“I will forever be grateful to have discovered George Weinstein’s fantastic Atlanta Writers Conference and Atlanta Writers Club. Every time I attended the conference, I made new connections and expanded my understanding of how to present myself, how to sell my manuscripts, and how to properly utilize the critiques I received. Having the opportunity to engage one-on-one with these publishers and agents, with your work in front of them, opened many doors. I went from stumbling blindly through cold queries and slush piles for a year to getting multiple offers for my first novel, which will be coming out by the end of 2023 from Woodhall Press. If I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet those editors through the Writers Conference, I fear I might still be scrambling for any hope of publication. It has truly jumpstarted my career.”
– David Sangiao-Parga (https://www.davidsangiao-parga.com/)
“I can’t praise the Atlanta Writers Club conferences highly enough! They are a great way to meet agents and other writers in a professional but comfortable environment. I met Jenny Bent at an AWC conference when I submitted the first twenty pages of my manuscript to her for consideration. After many months of rewriting on my part and much editing on hers, she took me on as a client. Since then my book, The Pocket Wife, sold at auction to William Morrow-Harper Collins in a two-book deal (posted on Publishers Weekly under Deals for the week and on Publishers Marketplace!!) This agent is amazing, and so is the Atlanta Writers Club!
[2022 update]”When I parted ways with my previous agent, Jenny Bent, we separated on the best of terms. It was, for a number of reasons, simply time. During the Pandemic, I wrote. What I could not do, I imagined. Where I couldn’t go, my characters could. By the time we were (sort of) unfettered again, I had two books ready to submit to agents.
“Emerging into a world that seemed so different, so much harsher and angrier, so strangely alien and divided, I was happy to see a few things hadn’t changed. There was still dark chocolate, the ocean, and George Weinstein.
“I attended the first in-person AWC Conference last November, met virtually with one agent, who was not interested in my book, and in person, mask to mask, with Shannon Hassan from The Marsal Lyon Agency. She requested my full manuscript and gave me an award and a small list of suggested changes to my first twenty pages.
“After some discussion via telephone and after a month of rewriting on my part and reading on hers, she sent me a contract. I looked it over, got back to her with some questions, and ultimately signed on with Ms. Hassan at Marsal Lyon. I couldn’t be happier.
“Shannon is the third agent I’ve found through Atlanta Writers Club conferences. They are all different, yet each, in her own way, has been outstanding. These conferences are incredibly helpful to aspiring authors. They run smoothly, are professional, have engaging extras – the Agents Panel and free workshops – and, whether I’ve found an agent or not (and there were many many times I did not!), I always left feeling my time at the hotel had been worthwhile. I always left with hope. George Weinstein works extremely hard on these conferences and it definitely pays off.
“Thank you once again, George and the AWC, for giving all of us a go at that elusive brass ring!”
– Susan Crawford (susancrawfordnovelist.com/)
“The first time I signed up for the Atlanta Writers Conference, I had query letter consultations with agents. I had such a positive experience, even though I didn’t sign with anyone, that I knew I would sign up early for the November 2021 conference for a manuscript consultation. I planned to do it virtually, and was excited to sign up for a consultation with Georgia Hughes, an acquisitions editor for New World Library. I had always loved New World Library co-founder Shakti Gawain’s book Creative Visualization and thought that like the company’s motto, my writing craft book would change lives. AWC Director George Weinstein facilitated every aspect of communications about the conference making it an easy and positive experience. In the meantime, I had signed with an agent. I had a productive meeting with Georgia via Zoom and she gave me great feedback. A few days later, George emailed me saying Georgia had given me the award of “Best Manuscript Sample” which was an amazing feeling, validating my 20+ years in the business as a magazine editor, widely published journalist and writing coach. My agent sent her the proposal, and a month later, we had an offer. My deal was announced in January 2022 in Publisher’s Marketplace. WRITING THAT GETS NOTICED: How to Find Your Voice, Become a Better Storyteller, and Get Published will be released by New World Library in April 2023. I believe that the personal touch of meeting and speaking to Georgia made such a difference in building our professional connection. Huge thanks to George for putting on such a stellar conference. I recommend it to all my coaching clients and my New York University and Writer’s Digest writing students.”
