The conference on May 4-5, 2018 consists of SEVEN parts (including a new activity) and you may participate in one, some, or all of these events:
1. One-on-one critique sessions on Saturday, May 5, where acquisition editors and/or agents share their evaluation and discuss your project for about 15 minutes with those who have submitted in advance the first 19 pages of manuscript plus a query letter and 1-page synopsis, or a 21-page nonfiction book proposal. You can register for up to two of these sessions.
2. Pitch sessions on Saturday, May 5, where you will provide a query letter to an editor or agent and discuss your project for about 10 minutes. You can register for up to two of these sessions.
3. Query letter critique on Friday, May 4 by an editor and an agent other than the one(s) you’re meeting with on Saturday, so you can get advice about making it perfect for the next day’s pitches to the editor(s)/agent(s) of your choice and/or to have a “bulletproof” query letter for any future use.
4. “The Alchemy of Adaptation: From Book to Screen” Screenwriting Workshop on Friday, May 4 with Conference guest speaker Patricia Meyer, Emmy-nominated screenwriter, producer, and professor.
5. Panel discussion and Q&A with all six editors on Friday, May 4.
6. Panel discussion and Q&A with all six agents on Saturday, May 4.
7. NEW: To help you prepare for your Manuscript Critique–or simply get feedback on the start of your book to guide its development–the Prep Critique enables you to select a professional freelancer editor who will edit (line-by-line, content, and developmental edit) the first 19 pages of your book, a 1-page synopsis, and a 1-page query letter a month before the submission due date for the Manuscript Critique, to give you time to correct, rework, and otherwise improve what you submit for feedback from the agent(s) and/or acquisition editor(s). Even if you’re not interested in a Manuscript Critique, the freelance editor can spot issues that can help you develop the rest of your book and make it more saleable.
We also offer a Conference All-Activities Package, which includes two manuscript critiques, two pitches, and all of the other activities, with a $175 discount because the two Q&A Panels and Prep Critique are free when you select this option. You can also choose the same Package deal but without the Prep Critique, in case you sign up after that activity’s due date or you simply don’t want it.
1. THE MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE
If you want a critique of your project on May 5, you will submit the following no later than April 4, 2018: (a) For fiction and memoir, you will submit the first 19 pages of your manuscript plus a 1-page query letter and 1-page synopsis, totaling 21 pages; (b) For non-fiction other than memoir, you will submit a book proposal of up to 21 pages; or (c) For picture books, you will submit an electronic copy of the entire picture book, with illustrations (if available).
During the late morning and early afternoon of Saturday, May 5, you will have about 15 minutes for a one-on-one exchange with the editor/agent about your work, in the privacy of a hotel boardroom. The editor/agent also will give you a written critique, which could consist of an overall review of the project (what worked and what didn’t), the quality of the writing, character and story development, and marketability. The editor/agent will not line-edit your work (she or he shouldn’t have to; that’s why we’re offering the Prep Critique ahead of time, so you can make sure your work is free of errors and other content problems before you submit it), but this individual will provide you a written summary of comments. During the critique session, the editor/agent may choose to request more pages or the entire manuscript from you, perhaps leading to a publishing contract (from the editors) or a contract for representation to work toward an eventual publishing deal (from the agents).
2. THE PITCH
During the afternoon of Saturday, May 5, in the privacy of a hotel boardroom, you will bring a one-page query letter and discuss your project for about 10 minutes with an editor/agent of your choosing; talk about your writing and your publishing ambitions; and ask the editor/agent for reactions to your query and the description of your book. If the editor/agent is interested, you will be asked to send sample pages or even the whole manuscript for consideration. You will not submit anything in advance. To help you succeed in your pitch session(s), you also can register to get your query letter critiqued on Friday, May 4 (see activity #3 below) by a panel of one editor and one agent who will NOT include the editor(s)/agent(s) you’re meeting with on Saturday, to give you a chance to improve your query letter prior to your pitch meeting(s). In either case, you will bring your query letter to the pitch session on Saturday afternoon. It will be handed to the editor/agent for review immediately prior to your session.
