The conference on May 5-6, 2023 consists of EIGHT parts and you may participate in one, some, or all of these events based on your interests, goals, and budget (note that Zoom meetings will only be available for query letter critique, manuscript sample critique, pitch meetings, and the award ceremony with the agents and editors; the workshop, Q&A panels, and free educational sessions will not be available via Zoom due to the ever-increasing expense of the audio-visual equipment and personnel involved and the ever-dwindling number of virtual participants):
- Saturday Manuscript Sample Critiques (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: April 3)
- Saturday Pitches (SUBMISSION DEADLINE FOR VIRTUAL PARTICIPANTS: May 5 AT 10 P.M. EASTERN)
- Friday Query Letter Critiques (SUBMISSION DEADLINE FOR VIRTUAL PARTICIPANTS: May 1)
- Friday Workshop
Friday Editor Q&A Panel
Saturday Agent Q&A Panel
- Pre-Conference Edit (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: February 3)
- Book Fair
Except for the Pre-Conference Edits, which will occur via email exchanges, all activities will be in-person at the Westin Atlanta Airport Hotel on May 5-6, 2023. For any conference attendees who select the virtual option for the critique and pitch meetings, participation will be facilitated online via Zoom.
If you want to register for one or more of the activities above where a submission deadline is indicated, click here for submission details.
VIRTUAL PARTICIPATION DETAILS: If you won’t be able to travel to the hotel, you will still be able to participate in the query letter critique, manuscript sample critique, pitch activities, and award ceremony via Zoom (the Q&A panels, workshop, and educational sessions will only be available for in-person participants due to the ever-increasing expense of the audio-visual equipment and personnel involved and the ever-dwindling number of virtual participants.). When you register, please select the virtual attendance option. \If you’ll be virtual and register for one or more query letter critique meetings, please send your query letter(s) to Conference Director George Weinstein at firstname.lastname@example.org by May 1 so he can send them to the agents and/or editors prior to their Zoom meeting with you. If you register for one or more pitch meetings, please send your query letter(s) to George by May 5 at 10 p.m. Eastern. If you register for one or more manuscript sample critiques, George will send their comments to you prior to May 5 so you can prepare for your Zoom meeting with them.
Please see below for a description of each conference activity:
1. Manuscript Sample Critiques (submission deadline: April 3)
One-on-one manuscript sample critique sessions on the morning and early afternoon of Saturday, May 6, in the privacy of a hotel meeting room, where the acquisitions editor(s) and/or agent(s) you’ve selected will share their evaluation and discuss your project for about 13 minutes. A day or two before the critique meetings, you will receive the editor/agent’s written summary of comments and any notes they made on 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 additional pages or your full manuscript or nonfiction book proposal for consideration.
You can register for up to two of these sessions through the system and reply to the confirmation email you’ll receive to ask Atlanta Writers Conference Director George Weinstein to add a third such critique at a discounted price.
If you select this activity, you will need to submit the first 19 pages of your novel/memoir plus a 1-page query letter and 1-page synopsis; your query letter and a 20-page nonfiction book proposal; or a query letter and your entire picture book by April 3, 2023. NOTE: if there are waitlists for editors/agents, some will be shorter than others–use the link at the bottom of any webpage to contact Conference Director George Weinstein about who has the shortest waitlists among those who are a good fit for you and your work.
The agent(s) and/or editor(s) you select will return their feedback–including an indication of whether they want you to send a full or partial manuscript for further consideration–a day or two before the Saturday manuscript sample critique sessions so you will have time to prepare questions prior to your meeting.
After the final manuscript critiques are discussed on Saturday afternoon, all editors and agents will select one or two participants to receive a Best Manuscript Sample certificate, to be awarded at the ceremony that concludes the conference.
2. Pitches (submission deadline for virtual participants: May 5 at 10 p.m. Eastern)
For the pitch sessions on the afternoon of Saturday, May 6, in the privacy of a hotel meeting room, you will bring a copy of your query letter for the agent/editor to review just prior to your meeting with them.