– Estelle Erasmus (http://estelleserasmus.com/)
“On an ordinary Saturday in November, I attended the Atlanta Writers Conference and pitched my novel to a spunky agent in a burgundy dress. That agent was Sara Megibow of kt literary, and one month later, she offered me representation—six months thereafter, she sold my debut novel, The Leopard Behind the Moon, to Greenwillow Books. Beyond the chance to meet amazing agents like Sara Megibow, the conference is a great forum for networking and laying a foundation for friendships with other writers. Moreover, through the many workshops offered, writers can sharpen their skills and learn about the publishing journey. I am forever grateful to George Weinstein and the entire Atlanta Writers Conference team for organizing such a significant event.”
– Mayonn Paasewe-Valchev (mayonn.com)
“The first time I attended the Atlanta Writers Conference, I had mixed feelings. At this point in my writing journey–writing, querying, writing, querying, you get the idea–I invested in the AWC. I went all in: query critiques, manuscript critiques, pitches. My goal was to get as much feedback as possible from as many agents/editors as possible. I left a teensy-bitsy room for hope that some agent would be so astounded by my samples, scoop me up, and twirl me around the room with gracious offers. That didn’t happen of course, but what I did receive was amazing feedback. After tons of form letter no’s and “unfortunately, I have decided to pass on your project” no’s, it was extremely refreshing to talk one-on-one with agents and editors. The personalized feedback was invaluable. So back to the drawing board. When the next AWC came around, I had no such expectations to be lauded on shoulders and given offers of representation. I went into this AWC wanting personalized and critical feedback. I wanted to suck up as much insight from the agents/editors as I could. And then it did happen. I received Best Manuscript Sample with an invite to send my full to two agents, which resulted in being offered representation. The AWC was a great venue to get worthy insight. Conferencing with those that know their stuff not only built some confidence in myself about my work, but it helped improve that work. All those that work behind the scenes at the conference have been great. Mr. Weinstein is extremely helpful and always ready with quick answers.”
– Melody McWhorter
“I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up for the Atlanta Writers Conference, especially during a pandemic, but the conference exceeded expectations. I’ve been to many writers’ conferences over the years, both on a large, national scale and on a smaller one as well. What I liked most about the AWC was the personal attention my work-in-progress received during each of my four sessions. I was able to pitch my book and get immediate, honest, and helpful feedback. I also appreciated the manuscript critique sessions with top-notch agents and editors who were absolute pros! AWC draws a quality group of publishing experts.
“After attending the November 2020 conference, it’s not hard to see how Atlanta Writers Conference was voted the ‘Best Writing Conference in Georgia’ by The Writer magazine. I went to the conference hoping to get some helpful feedback on my query letter and first chapters. What I came away with was a game changer. After pitching my book to a handful of editors and agents, and after taking into consideration their feedback, I ended up landing a contract with one of the literary agencies represented at the conference. I am pleased to be working with Ella Marie Shupe of the Belcastro Agency.
“Lastly, the folks behind the scenes at AWC, particularly Conference Director George Weinstein, were outstanding in communicating at every stage. For a first-time attendee, I give the AWC four stars for offering a conference experience that was organized, informative, and, ultimately, fruitful for this hopeful writer!”
– Chris Bailey (http://www.cibaileyauthor.com/)
“When I got serious about finding an agent for my first book, one of the first things I did was invest in the Atlanta Writers Conference. The conference gave me access to agents and publishers and published authors and was a good introduction to the industry. Not only did I get a lot of good information, I got a referral from one editor to an agent who agreed to represent me. My first book, The Three Death Sentences of Clarence Henderson (Abrams), is due out in September 2020.”
– Chris Joyner (https://www.facebook.com/AJCChrisJoyner and https://twitter.com/cjoyner)
“In addition to cold-querying agents with my three fiction manuscripts, I’ve had the career-changing experience of attending several of the Atlanta Writers Conferences. There I had the opportunity to pitch and/or have excerpts of these books-in-progress critiqued by real, live, deal-making agents. While my projects ultimately had varying degrees of success (from none to BINGO!), I always wound up with the most sustained interest from agents with whom I met face to face at one of these pitch or critique sessions. Meeting agent Amy Cloughley of Kimberley Cameron and Associates at The Atlanta Conference changed my life. Two months after the conference, she signed me, set to work helping fine tune my book BURYING THE HONEYSUCKLE GIRLS, then sold it to Lake Union at Amazon for an April 26, 2016 publication [EDITOR’S NOTE: As of 2018, Emily has published three suspense novels via Lake Union/Amazon]. I’m indebted to George Weinstein and the Atlanta Writers Club team for creating a venue for Georgia writers to learn, connect, and watch their dreams come true.”
