12 Writers Conferences You Should Consider Attending in 2016

If you have been busy slaving away over a hot keyboard, working in your own version of a writer’s cave (mine is in a corner of my living room because I found that I work a lot better if I get some sunlight during the day), you tend to get used to going it alone. If you communicate with your clients through phone-mail or IM, it becomes normal for you to deal with people you have never met face to face. Stepping away from your desk to attend writers conferences makes good sense for a number of reasons.


Why You Should Attend Writers Conferences

Here are a few reasons why you should consider attending writers conferences.

  • You’ll meet other writers at different stages of their careers.
    Writing can be a very lonely business at times. Going to a conference gives you the chance to get together with hundreds (or perhaps a thousand or more) of them in the same room. You automatically have something in common with them, and they are usually very supportive of fellow writers.
  • You’ll learn something new.
    It may be from the panel discussions, the sessions, a brainstorming session or something the keynote speaker has to say. A fellow writer may say something that will cause you to consider a point in a different light. You can’t possibly get that many creative people in one place without learning at least one new thing.
  • You can editors in person.
    Rather than submit your work through an agent, you can meet an editor directly. Depending on the conference, you may be able to get your work read and critiqued by one in your genre.
  • Literary agents are in attendance.
    A number of conferences have literary agents available to meet and mingle with attendees. They also schedule brief appointments where authors have 10 minutes to pitch their book idea.
  • You can learn about the publishing side of writing.
    Publishing is a business first, and you need to understand how it works. If you intend to publish your book yourself, you’ll need to be prepared to invest in costs such as editing, formatting, a cover design, etc. All of these will need to be recouped by your sales before you will make any profit at all. You also need to know about how to get an ISBN and a barcode.
  • You may be introduced to new products and services.
    If the conference you decide to attend includes displays by vendors, you’ll be able to see new things that could make your writing life easier or more efficient. Make a point of looking at what is available to see whether it would be a good fit for you and your business.
  • The costs are tax deductible.
    Your travel, meals and other expenses relating to attending writers conferences are a business expense and can be written off when you prepare your income tax return.

Writers Conferences You Should Consider Attending in 2016

There are a many writers conferences taking place annually. The ones listed below are just a small sample of the national, regional and local ones you have to choose from.

If you have never been to a conference before, you may want to start with one that is close to where you live. This option is also a good one when you are on a budget. Travel expenses add to the cost of attendance and if you can go home at night, you end up saving a significant amount of money.

Are you a bit intimidated by the idea of going to a bigger conference? Don’t be. Organizers know that a certain percentage of attendees will be first-timers and take steps to make everyone feel welcome. The staff at the venue and everyone from the organization putting on the conference wants attendees to feel comfortable and enjoy themselves.

1. Dates January 22-24, 2016
Name San Diego State University Writers’ Conference

Why You Should Go
The 32nd Annual SDSU Writers Conference welcomes more than 300 attendees each year from the US, South America, Switzerland and Japan. Features of the conference include author and agent panels, workshops, as well as night-owl sessions focusing on technical aspects of writing. Attendees can also get direct feedback on their work from editors and agents on an individual basis.

2. Dates February 10-14, 2016
Name San Miguel Writers Conference, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Why You Should Go

You’ll have the opportunity to attend the largest bilingual, co-cultural gathering of its type in the Americas and join more than 750 participants in workshops and 12 master classes. Main stage ballroom events are open to the public, who can gather for the keynote presentations, seminars and expert panels. Keynote speakers for 2016 include Joyce Carol Oates, Scott Simon and Gail Sheehy. Attendees can purchase tickets to Instituto Allende’s legendary fiesta, which has been described as one of the best parties “you’ll ever attend.”

3. Dates February 11-14, 2016
Name San Francisco Writers Conference

Why You Should Go
This four-day event includes 80 sessions for attendees covering topics from “the craft of writing to the business side of publishing.” It includes two networking breakfasts and keynote luncheons, Open Mic readings and pitch sessions. Exhibitors will also be in attendance displaying tools and promoting services of interest to writers.

4. Dates February 25-28, 2016
Name Sleuthfest 2016

Why You Should Go
Sleuthfest is “an annual conference for mystery suspense and thriller writers.” It is sponsored by the Florida Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America. Attendees at the conference can look forward to a presentation by keynote speaker C.J. Box, and sessions devoted to the craft of writing, marketing and promotion. “Practice your Pitch” sessions with experienced authors are part of the program, as well an auction to purchase a critique of your work by a bestselling author and critiques of your 10-page manuscript submission are scheduled, along with social events to meet agents, editors and a number of authors. Keep up with current forensic techniques by attending one of the hands-on forensic workshops.

