“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)
“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.
– 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
“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!”
“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 was, hands down, the best conference I have ever been to. George and his volunteers were incredibly well-organized, accommodating, generous, and just all-around delightful. The amount of time and consideration that went into each element of the conference was obvious—from step-by-step travel instructions to by-the-minute timekeepers who kept all the events running smoothly—and I highly recommend it to any/all industry professionals!”
– Nicole Fischer, Associate Editor for William Morrow/Avon Romance at HarperCollins Publishers
“The gold standard of writing conferences. The Atlanta Writers Conference is extremely well run. George and his volunteers do an excellent job of providing writers with ample opportunity to network with industry professionals and receive quality personalized feedback on their work. Likewise, attendees were enthusiastic and eager to soak up as much information as possible. There’s a reason this conference goes on to produce so many successful authors.”
– Mike Hoogland, Literary Agent for Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC
“I’d heard such good things about the Atlanta Writers Conference, and I was delighted to be invited. It’s easily the most well-organized conference I’ve attended, and the volunteers were friendly and very attentive. There’s a nice mix of pitches and critiques, which I thought worked really well for us and for the authors. I would absolutely recommend this one!”
– Madelyn Burt, Literary Agent for Stonesong
“The Atlanta Writers Club is a fantastic pool of people serious about writing. The conference was a great opportunity to meet a plethora of new voices.”
– Christopher Morgan, Editor for Tor/Forge
“The Atlanta Writers Conference was fantastic—well-organized, efficient, and full of kind volunteers and talented writers of all ages, working in a wide range of genres. I fully recommend it!”
– Emily Hartley, Editor, Ballantine Books, Penguin Random House
“The Atlanta Writers Conference is wonderful. I had a great experience working with the staff and connecting with the writers, all of whom were incredibly professional, kind, and talented. The conference is well-organized and lots of fun, and I’d recommend it to anyone eager to find original voices and stories.”
– Vedika Khanna, Assistant Editor for William Morrow/Custom House
“Equipping writers to succeed in an ever-changing business, the Atlanta Writers Conference connects attendees with publishing professionals at an event perfect for newbies and seasoned pros.”
– Caroline George, Associate Agent, Cyle Young Literary Elite
“High-quality people and projects make this well-run conference a must-attend for industry pros.”
– Chelsey Emmelhainz, Senior Editor, Crooked Lane Books
“The Atlanta Writers Conference was insightful, intriguing, and filled with passionate people. George made the experience seamless and enjoyable, and really cared for us editors and agents.”
– Nicole Counts, Assistant Editor for One World/Penguin Random House
“I was delighted to be invited to the Atlanta Writers Conference. I had heard that this was one of the most friendly, well-organized conferences out there, and the rumors were true! The conference runs seamlessly, and it was a pleasure to get to meet with so many personable, talented writers. Definitely a conference I would recommend.”
– Patricia Nelson, Literary Agent for Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
“The Atlanta Writers Conference was a great experience; it’s impeccably organized, the editors and agents are treated so well, and the writers were professional and a cut above. The agent/editor query letter critique sessions were so fun—it’s something you don’t have at other conferences, and was my favorite part of the whole conference.”
– Hannah Braaten, Associate Editor, St. Martin’s Press
“This was a thoughtfully structured and wonderfully run conference that really gives writers, editors, and agents alike the chance to benefit from great conversations and productive activities. I had a great time meeting interesting writers and publishing colleagues who I hope to work with in the future.”
– Gabriella Doob, Associate Editor for Ecco Books
“The Atlanta Writers Conference is a blast, and the best organized writers conference I’ve attended. The AWC is a diverse group of talented writers, and everyone I met was friendly and respectful. George and all the volunteers are lovely and incredibly helpful, and make everything run smoothly.”
– Chloe Moffett, Assistant Editor for William Morrow
“This was sincerely the best-run conference I have ever attended. I couldn’t have felt more supported or valued by the conference staff.”
– MacKenzie Fraser-Bub, Founder, Fraser-Bub Literary