The conference on May 3-4, 2019 consists of SEVEN parts and you may participate in one, some, or all of these events:
1. (Deadline Passed) One-on-one manuscript critique sessions on Saturday, May 4, 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. (Waitlists Available) Pitch sessions on Saturday, May 4, 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. (Waitlists Available) Query letter critique on Friday, May 3 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. (Open Spots) “Developing Your Author Brand” Workshop on Friday, May 3 by best-selling, award-winning author Jenny Milchman.
5. (Open Spots) Panel discussion and Q&A with all eight editors on Friday, May 3.
6. (Waitlists Available) Panel discussion and Q&A with all eight agents on Saturday, May 4.
7. (Deadline Passed) To help you prepare for your conference 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 content- and line-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 February 3, 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 May 4, you will submit the following no later than April 3, 2019: (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 4, 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 meeting room. 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, May 4, in the privacy of a hotel meeting room, 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 need to 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 3 (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 3, 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–who 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 last May’s 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, May 3 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: “Staying Alive in this Business: Developing Your Author Brand”
This is a two-hour, interactive workshop on Friday, May 3 (4:00-6:00 p.m.) by best-selling, award-winning author Jenny Milchman.
Jenny Milchman is the Mary Higgins Clark and Silver Falchion award winning, USA Today bestselling author of four psychological thrillers. All of her books have been selected as Indie Next Picks, while the latest, Wicked River, was also a Barnes & Noble Featured Selection and an Amazon Best Mystery of May. Along with numerous picks, mentions, and additional award nominations, Jenny’s work has earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, as well as praise from The New York Times, the AP, San Francisco Journal of Books, and many other national publications.
Jenny teaches and speaks nationally and has been invited to book festivals across the country–including Decatur, Georgia’s own this past year. Jenny is a member of the Sisters in Crime Speakers Bureau and a recent vice president of the board of International Thriller Writers. She is also the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, which is celebrated in all fifty states and on five continents. In her work and life Jenny stresses the importance of personal connections, and has taken her family on the road three times for what Shelf Awareness called the world’s longest book tour.
At 4:00 p.m., the Atlanta Writers Conference will see the debut of Jenny’s newest interactive workshop: “Staying Alive in this Business: Developing Your Author Brand.”
The workshop applies to both traditionally and self-published authors, as both paths facilitate the development of a brand in different ways. Jenny truly believes that creating this brand is the best predictor of ultimate success and longevity as an author.
True to the name, her workshop has a strong hands-on “working” component. She will guide you through an examination of your own work-in-progress or body of work in order to identify those elements that differentiate you as a writer. Do you have a series character, and if so, what makes him or her relatable and/or iconic? She’ll discuss examples such as Jack Reacher and the success behind Lee Child’s creation. How can you establish a new such character and make that person unique?
If you aren’t writing a series, what threads unite your writing to form the basis of a brand-to-be? Do you have a former or current career that informs your work so that readers will learn about a new side of, say, forensic psychology–or cake baking or whatever is your area of knowledge–with each release? Subject matter can become the makings of an author brand, but so can voice, prose styling, and even your stance or position on current affairs or modern life. For example, an author who believes we are too tech-dependent can write books that eschew devices in an organic and authentic way.
By the end of this workshop, you will have a much better understanding of your own brand possibilities and an action-list of ways to build on your distinctive qualities, find and grow your audience, and create/augment your platform.
5. THE EDITOR Q&A PANEL
On Friday, May 3, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., eight editors who represent Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Tor, Amazon, 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 4, from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m., participate in a candid, freewheeling discussion with all eight 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, 50% of all award recipients–for Best Manuscript Sample and Best Pitch–participated in the Prep Critique. The deadline for submitting your work for the Prep Critique is February 3, 2019.
Even if you’re not interested in a Manuscript Critique or Pitch, the freelance Prep Critique editor can spot issues that can help you develop the rest of your book and make it more saleable.
Bonuses (free and open to anyone who registers for at least two of the Conference activities above):
On the afternoon of Friday, May 3, best-selling, award-winning author Jenny Milchman will offer two 45-minute talks before her workshop, at 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. respectively, that are free to all conference registrants. These will address “The 4 S’s of Suspense: Getting Readers to Turn the Page” and “Getting Published Is as Easy as 1, 2, 3: Ways to Publish Today.”
On the evening of Friday, May 3, 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 the editors and agents will attend this free mixer.
On Saturday, May 4, while the morning critiques are held, we will feature two talks by award-winning, bestselling author and English department chair at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, Christopher Swann. Chris‘ debut novel, Shadow of the Lions, was on the 2018 Southern Book Prize long list, a SIBA Okra Pick, an Audible bestseller, and a selection for Southern Living’s Best Southern Books of 2017 and Publishers Weekly‘s Best Summer Books of 2017. Chris will present two 60-minute talks: “The Road to Publication” and “Write What You Know, and Make Up the Rest.”
That afternoon while the pitch sessions are held, we will feature two talks by Jennifer Springsteen. Jennifer is a writer and teacher in Portland, Oregon and the co-founder of the Portland literary organization PDX Writers. She is a 2008 recipient of an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship for fiction and a 2016 summer fellow at Fishtrap Writers Conference in Eastern Oregon. Her short stories have been finalists in contests and have been published in literary journals and anthologies. Two were nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Jennifer will do these 75-minute presentations: “Unearthing the Skeleton: Structures that Create Books You Can’t Put Down” and “Take a Page from the Poet’s Notebook: Creating Tight and Succinct Prose.”
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 that include 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 4–it might be your name our guests call!
All these bonus activities are free for anyone participating in at least two of the following activities: 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
Please contact Atlanta Writers Conference Director George Weinstein at email@example.com.