The Conference

The conference on May 12-13, 2017 consists of SIX parts and you may participate in one, some, or all of these events. They are summarized here and then expanded upon below:

1. One-on-one manuscript critique sessions on Saturday, May 13, where 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 13, 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 12 by a panel consisting of an editor and an agent other than the one(s) you might be meeting with on Saturday, so you can get advice about making it “pitch perfect” the next day for the editor(s)/agent(s) of your choice and/or have a “bulletproof” query letter for future use.

4. “Polishing Your Work for Publication” Workshop on Friday, May 12 with Conference guest speaker Ally Machate, a bestselling book collaborator, award-winning editor, and expert publishing consultant.

5. Panel discussion and Q&A with all six editors on Friday, May 12.

6. Panel discussion and Q&A with all six agents on Saturday, May 13.

We also offer a Conference All-Activities Package, which includes two manuscript critiques, two pitches, the query letter critique, the workshop, and both Q&A panels, with an $80 discount.



If you want a critique of your project on May 13, you will submit the following by April 11: (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; or (b) For nonfiction other than memoir, you will submit a book proposal of up to 21 pages.

During the late morning and early afternoon of Saturday, May 13, you will have about 15 minutes for a one-on-one exchange with the editor/agent of your choosing 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; always make sure your work is free of grammatical errors 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). You can register for up to two of these sessions.



During the afternoon of Saturday, May 13, 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 for reactions to your query and the description of your book. If the individual is interested, you will be asked to send sample pages or even the whole manuscript for consideration. You will not submit anything in advance. Instead, 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. You can register for up to two of these sessions.

If you also want a manuscript critique (see activity #1 above), pitching will give you the chance to introduce a second editor/agent to your work. Do NOT choose the same individual for manuscript critiquing AND pitching.

To improve your chances of success during your pitch(es) on May 13, you also can register to get your query letter critiqued on Friday, May 12 (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.



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 12, 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 12 is the rare chance to share your query letter with publishing professionals for completely objective feedback. Past conference guests have called this activity a “must do” event and considered it the most important educational session offered by any conference anywhere. The editor and agent’s 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 consisting of one editor and one agent to read just before you meet with them, so you can craft it right up to the last minute.

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. 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 many participants sign up for this at every Atlanta Writers Conference even if they aren’t doing one-on-one meetings with our guests.



ally-machateThis is a two-hour workshop on Friday, May 12 (4:00-6:00 p.m.) by Atlanta Writers Conference guest speaker Ally Machate.

Ally Machate is a bestselling book collaborator, award-winning editor, and expert publishing consultant who loves using her insider knowledge of the publishing industry and wealth of experience to lead serious authors toward publishing success. Ally has worked as a developmental editor at small and large book publishers, including Simon & Schuster, where she acquired and edited books for the Touchstone and Fireside imprints. Her independent client list includes authors publishing with such companies as Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Rodale Inc., Chronicle Books, Kaplan Publishing, Sunrise River Press, and Hay House, as well as independently published bestsellers. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate and Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing, Ally leads a diversified team of editorial professionals who work with all types of authors. Get free gifts and learn more at

At 4:00 p.m. Ally will present her two-hour workshop “Polishing Your Work for Publication.” Each year, more than a million new titles are published by traditional and self-publishers. Every writer knows—or soon learns—that it takes multiple revisions to create a piece ready to compete for book buyers’ attention. This interactive workshop will introduce you to the most common problems plaguing written works and offer simple ways to identify and resolve them in your own novel, short story, or memoir. You’ll receive tips on improving your work to keep readers’ attention, polishing your manuscript at the technical level, and getting objective feedback before you submit or go to press. Be sure to bring your laptop and manuscript file or printed draft–this is a “working” workshop!

This workshop is for those following the traditional publishing route who want to avoid rejection due to mistakes in their manuscripts as well as those who will self-publish their work but don’t want to put error-filled books on the market and damage their reputation with readers. Writers at all levels will benefit—from those are working on their first manuscript to multi-book authors who want to become more efficient and effective in their editing.



On Friday, May 12, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., six editors who represent Random House, St. Martin’s Press, Tor/Forge, HarperCollins, and others discuss 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 more. This far-ranging dialogue is based entirely on the questions you bring!



On Saturday, May 13, 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.


BONUSES (free and open to anyone who registers for at least one Conference activity):

On Friday, May 12, Ally Machate 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 “How to Write a Winning Book Proposal” and “Choosing the Right Editorial Service for You.”


On the evening of Friday, May 12, from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., we s-dscn0043invite all Conference participants to gather in the Westin Atlanta Airport Hotel lounge area for informal conversations with the editors and agents and to network with your peers. All twelve of the editors and agents, as well as Ally Machate, will attend this free mixer. No need to RSVP for this free activity.


View More: Saturday, May 13, while the morning critiques are held, we will feature Becky Albertalli, conference success story and international best-selling author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and—coming soon—The Upside of Unrequited. Becky was signed by an agent she met during a 2013 Atlanta Writers Conference. She will provide two 75-minute talks: “Writing Diversity: Thoughtful Representation of Marginalized Characters” and “From Query to Publication: What I Wish I’d Known.”

That afternoon while the pkimberly-brockitch sessions are held, Kimberly Brock, award-winning author of the Amazon bestseller The River Witch and founder of Tinderbox Writer’s Workshop. She will do 75-minute presentations on stories with structure and soul: “Structure and Cohesion–The Difference Between Story and Plot” and “Storytelling as Your Purpose–Why We Long For Story.”

s-nina-gilbertAnd don’t forget the 5:45 p.m. award ceremony to close out the s-greg-botelhoAtlanta Writers Conference on Saturday afternoon, with 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 13–it might be your name our guests call!

All of these bonus activities are free for anyone participating in the manuscript critique, pitch, editor Q&A panel, agent Q&A panel, workshop, and/or query letter critique.



Please contact Atlanta Writers Conference Director George Weinstein at


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View the Registration page for instructions.

One response to “The Conference

  1. Pingback: Ally Does Atlanta Writers Conference - May 12, 2017 - The Writer's Ally™

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