Conferences are fantastic ways for writers to meet agents, editors, and colleagues, to get feedback on their writing, and to get away from their desk.
Most of these cost money, but some have scholarships, and others are relatively cheap, so don’t let finances keep you from furthering your writing career.
Here are 18 conferences that should be able to serve as an asset to writers of all stripes.
Annually in August
New York City
This annual conference has loads of resources for its attendees, including educational sessions held lead by dozens of industry leaders. This conference also offers a Pitch Slam, in which attendees have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to agents and editors looking for new talent to represent. The conference’s slogan is, “Write better. Get Published. Build your network,” which is certainly what you’ll do if you attend.
- $449 online
- $499 onsite
- $100 add on for Pitch Slam
Annually in Spring
Different cities in North America
AWP is one of the largest conferences in North America. Writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers flock to this conference to gain access to organizations and opinion-makers that matter most in contemporary literature. Each year the conference and book fair is hosted in a different city. In 2017 it is being hosted in Washington DC. Mark your calendars, since early bird registration opens on August 1, 2016!
- Prices range from $50 for students to $300 for nonmembers. I suggest becoming a member of AWP to take advantage of the low prices.
This weekend long conference is designed to help aspiring writers get their works published. The Henderson Writers Group hosts the conference. Their website include testimonials that all say that their weekend was full of excitement and insight. The Henderson Writers Group also raises money year round to award 10 scholarships to students. Their scholarships include admission to the conference, access to all sessions, panels, meals, and a closing banquet.
- Early registration opens January 31, 2017 and is $425
- Full registration is $100
February 16-19, 2017
During this four day conference, there are over 100 sessions for writers to attend. These sessions range from the craft of writing to the business and marketing side of things. There are a lot of networking opportunities, social interactions, and an open mic reading night. A really cool opportunity for attendees is Speed Dating for Agents. Its a $60 add on to talk to an abundance of agents that could be right for you.
- Early registration is until September 1st $650
Formerly known as the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference, this year it is being held in New Mexico. The UNM’s conference offers workshops in fiction, poetry, nonfiction and more. This year’s on Sunday, the conference is featuring a keynote reading by Sandra Cisneros! There are numerous scholarships and awards that provide assistance to talented writers, and they also offer a winter online conference.
- Weeklong Workshops $700
- Weekend Workshops $400
July 19-31, 2016
This conference provides instruction and criticism through workshops and craft lectures in poetry, fiction, and playwriting. Every participant needs to apply and have manuscripts attached. Unfortunately applications for this year have been closed, but the dates for 2017 will be announced soon. The cost to attend is a bit pricey, but every recipient receives assistance to pay for two-thirds of the cost.
- Contributors – $1,800 ($1,100 for tuition and $700 for room and board)
- Scholars – $700 (Conference covers tuition)
- Fellowships – Conference covers tuition, room, and board
September 16-17, 2016
The Women Writer’s Conference is not only for women! Oh no! Men are allowed to participate in the conference, too. The conference just focuses on the work of women writers. It is definitely the place to go if you’d like a women’s opinion on your writing.
- $200 general admission plus workshop
- $125 general admission, no workshop (admission to craft talks, panels, readings)
- $30 student admission, no workshop (admission to craft talks, panels, readings)
There are two wonderful sessions during the summer.
Session one has panels of agents, literary journals, independent presses, and major publishers to campus for panel discussions and pitch sessions.
And session two workshops focus on specific fields, like poetry or playwriting, or distinct genres, such as historical fiction or memoir. Each attendee stays in a Yale College Dorm.
- Sessions range from $1,000 to $4,000
September 25-26, 2016
Geared to writers in all genres, it includes lectures, workshops, book signings, and networking events. It also offers a unique opportunity to make pitches to literary agents and publishers. Although it might be getting a bit chilly around this time of year, conference attendees seem to really enjoy the conference!
- Admission gains you access to most of the conference, but Workshops, Small Sessions, Practice Pitches, and Pitchfest require additional fees.
