The Conference

The conference on November 3-4, 2017 consists of SIX parts and you may participate in one, some, or all these events. They are summarized here and then expanded upon below:

1. One-on-one manuscript critique sessions on Saturday, November 4, where editors and/or agents share and discuss their evaluation 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. [As of October 4, this activity is closed]

2. Pitch sessions on Saturday, November 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.

3. Query letter critique on Friday, November 3 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. “Contracts 101 and Legal Issues for Writers” Workshop on Friday, November 3 with veteran entertainment attorney and literary agent Paul Levine.

5. Panel discussion and Q&A with all six editors on Friday, November 3.

6. Panel discussion and Q&A with all six agents on Saturday, November 4.

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 a $100 discount. [As of October 4, the Package option is closed]



If you want a critique of your project on November 4, you will submit the following by October 3: (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, November 4, 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 typos and 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, November 4, 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 November 4, you also can register to get your query letter critiqued on Friday, November 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).



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 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–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, November 3 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.



This is a two-hour workshop on Friday, November 3 (4:00-6:00 p.m.) by Atlanta Writers Conference guest speaker Paul Levine.

Mr. Levine is a lawyer and a literary agent who has practiced entertainment law for over 35 years, specializing in the representation of writers, producers, actors, directors, and others in the fields of motion pictures, television, interactive multimedia, live stage, recorded music, concerts, the visual arts, publishing, and advertising. In 1996, he opened the Paul S. Levine Literary Agency, specializing in the representation of book authors and the sale of motion picture and television rights in and to books. Since starting his literary agency, Mr. Levine has sold over 100 fiction and non-fiction books to at least 30 different publishers and has had many books developed as movies-for-television and feature films.

At 4:00 p.m. on November 3, Paul will present the two-hour workshop “Contracts 101 and Legal Issues for Lawyers,” which proved so popular and helpful at a previous conference that we’ve asked him to present it again.

Citing lots of examples and providing extensive Q&A, Paul has geared this workshop for writers at all levels, from those just starting out to authors with books who want to better understand publishing contracts, copyrights, self-publishing issues, liabilities, options for TV, movies, audio, and foreign rights, and much more.

Paul also is one of the agents participating in the Saturday manuscript critiques, pitches, and Q&A panel.




On Friday, November 3, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., six editors who represent St. Martin’s Press, Tor/Forge, HarperCollins, and others will 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, collaboration, and more. This far-ranging dialogue is based entirely on the questions you bring!



On Saturday, November 4, from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m., participate in a candid, freewheeling discussion with all six literary agents, who will answer your questions about their changing roles and the expanding responsibilities of the author, with advice about working with agents, expectations about marketing one’s work, queries, contracts, social media and more. As with the Editor Q&A Panel, bring your questions!


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

On the afternoon of Friday, November 3, Paul Levine 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 “From Page to Screen: The Process of Turning Your Book into a Movie” and “Republishing: Turning a Self-Published Book into a Traditional Publication.”

On the evening of Friday, November 3, from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., we invite all Conference participants to gather in a private room at the Renaissance Concourse 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.

On Saturday, November 4, while the morning critiques are held, we will feature founder and executive director of The Writer’s High Retreat and professional editor, writer, and writing coach Mari Ann Stefanelli. She will provide two 75-minute talks: “The Joy of Editing: How to Revise Your Work and How to Find an Editor You Love (Yes, Really!)” and “Breaking Isolation: How to Find and Foster a Supportive Writing Community.”

That afternoon while the pitch sessions are held, Susan Sands–the 2017 Georgia Author of the Year in the romance category–will do two 75-minute presentations: “’Easy Reading’ Is Hard Writing: The Hard Work of Making Your Writing Easy to Read” and “’Now That I’ve Gotten Feedback, What Do I Do?’ Understanding and Accepting (and Sometimes Rejecting) Feedback.”

And don’t forget the 5:30 p.m. prize drawings followed by our award ceremony to close out the Atlanta 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, November 4–it might be your name our guests call!

In addition, all participants will receive a free online issue of Southern Writers Magazine, and three participants will be randomly selected to receive a yearlong subscription.

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


Ready to register?

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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