Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Guest author Amy M. Reade: Those Other Conferences

Amy M. Reade
Amy M. Reade is the author of two novels of romantic suspense: Secrets of Hallstead House (Kensington Publishing, July, 2014) and The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor (Kensington Publishing, April, 2015). She is currently working on her third novel. A resident of New Jersey, she hopes to attend several writers’ conferences this year. You can find her online at (website), (blog),, and @readeandwrite on Twitter. 

We’ve all heard of Boucheron and Left Coast Crime and lots of other big-name writers’ conferences out there that attract writers, readers, agents, editors, and publishers.

And we’ve been told countless times that we need to attend such conferences. Going to conferences allows us to meet other authors, fans, readers who haven’t been introduced to our work, and entire networks of people who just might be interested in helping us further our careers.

But all this networking can be really expensive. There’s air fare, hotel fees, meals, the cost of attending the conference itself, and, possibly, the cost of membership in one or more of the groups that sponsor the conference. Then, if you’re an author, there are the added costs of author swag and books for purchase.

I can hear some of you now: “You’ve got to invest in yourself.” “You’ve got to spend money to make money.” “You can write it off.”

That’s true. You do have to invest in yourself, you do often have to spend money to make money, and you may be able to write it off. But sometimes the money just isn’t there.

That’s why I’ve written this blog post, to talk about just a few of the smaller regional conferences that are out there. Smaller conferences often have a smaller registration fee and take place in smaller towns and cities where it’s cheaper to stay and cheaper to eat. And since they’re not as cumbersome as the national conferences, they provide many more opportunities to meet and mingle with the stars of the show—the authors, editors, and agents who also attend.

There are lots of regional conferences, so in the interest of space I’m only going to highlight a few.

New England Crime Bake: an annual conference that focuses specifically on New England crime and nonfiction writers. It’s held just outside Boston. Note, membership in Mystery Writers of America or Sisters in Crime is not necessary, but will allow you to pay a discounted registration fee.

Suffolk Mystery Writers Festival: the second annual festival will be held in August, 2015. Last year’s attendees included twelve well-known and best-selling mystery writers, an editor, and an agent, as well as several hundred avid readers. This is free and open to the public and located very near Colonial Williamsburg, VA.

Sleuthfest: an annual conference to be held this year in Deerfield Beach, FL. Features fabulous speakers, social events, and several sessions on the crafts of writing, publishing, and marketing. Note, membership in Mystery Writers of America will allow you to pay a discounted registration fee.

Midwest Writers Workshop: an annual event held in Muncie, IN, that features intensive sessions for specific genres and general sessions for writers of all genres. There are opportunities for meeting agents and social media tutoring.

Kentucky Women Writers Conference: an annual event held in Lexington, KY, which celebrates women’s contributions to the arts. The conference features publishing advice, sessions on fiction, memoir, and poetry, among other topics, and manuscript consultations.

AWP Conference: an annual conference featuring the publishing industry, cutting-edge writing, and a list of other topics far too long to print here. Takes place in Minneapolis, MN.

Historical Novel Society Conference: a bit pricier than most of the others I’ve listed here, this is an annual conference that focuses specifically on historical novels. It will be held in Denver, CO. There are sessions on trends in historical women’s fiction, self-publishing and cover art design, primary sources, and many more great topics.

Women Writing the West: the annual conference will be held in Redmond, OR, from October 8-October 11, 2015. Has featured sessions on writing the authentic West, Apache place names, Western writing for children, publishing, and writer communities.

Write Now!: a conference specifically focusing on crime fiction, this one is held in Arizona, so it’s great for writers from the Southwest.

Alaska Writers Guild Conference: a great regional conference featuring manuscript critiques, timely publishing topics, and sessions with editors, agents, and best-selling authors.

One important note: many conferences provide scholarships for attendees who cannot afford the registration fee. By all means, if there’s a conference you’d love to attend and you simply cannot afford it, go to the conference website and find out whether there are scholarship opportunities. 
I’m sure you all know of lots of other small, regional conferences. Please share them in the comments!


Charles Gramlich said...

Yes, because of the costs, and the demands of my job, I seldom make it to the big cons. I mostly attend smaller, more local ones.

Liane Spicer said...

Welcome to Novel Spaces, Amy!

I've never been to a writers' conference, workshop or fair. The big ones are out of the question because of distance/cost as I live in the Caribbean, so I'm on the lookout for smaller regional ones.

Amy M. Reade said...

