Writer's Notes

Conferences: Choosing A Writers Conference by Nancy J. Cohen

FacialsCanBeFatalFront2.jpgBy Nancy J. Cohen

How do you decide which writers’ conference to attend? It depends upon your purpose. If you intend to schmooze with fellow writers, attend workshops on craft or marketing, and soak up the wisdom of more seasoned authors, a conference geared toward writing is the one for you.

The next question to ask yourself is what genre do you write? Would you prefer genre-specific topics or are you such a beginner that it doesn’t matter at this stage? Or perhaps you wish to broaden your opportunities and meet other writers for cross-promotion purposes.

In Florida, we have the Florida Writers Association annual conference that’s for all genres. Here you’ll have a wide range of topics from craft to marketing to more specifics like staging fight scenes. Or you can attend SleuthFest sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. This three-day event focuses on mystery writing, although craft and marketing topics can apply to any genre. There’s a forensics track where you can increase your knowledge of crime writing details.

Or you can sail away on a biannual Fun-in-the-Sun cruise conference with Florida Romance Writers. Again, workshops appeal to any fiction writer while some may be specific to romance.

At the national level, Romance Writers of America ( holds an annual conference with so many amazing workshops it’ll blow your mind. This one rotates locations every year. Even if you don’t write romance, it’s worth the investment to go. The range of workshop topics and opportunities to meet publishing industry professionals can’t be beat.

Mystery Writers of America holds an annual seminar in New York. If you’re looking for a tax-deductible reason to visit the Big City, try this one or the bigger Thrillerfest. There’s Killer Nashville for mystery writers, as well as Left Coast Crime and Bouchercon.

Are you seeking an editor or agent appointment? For sure you’ll want a writers’ conference that offers this opportunity. Some of them also have paid manuscript critiques or writing contests if you’re looking for feedback on your work.

If you’re a published author with at least two novels under your belt, consider attending the Novelists Inc. annual conference. It’s a fantastic event for published authors focusing solely on the business of writing. Many industry professionals also attend this highly valued conference, but it’s not a place for getting an agent, promoting your book, or meeting fans.

There are many more offerings from other writers groups, so check your libraries and writing organizations for additional events.

On the other hand, perhaps you would rather meet fans and grow your mailing list (which you should be doing at any conference you attend). The RT Book Reviews annual conference offers many fan-oriented opportunities. So does Malice Domestic for cozy mystery writers. Look for conferences or group events that invite readers to participate.

Budget is always a consideration. The more meals offered, the more expensive the conference will be. Some of the registration fees can be pretty steep. Others are more budget-friendly but come with few perks. Choose wisely.

Here’s a summary of what to consider:

  1. Do you prefer a writer’s conference or a fan-oriented event?
  2. Do you want an editor/agent appointment?
  3. Are you a finalist in a contest where winners are announced at the conference?
  4. Do you want genre-specific topics or more broad workshops?
  5. Are you a published author going to learn more about marketing or to meet readers?
  6. What is your goal for attending a conference?
  7. How much money can you spend on conference registration, hotel, transportation, and meals? Don’t forget swag or printed promo materials to bring along.

If you mean to accomplish your objectives, conference prep is just as important as choosing which ones to attend.  Click Here for a checklist on what to bring. Once you’re there, relax and have a good time. Networking and making new friends should be your prime goals.




PubPinkNancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have made the IMBA bestseller list, been selected by Suspense Magazine as best cozy mystery, won a Readers’ Favorite gold medal, and earned third place in the Arizona Literary Awards. Nancy has also written the instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery. Her imaginative romances have proven popular with fans as well. Her first book in this genre won the HOLT Medallion Award. A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, she is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping. Follow her here:








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