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  • Kayleigh

Expanding Your Network, Part II: Literary Events

See Expanding Your Network, Part I: Associations

Last week, I highlighted a few writers'/editors' associations to help you begin (or continue) growing your network. This week, I'm focusing on the other side of that: literary events.

Yes, you must sometimes be an extrovert! (Maybe some of you already are and this is no shock to you. For the rest of us, deep breaths.)

Why Do I Have to Network?

Publishing is still often about who you know and who you connect with. The best place to connect and to be remembered is often at literary events, where you can share interests, form a bond, and imprint your face on other writers, agents, etc. (That's not to say that I don't love my online connections, but the moment one of you changes your avatar or profile picture, you risk me being unable to remember if you're that Joanie or a new one!)

What Happens at Literary Events?

Experiences can vary by event, with multi-day conferences having more time and space to offer variety.

Some are simply book fairs with a meet and greet element.

Some events may have a schedule full of inspiring and informative panels that help you write or publish.

Others may allow you to submit your work for a query, first chapter, or manuscript critiques, or even a pitch to attending literary agents or acquisitions editors of your choice.

Many ensure there's an opportunity for you to nurture and grow your network of writers and publishing professionals.

And—of course—the books. There are so many books.

You'll find that several of the events below are either New England-based or centered around sci-fi/fantasy genres. That's because that's my wheelhouse! Several are also large and popular, meaning the registration fee may be $$$. Do your research and find what works for you. At the bottom, I have a brief note about finding events local to you and for your genre(s).

Side Note: Remember to Mask Up!

The majority of these are in-person events (although several have a virtual component, and a few are fully virtual). As we remain hesitant about in-person engagement, I encourage you to please stay up to date on your vaccinations, mask indoors and in tight outdoor spaces and, if you're sick, even if it's just the hint of a tickle, stay home!

15 Annual Literary Events to Check Out

Arisia *

New England's Largest, Most Diverse Sci-Fi & Fantasy Convention; based in Boston, MA

From their site: "The Arisia convention [brings] together fans from around the world to celebrate the best and brightest stars in the science fiction and fantasy genres."

Next: January 12–15, 2024, in Boston, Massachusetts

Cost: Yes; varies with pre

Special note: While this convention includes a literary component, it encompasses all things sci-fi/fantasy, including games, art, etc.

Atlanta Writers Conference

From their site: "The conference features pitch sessions, a workshop on emotional survival skills for writers, a bookfair, and manuscript and query letter critiques for poets, fiction writers, nonfiction writers, and graphic novelists."

Next: November 34, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia (with virtual critique/pitch options)

Cost: Yes; varies by events/query critiques, etc.

AWP Conference & Bookfair

Organized by the Association of Writers & Writing Programs; location changes each year

From their site: “The AWP Conference & Bookfair is the annual destination for writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers of contemporary creative writing. It includes thousands of attendees, hundreds of events and bookfair exhibitors, and four days of essential literary conversation and celebration.”

Next: February 7–10, 2024, in Kansas City, Missouri (with virtual options)

Cost: Yes; varies by member/nonmember and in-person/virtual

Boston Book Festival *

From their site: "The Boston Book Festival celebrates the power of words to stimulate, agitate, unite, delight, and inspire by holding year-round events culminating in an annual, free Festival that promotes a culture of reading and ideas and enhances the vibrancy of our city."

Next: October 14, 2023, in Boston, Massachusetts

Cost: Free and open to the public

Brattleboro Literary Festival

From their site: "The festival has grown from year to year to become one of the region’s most significant annual events, drawing more tourists, more sponsors and has presented over 900 authors."

Next: October 1315, 2023, in Brattleboro, Vermont

Cost: Free and open to the public

Hudson Children's Book Festival

From their site: "The festival [...] strives to create, sustain, and nurture a culture of literacy in partnership with our community and schools. This free, public event fosters a love of reading as families meet and greet world-class creators of books for children of all ages.

Next: May 4, 2024, in Hudson, New York

Cost: Free and open to the public

Imaginarium Book Festival *

For lovers of the fantastical; based in Washington, D.C.

From their site: "Imaginarium Book Festival brings together people who share a love for fantastical story-telling. Whether you are a newcomer to the fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal genres, or a longtime fan, you're sure to find the book that makes you feel at home."

Next: June 7⁠–8, 2024, in Washington, D.C.

Cost: Yes; different levels and add-ons offered

The Muse and the Marketplace *

From their site: "We bring writers from different backgrounds and career stages together with leading literary agents, editors, and authors producing some of today's most exciting new work for thoughtful conversations on how to write well and for guidance on navigating the business on the path to publication."

Next: May 10⁠–12, 2024, in Boston, Massachusetts

Cost: Yes; amount TBD

Portland Book Festival

From their site: "This daylong event features author discussions, pop-up readings, writing workshops for youth and adults, kids’ story times, an extensive book fair, local food trucks, and more!"

Next: November 4, 2024, in Washington, D.C.

Cost: Yes; varies (lower cost if pre-purchased, but can purchase pass day-of)

Readercon *

Book festival for science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction

From their site: "Although Readercon is modeled on general 'science fiction conventions,' we feature a near-total focus on the written word. Readercon is the only small convention regularly attended by such giants of imaginative literature as Samuel R. Delany, Ellen Datlow, Amal El-Mohtar, John Crowley, Greer Gilman, and Catherynne M. Valente."

Next: July 11–14, 2024, in Quincy, Massachusetts

Cost: Yes; varies

SCBWI Summer Conference *

From their site: "This event features breakout sessions with tracks for illustrators, picture book writers, nonfiction writers, self-published writers and traditionally published authors plus keynote addresses from kidlit icons and industry panels."

Next: Expected July/August 2024, virtually

Cost: Yes; TBD (may be limited to SCBWI members only)

SCBWI Regional Conferences and Events *

Regional conferences and events are offered to SCBWI members from different regions to help facilitate connections.

Next: Varies

Cost: Varies

SFWA Nebula Conference

From their site: "Our main goals for each year’s Nebula Conference are to provide excellent professional development, foster community among SFF aspiring and industry professionals, and of course, celebrate our Nebula Award finalists and honorees throughout the weekend, but most especially at the Nebula Award ceremony.

Next: Expected May 2024; location varies each year

Cost: Yes; varies by in-person/virtual ($$$)


From their site: "WisCon is a 1,000-member science fiction convention with a feminist/social justice focus. Every year we celebrate, dissect, and transform speculative literature, television, film, comics, and games. We specifically aim to foster conversations about feminism(s), gender, race, disability, and class."

Next: TBD; expected May 2024 in Madison, Wisconsin (virtual option available)

Cost: Yes; varies

Special note: While this convention includes a literary component, it encompasses all things sci-fi/fantasy, including games, art, etc.


Adding because I want so badly to go to the 2024 event! Locations vary globally.

From their site: "Worldcon is the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS)."

Next (2):

Cost: Yes; varies

Special note: Each WorldCon is its own organization selling "memberships" to its WorldCon event instead of tickets. Bids are made to host a WorldCon.

Finding Your Local Literary Events & Book Festivals

It may sound a little on the nose, but if you're looking for more local events, check in with your library, community centers, universities, and bookstores. They're the most likely folks to be involved in or know about literary goings-on in your area. Community-based events are often also free and open to the public, unlike some of the above that are nationally or globally known.

Are you getting ready for a literary event you know you'll love? Help your fellow writers by sharing in the comments!

* Events I'm hoping to attend

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