If you also want 1-2 manuscript critiques (see activity #1 above), pitching will give you the chance to introduce other editors and/or agents to your work. Do NOT choose the same individual for manuscript critiquing AND pitching. It’s much wiser to increase your chances by meeting with as many individuals as you can who are seeking your genre/topic.
3. QUERY LETTER CRITIQUE
Writing a great manuscript is only part of the challenge on the road to publication. You also need to write a “bulletproof” query letter–one that cannot be rejected on technical grounds–because agents and editors are not likely to ask to see your manuscript if they are not impressed by your query. Therefore, we offer the “Query Letter Critique” on the afternoon of Friday, May 4, after the Editor Q&A Panel and prior to the Workshop. For about 10 minutes, in the privacy of a hotel boardroom, a panel of one editor and one agent–which will NOT include the editor(s)/agent(s) you’re meeting with on Saturday–will review and discuss your query letter with you: get advice about how to make your query letter polished and professional so you’ll do your best on Saturday and/or have guidance you can use on query letters long after the conference is over.
The Query Letter Critique on Friday, May 4 is the rare chance to share your query letter with publishing professionals for completely objective feedback. Their role in these panels is not to reject; rather, their goal is to help you improve your work so you can shine on Saturday and in all future queries. But, who knows? If you submit a great query letter at this Friday Query Letter Critique session, one or both of the panel editors/agents might ask to see your work too! It happens often at our conferences.
You will not submit anything in advance; you’ll bring copies of your query letter with you for the panel of two editors/agents to read just before you meet with them, so you can craft it right up to the last minute. Two weeks before the conference, we will let you know which editor and agent will team up to help you.
Note that you do NOT have to register for the Saturday pitch in order to register for the Friday query letter critique–maybe you want to just try out a query letter with some talented industry professionals and get their feedback with no pressure or stress, or maybe you want to improve your letter for future queries. These are excellent reasons to take advantage of this unique chance to get important feedback about a submission that is usually just a “yes” or “no” proposition. In fact, since we introduced this feature in 2013, many of our guest editors and agents have reported the query letter critique panel was their favorite activity and considered it a must-do for all participants who are serious about getting their best work out there.
4. SCREENWRITING WORKSHOP: “The Alchemy of Adaptation: From Book to Screen”
This is a two-hour workshop on Friday, May 4 (4:00-6:00 p.m.) by Atlanta Writers Conference guest speaker Patricia Meyer.
With her passion for true crime stories, Patricia K. Meyer has written screenplays for Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Productions, at Touchstone/Disney, New Line, Fox, and Paramount. Meyer wrote miniseries and movies-of-the-week for CBS and NBC. She also developed and executive produced six network movies with Von Zerneck/Sertner Films for CBS, NBC, and ABC. Meyer’s first production, the ABC miniseries THE WOMEN OF BREWSTER PLACE starred Oprah Winfrey and received an Emmy nomination and an Image Awards for Outstanding Miniseries. She executive produced Nora Ephron’s directorial debut, THIS IS MY LIFE, for Twentieth Century Fox. Meyer made her directorial debut with THE LIST, a short tragic-comedy she wrote and produced, and which screened at seven major film festivals. Her recently produced short, UNSPOKEN, is in festival competition and has received numerous honors, including “Best of Fest” at Philadelphia’s First Glance Festival. Her first play, TURNAROUND, was performed at the Hothouse Series at the Pasadena Playhouse. Currently, Meyer has two new true crime thrillers, three one-hour drama series pilots, and a half-hour comedy on the market. She is a member of the Writers Guild of America and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Meyer earned a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Boston University. After serving for ten years as Senior Lecturer in Screenwriting at the American Film Institute Conservatory, she is enjoying her position as Clinical Assistant Professor of Screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film & Television.
At 4:00 p.m. Patricia will present the two-hour workshop “The Alchemy of Adaptation: From Book to Screen.” The process of adaptation is complex and multi-layered and involves finding the story within the source material; “breaking” its dramatic structure; identifying and honing your protagonist, antagonist, and supporting characters; the necessity of taking dramatic license; and coming to terms with the fact that the film or TV version of your book may be drastically different from the original material. By the end of the two hours, you will come away with tools to help you approach an adaptation of your material as well as an understanding of whether it serves the screenplay or series formats.
