What is a Writers' Conference?

Sheri Cyprus

A writers' conference is an event that give writers a chance to meet other writers as well as editors, agents and publishers. Writers' conferences are also often called writers' festivals or writers' workshops. A writers' conference may also be called a writers' weekend since most of these events are held on weekends.

Critiquing services may be offered as part of a writers' conference.
Critiquing services may be offered as part of a writers' conference.

Attending a writers' conference can be of benefit to both novice and experienced writers. For the beginning writer trying to break in, the conference gives him or her a chance to meet other likeminded people that are passionate about writing. There is also often much to learn from the speakers and workshops. An experienced writer can speak at the conference or take the advanced workshops, often called master classes.

The master classes at a writers' conference may be concerned with topics such as how to increase income from writing while the beginner's classes are usually more concerned with issues such as query writing and how to get work noticed. Most writers' conferences are under $200 US Dollars, and some are held at a hotel while others may be held on a university campus in a creative writing or English department.

The attendance fee usually includes at least one appointment with an agent or editor. This can be especially valuable for a beginning writer who hasn't had much chance, if any, for a professional critique of his or her work. Many conferences have guidelines such as that a writer may only bring the first few pages of a manuscript to be read and critiqued by an agent or publisher. Sometimes an author must also tell the publisher or editor why his or her work deserves to be selected for publication.

Many editors and publishers also give presentations at a writers’ conference to let writers know what they’re looking for. The critiquing meetings are often limited to a first come, first served basis so it’s a good idea to register early for a writers’ conference. Most conferences allow for a first, second and third choice of which editor, agent or publisher the attendee would like to meet with and late registrations are likely to result in a third choice rather than a first or second. Many writers’ conferences only allow one 10 or 15 minute meeting with an editor, agent or publisher per attendee.

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