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The Best Indie Author Conferences & Events (2019)

by J.D. Lasica

Indie authors are notoriously… independent. And yet we understand that meeting fellow creatives at writers’ conferences is one of the best ways to recharge our batteries and push through with one, two or more successful book launches in a given year.

Now’s the time to start filling up your 2019 dance card. Feel free to print out, pass along or republish this calendar of conferences geared toward both indie and traditional authors. Events span the gamut from writing workshops to splashy expos where writers get to rub elbows with avid readers, agents and fellow authors.

As an author of high-tech thrillers, I go to several of these every year. There’s nothing like meeting fellow authors and notable figures in the space in real life so you can collaborate, compare notes and improve your craft. Personally, I don’t think the giant book fairs are the best bets for indie authors, but some of the can’t miss conferences for indie authors include NINC, the Smarter Artist Summit (in its last year) and 20Books Vegas — though frankly the Ireland Writing Retreat also looks amazing. Many of the regional gatherings also come highly recommended.

Below is Best of Indie’s second annual SuperGuide to 2019 conferences and events for independent authors and book fans.

MAJOR BOOK FAIRS

London Book Fair

When: March 12-14th
Where: West London
Cost: £45.

Meet fellow authors, agents and representatives of audio, TV, film and digital platforms. The Alliance of Independent Authors calls this “the most author-friendly of the big international fairs by far.”

londonbookfair.co.uk

Book Expo America

When: May 29-30th
Where: New York
Cost: Not yet announced; in 2018 it was $200 a day.

Writers, readers and vendors converge at largest book trade fair in the U.S. Meet publishers, bookstore owners and authors, including a few indies. Its New Title Showcase claims to be “the #1 place to launch your new print or ebook title.”

bookexpoamerica.com

Frankfurt Book Fair

When: October 16-20th
Where: Frankfurt, Germany
Cost: Tickets go on sale in June; prices not yet announced.

Last year’s event had 285,000 visitors from 110 countries from the trade industry and the general public. Geared to traditional publishers, with 7,500 exhibitors on hand.

buchmesse.de/en

CONFERENCES/ EVENTS

Fairway Galle Literary Festival

When: January 16-20th
Where: Sri Lanka
Cost: 15,000 Sri Lankan rupees ($87) for festival pass.

Launched in 2007 , the festival has become one of the most anticipated literary events in southeast Asia for both authors and literary enthusiasts around the world. It’s held at historic Dutch Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

galleliteraryfestival.com

San Miguel Writer’s Conference & Literary Festival

When: February 13-17th
Where: San Miguel, Mexico
Cost: $295-$875

This prestigious bilingual literary gathering attracts 750 participants—distinguished authors, established and emerging writers, industry experts and teaching pros—from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Europe for workshops and master classes.

https://sanmiguelwritersconference.org/

San Francisco Writers Conference

When: February 14-17th
Where: San Fransisco
Cost: $850 until February 1st.

Attendees will join with 100+ presenters (authors, agents, editors and publishers) from across the country and around the world. SFWC events are consistently rated among the top writer’s conferences anywhere. Meet experts on self-publishing, book promotion, platform building, social media, audio books, podcasting and author websites.

sfwriters.org

Smarter Artist Summit

When: February 18-19th
Where: Austin, Texas
Cost: $799.

Spend two days learning strategies that will outlast the “what’s working yesterday” tactics everyone else is talking about. The summit has an intimate setting, small enough to make connections but large enough to bring authorpreneurs from all genres and experience levels together to share their superpowers.

https://smarterartistsummit.com/

Seymour Agency Writers’ Winter Escape Cruise

When: February 18-22nd
Where: Miami to Nassau, Bahamas
Cost: $202 plus cruise fare.

Working writer’s retreat on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas offers both published and unpublished authors the chance to pitch NY editors and LA film producers, attend sessions and network with other industry professionals.

Book Your Cruise

Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writing Conference

When: February 22-23rd
Where: Tempe, Arizona
Cost: $200 early registration; $250 single day pass.

The conference features workshops in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and publishing, as well as craft classes, lectures, panel discussions and readings. Nine faculty members.

https://www.writermag.com/conferences/desert-nights-rising-stars-writers-conference/

Genre-LA Creative Writing Conference

When: February 22-24th
Where: Los Angeles
Cost: $399-$499 full weekend; $99-$199 one day pass.

This 20th annual event gathers more than 30 best-selling authors of genre novels, literary agents, editors, publishers, industry experts, Hollywood veterans, educators and publishing professionals.

wcwriters.com

Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat

When: February 22-24th
Where: New Zealand
Cost: $380.

