Schedule of Activities

Due to the coronavirus and social distancing mandates, we’re seeing what we can do online. We’ve temporarily closed registrations until our adjustments are in place based on what our guest agents, editors, and workshop speaker is able to do. Once plans are in place we’ll reopen registrations if there are openings in the remaining activities.

Note: all activities take place at the Westin Atlanta Airport Hotel on May 8-9, 2020, with the exception of the Pre-Conference Edits, which will be managed entirely online (from December 2019 to February 2020).

Friday, May 8, 2020

11:30-4:00 p.m. Check in outside the College Park Ballroom on the second floor of the Westin Atlanta Airport Hotel conference area.

12:30-1:30 p.m. Editors Q&A Panel with all eight editors from publishing firms in the College Park Ballroom.

1:45-4:00 p.m. Query Letter Critique: In the second-floor meeting rooms, panels of one editor and one agent (assigned to participants at random, but no overlaps with any Saturday meetings) offer critiques and suggestions during sessions of about ten minutes to improve participants’ query letters so they’ll shine when they pitch their chosen agent(s)/editor(s) one-on-one on Saturday and/or have a sterling query letter to use thereafter. Past guest agents and editors have called this a “must do” activity, and often cite it as the most helpful and informative educational session offered by any conference anywhere. More than 90% of Best Pitch awards at the October 2019 conference went to those who participated in the Query Letter Critique activity. Meanwhile, Steven James gives two free, interactive talks with Q&A in the College Park Ballroom: “Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules” and “Pulling the Rug Out: How to Craft Twists Your Readers Will Never See Coming.”

4:00-6:00 p.m. “Troubleshooting Your Manuscript: Essential Techniques for Identifying and Solving Problems” Workshop by ThrillerFest Master Class instructor and national bestselling author Steven James. In this practical two-hour workshop packed full of specific, time-tested advice, you will explore how to pinpoint weak spots in your story—and solve them—examine how to adjust elements of story progression, develop riveting characters, master narrative techniques, and ensure reader engagement. You owe your book more than just a polish and a proofread. This workshop will help take it to the next level.

6:00-8:30 p.m. Free time to improve your query letter for Saturday–if you did the query letter critique–and to dine in the hotel or elsewhere.

8:30-11:30 p.m. Free social mixer in a private meeting room for Conference participants only. No RSVP necessary. Join our guests for casual chats about books and the people who write them, sell them, publish them, and buy them. As part of their conference obligations, the sixteen editors and agents are compelled to participate.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Check in outside the College Park Ballroom on the second floor of the Westin Atlanta Airport Hotel conference area.

9:00-10:00 a.m. Agents Q&A Panel with all eight literary agents in the College Park Ballroom.

10:15 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Manuscript critique meetings: One-on-one meetings for about 15 minutes each between the editors/agents and those who submitted their work for critique by the April 7 deadline, in the second-floor meeting rooms. Meanwhile, Rona Simmons, nonfiction author and novelist, will provide two 60-minute talks in the College Park Ballroom: “Getting Serious about Serious Nonfiction” and “Crafting the Mother of all Marketing Plans.”

1:00-2:15 p.m. Lunch on your own.

2:30-5:30 p.m. Pitch meetings: Participants pitch an editor/agent one-on-one for about ten minutes each, in the second-floor meeting rooms. In parallel, Steven Cooper, novelist and award-winning former investigative reporter, presents two 75-minute talks: “Myths and Realities of the Publishing Process: What It Really Means to Get a Book Deal and What to Expect” and “How to Research Your Book Like a Journalist: Creating Believable Storylines in Believable Places with Believable Happenings.”

5:30-6:30 p.m. Prize giveaways and award ceremony in the College Park Ballroom with each editor/agent presenting certificates to participants for the best manuscript sample submitted for critique and for the best pitch, and giveaway drawings for prizes such as a free manuscript critique at the next Atlanta Writers Conference.


Please contact George Weinstein at

Ready to register?

View the Registration page for instructions.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close