This workshop is for those actively trying to develop a screenplay based on their book as well as for those who want to write an original screenplay. Patricia asks that participants refrain from contacting her ahead of the conference with requests to read their work.
5. THE EDITOR Q&A PANEL
On Friday, May 4, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., six editors who represent Random House, Simon & Schuster, Tor/Forge, HarperCollins, and others answer your questions about the craft and business of writing from the publishers’ perspective, including how they work with authors, the current state of the publishing industry, the different roles within publishing firms, creative control and collaboration, and whatever else you want to ask about.
6. THE AGENT Q&A PANEL
On Saturday, May 5, from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m., participate in a candid, freewheeling discussion with all six literary agents, who will educate you about their changing roles and the expanding responsibilities of the author, with advice about working with agents and expectations about marketing one’s work. Also get your questions answered about everything from queries and contracts to publicity and social media.
7. NEW: PREP CRITIQUE BY A FREELANCE EDITOR
To help you prepare for your Manuscript Critique (see #1 above)–or simply get feedback on the start of your book to help you improve the rest of it–the Prep Critique enables you to select a professional freelancer editor who will edit (line-by-line, content, and developmental edit) the first 19 pages of your book, a 1-page synopsis, and a 1-page query letter a month before the submission due date for the Manuscript Critique, to give you time to correct, rework, and otherwise improve what you submit for feedback from the agent(s) and/or acquisition editor(s) you select. This will improve your chances with the agents and acquisition editors and also give you crucial guidance about changes you need to make in the rest of your manuscript.
BONUSES (free and open to anyone who registers for at least one Conference activity):
On the afternoon of Friday, May 4, Patricia Meyer will offer two 45-minute talks, at 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. respectively, that are free to all conference registrants. These will address “Creating 3-Dimensional Characters: Breathing Real Life into Your Stories” and “Screenwriting Is Rewriting.”
On the evening of Friday, May 4, from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., we invite all Conference participants to gather in a private room at the Westin Atlanta Airport Hotel for informal conversations with the editors and agents and to network with your peers. All twelve of the editors and agents, as well as Patricia Meyer, will attend this free mixer.
On Saturday, May 5, while the morning critiques are held, we will feature Emily Carpenter, conference success story and bestselling author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls, The Weight of Lies, and Every Single Secret. Emily was signed by an agent she met during a 2013 Atlanta Writers Conference. She will provide two 75-minute talks: “Traditional Publishing: Over the Rainbow and Behind the Curtain” and “The 2018 Author.”
That afternoon while the pitch sessions are held, Buzz Bernard, bestselling thriller author with forty years of fiction and nonfiction publishing experience, will do these 75-minute presentations: “Hiring a Publicist—Is It Worth It?” and “Free Form Q&A with an Old Timer—Ask Away!”
And don’t forget the 5:45 p.m. award ceremony and prize giveaways to close out the Atlanta Writers Conference on Saturday afternoon, with giveaways for activities at the next conference and each editor and agent presenting a certificate to participants for the best manuscript sample submitted for critique and for the best query letter pitch. Many of the participants who received book deals from editors or were signed by agents after past conferences first received these awards. See who shines on Saturday, May 5–it might be your name our guests call!
All of these bonus activities are free for anyone participating in the manuscript critique, pitch, prep critique, editor Q&A panel, agent Q&A panel, workshop, and/or query letter critique.
Our Policy on Sexual Harassment
The Atlanta Writers Conference staff, Atlanta Writers Club (AWC) volunteers, and the presenters at its conferences are committed to helping provide safe, inspiring, informative events. The Atlanta Writers Club will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind on the part of attendees, presenters, or anyone connected to any event sponsored by the AWC. We urge anyone who experiences a problem to notify Atlanta Writers Conference Director George Weinstein (404-632-3525 or firstname.lastname@example.org) immediately. We appreciate your cooperation.
Please contact Atlanta Writers Conference Director George Weinstein at email@example.com.