We talked about writer conferences, your goals and what you should do. You might note I’m not discussing how you should conduct yourselves. There are a million and one such articles out there, so if you don’t know, read them. In short – be professional, be kind and don’t be a predator.
That being said, here’s a list of conferences I’ve either heard are good or attended myself along with roughly when they are around. As usual, more sci-fi & fantasy focused. If you found yourself here and are a romance/horror/thriller writer, some might be useful but mostly, look elsewhere.
In order of time of year.
Superstars (early February, Colorado Springs, CO)
This is a mixed convention, filled with trad and indie authors. First started by some big name trad authors (Sanderson, Anderson, Butcher, Flint, etc.); it’s shifted to a mix of indie and trad focused seminars, pitch sessions and discussions with probably the widest mixture of trad and indies I’ve come across.
Very welcoming as a group, a little too enthusiatic in the motivational side for my taste (this is a me problem). Very expensive for the fees, comparatively speaking with a lot of up-charge items (VIP Dinner, Breakfast, Craft Day).
Decent mid-sized con at 300-400 people.
Be careful about the altitude. Seriously, some people were carrying around oxygen because of it. Not recommended for people with breathing issues.
The SFWA Nebulas (mid-May, Anaheim, CA)
I have never attended this conference. This is from reports I’ve received.
Most SFWA members are supposed to be professionals (minimum amount to register) unless you’re an associate. Even then, a minimum number of sales (generally shorts) are required to join, so fewer complete newbies here.
Most of the reports I’ve received have indicated they are trad focused in the majority. However, decent mix of trad editors, publishers and writers in there. Last reports I had is that most of the sessions for indie writers are at the really basic levels.
WriteHive (mid-June, Virtual)
Wide mixture of panels available online for free. This is a free virtual conference, with previous panels available online. Decent panelists overall, and there’s a Discord to chat with people when it happens. Again, a mixture of trad and indie discussion and craft stuff. Mostly aimed towards newer writers I feel. It’s free, go poke around, see if you like it.
Note, I have NOT hung out in the Discord because of my own predilections for online seminars/conferences.
InkersCon (mid-June, Dallas, TX)
I have never attended this conference. This is from reports I’ve received.
Supposedly one of the better indie author conferences. More expensive than most ($650) but with a large number of high level, successful indie authors within. Still quite small relatively speaking (a few hundred attendees I believe); so greater chance for networking and meeting higher earning indie authors.
DragonCon (early August, Atlanta, GA)
This is a mixed / hybrid convention. Frankly, you could go to this convention, skip the entire writer side and still have a ton of fun.
I mostly do Dragoncon as an author for fan stuff. Barcon (at the bottom of Westin at night) is great for meeting a wide variety of authors, from trad pub authors to indie authors. I have NOT met agents here, though I’m sure one or two might be floating around. Nor have I met any editors. But for just general networking, great fun.
WorldCon (early August, often same week or close to DragonCon; various locations)
I have ony ever attended on WorldCon conference.
I attended Discon in 2021. Thoroughly enjoyed myself, even if it was considered a much smaller con. Met a few agents, met quite a few editors and some relatively big name trad pub authors here. The attendees are, for the most part, older and they are still very much focused on trad pub.
Indie author wise, their seminars and conferences were very simplistic. It’s very much ‘beginner 101’ for these kind of conferences, with many not really even understanding FB or AMS ads. Don’t come here if you’re looking for that kind of thing.
However, craft and world building talks, various filk and editor or author meetings, all great. You’ll do more networking than anything here, at least in my experience; so keep that in mind.
It is a hybrid convention, so you can also reach a fanbase, but because this a moving convention; who they are and how useful they might be will vary.
Worth noting that this is the home of the Hugos. If this is of interest to you and getting an award important, the readers are all here. Coming here, doing readings, panels, meeting people is how you get on the award ballot to some extent. There are external votes but you must join (or at least buy virtual attendance or voting attendance) to cast votes.
World Fantasy Con (late Oct to early November; various locations)
I have only attended one World Fantasy Con.
This is a hybrid convention, generally moving around to new cities; with local conventions taking on the ‘World Fantasy Con’ mantle like WorldCon above. So expect local fans and a smaller author track.
I did not have a good experience with the Montreal World Fantasy Con. However, I’m not sure I can blame the con. This was in 2021 when things were slowly getting back into play, so while the energy was overall low and the variety of seminars kind of pitiful; I might call it a weird anomaly of the time.
Did not meet any editors here, just some local Canadian publishers. Again, see anomaly.
Worth noting that they do have the World Fantasy Awards here. If this is of interest to you and getting an award important, the readers are all here. Coming here, doing readings, panels, meeting people is how you get on the award ballot.
NinC (late September, St. Pete’s, FL)
You cannot attend NinC’s conference without joining NinC. There is a minimum income amount required.
NinC was formed from former romance authors, so while there are a variety of writers at the conference, expect a majority in the romance and thriller/crime portions (and sub-genres like paranormal romance).
There were 3 epic fantasy people last year.
I REALLY like NinC myself. It’s more useful by far for those in the mid-to-late portions of their indie author journey. I actually don’t think it’s geared towards trad pub at all, I don’t even recall meeting any smaller publishers here. So, keep that in mind.
Lots of great seminars, lots of great info and the workshops and set-ups are quite useful. It’s limited to 500 people I believe, so while big, it’s not that big that you can’t meet people you want to do so. Also quite informal overall.
20booksto50k Vegas (early November, Vegas. Others happen too but the big one is Vegas)
20booksto50k is a Facebook group that is probably one of the largest indie author groups. They have multiple events through the year, though its largest by far is Vegas. And when we say large, I mean 1500-2000 people.
Yes, it’s huge.
There are a TON of tracks, though because of that, finding the right seminar or workshop can be tough, especially for those who are in the middle or late stages of their author journey. Seminars can range from super basic ‘this is how you go wide’ to complex discussions on analysing author ads, etc.
As of 2021 they started adding craft seminars, including talks from older trad pub authors like David Weber and successful indie authors too. Those can be quite good, depending on your level and needs, but the majority of the focus is the business side.
There are a LOT of successful indie authors wandering around, but again – 2000 people. Meeting them, especially since many are ensconed in their own groups, can be tricky. Many are also using this event to network, to meet all contacts, etc. so I actually think it’s less useful for networking if you’re looking to meet those at the top than some of the other conventions.
Overall, I’d say this is a great (potentially the best) convention for newer indie authors, those trying to find their way and have a lot to learn. Less useful for experienced authors other than a networking opportunity – and you have to be willling to do the work to make sure you set up those appointments beforhand.
There are also a lot of smaller press and digital publishers who show up here. If you’re looking to sign with them, this can be a really good hunting ground. You might have to go in with an agenda, pre-setting up your meetings, etc and what not; but it is possible.
Not super expensive ($400-500) with cheaper options for hotels at the hotel bloc or nearby.
Word of warning about 20books Vegas. It’s Vegas. There is cigarette smoke EVERYWHERE including inside the hotel itself. The conference center isn’t horrendous; but the casino is pretty damn bad and if you’re sensitive, it will be an issue.
And that’s all the ones I’ve attended. I’m sure there are a lot more. Feel free to throw your own thoughts on other writer conferences below. If we get enough comments, I’ll make it a new blog post.
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