Thanks for having me, Liane! Try this resource: It has a list of lots of smaller regional conferences, including international ones. I didn't see any specific to the Caribbean, but there are some online ones listed, too. There are also ones where locales vary, so maybe they come to the Caribbean sometimes!

Charles, I know what you mean. There's not a chance of me attending Boucheron, unless it's close to where I live, and Left Coast Crime is really out of the question right now. Good luck with your writing!

Nancy LiPetri said...

I'm looking forward to Book 'Em North Carolina and the South Carolina Book Festival again this year. Am fortunate to live within driving distance of those so don't have to book a hotel.

Amy M. Reade said...

I think Book 'Em is just about the best name I've ever heard for a writers' conference! Thanks for leaving your comment--it's great publicity for those events, plus there may be other authors in your area who didn't know about them.

Liane Spicer said...

It's our pleasure, Amy!

Thank you for the link. I'd love to discover one here in the Caribbean!

Velda Brotherton said...

This year you might try Ozark Creative Writers in October in Eureka Springs, AR. Or how about the Quarterly all day affair put on by OzarksWritersLeague in Branson, MO? Both have a website at .org and usually feature at least one publisher and editor plus an agent or two and some big time author as speakers. Bring along a big bag, once you see the Ozarks you may not want to leave.

daytonward said...

Welcome to the madness, Amy!

There a few smaller conventions and conferences in Missouri I've thought about checking out, but I always feel like I'm out of place at such events, being as I'm one of those unclean commercial/tie-in fiction hacks. ;)

KeVin K. said...

Welcome aboard, Amy!

I've always been interested in attending writers' conferences, but like Dayton I'm also a media tie-in hack so cultural compatibility is a concern.
I traditionally hit gaming conventions, like GenCon in Indianapolis, and look for work, handing out business cards that say "writer." They're nice cards, but probably not appropriate for writers' conferences.
Networking - and perhaps more importantly, physically meeting people you usually only type at - is something we who sit alone with keyboards should do more of.

Jewel Amethyst said...

This is great information. Now about those conferences... have a list of small romance or non-genre specific? :)

Marissa Monteilh said...

This is really great info! I have attended many conferences, and I've often wondered is the costs were worth it. I know we need to stay visible and show up, though we need to take the time and make sure we pick conferences that will be beneficial in many terms. I appreciate your post. We're not alone in this biz, and fellow authors like you are great reminders of that. Thanks, Amy!

Amy M. Reade said...

I got busy and haven't visited my guest blog comments in the last couple weeks, but I did want to address some of the comments.

First, to Velda. I have heard so many wonderful things about the Ozarks that it's possible that I would want to stay if I were able to visit! I think it's great that you gave a nice plug to the two conferences in AR and MO. They sound great.

Second, to daytonward, get out there and meet people! You might find that you're less out of place than you think. The Ozarks conferences that Velda mentioned might be a great place to start.

Third, to KeVin K., I think getting out there and meeting strangers can be very hard, but I've found that for the most part, people are pretty cool and it gets easier with practice. Now my husband and my kids can't stand to go places with me because I'll talk to anyone about anything.

Fourth, to Jewel: check out the very extensive list of romance conferences at For more non-genre specific conferences, check out this site:

And last, but not least, to Marissa: I totally agree about having to make the right choices. There's no sense in going to a conference that isn't going to pay off somehow, whether in terms of networking or some other metric. Remember that you may be able to write off some of the costs of conferences on your taxes, but always ask an accountant or tax attorney before doing that!

Sunny Frazier said...

I've found conferences to greatly benefit my career. Yes, I've gone in the hole to attend them. No, I've never sold many books. But, the contacts are amazing and the chance to rub shoulders with other authors is inspiring. I do try to get on panels whenever possible.

Liane, you might want to think about starting a conference in your area. Can't think of too many authors who wouldn't love to go to the Caribbean. Hey, it's a tax write-off! You never say exactly which island you're on--or did I miss something?

Liane Spicer said...

Sunny, I'm in Trinidad--the most southerly island in the Caribbean and right within sight of Venezuela (I sorta thought everyone knew where I was from, but you did join us late. :)

That Caribbean conference idea has been on my mind for some time now. I'd also like to operate a writers' retreat either here or on our sister island, Tobago; I need to get a few things out of the way before I start looking at feasibility studies and getting sponsors and investors on board.

We have a few literary festivals in the Caribbean, and my impression is that they're growing from year to year, so the climate is right for conferences, I think. There's:
Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad (an author I publish will be reading at that one in April),
Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica,
Anguilla Lit Fest in Paradise Cove, Anguilla,
Antigua and Barbuda Literary Festival, Nature Island Literary Festival in Dominica.