Get the Most Out of the Writers’ Institute

Writers' Institute 2014

Conferences can be overwhelming. How do you make the most of a few short days packed with new strategies, ideas, and questions? Have no fear, writers. We’ve compiled some key information to help you make the most of the 2015 Writers’ Institute (special thanks to Writers’ Institute Director Laurie Scheer).

How do I maximize my chances of getting published? (or at least meet an agent or two?)

Research, research, research. You can find out a great deal about the agents attending the conference before you even get there. Check out their websites, as well as their Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts. You can learn an incredible amount about what they look for in an author, how they handle their clients and business, and what they might want in the future.
We have plenty of opportunities to meet agents including the Writing Mixer Friday evening, the lunches on Friday and Saturday, Q&A sessions with agents, as well as personal pitching sessions.

What If I want to try self-publishing?

We have several sessions at the Writers’ Institute from writers who successfully self-published books and built brands online.
Making the Most of Your Website — Celeste Anton
A Flurry of Cursors: Building a Network and Audience Online — Jesse Stommel
Assisted Self-Publishing, Done Right — Mary Driver-Thiel and April Eberhardt
Using Digital Tools for Collaborative Writing — Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris
Self-Publishing for Beginners (aka Learn From Our Mistakes) — Jennifer Starkman and Christine Cacciatore

Are there ways to meet other writers in low pressure situations? (#introvertproblems)

We want our attendees to meet friends and colleagues at the conference in a welcoming setting. We recommend attending the Success Stories Lunch & Panel on Friday. You can sit at a table with other writers in your genre. There will also be an opportunity on Saturday to sign up for critique groups, as well as casual opportunities to meet other writers at the various sessions.

Help! It’s my first time attending the Writers’ Institute! Where should I start?

Take a look at the schedule ahead of time and start to plan out which sessions you’d like to attend. Yes, there’s a ton of information out there, but also plenty of support from fellow participants and organizers. There will be hand-outs in your packet for all of the sessions. Our instructors are friendly; feel free to contact them after the Writers’ Institute to learn more about what they have to offer. So breathe, you won’t miss out — absorb as much as you can and enjoy.

What are the best sessions for (fill-in-the-blank) writers?

We love all the sessions, of course. But if you’re going to make us pick, here are the can’t miss sessions at the Writers’ Institute broken down by genre:


The Write Stuff — John Dufresne
Story Physics: Putting Power in Your Book — Christine DeSmet
Conveying Emotion in Fiction — Ann Garvin


From Idea to Journal to Book — Julie Tallard Johnson
Writing Within Specific Ethnic Groups — Oscar Mireles
You Had to Be There: Capturing a Sense of Place — Eric S. Piotrowski


Write the Poem that Scares You — Marilyn Taylor
The Elusive, Dangerous Art of Writing Terrific Love Poems — Marilyn Taylor


Writing a Memoir of a Life Event — Sue Roupp
Memoir: How to Unpack a Storage Locker Full of Memories — Sue Roupp
Writing Your Story: Meaning, Happiness, Legacy — Coleman