Hey, it’s summer in February in New Zealand. The two-day gathering features intensive morning workshops, lively afternoon discussions and space to write, relax and engage with topics critical to your work. Six faculty members on hand.

http://www.kahini.org/the-2019-kapiti-writers-retreat/

Minnesota Writing Workshop

When: March 2nd
Where: St. Paul, Minnesota
Cost: $189+

The 2019 Minnesota Writing Workshop will put on a full-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop. It’s limited to 200 people.

https://minnesotawritingworkshop.com/

Atlanta Writing Workshop

When: March 9th
Where: Atlanta
Cost: $189+

This full-day “How to Get Published” writing event offers a chance to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor and get your questions answered. Limited to 200 writers.

https://atlantawritingworkshop.com/

SleuthFest

When: March 14-17th
Where: Boca Raton, Florida
Cost: $50-455.

Sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, SleuthFest is geared to mystery, suspense and thriller writers of all levels, offering sessions on the craft of writing and marketing as well as social events and appointments with agents and editors to pitch your finished work.

www.sleuthfest.com

AWP Conference

When: March 27-30th
Where: Portland, Oregon
Cost: $215+

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs, the largest literary conference in North America, attracts more than 12,000 writers and readers and 800 exhibitors for four days of readings, panels and writing lectures.

www.awpwriter.org

Left Coast Crime

When: March 28-31st
Where: Vancouver, Canada
Cost: $335 CAD.

The annual mystery convention Left Coast Crime is for fans of the mystery/crime genre: readers, authors, librarians, bloggers, publishers, editors, agents and booksellers.

www.leftcoastcrime.org

Pathway to Publication

When: April 4-7th
Where: Madison, Wisconsin
Cost: $275 (early registration) to $395.

The Midwest’s premier writing conference from the Writers Institute offers four days of education, entertainment and writing inspiration. Reps from traditional agencies and self-publishing companies will be on hand.

https://uwwritersinstitute.wisc.edu/

IBPA Publishing University

When: April 5-6th
Where: Chicago
Cost: $395 members; $495 non-members.

IBPA dubs its event “the premier educational event for indie publishers and self-published authors,” offering more than 30 educational sessions.

publishinguniversity.org

The Muse and the Marketplace

When: April 5-7th
Where: Boston
Cost: $395 (one day) to $535 (three days).

Authors, literary agents, editors and other industry professionals descend on the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston for a weekend writing conference put on by the nonprofit GrubStreet.

The Muse & the Marketplace

Norwescon

When: April 18-21st
Where: Seattle-Tacoma
Cost: $70.

Norwescon is the Pacific Northwest’s premier science fiction and fantasy convention and one of the largest regional science fiction and fantasy conventions in the U.S.

norwescon.org

Seattle Writing Conference

When: April 27th
Where: Seattle
Cost: $189+

This full-day “How to Get Published” writing event offers a chance to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor and get your questions answered. Limited to 200 writers.

https://theseattlewritingworkshop.com/

Self-Publishing Conference

When: April 27th
Where: Leicester, UK
Cost: £70.

The only conference in the UK dedicated to self-published authors, this gathering offers sessions on topics such as writing, production, marketing and distribution. You’ll also find plenty of opportunities to network with fellow indie authors.

https://selfpublishingconference.org.uk/

Las Vegas Writers Conference

When: May 2-4th
Where: Las Vegas
Cost: $500.

This conference is dedicated to helping writers of all genres improve their craft, sharpen their business skills, and network with publishing professionals. Held each spring at the Tuscany resort. Pitch sessions with literary agents and editors are included.

https://lasvegaswritersconference.com/

Pikes Peak Writers Conference

When: May 3-5th
Where: Colorado Springs
Cost: $405.

The three-day conference is full of in-depth workshops, best-selling keynote speakers, opportunities for one-on-one time with agents and editors, the chance to read your work aloud for constructive critique, and the opportunity to socialize with fellow writers.

https://pikespeakwriters.com

Sell More Books Show Summit

When: May 3-5th
Where: Chicago
Cost: Sold Out.

Jim Kukral and Bryan Cohen of the Sell More Books Show podcast put on a live event for 115 attendees focused on the business of selling books.

www.sellmorebooksshow.com

Michigan Writing Conference

When: May 4th
Where: Michigan
Cost: $189+

This full-day “How to Get Published” writing event offers a chance to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor and get your questions answered. Limited to 200 writers.

https://michiganwritingworkshop.com/

ASJA Writers Conference

When: May 5-6th
Where: New York
Cost: $125-$439.

The American Society of Journalists and Authors Conference attracts some 500-600 people each year and focuses on helping independent writers succeed.

https://www.eiseverywhere.com/ehome/asja2019nyc/home

StokerCon

When: May 9-12th
Where: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Cost: $65-$325.

The Horror Writers Association’s annual convention, held in conjunction with the Bram Stoker Awards, is the premier event for writers and publishers of horror and dark fantasy.

www.stokercon2019.org

Book Lovers Con

When: May 15-19th
Where: New Orleans
Cost: $395.