If you will be virtual–or the agent/editor will be virtual–you will submit your query letter to Conference Director George Weinstein by May 1 (if you’re also doing a query letter critique, you can submit your rewritten pitch letter by May 5 at 10 pm Eastern) so he can provide it to them prior to their Zoom meeting to you.
This will be a strictly verbal exchange–you won’t receive any comments from them in writing. During the pitch session, you will discuss your project for about 10 minutes with the 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 can register for up to two of these sessions through the system and reply to the confirmation email you’ll receive to ask Atlanta Writers Conference Director George Weinstein to add a third pitch at a discounted price.
Unlike most other conferences, the editor/agent will have reviewed your query letter 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, May 5 (see activity #3 below) by two editors/agents 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 sample 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 any webpage to contact Conference Director George Weinstein 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 editors and agents will select one or two participants to receive a Best Pitch certificate, to be awarded at the ceremony that concludes the conference.
3. Query Letter Critiques (submission deadline for virtual participants: May 1)
Writing a great manuscript is only part of the challenge on the road to traditional 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, May 5.
The Query Letter Critique is the rare chance to share your query letter with publishing professionals for completely objective feedback. A pair of agents/editors will be randomly assigned to participants with the assurance that the individuals 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 editors/agents might ask to see your work too! It happens at all of our conferences and sometimes results in an eventual representation/publication contract (see our Testimonials page).
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 the query letter critique in 2013, most of our guest editors and agents have reported it was their favorite activity and considered it a must-do for all participants who are serious about getting their best work out there.
If you will be virtual–or either of the agents/editors doing this critique will be virtual–submit your query letter to Conference Director George Weinstein at email@example.com by May 1 for the assigned panel of editors/agents to review right before you meet with them (if you’re also doing a pitch–see activity #2 above–you can resubmit your rewritten query letter for the pitch activity by May 5 at 10 pm Eastern).
In either case, the agents/editors will read your query letter ahead of their meeting with you and give you advice about how to make your query letter more polished and professional so you’ll do your best on Saturday and/or provide guidance you can use on query letters long after the conference is over.
At our recent conferences, nearly 50% 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!
4. Friday Workshop: Crafting Diverse Characters for Inclusive Literature
On Friday, May 5, after the query letter critiques, we present our ever-popular two-hour workshop, this time featuring author and actress Tonya Todd.
Tonya is invested in Own Voices writing and diverse representation in both the literary and cinematic worlds she inhabits. During her four years on the board of Henderson Writers Group, Tonya spearheaded education for authors at all levels. Her involvement in the literary, theatre, and filmmaking communities provides a platform to champion marginalized artists and contributes toward an environment that embraces a variety of voices. To connect with Tonya, follow her social media, http://www.mstonyatodd.com/about/links/, and her IMDb page at imdb.me/TonyaTodd.
Her workshop Crafting Diverse Characters for Inclusive Literature is vital because we don’t live in a homogeneous society. Neither should our characters. Yet attempts at diversifying should avoid tokens and cardboard caricatures. While underrepresented communities (persons of color, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, the elderly, etcetera) have been written and talked about, the impetus focusing on getting those individuals published and/or represented on the page and screen, it can be of help to have all writers become more diverse in their storytelling abilities. For a Caucasian to write a person of color, a straight cis author penning a believable, well-rounded, three-dimensional trans character, or an able-bodied person creating the physically impaired also boosts the visibility of underrepresented people. And underrepresented people must likewise write about those unlike themselves with the same credibility.
In “Crafting Diverse Characters for Inclusive Literature,” she’ll cover why diversity matters and how to better incorporate it when writing fiction. This class will assist authors interested in expanding their content by educating them on how to do so with empathy and compassion. Attendees will leave class inspired to be more inclusive in their writing and educated enough to get started.
5. Friday Editor Q&A Panel
On Friday, May 5, before the query letter critiques, acquisitions editors who represent HarperCollins, Sourcebooks, Peachtree Publishers, Soho Press, Hub City Books, 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, timelines for getting books into print, creative control and collaboration, and whatever else you want to ask about.
