Conference Activities

The conference on November 6-8, 2020 consists of FIVE parts and you may participate in one, some, or all of these events based on your interests, goals, and budget:

  1. Manuscript Sample Critique
  2. Pitch
  3. Query Letter Critique
  4. Sunday Doubleheader Workshops Online: “Crafting a Page-Turner” and “Market Like a Boss”
  5. Pre-Conference Edit [Deadline August 16 (August 1 for Rebecca Heyman)]

Due to COVID-19, we are only offering in-person critique and pitch activities with the agents and editors. We will not be able to hold our usual large-group events (Q&A panels, educational talks, mixer, award ceremony) because our desire is to ensure your safety at all times. Rest assured, our guests and volunteers will be masked, and we strongly encourage our participants to be as well. We’ll maintain proper social distance within and outside the conference meeting rooms. We’re delighted to be able to provide the 1-on-1 manuscript critiques and pitches and 2-on-1 query letter critiques as in-person events, and we’ll resume providing the large-group activities once COVID-19 vaccines become widely available. In the meantime, we hope you take advantage of the (masked and distanced) face-to-face meetings with the industry professionals on November 6-7 and the two online workshops on November 8.

If a resurgence of COVID-19 prompts the Georgia governor to reestablish shelter in place orders and prevents us from holding in-person manuscript critiques, query letter critiques, and pitches, these will occur via email exchanges between the participants and the agents and editors, with Conference Director George Weinstein as the gatekeeper, receiving and delivering all files. If this occurs, the pricing for those three activities will be reduced to the May 2020 conference pricing (indicated on the Pricing page in parentheses where applicable), and refunds will be given to all participants based on difference in prices, or full refunds will be granted if a registrant does not want to participate in email-based activities.

1. Manuscript Sample Critique

One-on-one manuscript sample critique sessions on the morning of Saturday, November 7, in the privacy of a sanitized hotel meeting room, where the 2018 Nov AWC Day 2 - MS Critiqueacquisitions editor(s) and/or agent(s) you’ve selected share their evaluation and discuss your project for about 15 minutes. The editor/agent will provide you a written summary of comments and make notes about your work (they won’t do line-editing, but they shouldn’t have to; that’s why we’re offering the Pre-Conference Edit ahead of time–see activity #7 below–so you can make sure your work is free of errors and other content problems before you submit it). By the end of the session, you might be asked to submit corrected pages or your full manuscript for consideration. You can register for up to two of these sessions. 

If you select this activity, you will need to submit the first 19 pages of your novel/memoir plus a query letter and 1-page synopsis; your 21-page nonfiction book proposal; or your entire picture book by October 7, 2020. NOTE: if there are waitlists for editors/agents, some will be shorter than others–use the link at the bottom of this page to contact us about who has the shortest waitlists among those who are a good fit for you and your work.

After the final manuscript critiques are discussed on Saturday afternoon, all 16 editors and agents will select one or two participants to receive a Best Manuscript Sample certificate, to be sent after the conference.

2. Pitch

For the pitch sessions on the afternoon of Saturday, November 7, in the privacy of a sanitized hotel meeting Pitch Queueroom, you will bring a one-page query letter and discuss your project for about 10 minutes with an editor/agent of your choice, 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 guest is interested, you will be asked to send sample pages or even the whole manuscript for consideration. You will not submit anything in advance. You can register for up to two of these sessions. 

Unlike most other conferences, you will bring your query letter to the pitch session on Saturday afternoon for the editor/agent for review immediately prior to your session. The query letter does the hard work of introducing your manuscript concept and yourself to the agent/editor, allowing you to build on that foundation in a natural conversation, with no recitation of a memorized spiel. To help you succeed in your pitch session(s), you can also register to get your query letter critiqued on Friday, November 6 (see activity #3 below) by an editor and agent who you will NOT be meeting with on Saturday, to give you a chance to improve your query letter ahead of time without hurting your chances with your choice picks.

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.

NOTE: if there are waitlists for editors/agents, some will be shorter than others–use the link at the bottom of this page to contact us about who has the shortest waitlists among those who are a good fit for you and your work.

After the final pitches are discussed on Saturday afternoon, all 16 editors and agents will select one or two participants to receive a Best Pitch certificate, to be sent after the conference.

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 won’t be rejected for errors of commission or omission–because agents and editors are not likely to ask for your manuscript if they aren’t impressed by your query. Therefore, we offer the “Query Letter Critique” on the afternoon of Friday, November 6. For about 10Query Letter Critique minutes, in the privacy of a sanitized hotel boardroom, a panel of two editors/agents–who will NOT include the editor(s)/agent(s) you may be meeting with on Saturday–will review and discuss your query letter with you. They will give you advice about how to make your query letter more 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. At the October 2019 conference, more than 90% of Best Pitch awards by an agent or editor went to those who participated in the Query Letter Critique, so this activity really does improve your chances to shine!