Taking the place of the Romance Times Booklovers Convention, the new Book Lovers Con brings together authors, fans, bloggers, booksellers and librarians who’ll attend workshops by day and socialize by night.

bookloverscon.com

SFWA Nebula Conference

When: May 16th
Where: Woodland Hills, California
Cost: $210-$295.

The 53rd event from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America features three tracks relevant to professionals in the genre; choose from career management, professional development and expert knowledge panels and workshops.

nebulas.sfwa.org

The Writer’s Hotel

When: June 5-11th
Where: New York
Cost: $3,000.

Volunteer editors consult on writers’ manuscripts, submitted beforehand, followed by gatherings in midtown Manhattan hotels. Workshops, lectures, agent pitch sessions and author readings are part of this independent program.

writershotel.com

Historical Novel Society North American Conference

When: June 20-22nd
Where: Oxon Hill, Md.
Cost: $425 for members, $495 for non-members; add $100 after February 15th.

Widely known as the top conference for historical fiction, the biennial Historical Novel Society North American Conference is geared toward readers and writers of historical novels and will feature presentations, panels, preconference workshops, pitch sessions with agents and editors and more.

hns-conference.com

Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference

When: June 21-23rd
Where: Los Angeles
Cost: $249-$499.

A sister conference of the Genre-LA event on Feb. 22, this event at Los Angeles Valley College features lectures, workshops, panels and access to the Resource Center.

wcwriters.com

Ireland Writing Retreat

When: June 24-30th and September 23-29th
Where: Gweedore, Ireland
Cost: From €990, including B&B.

Be inspired by an ancient mythical landscape on island and hill walks listening to expert guides recite local legends on the Donegal Wild Atlantic Way. Listen to traditional Irish music played by local singer-songwriters. Return home with several finished works read and critiqued during one-on-one tuition sessions with published authors and group discussions.

https://www.irelandwritingretreat.com/

Jackson Hole Writers Conference

When: June 27-29th
Where: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Cost: $375; day pass $150-$200.

Set in Grand Teton National Park’s back yard, the conference’s intimate size means writers meet each other and the faculty, share ideas along with a glass of beer or wine, and make new contacts in a workshop.

http://jacksonholewritersconference.com/

SpikeCon

When: July 4-7th
Where: Layton, Utah
Cost: Not yet announced.

Westercon combines with the North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC) and 1632 MiniCon under the convention name “SpikeCon.”

www.spikecon.org

Thrillerfest

When: July 9-13th
Where: New York
Cost: $155-$1,260.

Ground zero for mystery and thriller authors, Thrillerfest includes sessions on writing, publishing, marketing and agent pitches. While the focus is traditional publishing, indie thriller author Joanna Penn says she felt “accepted as an indie, with no judgment around my business choices.”

thrillerfest.com

RWA 2019

When: July 24-27th
Where: New York
Cost: $275-$724.

Put on by the Romance Writers of America, RWA is where more than 2,000 romance writers and industry professionals gather to learn, network and boost author careers.

rwa.org

Indie Bookfest

When: August 1-4th
Where: Orlando, Florida
Cost: $25-$75.

This seventh annual author/reader event celebrates indie, hybrid and traditional authors and artists. Look for workshops, expert panels and nightly parties.

https://indiebookconvention.com/

When Words Collide

When: August 9-11th
Where: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Cost: $50 CAD.

When Words Collide is a festival for readers, writers, artists and publishers of commercial and literary fiction, including genre, YA, children’s books and poetry.

whenwordscollide.org

Myths & Legends

When: August 9-11th
Where: Denver
Cost: $20.

The Myths and Legends Convention celebrates our modern myths and legends. Look for tea dueling and dancing, panels and programs, make-and-takes and interesting guests, as well as a vendor room full of hand-made fan-oriented items and an art show.

malcondenver.org

WorldCon

When: August 15-19th
Where: Dublin, Ireland
Cost: Not yet announced.

The World Science Fiction Convention, the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society held since 1939, brings together science fiction and fantasy fans, writers, artists and creatives. The social event has grown to include genre television, movies, animation, games and other media

worldcon.org

Killer Nashville

When: August 22-25th
Where: Nashville, Tennessee
Cost: $379 for four days; $150 for single day pass.

The conference is a four-day event bringing together some of the world’s best authors, aspiring writers, agents, editors and other industry professionals.

killernashville.com

Writer’s Digest Conference

When: August 23-25th
Where: New York
Cost: $349-$499.

Editors of Writer’s Digest put on this annual conference devoted to craft, career and creative inspiration. Pitch to agents in the hallway or at the Pitch Slam.

https://writersdigestconference.com/

Bubonicon

When: August 23-25th
Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Cost: $35.

