It may be early yet to plan to “press the flesh” and market your newest release. But it’s never too early to get to know other professionals in writing and publishing. Whether you choose to enter a pitch session or not, there’s lots of places in 2020 you can gather with people from all over the country (continent or world, for that matter) for several days to “talk shop.” Writing may be an individual pursuit, but everyone needs to connect with like-minded people from time to time about the business of writing.
A writing conference is often an annual opportunity for award-giving by many genre-specific organizations, but also these conferences contain mini-workshops, guest speakers, panels on a variety of aspects of craft.
You could discover you’re bending the elbow of, and sharing coffee and danish with, your favorite author between panels.
Depending on the genre you write, or the aims of your conference attendance, there are a lot of them on the calendar for 2020. Since it can be very specific how far you want to travel and what you want to do, it’s best to simply give you a few general conference lists, and then websites for a few well-established and well-regarded ones.
Here are several I’ve attended. Note they are specific to LGBTQIA and/or Florida locations.
Saints & Sinners Literary Festival is an LGBTQIA+ writers gathering held in March in New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve been 3 times and found the atmosphere, and camaraderie delightfully inspiring.
The Golden Crown Literary Society is a group dedicated to the promotion of lesbian literature in all its genres. The GLCS holds its annual conference capped by annual awards in a different part of the United States each year. In July 2020, the conference is in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I went to ones in Orlando, Florida and Phoenix, Arizona a half dozen years ago and found the panels very good.
Florida Writers Association annual conference is in Orlando, Florida in October. They’re currently seeking proposals for faculty, experts who want to head up panels or workshops. The Florida Palm Awards are presented on the Saturday night of the weekend conference.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution holds a book festival in Decatur annually, panels on a variety of genres, readings by authors and more. I’ve attended twice and hit the breakout sessions featuring LGBTQIA authors and books. Highly recommend it, if for no other reason than Atlanta is an incredible city, old and new, small town-ish enclaves and big-city vibrancy, all at the same time.
Looking for other genres or locations?
Mystery, horror, science fiction, fantasy, and romance genres also have annual writers conferences through membership-based organizations like Mystery Writers of America (SleuthFest) and Romance Writers of America. Visit the home pages of these organizations for their latest details. There’s even an online one for science fiction.
An exceptionally diverse and searchable database on conferences can be found at the AWP: Association of Writers and Writing Programs website. Writer’s Digest blogs about conferences, and holds its own annual conference.
Do you have a favorite conference? Share in the comments.