The Query Letter Critique on Friday, November 6 is the rare chance to share your query letter with publishing professionals for completely objective feedback. This agent/editor team will be randomly assigned to participants (with the assurance that the team assigned to you will not include anyone you’re meeting with on Saturday, if applicable). Their role in this activity is not to accept or reject; rather, their goal is to help you improve your work so you can shine on Saturday and/or 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 agents/editors panel to read and discuss 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 editors/agents 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, most 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. Sunday Doubleheader Workshops Online: “Crafting a Page-Turner” and “Market Like a Boss”

Author Peter James, photographed in JerseyOn Sunday, November 8, from 1:45 to 3:45 p.m., US Eastern international best-selling author Peter James will teach you about “Crafting a Page-turner,” with guidance that applies regardless of the genre or type of book you’re writing:

The essence of all books, both fiction and non-fiction, is that they should engage the reader from the very first sentence and not let go until the very last one. Very simply, the job of the author is to keep their readers turning the pages despite all other distractions and calls on their time. In this talk, with plenty of opportunity for audience interaction, Peter will discuss all key aspects of writing books including the two most important lines and everything between them, and, in fiction, how to structure, how to keep the pace going, and tips for creating memorable characters and pitfalls to avoid. And very importantly, what every agent and publisher is looking for most of all in a new submission.

Known for his fast-paced and gripping stories that thrust regular people into extraordinary situations, Peter James has proven himself to be one of the world’s most successful writers, delivering number one bestsellers time and time again. His Superintendent Roy Grace books have been translated into 37 languages with worldwide sales of over 20 million copies and 15 number one Sunday Times Bestsellers. His last Roy Grace novel, Dead at First Sight, spent five weeks at number one in 2019.

Then, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., ThrillerFest Executive Director and award-winning author Kimberley (KJ) Howe returns for a discussion about marketing for writers that she calls “Market Like A Boss.”

You’ve written and sold your book—or perhaps you are going the indie route. So what now? Join KJ Howe, international bestselling author and executive director of ThrillerFest, as she shares lessons learned during her 10+ years in the industry. She’ll cover book messaging, finding your audience, scientifically targeted ads, free publicity, titles, covers, the best promo ops, the most effective marketing strategies, and more. And she’ll be delighted to help you create the best elevator pitch and log-line possible as you take your newly minted book out into the world like a boss.

Kimberley (K.J.) Howe is the executive director of ThrillerFest, the annual conference of the Kimberley HoweInternational Thriller Writers. Immersed in the world of kidnap and ransom for over six years, K.J.’s series showcases elite kidnapper Thea Paris in her efforts to bring hostages back home. The Freedom Broker received starred reviews from Kirkus and BookList in addition to winning a Thriller Award for Best First Novel and being nominated for a Barry Award. Skyjack received a starred review from Library Journal and a boxed and starred review from Publishers Weekly. K.J. completed her Master’s in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Travel and adventure are K.J.’s passions. Home is Toronto, Canada, but she is often missing in action. http://www.kjhowe.com

If you will be traveling back home on Sunday or will be otherwise unavailable, you don’t have to worry about missing these–both workshops will be recorded and sent to all workshop registrants.

5. Pre-Conference Edit [Deadline: August 16 (August 1 for Rebecca Heyman)]

To help you prepare for your conference Manuscript Critique–or simply get feedback on the start of your book to guide its development–the Pre-Conference Edit enables you to select a professional freelance editor who will content- and line-edit the first 19 pages of your book, a 1-page synopsis, and a 1-page query letter almost two months 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 acquisitions editor(s). Even if you’re not interested in a Manuscript Critique, the freelance editor can improve your query letter and synopsis and spot issues that can help you develop the rest of your book and make it more saleable.

The Pre-Conference Edit will improve your chances with the agents and acquisitions editors and also give you crucial guidance about changes you need to make in the rest of your manuscript. At our October 2019 conference, 65% of all awards–for Best Manuscript Sample and Best Pitch–went to writers who participated in the Pre-Conference Edit. 

When you register, you can select one, some, or all of these activities. We offer a Conference All-Activities Package, which includes two manuscript critiques, two pitches, and all of the other activities, with a $165 discount because the Sunday doubleheader workshops online are free when you select this option. Until August 16, you can choose the same Package deal but also add in the Pre-Conference Edit, which is free as well when you choose the “Conference All-Activities Package with Pre-Conference Edit” option.

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Bonuses (free and available to anyone who purchases any of the Conference activities above):

Due to COVID-19, we can’t pack the ballroom as usual for educational talks and award ceremonies or offer a mixer so participants and guests can mingle. However, we do want to offer you bonuses for purchasing any of the activities above, so we’re going to record a series of hour-long talks throughout the fall and send all conference registrants links to these so you can get even more from your Atlanta Writers Conference experience.

Chris NegronDan UnmaskedFor example, middle grade novelist Chris Negron, author of Dan Unmasked, will discuss Rejection: the secret door to strong revision” – If distance is the key to revision, then rejection might just be the secret door that key fits into. This discussion will focus on turning negatives into positives – using rejection as not just fuel but an actual tool for revision. Chris will share the submission history of his debut novel, Dan Unmasked, and how it fed into the revision process to produce a book that could not have existed without all those rejections, as well as the techniques that emerged from the experience.

The bonus activities are free for anyone purchasing any of the following activities: the manuscript critique, pitch, query letter critique, Sunday doubleheader workshops online, and/or pre-conference edit.

 

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 or observes a problem to notify Atlanta Writers Conference Director George Weinstein (awconference@gmail.com) immediately. We appreciate your cooperation.

Our Photo Policy

Atlanta Writers Conference volunteers will be taking photos during the conference to share on social media and use on the conference website to advertise the event and celebrate the participants and our guests. By registering for this conference, you are giving us permission to use your image for these purposes.

Questions?

Please contact Atlanta Writers Conference Director George Weinstein at awconference@gmail.com.



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