspiring writers are attending writers’ conferences in the desperate hope they will connect with a literary agent […]

How I Came to Write Sarah Barefield

To the people who have read SARA BAREFIELD, her situation is so real to them that I have been asked questions that I hope to answer here. I wasn’t a social worker; nor did I know a single mother like Sara. And I have been blessed in that I have never been on welfare or have had the need to apply for food stamps. I got the idea for SARA BAREFIELD while working as a volunteer in a women’s center in the town where I live. A single woman in her mid-thirties came in for a counseling session; she wanted to go to college to study art history. When I told her that I didn’t know of any aid she could receive other than a […]

Pitching to Agents: What are the odds?

Pitching to agents at writing conferences is a big draw. Thousands of authors will be pitching their unpublished manuscripts to agents and editors in 2019. They will pay an extra premium above the conference cost for the privilege, and because the slots are limited, they are sold out fast. What happens during these sessions? Are they effective?

Pitching sessions are like speed dating on steroids. Authors seeking representation are given a set time, anywhere between 90 seconds and 15 minutes, to tell agents about their unpublished manuscripts. The sessions are held in rooms where nervous writers stand in lines anxiously waiting to pitch to the agents of their choice. On her blog, Faye Hicks describes the pitching session at a Pitch Slam as bedlam, packed and noisy.

Writers are […]

Could Harper Lee Successfully Pitch “To Kill a Mockingbird” Today?

The publicity surrounding the publication of Harper Lee’s discovered novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” led thousands of people to her first novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a book that is still a bestseller more than a half century after it was published. The characters in “To Kill a Mockingbird”—Atticus Finch and his children, Jem and Scout, and their neighbor Boo Radley–have become part of our literary lexicon. But in today’s literary climate it is legitimate to wonder whether Harper Lee would stand a chance at getting an agent to represent her and a publisher to accept what has become an American classic.

It is difficult to imagine Harper Lee being rejected by literary agents. If she had written her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel within the past ten […]

My Experience at a Writers’ Conference

Every year in January I receive a brochure from an annual writers’ conference I attended over thirty-five years ago. Brochures from this conference have followed me from move to move, from the North to the South, and they have changed considerably since I first started receiving them. The staff fiction writers are no longer big “literary stars,” and the mention of editors and literary agents is done very carefully, promising nothing other than their presence and some interaction with the people who are paying to attend.

The suggestion to enroll in the conference I attended had come from a former professor, who had become my mentor. I had finished writing my first novel, Realities, less than two months before the conference was scheduled to start. I […]