July 25- August 1, 2016
These workshops are geared toward very serious writers in exploring the craft, as well as the business of writing. Participant’s manuscripts can be reviewed in a one-on-one session. There are afternoon and evening craft talks, panels, staff readings, and panel discussions on publishing and editing. There is also a nature guided hike toward the end of your stay!
- Tuition is 1,100, and financial aid is available (many applicants get significant financial aid — I would recommend applying)
Nestled in the heart of Wine Country, this conference is suited to writers who have had some training, but they also encourage enthusiastic beginners to apply.
It is a very small, and personal conference, making it easy to get some one-on-one time with a professional to improve your craft. Participants are required to register for poetry OR fiction workshops, but panels and talks are open to all.
- Cost is $925, financial aid is available
July 10-17, 2016
Tin House’s writing workshops are quite the rage to those in the literary world. In order to be able to attend the conference, one must submit an application and writing sample. Admission is based on the strength and promise of the writing sample. Tin House is also offering scholarships (full and partial) for admission to the conference. There is also an opportunity for auditors who purchase a pass. A full auditor’s pass gives you access to all craft lectures, agent/editor meetings, and the evening faculty readings. There will also be an opportunity for a select number of you to exchange manuscripts will your fellow auditors.
- $1700. Scholarships are quite rare, with an acceptance rate hovering around 5%.
- You can buy an auditor’s pass for $350, which allows you access to all the readings and panels, but does not get you feedback in a workshop.
August 10-20, 2016
Founded in 1926, the tradition continues into 2016! The conference gathers writers to work closely with a dynamic and talented faculty. Faculty members put together lectures on issues around literary writing and one-hour classes on specific aspects of the craft. Participants meet with visiting editors, literary agents, and publishers who provide information and answer questions, individually or in small groups. There is also a conference hosted by Bread Loaf for Environmental Writers, literary translators, and there is a conference in Sicily. You can find more details about the Sicily conference on their website.
- $3170. This is one of the priciest conferences out there.
On the front page of their website, the Kenyon Review’s past attendees have described their experience as, “Productive. Creative. Supportive. Intense.” The workshops consist of tools that will get you writing, and keep you writing, instructors who will push you to be your best, constructive feedback and support all during a summer week at Kenyon College in Ohio.
- The cost of these workshops is $2,295, which covers tuition, housing in a dorm room single, and daily breakfast and dinner.
BEA is a rich education experience for all writers, but mainly it’s for professionals in the writing industry (book sellers, reviewers, authors, etc.) It’s a great education into how the book industry works, and you get weighed down with hundreds (hundreds!) of free review copies (ARCs).
When you attend BEA, you also get access to an online digital conference. Here you will learn everything from print to digital. You’ll get an idea of what it is like to self-publish, the best booksellers, and more. Dates on the website have not been posted but you can pre-register now.
- $128 – $374, depending on your professional status
October 20-23, 2016
Open to writers of all levels and genres, this is a great opportunity to show off your work to the international literary world. Attendees can participate in the Blue Pencil Cafe Session where you can schedule an appointment to have your work reviewed by an industry professional. There is also a trade show, author signing, and banquets. You can also participate in a Silly Writing Contest during the conference.
- 3 Day Full Pass $625
- You may also purchase individual dates during registration
In their words: “The Vancouver Writers Fest turns reading into a community experience, bringing people together to share thoughts, explore ideas and witness brilliant conversations.” The festival offers workshops for authors, poets, graphic novelist, and spoken word performers to celebrate the writing lifestyle.
There are no prices on the website yet, but check back in August for more details.
The DisQuiet International Program is a two-week program started by Dzanc publishing that brings writers from North America and writers from Portugal together in Lisbon for some great writing experiences. Not only will you travel across the globe, but will be meeting people from around the world that can help enhance your writing skills. The program is premised on the belief that meeting others from around the world will, “push one’s boundaries off the shelf.” This program is an opportunity of a lifetime. If I were you, I’d break out my piggy bank and head straight for the airport just to attend.
I hope at least one of these conferences will serve you well.