5. Dates April 15-17, 2016
Name Pikes Peak Writers Conference, Colorado Springs, CO

Why You Should Go
The three-day Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference is known for having a welcoming atmosphere and interesting topics. Attendees find a number of workshops, opportunities to have their work read aloud and the chance to meet editors and agents one-on-one. There is also plenty of time to socialize with fellow writers.

6. Dates May 5-8, 2016
Name Windsor International Writers Conference, Windsor, Ontario (Canada)

Why You Should Go
“Writing Across Boundaries” is the theme of this conference for writers. Consider attending this one to check out a friendly and welcoming city just across the Canadian border. Attendees will include both new and experienced writers, and a few agents and publishers will be on hand, too. At the 2015 conference, four writers found agents, which is an excellent reason to put this in your device or pencil it into your calendar if you like the old school way of doing things. The conference includes keynote speakers, panel discussions, roundtables where attendees can present 500 words of their work to an agent or editor for a critique and book signings.


7. Dates May 27-29, 2016
Name The 2016 Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference, Pittsburgh, PA

Why You Should Go
The 4th Annual Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference is for writers who focus on telling true stories with skill. It welcomes new writers who are just learning the art of essay writing, as well as those who have written one or more books. The three-day conference will give attendees the opportunity to meet fellow writers from the US, as well as literary agents, editors and publishers. Large and small group master classes are devoted to help attendees improve their writing, panel discussions and on various topics and the Literary Magazine Salon and Happy Hour provides the inside scoop on how magazines choose the pieces they publish and how to increase the odds of being selected for publication.

8. Dates June 3-9, 2016
Name Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Middlebury, VT

Why You Should Go
The 3rd Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference will run for an entire week and is geared toward writers who want to produce literary works about the environment as well as the natural world. Participants will take part in a series of workshops and classes on the writing craft. Editors, publishers and literary agents will be on hand to give presentations on topics relating to getting work published in magazines, as wells as those related to the environmental book publishing realm.

Financial aid in the form of grants in aid ($300.00) and at least one full scholarship to attend the conference is available. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis to March 15, 2016.

9. Dates June 24-26, 2016
Name The Writer’s League of Texas Agents and Editors Conference, Austin, Tx

Why You Should Go
The Writers’ League of Texas (WLT) Conference runs for an entire weekend and welcomes new writers and veterans alike. New writers can pick up information about the publishing industry and learn about what they can expect going forward. Writers who have manuscripts can take the opportunity to verbally pitch their ideas to industry professionals and learn about marketing and self-promotion. Published authors can increase their knowledge of current market trends and network with fellow writers.

10. Dates July 24-31, 2016
Name University of New Mexico Summer Writers’ Conference, Santa Fe, NM

Why You Should Go
This conference has been named one of the Top 10 writers’ conferences in the US by USA Today . Weeklong and weekend workshops are available in nonfiction, fiction poetry and more. The workshops are filled on a first come, first served basis. Admission to the weeklong master classes are determined through an evaluation process. The Conference invites a number of publishing professionals, agents and editors to attend and consult with participants each year. Scholarships are available for participants.

11. Dates August 25-28, 2016
Name American Christian Fiction Writers, Nashville, Tennessee

Why You Should Go
This conference is for writers of Christian fiction or those who wish to learn this writing genre. The schedule includes Spotlight On sessions from participating publishing houses, a number of presentations, brainstorming sessions, a worship and write session, a keynote presentation from author Bill Myers and more.

12. Dates September 16-19, 2016
Name The Association for Garden Communicators Annual Symposium, Atlanta, GA

Why You Should Go
The 68th Annual GWA Symposium is the place to be to meet fellow “garden communicators.” First-timers are greeted at a special reception where they can get tips from mentors (long-time members) who can provide suggestions on how to get the most out of the event. The Symposium includes presentations on interesting topics, tours of public and private gardens in the host city and more.

Will you be planning to attend a writers’ conference in 2016? Have you ever attended one? Did you find the experience valuable? Tell us in the comments!

photo credit: 005: Hello! via photopin (license)

photo credit: Tagung zum Internationalen Tag der Menschenrechte Donnerstag, 10. Dezember 2015 via photopin (license)


2 responses
  1. Abbie Avatar

    Hi, Jodee! Awesome list – thanks so much for compiling! As a Pittsburgher, I feel it’s my duty to point out that our conference is in Pittsburgh with an “h.” There are “Pittsburgs” out there, but we aren’t one of those places. 🙂

    1. Jodee Redmond Avatar
      Jodee Redmond

      Hi Abbie, Glad you liked the list. Thank you for pointing out the error in Pittsburgh. I dropped the ball on that one. I’ve corrected it now.

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