AWP23 - A Full Scale Writing Conference
In which I provide an overview of this amazing gathering of writers, presses, and writing programs
The Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference and Book Fair (AWP23) was held March 8-11 at the Seattle Convention Center.
This was the first time I attended the conference. Numbers I heard batted around for attendance ranged from 12,000 to 14,000 to 15,000. The conference took place in a beautiful new building of the Seattle Convention Center, which I heard cost $2 billion dollars to construct. Evidently, AWP23 was only the second event held in this new space, following Comic-Con the week before. Thus, Marvel and company broke in the building and AWP followed with its all-star line-up for writers, editors, publishers, presses, and literary organizations of all kinds.
I attended 9 sessions in three days, volunteered for 2 offsite events at Hugo House, a place for writers in Seattle, and spent hours wandering the giant book fair. I had the most fun chatting with the people staffing the tables at the book fair.
As I am newer to Seattle, I also learned my way around, walking from Capitol Hill to the downtown Westlake District and knowing that if I kept going, I’d end up at the water and the famous Pike Place Market. Seattle is a delightful city in which to walk, and in case something is a bit far, I’ve had great success using public transit (bus and light rail, which I’m forever calling the subway or train to people who squint and say, “you mean, light rail?”).
At the sessions, agents talked about what it takes to get their attention. Invariably, whatever question came up (can first time writers get an agent? what about marginalized writers? what about commitment to DEI? what about older first-time writers? What about experimental works? What if my book doesn’t have any comp titles? etc etc), their respone was “It depends!” The take-away from agents is that the work must be that good. Once that’s established, then things can go from there.
At a session about small and university presses, there was better news. Less budget but more opportunity to take chances on experimental works. And they offer support to writers without agents.
Many sessions were led by panelists from colleges and universities, with the vast majority of these experts supplementing their editorial and writing experience with university teaching. Heaven knows that supporting a writing habit takes a good deal of patience and some money coming in from somewhere and an availability of time.
The best take away from the entire AWP experience: there is a large community of people committed to the arts and literature, far beyond the university circle. Seattle is a vibrant literary town with small presses galore and non profit institutions promoting local writing, writers, and education.
In all, what a joyful celebration of all things writing. I will attend AWP again when I’m able.
Just in time for AWP, I have started my freelance developmental editing business: The Writing Prof Editorial Services (https://leehornbrook.com). This full-service business offers developmental editing, manuscript assessment, copyediting, proofreading, ghostwriting, coauthoring, book doctoring, and writing coaching.
I read memoir and literary fiction, short story collections and poetry chapbooks. I also edit general nonfiction, especially focused on quirky events, interesting places, and the science of familiar life, as well as website copy and design and academic writing of all kinds.
For a limited time following launch, until April 30, 2023, get 25% off ANY service. Just let me know where you saw the announcement for 25% off.
Have an amazing weekend, my friends. I have a vacation coming up and then some regrouping to return to discussion of memoir and the querying process.
It’s almost Spring. Let me know how things are going in your life. Leave a comment below. What are you big plans for spring?
Until then, I’ll . . .
Just keep writing!