– Emily Carpenter (emilycarpenterauthor.com)
“The November 2013 Atlanta Writers’ Conference was my first time attending a conference, and I could not have been happier with my experience. The event was incredibly well-organized, with a diverse and talented group of writers in attendance, along with an amazing lineup of visiting agents, editors, and guest speakers. I attended the Friday night mixer, the Saturday morning agent/editor Q&A session, an informational session about blogging, a manuscript critique with one agent, and a pitch session with another agent. As a writer hoping to achieve publication, I found all of these activities to be incredibly interesting, helpful, and relevant to my goals.
“While at the mixer, I had the opportunity to chat with several agents, including the amazing Brooks Sherman of FinePrint Literary Management [Editor note: Brooks is now at Janklow & Nesbit Associates]. Though Brooks was closed to unsolicited queries, he invited me to submit a query and the first few pages of my YA Contemporary manuscript. The next day, I received an incredibly helpful manuscript critique from one agent, and had a successful pitch session with another. Both of these agents requested my full manuscript.
“I revised my manuscript based on the thoughtful critique I received at the conference, and I sent out my requested full manuscripts and queries a week later. Two days later, Brooks and another agent I met at the conference mixer responded, requesting my full manuscript. Brooks followed up two days after that, offering representation. During the following week, I received three additional offers of representation, including one from another incredible agent I met at the conference.
“Ultimately, I was thrilled to accept Brooks’ offer of representation. Brooks then went on to sell my book in a pre-empt to Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins four days after I signed with him, which was less than a month after I attended this amazing conference. [Editor note: Becky’s bestselling novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, was turned into the major motion picture Love, Simon, released in March of 2018.]
“Suffice it to say that I recommend this conference wholeheartedly to writers seeking to make connections with agents and editors, network with other writers, and learn more about the publishing industry.”
– Rebecca Albertalli (beckyalbertalli.com/)
“The Atlanta Writers Conference was my pathway from being an aspiring writer to having a publishing contract with a Big-5 publishing house. Here are my numbers: 37 queries and submissions to agents and editors, 36 eventual rejections, 10 expressions of interest along the way, 4 writers’ conferences, 2 years of trying to sell my book, 1 acceptance. Of those 10 expressions of interest 9 came from agents and editors I met and pitched at the Atlanta Writers Conference––only one came from a cold-call query. My one acceptance came from an editor I met at the May 2015 conference. In my case, the correlation between personal contact with the gatekeepers in the publishing industry and my success in getting a contract is very clear. But it wasn’t just the opportunity to meet agents and editors that did the trick, for me. The conferences were where I learned how to correctly interact with agents and editors and how to use their feedback to improve my writing. It’s also the place where I met some of my most valuable and enduring critique partners. The Atlanta Writers Conference is a powerful tool, and like any tool, it takes time and practice and commitment to learn how to use it correctly. Doing so was one of the most beneficial investments of time and money and energy I’ve ever made.”
– Roger Johns, author of Dark River Rising (rogerjohnsbooks.com)
“I signed with my agent, Mike Hoogland of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret, after pitching to him at the Atlanta Writers Conference in November. This conference is a must for writers serious about pursuing publication.”
– Brenda Lowder
“There is nothing quite like meeting agents face-to-face to pitch your novel and discuss your potential. The Atlanta Writers Conference offers that opportunity and so much more. I left my first conference inspired and affirmed. I met agent Ann Collette at my second conference where she awarded me ‘Best Manuscript Submission.’ From there it was quite a bit of work, but it all paid off. Ann agreed to represent me and then, within a month, I got a two-book deal from a publisher. I think my experience speaks for itself. Thanks, George, and everybody involved in this amazing conference. I highly endorse!”