Bubonicon is the annual multigenre convention in Albuquerque put on by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention. It’s the largest SF convention in New Mexico and among the oldest in the Southwest.

bubonicon.com

DragonCon

When: August 29th – September 2nd
Where: Atlanta
Cost: $105.

DragonCon is the largest multimedia, popular culture convention focusing on gaming, comics, literature, art, music and film related to sci fi and fantasy.

dragoncon.org

Tribe Conference

When: September 6-8th
Where: Franklin, Tennessee
Cost: $299-$499.

A gathering of writers, artists, and creatives who want to grow their craft and get visibility for their works.

tribeconference.com

Colorado Gold Conference

When: September 6-8th
Where: Denver
Cost: $349-$599.

The Colorado Gold Conference is put on by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, a non-profit, volunteer-run organization.

rmfw.org

Digital Book World

When: September 10-12th
Where: Nashville, Tennessee
Cost: $895-$1,595.

A gathering of publishing stakeholders: 33% big publishing houses; 20% small to mid-size presses; 15% university presses; 10% corporate publishers, 10% trade associations, nonprofits & advocacy groups and 2% self-published authors.

digitalbookworld.com

Penned Con

When: September 12-14th
Where: St. Louis
Cost: $10-$325.

Here’s a family-friendly event focused on meeting your favorite authors (with two days of signings) in a relaxed setting while raising money for autism research.

pennedcon.com

Pacific Northwest Writers Association

When: September 12-15th
Where: Seattle
Cost: $375 PNWA members; $475 non-members.

PNWA provides members with tools and opportunities to turn their writing dreams into reality. Its mission is to develop writing talent through education, accessibility to the publishing industry and participation in an interactive writer community.

pnwa.org

Creatures, Crimes & Creativity (C3 Con)

When: September 13-15th
Where: Columbia, Md
Cost: $140 (one day) to $265 (three days, ends March 31st).

C3 Con is the gathering spot for readers and writers of mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal.

http://creaturescrimesandcreativity.com/

NINC (Novelists, Inc.)

When: September 25-29th
Where: St. Pete Beach, Florida
Cost: $425 plus membership in NINC.

NINC brings together multi-published, multi-genre authors who publish traditionally, independently or both. Indie author speakers include Mark Dawson, Joanna Penn and David Gaughran. Must join NINC to attend.

ninc.com

Indie Romance Convention

When: October 9-12th
Where: Lebanon, Tennessee
Cost: $120-$150 readers, $55 authors.

IRC offers three days of workshops, panels and an afternoon book signing. You’ll find a mix of indie, hybrid and small-press authors among the attendees—roughly 45 authors and 55 readers.

http://www.indieromanceconvention.com/

GayRomLit (GRL)

When: October 17-20th
Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Cost: Not yet announced.

GayRomLit is an annual retreat that brings together the people who create and celebrate LGBT romance for a one-of-a-kind, must-attend gathering of dynamic, informal and diverse fun.

gayromlit.com

Vancouver Writers Fest

When: October 21-27th
Where: Vancouver
Cost: Not yet announced.

The Vancouver Writers Fest encourages readers of all ages to explore the power of storytelling and books through dozens of events with local and international writers. About 2,000 people attend on some days.

writersfest.bc.ca

Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference

When: October 25-27th
Where: Pasadena, California
Cost: Not yet announced.

Writer’s Digest sets down stakes on the West Coast with many of publishing’s most knowledgeable writers, agents and editors to guide you through the process of writing, editing and publishing your novel. Hone your craft, refine your characters, explore the future of publishing and get the tools you need to advance your career.

http://novel.writersdigestconference.com/

Surrey International Writers’ Conference

When: October 25-27th
Where: Surrey, B.C.
Cost: $625 (three days); $219-$299 (one day).

The Surrey International Writers’ Conference is a workshop-based conference with a focus on development of skills and industry-based knowledge. From beginning to widely published writers, this is a good place to hone your skills, learn more about markets and network for future sales. Pitch sessions available.

siwc.ca

20 Books Vegas Conference

When: November 12-15th
Where: Las Vegas
Cost: $135-$150.

Put on by indie publishing impresarios Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle, 20Books is the largest indie authors conference in the world, drawing about 700 attendees. Some of the world’s best-selling indie authors will be on hand as well as aspiring authors, (such as the guy in the photo with me above at last year’s event), and everyone in between.

20booksvegas.com

Philadelphia Writing Workshop

When: November 23rd
Where: Philadelphia
Cost: $189+

This full-day “How to Get Published” writing event offers a chance to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor and get your questions answered. Limited to 200 writers.

https://philadelphiawritingworkshop.com/

J.D. Lasica

J.D. Lasica

J.D. Lasica is the author of the high-tech thriller “Biohack” and CEO/co-founder of the tech startup Cruiseable. Follow @jdlasica on Twitter.