Conferences geared specifically toward nonfiction writers are not always easy to discover. Sure, there are a plethora of general writing conferences, but most of these only offer a single breakout session on the craft. Let’s face it: fiction writers and nonfiction writers don’t share all of the same issues and concerns.
I know firsthand the value of attending a dedicated nonfiction conference. When I launched Lasting Legacies, I attended an Association of Personal Historians conference, which catered not only to nonfiction writers, but more specifically to life story and biography writers. I was surrounded by people who understood what I needed and were more than happy to help me succeed.
Several years later, I was invited to speak as a panelist at the Biographers International Organization (BIO) conference regarding my work as a commissioned biographer (aka ghostwriter). Again, it was thrilling to speak with acclaimed authors in my field, network with fellow nonfiction writers, and discover practical advice regarding all phases of the writing process.
It is my hope that you, too, will take advantage of the unique opportunity to attend a nonfiction conference. Why not try one this year? I’ve discovered eight that will allow you to dive deep into the art and craft of nonfiction writing and publishing (listed chronologically below by date).
1. Creative Nonfiction at NCWN’s 2018 Spring Conference
Date: April 21, 2018
Location: Greensboro, NC
“Writers of creative nonfiction aren’t off the hook just because they need to stick to the truth. Elements of craft familiar to writers of fiction or poetry apply to narrative nonfiction as well: the importance of imagery; a strong opening; and structuring your piece for maximum pay-off are the considerations of all writers.”
2. Nonfiction Writers Conference
Date: May 2–4, 2018
Location: Virtual (online)
“Featuring 15 speakers over three days, all sessions are conducted via teleseminar, which means attendees from around the globe participate via phone or Skype–NO TRAVEL REQUIRED! Our popular Ask-a-Pro sessions allow Gold, Platinum and VIP attendees the opportunity to participate in free 15-minute phone consults with industry pros where you can ask questions and get valuable advice. Plus, all attendees are invited to participate in our private attendees-only Facebook group, where you can network with each other, meet our speakers and other publishing industry pros, and share your experiences.”
3. Creative Nonfiction Collective Conference
Date: May 4–6, 2018
Location: Toronto, Canada
“Plans for the CNFC’s 2018 Conference at the University of Toronto are well underway! Featuring…workshops, interviews, and panels on topics ranging from writing humour to grappling with difficult material, this weekend of lively conversation and craft will offer plenty of prompts to writers of all levels. The conference kicks off…with a publishing panel featuring three highly experienced Toronto professionals, followed by ‘First Page’ — an opportunity for volunteer members to hear how the pros respond to their work.”
4. BIO Conference
Date: May 18–20, 2018
Location: New York City, NY
“BIO welcomes biographers, editors, agents, publishers, and publicity professionals from across the nation and around the world. During the conference weekend, biographers have the opportunity to network, compare notes with fellow biographers, and deepen their knowledge of and commitment to the craft of biography.”
5. Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference
Date: May 24–26, 2018
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
“It’s the only creative nonfiction conference where you can spend three days surrounded by 150+ other memoirists, lyrical essayists, and longform journalists who are all eager to connect with and motivate one another…The 2018 conference will provide a rich blend of inspiration and practical advice — whether you’re writing your first essay, article, or proposal or have a couple of books under your belt. Plus, new this year: Along with agent consultations, we’re offering opportunities for you to get personalized feedback on your manuscript…Previous conferences have led to book deals, article publications, and new editor/writer relationships.”
6. The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference
Date: July 20–22, 2018
Location: Grapevine, TX
“Every year, the Mayborn Conference gathers some of the most talented storytellers in the country to share their stories, life-changing experiences and expertise with aspiring writers through three days of lectures, panels, one-on-one sessions, student classes and keynotes…[W]riters from all walks of life come together to learn, engage and network with the nation’s best authors, journalists, editors and agents.”
Date: August 24–26, 2018
Location: Lancaster, PA
“HippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers is geared toward writers of all skill levels and backgrounds, and it offers plenty of opportunities for you to hone your craft, explore publishing options and find ways to balance your writing and ‘real’ life, as well as chances to meet, learn from, and share with writers like you. This three-day creative writing conference…features 50+ notable speakers, engaging sessions in four tracks, interactive panels, readings, social activities, networking opps and optional, intimate pre-conference workshops. All of this, plus meals and snacks, bundled into a great, comprehensive conference rate.”
Date: November 1–3, 2018
Location: Phoenix, AZ
“The NonfictioNOW Conference is a regular gathering of over 400 nonfiction writers, teachers, and students from around the world in an effort to explore the past, present, and future of nonfiction. Panels and readings highlight the myriad forms of nonfiction, from the video essay and graphic essays, to the memoir, lyric essay, and literary journalism.”
Which Will You Choose?
As you can see, there are a variety of excellent conferences to attend. Select one that best suits your schedule and location, and give it a try. It just might offer exactly what your writing career needs this year.
Have you ever attended one of these conferences? Know of a dedicated nonfiction conference that I forgot to include in the list? Share your experiences and recommendations in the comments!