– Steven Cooper (stevencooperbooks.com/)
“One of the most daunting aspects of writing can be the mixing and mingling. Meetings, workshops, critique groups, and conferences can be intimidating – especially for a novice. But it pays off! In the fall of 2013, I attended the Atlanta Writers Conference. I looked forward to learning from the speakers and having the opportunity to pitch my chapter book to the attending agents/editors. My quick pitch session with agent Linda Epstein resulted in being offered representation a few months later. Together we’ve worked on overhauling old ideas and brainstorming new ones. Our conversation about food trucks evolved into my picture book, Make Room For Little Taco Truck, which was recently bought by Schwartz & Wade. It has been an incredible journey. I’m so happy I attended the Atlanta Writers Conference that fall. It was a wonderful experience that lead to gaining an amazing agent and selling my first traditionally published book. Thank you, AWC!”
– Tanya Valentine, author of All Bears Need Love and Make Room For Little Taco Truck (tanyavalentine.com)
“Combining professional opportunities with informal networking, the Atlanta Writers Conference is a unique opportunity to interact with–and learn from–agents, editors and writers of all genres. It is also one of the few places a writer can pitch directly to an acquiring editor. As the self-published author of The Marriage Pact contemporary romance trilogy, I wanted to explore my options with traditional publishing, especially regarding film and television rights. Superhero conference organizer (and amazing writer) George Weinstein [Editor’s Note: MJ forbade GW from deleting this bit of hyperbole] recommended that I sign up for a query letter pitch with Nicole Sohl of St. Martins Press/Macmillan Entertainment at the Apriil 2014 AWC. Not only was I able to have my query critiqued the day before by another experienced editor and agent, but I got the chance to interact socially with Nicole at the mixer Friday night, making the pitch session much less intimidating.
“After hearing the pitch and looking at my self-publishing sales numbers, Nicole asked to see all three manuscripts (in my case, paperbacks), and made me an offer about two months later. I had to scramble to find an agent! I queried several on reputation and fielded three offers of representation before signing with Beth Phelan of the Bent Agency, who has also recently attended the AWC. It’s been an amazing journey for me, and The Marriage Pact trilogy will be re-released starting November 3, 2015. I highly recommend the Atlanta Writers Conference as a place for authors to learn the business, make connections, and hone their craft.”
– MJ Pullen (mjpullen.com/)
“I attended the Atlanta Writers Conference in May 2015. I had never attended any conference before this one and quite frankly before this experience I had always dismissed the incredible impact it could have on my writing career. A friend had told me about the Atlanta Writers Club and I subscribed to the emails but only would glance through and move on. Then after working on my first children’s book with my editor from California she mentioned that what I need to do is attend a ‘pitch slam.’ I had never even heard of this term. What is a pitch slam, anyway? She said it is a chance to pitch your material to several agents at one time. How could I never have known this was even possible? Well, I went back through my skipped over emails and realized that the very next month happened to be the conference held right in town and one theme was children’s books! I quickly emailed George and sat on the waiting list to get in just in case anyone should cancel. I had long missed my opportunity to register of course but I always trust timing and fate. And as fate would have it, I did manage to get a spot to meet with an editor for a critique. This experience was very helpful as well to meet with an editor. I was not able to get in to pitch with an agent. I went through each agents bio and looked them up anyway. Not a single agent worked with children’s picture books, or at least no one was listed that way.
“For me, there was one agent that stood out and I wanted desperately to meet with him–and his name is Paul Levine. I read reviews on him and it only solidified that I had to meet this man. I sent him an email telling a little bit about myself and that I had already been published once and a second contract already signed on my own. I asked him in this email why he did not work with picture books. Within one hour he called me! I was blown away! I was so used to quickly getting the snub from any agent I’d ever reached out to in my many years of writing and questing to find an agent and here was the only agent on the list that I so badly wanted to meet. He called and asked me who had negotiated my contract and I answered with “I didn’t so much negotiate as much as said heck yes and signed on the dotted line.” He told me never to do that again and that when he came to the conference I could take him out to a meal and discuss options. He also told me he absolutely would work with children’s picture books. For me it was a dream come true and in the time since I have secured another contract. This time with him as the driver, the numbers and options are completely different. Having an agent allows me to get my book proposals into the hands of publishers that I could never do on my own. It’s like having the greatest teammate and coach on your side. He is fully invested in everything that I want to do and guides me to which ideas can sell and which ideas are not likely. He reads everything I send and calls me with comments and suggestions. I am no longer out there alone dangling in the wind praying someone gives me a glance or a chance! Paul has been the most incredible addition to my writing career in the world and it never would have happened without the Atlanta Writers Conference.