6. Saturday Agent Q&A Panel
On Saturday, May 6, before the manuscript critiques, participate in a candid, freewheeling discussion with all participating literary agents–representing agencies such as Irene Goodman, Janklow & Nesbit, Tobias Agency, Martin Literary, and others–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 answers to your questions concerning everything from queries and contracts to publicity and social media.
7. Pre-Conference Edit (submission deadline February 3)
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 (for fiction and memoir), a 1-page query letter and 20-page book proposal (for nonfiction), or a 1-page query letter and the full text of a picture book (illustrations optional). These edits will be done almost two months before the submission due date for the Manuscript Sample Critiques, to give you time to correct, rework, and otherwise improve what you submit for feedback to the agent(s) and/or acquisitions editor(s) you select. Even if you’re not interested in a Manuscript Sample Critique, though, the freelance editor can improve your query letter and synopsis and spot issues in your manuscript that will 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 past conferences, more than 60% of all awards–for Best Manuscript Sample and Best Pitch–have gone to writers who participated in the Pre-Conference Edit.
You can register for one of these sessions through the system and then add a second or third pre-conference edit at a discounted price by contacting Atlanta Writers Conference Director George Weinstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 $175 discount because the two Q&A panels and the Pre-Conference Edit are free when you select this option until February 3. After that date, you can still save $100 by choosing the same Package deal but without Pre-Conference Edit option. PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE PACKAGE DEALS ARE ONLY APPLICABLE TO IN-PERSON PARTICIPATION (ZOOM WILL ONLY BE AVAILABLE FOR CRITIQUE AND PITCH MEETINGS WITH THE AGENTS AND EDITORS).
8. Book Fair
For participants with traditionally and/or self-published books available, we are introducing this opportunity to sell and sign your work on Friday, May 5 between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. We will have a room designated for this book fair and will encourage participants to browse and buy all day. Complete details are on our book fair page. This option can be selected on a first-come, first-served basis while registering.
Bonuses (free and available to anyone who purchases two or more Conference activities above):
Prior to her 4 p.m. workshop on Friday, May 5, Tonya Todd will give two brief educational talks on “Literary Citizenship: How to Become a Pillar in Your Writing Community” and “Read Like a Pro at Public Events.”
On Friday evening, from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., we will hold our mixer with musical entertainment and a cash bar. We invite Conference participants purchasing for two or more activities to gather in a private room at the Westin Atlanta Airport Hotel for informal conversations with the editors, agents, and your peers who are not averse to close interactions during this time of COVID. Singer-pianist and AWC member Mike Shaw and his bassist will create the perfect atmosphere for convivial networking.
On Saturday, May 6, while the morning critiques are held, we will feature live in-person talks by bestselling author, Lauretta Hannon, who was named the “Funniest Woman in Georgia” by Southern Living Magazine. Lauretta will present “The Power of Self-Negating Words: My Writing Story Told Through a TEDx Talk” and “Deep & Simple (Over Shallow & Complex) Writing Exercises.”
In the afternoon, while the pitch meetings are ongoing, award-winning television writer, actress, nationally touring comedian, and author Jorjeana Marie will present “Character Deep-Dive” and “Mastering Marketing.”
To close out the Atlanta Writers Conference on Saturday afternoon, we will offer prize giveaways, including critiques, pitches, and other activities for the next conference and lifetime membership in the Atlanta Writers Club. And then our award ceremony will commence, with all editors and agents announcing awards for Best Manuscript Sample and Best Pitch. The award ceremony also will be shown on Zoom for virtual participants of the manuscript sample critique and pitch meetings. Many participants who were awarded one or more of these certificates later received book deals from editors or representation contracts from agents. See who shines on May 6th–it might be your name our guests call!
All bonus activities are free for anyone purchasing at least two of the following activities: the manuscript critique, pitch, query letter critique, workshop, editor Q&A panel, agent Q&A panel, pre-conference edit, and/or book fair.
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 (email@example.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.
Please contact Atlanta Writers Conference Director George Weinstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.