Writer’s Conferences – When and Where Are They? How To Find Out About Them

Following my posts about Why Attend a Writer’s Conference and Preparing for a Writer’s Conference I recently had a question from a blog reader, “How do we find out about writer’s conferences?”

CYA Success stor

CYA Success stories 2015 conference

So today’s post is designed to give you some tips on where to start.

I also wanted to mention that there are a lot of writer’s festivals around too. These are great for being inspired by other writers, hearing how they write and learning about their work and what their favourite reads are/were, but I find that conferences are a usually a better place to meet and present your work to publishers and agents.

So conferences are the focus of today’s post.

Seeing as I write for children and young adults, I find that the best place to start for these conferences is The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Their website is divided into regions so you can click on any region around the world and it will take you to a specific page that has any upcoming conferences listed.



SCBWI Australia 2010

One way to find conferences that might be worth going to is to look at the genre you write in and then research organisations for writers in those genre. Some of these organisations host their own conferences, others can give you information about them through newsletters and websites.

For example, there are organisations for

  1. Romance Writers – Romance Writers of Australia, Romance Writers of America
  2. Speculative Fiction writers – Conflux, Clarion
  3. Horror writers – Horror Writers Association
  4. Crime writers – Australian Crime Writers Association, Sisters in Crime
  5. Children’s writers – Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators
  6. Comedy writers


Reading Matters Conference – Held every second year by the State Library of Victoria.

Check with your state or national library – they may be able to give you information about upcoming conferences.


ACT Writers Centre

Booranga Writers Centre
New England Writers Centre
NSW Writers Centre
Hunter Writers Centre
Northern Rivers Writers Centre
South Coast Writers Centre
Sydney Writers’ Centre
Varuna – The Writers’ House

NT Writers Centre

Queensland Writers Centre

SA Writers Centre

Tasmanian Writers Centre

Writers Victoria

Writing WA
Katherine Susannah Pritchard Writers Centre

If you’re overseas – for example in the US, google writer’s centres in your state, area or town.


1. ASA – Australian Society of Authors newsletters – There may be an author organisation in your country that produces a publication that will list conferences in it.

2. PASS IT ON – e-zine for Australian Children’s and YA writers lists conferences and upcoming events.

3. BUZZ WORDS – for Australian Children’s and YA writers lists conferences and upcoming events.

Letters to Leonardo Book CoverBEST CONFERENCES I HAVE BEEN TO

There are lots of conferences I haven’t been to that I’m sure are fantastic, but I just wanted to finish by mentioning ones I have been to that have been extremely beneficial to me.

My book, Letters to Leonardo was picked up by Walker Books after I pitched it at the SCBWI Australia Conference in Sydney. I recently attended the CYA Conference in Brisbane and received three manuscript requests from publishers and one from an agent. I attended the 40th Anniversary SCBWI LA conference and apart from being loads of fun it was a huge global networking experience.

If you’ve been to a great conference or have any other tips on how to find out about conferences, please feel free to include them in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing:)



Landing in LA


Travelling to LA for the 2011 SCBWI conference was my first experience in time travel. I left Melbourne at 10.45am on Thursday morning and arrived in LA at 8.00am Thursday morning, nearly three hours earlier.

After a seriously long time in customs where I was fingerprinted and thankfully passed the test, unlike a lady in her late sixties who was taken away for further investigation because her fingerprints were too faint.

As soon as I hopped on the shuttle bus from the airport, it became clear that two of the occupants were travelling to the conference and one of them seemed familiar to me. She turned out to be the lovely Blanche Baxter, a twitter buddy who had tweeted me just the day before saying, “Can’t wait to meet you at the conference.” It seemed that fate couldn’t wait either. Freaky that Blanche was the first person I should meet in a contingent of over 1300 people.

First day of the conference was slightly overwhelming. I knew Blanche and 3 other people out of 1300. The lobby was filled with hugging, squeeing writers and illustrators catching up with people they’d met at previous conferences or somewhere along the road on their creative journey.

A favourite place to hang out

I met a bunch of great writers from all over USA and dined with them at the Pink Taco where I learned that English can be a problem for Australians in America.

When I ordered my meal I was asked whether I would like it WET. I looked at the waiter blankly and asked, “Does that mean you spray it with water”

No, it means served with a spicy chocolate sauce that sounded weird but tasted really good.

I was served up the largest burrito I’d ever seen and seeing as I hadn’t eaten since hopping off the plane, I consumed more than I expected.

Over 30 hours after I left Australia, I made it to bed at 10.30 pm


Up at 6.30am and time to enjoy LA from my hotel balcony before focussing for a big day of sessions.


Bruce Coville opened the day with an inspiring talk about why what we do matters.

His big tips were:

  1. Take acting and storytelling lessons
  2. Take voice and singing lessons
  3. Take your art seriously – treat it as a business
  4. Read contracts – With Warranty Clause – make sure it doesn’t have ‘alleged’ in it.
  5. Learn to read your royalty statements
  6. Learn to negotiate
  7. Provide for your retirement
  8. Insure yourself
  9. Never throw anything away
  10. Take holidays from writing
  11. Scare yourself – take on assignments that frighten you
  12. Take risks
  13. Make your own rules
  14. Take your art seriously but take yourself lightly
  15. Accept compliments
  16. Don’t be afraid to show your art
  17. Embrace the unfinished chord – story with unfinished strand – don’t have to spell out all the answers for the reader. Give the reader something they can’t stop thinking about
  18. Don’t start with a message. Start with your own good heart
  19. Not knowing can be more powerful than knowing

Conference venue and where I stayed

His session was amazing but by now after nearly 20 hours without sleep thanks to the time zone differences, I was starting to hit the brick wall. So I skipped the next keynote and took some quiet time in my room where I met my wonderful roomie for the first time, Joyce Ragland, RA for Missouri and thoroughly nice person.

Prior to the conference we had only corresponded on Facebook and by email so it was great to be so at ease with each other right from the start.

I’m going to be blogging about the conference all this week. So feel free to come back here tomorrow and find out about podcasting from Katie Davis and about Donna Jo Napoli‘s amazing keynote on censorship and  How Writing About Terrible Things Makes Your Reader A Better Person.

I’d also love to hear your comments on the conference, LA, or the writing life in general.

Have to say I have come back feeling so inspired…but more about that later.

Happy writing:)