Conference Activities

The conference on November 2-3, 2018 consists of SEVEN parts and you may participate in one, some, or all of these events:

1. One-on-one manuscript critique sessions on Saturday, November 3, where acquisitions 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. 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.

2. Pitch sessions on Saturday, November 3, 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. 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.

3. Query letter critique on Friday, November 2 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. Author Website Workshop on Friday, November 2 by web designer/developer and author Ricky Jones.

5. Panel discussion and Q&A with all six editors on Friday, November 2.

6. Panel discussion and Q&A with all six agents on Saturday, November 3.

7. 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 freelance 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 acquisitions 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 are free when you select this option. Until August 8, you can also choose the same Package deal but also with the Prep Critique, which is free as well when you choose the “Package with Prep Critique” option.

 

Each activity is detailed below:

 

1. THE MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE
If you want a critique of your project on November 3, you will submit the following no later than October 2, 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, November 3, 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–see activity #7 below–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, November 3, 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, November 2 (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, November 2, 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. At our last conference, 63% of all writers who were awarded a Best Pitch by an agent or editor participated in the Query Letter Critique, so this activity really does improve your chances to shine!

The Query Letter Critique on Friday, November 2 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 these panels 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 agent-editor panel 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, 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.  WORKSHOP: “Yes You Can: DIY Websites for Authors”
Ricky JonesThis is a two-hour interactive workshop on Friday, November 2 (4:00-6:00 p.m.) by web designer/developer and author Ricky Jones.

Over the past 10 years, Ricky Jones has designed and developed WordPress websites for companies large and small, from publishers to financial institutions, e-commerce to broadcasting, even religious institutions and non-profit organizations. He has a deep knowledge of how WordPress works and has developed custom plugins and designed custom themes for small businesses, large corporations, churches, schools, non-profits, broadcasting companies, and magazine publishers.

As an author himself, he has designed and developed pages for his own books, including marketing and promotion via email and social media, and is now working on a free online workshop (video series) that will drive people to purchase his titles.

Ricky believes WordPress, which provides free and inexpensive options for building a website or blog, has been a game-changer for authors and other entrepreneurs. Creating and running a website or blog to promote and sell books is now easy for anyone to master. Therefore, the focus of his workshop and lessons will be on using WordPress and its tools, but the lessons he’ll provide are applicable even if you have a site that was custom-designed or runs on open-source software other than WordPress.

At 4:00 p.m.  Ricky will present the two-hour workshop “Yes You Can: DIY Websites for Authors.” Don’t worry if you’re technologically challenged–this will not be a computer science seminar! Rather, Ricky will guide you through the strategic decisions you need to make about what you want your website/blog to do and how to achieve your goals. We will provide free video tutorials in advance, to familiarize you with WordPress and its features before you come to the workshop, so Ricky can spend the two hours on the more important details of ensuring you understand the tools available to you and the ways you can use them to accomplish your aims.

If you already have an active author website, this workshop will show you how to  improve it, to keep visitors on your site longer, gather their contact information, and ensure they respond to your calls for action (i.e., purchase your book, sign up for your newsletter, download a free chapter, etc.). Moreover, during the final quarter of the workshop, Ricky will critique your website if you want him to, so you can go home with specific improvements to implement.

Ricky will cover the following topics and more during the November 2nd workshop:

  • Selecting the best WordPress themes for authors–the look and layout of your webpages–and activating your favorite one
  • Which pages are most important for authors and how to set them up
  • Content development: deciding on your calls to action, what to say, and how to say it
  • How to automatically capture contact information from visitors for followup, update your mailing list, and re-post your blog entries to social media accounts
  • Understanding search engine optimization (SEO) and the use of metatags to enable people surfing the web to find your site
  • “Speed critiques” of audience members’ websites during last half-hour to apply the lessons discussed in the workshop

We will have helpful handouts for you, and Ricky will do Q&A throughout this activity.

5. THE EDITOR Q&A PANEL
DSCN0134 On Friday, November 2, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., six editors who represent Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, 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
DSCN0223On Saturday, November 3, 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. PREP CRITIQUE BY A FREELANCE EDITOR: THE PRE-CONFERENCE ACTIVITY

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 acquisitions editor(s) you select. This 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. In fact at our most recent conference, 42% of all award recipients–for Best Manuscript Sample and Best Pitch–participated in the Prep Critique.

***

BONUSES (free and open to anyone who registers for at least one of the Conference activities above):

On the afternoon of Friday, November 2, web designer/developer and author Ricky Jones will offer two 45-minute talks before his workshop, at 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. respectively, that are free to all conference registrants. These will addreDSCN0164ss “The 3 Best Ways to Promote Your Book Online” and “Repurposing Your Book on Multiple Media.”

On the evening of Friday, November 2, 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 will attend this free mixer.

Grace WynterOn Saturday, November 3, while the morning critiques are held, we will feature Grace Wynter, editor, instructor, and award-winning author. Grace will provide two 75-minute talks: “The Seven Marketing Habits of Bestselling Authors” and “Manuscript Editing 101: Identifying and Correcting the Most Common Manuscript Errors.”Roger Johns

That afternoon while the pitch sessions are held, Roger Johns, mystery author and conference success story, will do these 75-minute presentations on The Writer’s Life: “Critique Groups, Writers Groups, Hard-Won How-To Lessons” and “Publicists, Book Tours, Festivals, and Conferences.”
DSCN0279And 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 DSCN0397and 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, November 3–it might be your name our guests call–and maybe multiple times!

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 (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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