“What I tell anyone aspiring to write now is to attend local conferences. This is your best chance in the world to meet with people in person that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get in front of. You will be surrounded with people who share the same passions that you share. Your chances of success greatly increase this way. As writers we all know people who are always working on their books. They either can’t get to the end, or they chase their tale in trying to perfect it to the point that it never gets finished. I see them all the time. What makes a writer become a published author is the tenacity it requires to follow our dreams all the way through to completion and never give up. Now imagine with that the pairing of another person as invested in this dream as you are but with much greater connections and knowledge! Go to the conferences, you owe it to your dreams to do everything you can to make them come true!
“I look forward to seeing you there!”
– Emily A. Francis (emilyafrancisbooks.com)
“The Atlanta Writer’s Club Conference was my first conference, and the manuscript I took along to pitch to the guest editors and agents, was my first novel–a mystery that I finished just three months earlier.
“I had sent out query letters to a few agents seeking representation, but got rejected fairly quickly. My ego and a half dozen beta readers told me that I had written a pretty good story, so I obviously blamed the rejections on the query letter. Then I read about the Atlanta Writer’s Conference and it sounded like a good thing to attend. There was a query letter critique, some Q&A sessions with an impressive list of agents and editors, some workshops and lectures, and the opportunity to pitch my work face to face to a working professional. Turns out it was far more than good. It exceeded all my expectations.
“Starting the first day the query critique helped me so much that I ran home between activities and completely rewrote it, based on their suggestions. When I pitched the next day my new query was a hit. All four pitches went extremely well, and three of the four asked for my full manuscript. The Q&A’s and other activities were icing on the cake. One of the pitches led to my signing with an agent, who already has me working on the next story in my mystery series. I owe this opportunity and outcome to the AWC.
“Any writer looking for representation, or to learn and improve, this is the way to do it. I recommend the Atlanta Writer’s Club Conference highly. Although I don’t have any other writer’s confeence to compare it to, I can’t imagine one organized any better.”
– Ron Fisher (ronfisherwriter.com/)
“Among many other perks, an AWC conference presents the perfect opportunity to #1. pitch to, and/or have your pages critiqued by highly regarded literary professionals, #2. meet other writers in your genre, and #3. forget about anything other than writing, if only for the day.
“If your manuscript is polished and you have a killer voice and/or story, an AWC conference is a perfect next step to connecting with your dream agent. I met mine in 2013. During my critique session with the lovely Janell Walden Agyeman I knew she appreciated my writing style, that she got what I was trying to do/say. Ms. Agyeman asked for more and subsequently bestowed upon my pages a best submission award. From there we combined our efforts in readying my manuscript for submission to traditional publishers. A contract was offered by Turner Publishing (Nashville, TN) in November 2014. The sale and signing were later posted to Publishers Marketplace. My Sweet Vidalia, is now available for pre-sale at both Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, with a release date of October 6th, 2015! Big thanks to George W. and everybody at the Atlanta Writers Club!”
– Deborah Mantella (deborahmantella.com)
“Over the past three years, the Atlanta Writers Conference has offered an invaluable opportunity for me to strengthen my craft as a writer and eventually to connect with a fantastic agent and editor. In November 2011, I arrived at my first Atlanta Writers Conference with a sprawling first draft of my contemporary young adult novel. I hoped to land an agent, but instead I realized how much I had to learn! At an excellent session on what to avoid in the first ten pages of your manuscript, I discovered that I had made approximately 9.5 of the ten big mistakes for first-time authors. It was demoralizing, but I went home and revised like crazy to prepare for the next Atlanta Writers Conference. The revisions were good enough to earn a “Best Manuscript Submission” award, and I also got wonderful feedback at that conference about how to tighten and strengthen the manuscript. At the May 2013 conference, eighteen months after my first Conference, I met Jita Fumich of Folio Literary Agency. I especially appreciated the opportunity to connect with her informally, at the Friday evening meet-and-greet before our critique session on Saturday. I knew immediately that she was the agent I had been waiting for. A couple of weeks later, she offered me representation. Just before the May 2014 conference (and, yes, after another round of revisions), we secured a contract with Laura Chasen at St. Martin’s Press. I am absolutely thrilled with my team, and I look forward to a Fall 2015 publication date. On this long and sometimes grueling journey, the Atlanta Writers Conference has been a valued companion. I am deeply grateful to the many people who work hard to make it happen.”
