The Atlanta Writer’s Conference
Well, alien life forms, the Atlanta Writers Conference just happened . . . well, just happened for me writing this, probably not for you reading this. Anyhoo– it was a dramatic and emotional weekend. One that was wrought with triumphs and plateaus, but ended with a hopeful turnout.
So let’s get down to it. And if you want to just skip to how the conference turned out for me. Well, skip down to my conclusion.
About the conference
The Atlanta Writer’s Conference takes place in November and May of every year and has about 14-17 agents, publishers, and editors ready to mingle and offer you some sage advice . . . for a price of course.
Now, look, I’ll be honest. I dropped a solid $300? $400 into this past conference and I’m a little bitter about it. However, 2022 was a great conference, very well organized, very cool publishing people, and a more together atmosphere than the last conference I went to.
Dates and cost
The November conference is Nov. 4-5 and the May one is May 5-6. Pretty sure these dates are typical year to year (at least they have been since I’ve been going) but make sure you’re checking on the website.
Now, as long as you’re a member of the Atlanta Writers Club, you’re free to come to the conference without paying a dime . . . well except the yearly $60 club fee which has increased by $10 since November 2022.
There are a bunch of add-ons you can get but, please note, everyone one of these fees have increased by $10-20 since November so please check their website for final pricing.
Pitch to an agent - $70
Critique of the first 19 pages of your manuscript, Query letter, and Synopsis. - $180
Query letter critique - $80
First-page critique - $60
Q and A with Agents, Editors, and Publishers - $60
And finally, the Social where you’re welcome to attend as long as you’ve spent $100 on other activities. Truth is? They don’t monitor this stuff that well. If you need to slip into the social or even the Q&A, I don’t think anyone is going to stop you. I didn’t even know they weren’t free until this past conference . . . Which is probably something I shouldn’t say out loud. Right, keep that just between us okay?
The Meat and Potatoes
Now, I haven’t been to a lot of conferences but the Atlanta Writers Conference seems to have a great group of publishing people at their disposal. I’ve never had a bad experience talking to an agent, editor, or publisher there. Everyone is nice, all the critiques they give you are helpful, and they genuinely want to make you better . . . Maybe more importantly, they really want to buy your book.
You’re not wasting your time by pitching to or getting a critique from these people. Just get in early. The second the May conference is over, you need to sign up for the November one. Maybe sooner! All I know is that I almost missed my big shot at pitching because I signed up too late.
Don't let that be you. Do your research as well. Make sure you’re getting in with the person who wants to see your story/genre/style. Even if that means getting on a waitlist, a waitlist is better than wasting $180 to pitch to a publisher that’s never heard of your genre . . . Yes, I’m speaking from personal experience.
I will say my first pitch was a real confidence boost, though. He published cookbooks and I almost had him in the palm of my hand with my Urban Fantasy novel . . . if he’d just known what Urban Fantasy was though. I think that was the kiss of death.
Now, this is kind of a group of vanilla people, to be honest. If you’re looking for rowdy sci-fi/fantasy people, chances are you’ll find the sci-fi/fantasy but not the rowdiness.
My outfit was a long black robe with heels and giant, whimsical earrings.
A lot of people there were into literary writing, historical fiction, middle grades books . . . all awesome. All great genres. But they wore blazers and jeans . . . HOW BORING. I want characters! I want wizards! And vampires! And your MC come alive!
No such luck. I did fit in more at the social, though. People were dressed nicer, heels were involved, and people loosened up after a few cocktails. And I was able to work around the entire room! ME! A girl who’d rather chew her arm off than be social. But I stayed from 8:30 pm to 11:15 pm . . . wow. That was a miracle, truly, and one I prayed for months in advance.
Good looking out, God.
With all that being said, I’ll give the friendliness a 4 / 5 stars just cause the social went so well. During the conference though, people tend to keep to themselves pretty much.
Was it Helpful
It truly was! Now the first time I went, It was not that helpful. This leads me to believe it’s very hit or miss with this conference (But isn’t it like that with all of them?)
This one, however, was great. I learned about the editing process of Alex Finlay, a crime and thriller writer. His advice was super helpful. So helpful that I updated my editing article with some of his advice.
Was it fun
The classes were not fun– I might be a freak, but I don’t naturally enjoy people sitting in a cramped room and listening to a speaker talk like a teacher. BUT, Alex Finlay was great. He was a nice guy, great speaker, very relaxed up there. But if they could just fix the classroom-esque talking, It would be SO much better.
A girl with only two brain cells.
3 /5 stars
Did it build writing skills?
It built editing skills for sure! I also learned great tips about writing query letters and a synopsis for my novel. Just wish the critiques had lasted a little longer, but hey- more time = more money.
4 /5 stars
I got to mingle with all the agents, publishers, and editors that were at the conference during the nighttime social. It was fun, I made connections, and it had an awesome vibe. I met a lot of authors in my genre who I ended up forming a writing group with, so it was cool.
4 / 5 stars.
Worth The Price?
. . . this is yet to be determined. If this led immediately to a publishing deal, then yes, it was worth the price. Since that didn't happen, it’s a little expensive. But if you’re just starting out, this is a great beginner conference. It’s got good connections and you’ll deal with people who actually want to work with you and help you grow as a writer… even if some of the critiques feel like a gut punch.
Trust me though, it’s the nicest gut punch you’ll ever receive!
Conclusion for Kate
My experience was surreal honestly. I went in to get critiques on my YA fantasy series, only to tell the agent that I hate high fantasy and I wanted to write urban fantasy. The editor asked me, “well why aren’t you writing that?”
Remember the pitch from hell? I was told I would never get published writing Urban Fantasy. It was a dead genre, remember?
And then it dawned on me that I had stopped writing the genre I love with my whole heart based on one person’s opinion. I was so MAD at myself.
The editor explained that he just almost bought an Urban fantasy novel the week before and it was very much an alive genre . . .
So I pitched my idea.
And he loved it.
And he told me to send him my manuscript.
SHOCK. AWE. BLISS. ALL THE EMOTIONS.
So all in all, the Atlanta Writers Conference might very well have gotten me in the door with an awesome editor.
Do I believe this is the end-all moment that will launch me into stardom? Lol That’s for God to decide.
But what I do know, is I wanted just a little proof that I wasn’t wasting my time here. I needed an answer that all the work I was doing was paying off.
So, as a concluding thought - The Atlanta Writers Conference gets a 4 /5 stars.
Maybe 5 but we’ve got to wait and see. *Crosses fingers* come on publishing deal, come on, come on, come on.
Aight peeps, stay saucy and have a great week.
XOXO - Kate