– Marie Marquardt (mariemarquardt.com/)
“I had talked about my children’s books for so long and to so many people that I felt I’d better do something about getting published or take the chance of being put into the category of “all talk and no action.” Attending the Atlanta Writers Conference in May 2016, I believe was the crucial opportunity for me to highlight my work and move one step closer to being published!
“I had never been to a writer’s conference before but had heard that conferences are the best way to connect with the necessary people in order to get published. I really did not know what to expect, but I went in with an attitude of learning as much as possible and taking advantage of everything that was offered that was pertinent to me. I left very impressed with the event! It was extremely well organized, professional, and friendly.
“I had found out about the Atlanta Writers Conference rather late and consequently was on a wait list for agent Johnnie Bernhard to critique my query letter. I did get my 15 minutes with her and talked with her again during the social hour on Friday night.
“I attended the conference with the outside hope of getting an agent say my work was good, unique, and worthy of his or her time and effort to help me get published. I have now signed a contract with Johnnie Bernhard and she is diligently walking me through the necessary steps to market myself and my book to a publisher. Needless to say I am very happy and excited!
“I would encourage anyone who is serious about getting published to attend the Atlanta Writers Conference! You are paying for knowledge, experience, and connections, and I have found it to be well worth the money spent!”
– Mary Mueller
“I came up from Daphne, Alabama to the Writers Conference in Atlanta this past May. This was my first writer’s conference and I enjoyed it immensely. I was lucky enough to win ‘Best Manuscript Submission.’ with Agent Paula Munier and she requested the full manuscript. I just signed with Paula a couple of days ago. I am 99.99% sure that I would still be looking for an agent if I hadn’t attended the Atlanta Writers Conference. I wanted to thank the Atlanta Writers Club.”
– Ray Kolb (raykolb.com/)
“The Atlanta Writers Conference was a huge success for me. I pitched my YA thriller to Lara Perkins at the November 2012 conference and won Best Pitch. After sending her my manuscript and getting revision recommendations, I signed on with her to represent that novel and me. Thank you for doing these conferences!”
– S.R. Johannes (srjohannes.com)
“I met my agent, Becca Stumpf of Prospect Literary, at the Atlanta Writers Conference in November of 2011. She critiqued my YA science fiction novel and asked me to send her the full. I did, but it got lost somewhere in cyberspace. By the time I knew I needed to follow up, I was deep into a revision. The manuscript was ready to submit again in the spring of 2013, so I re-queried Becca, mentioning our earlier meeting and that she had asked to read it. This time it reached her, and she called to offer representation!”
– Sharon Pegram
GUEST EDITORS & AGENTS:
“The Atlanta Writers Conference is truly what all other conferences should aspire to be. As an editor, being able to really connect and chat with so many writers was such a wonderful experience. The environment was welcoming, creative, and constructive so if you ever get the chance to go, do it! You won’t regret it.”
– Alicia Sparrow, acquisitions editor for Chicago Review Press
“The Atlanta Writers Conference was such a joy! I really appreciated how smoothly the conference ran and getting to meet such wonderful people! Highly recommended for anybody looking to attend.”
– Kat Kerr, agent, Donald Maass Literary Agency
“I have never been to such a professional, business-focused writers conference. Submissions far exceeded expectations, attendees were incredibly professional, and staff and volunteers were phenomenal. Highly recommended! This is a conference you don’t want to miss.”
– Lisa Diane Kastner, Founder and CEO, Running Wild Press and RIZE Press
“The Atlanta Writers Conference is hands down the best writing conference I’ve attended in the fifteen years that I have been a literary agent. I was totally blown away by the high caliber of prospective authors and writing projects and how smoothly and efficiently every session of the conference was executed. It really reminded me of why I became a literary agent in the first place, and I left the conference feeling inspired and rejuvenated.”
– Leticia Gomez, founder, Savvy Literary Services