When and where does the Gotham Writers Children’s Lit Conference take place?

September 28-29, 2024. On Zoom. There will also be at least one in-person pitching roundtable at the Gotham Writers Headquarters.

Can I see a timetable of events for the conference?

Sure. You can see the 2024 schedule right here.

How much does the conference cost?

The Day 1 panels and presentations cost $95. The Day 2 pitching roundtables cost $425.

What about other genres of books that aren't for children?

The Gotham Writers Children's Lit Conference is just one several conferences that will rotate throughout the year. We also offer the Genre Fiction Conference, the Literary/Commercial Fiction Conference, and the Nonfiction Conference. More details will be available soon.

What’s special about a Gotham Writers Children’s Lit Conference?

This writing conference works in a unique way.

On Day 1, there are four panels and presentations, each designed to give you a peek behind the children's book publishing curtain. You’ll hear from agents, editors, and writers, all offering their insight into the process of getting a children's book out to the world.

On Day 2, there are Pitching Roundtables where pre-selected writers spend the day at a table with two agents who specialize in the field that matches the writers’ book projects (middle grade/young adult, picture book, and graphic novel). You’ll be presenting your book project to the agents, but rather than sweating through a very quick pitch (as done at most conferences), you’ll spend four hours with the two agents, reading your query and first pages, listening to others do the same, and getting in-depth feedback from the agents about your work and the publishing process.

If you don’t quite have a book ready for publication, but want to prep for the day you do, you may sign up for just the Panels and Presentations.

If you have a book that you’re ready to present to agents, you may apply to the Pitching Roundtables.

If you wish to participate in a Pitching Roundtable, then you must apply by sending a query letter, 10 pages of a manuscript for YA/Middle Grade books or the entirety of the text of the manuscript for Picture Books (no illustrations unless they're the author's own), and answering some questions. You will be notified within 30 days of applying if you are accepted or not for the table. If you’re accepted, then we’ll ask for payment within 48 hours of acceptance. If you’re not accepted, then you may choose to attend the Panels and Presentations only.

Why is the conference mostly virtual?

We switched to a virtual conference in 2020 because of Covid. The health risks of mingling with people in person have thankfully diminished, but they haven’t quite gone away. So virtual is still safer.

More than that, however, we found that hosting the conference on Zoom enables people from around the world to join us, without the time and expense of traveling to New York City.

While there are obvious benefits to meeting people in person, the content of the conference is very much the same as it would be in a New York City setting.

Please note that all the conference events meet in “real-time” on Zoom, the time based on Eastern Time. But we will be recording the Panels and Presentations so conference-goers can have access to any of these they were not able to attend “live.”

The only technical requirement for Zoom is a device (computer, tablet, phone) and good Wi-Fi. If you don’t have good Wi-Fi, there is also a call-in option. Tech support will be available.

All that said, we do have one in-person element—we'll offer at least one in-person pitching roundtable at the Gotham Writers HQ.

What are the Pitching Roundtables exactly?

Each roundtable will focus on a type of Children's book: either young adult/middle grade fiction or picture book.

Each roundtable will have two agents who specialize in that roundtable’s field and up to eight writers with book projects in that field. Roundtables take place both in-person, in our classrooms in NYC, and on Zoom.

In the first half of the session, the writers will read their query letters, giving the agents an enticing glimpse of their books. The agents will discuss the merits of the query letters and book projects.

In the second half of the session, the writers will read the first two pages from their book or, if a picture book, the entire thing. The agents will give their take on your pages.

It’s a much richer experience than the typical pitch session at a conference. Those sessions usually last, at most, ten minutes, with a timekeeper hovering to remind you that your time is running out, pushing the agent and writer together in a rushed and awkward situation. Our Pitching Roundtables allow the agents to get to know their writers and their projects in an in-depth and unhurried fashion.

The Pitching Roundtables give the writers the best possible chance to interact with and attract representation from an agent. In fact, this method of pitching was suggested to Gotham by the agents themselves.

Why must we apply for the Pitching Roundtables? Most writing conferences let anyone who pays come pitch to agents.

It’s a fair question.

Put simply, we don’t want to take your money if you’re not quite ready for publication. We are looking for writers who have a query and pages that are good enough to make an agent honestly say, “Yes, I’d like to see that book. Yes, I might be interested in representing you.” It’s also important that your novel is finished or that your nonfiction book proposal is mostly done.

If you’re not chosen for the Pitching Roundtables, you’ll still gain valuable insight into the publishing process during the Panels and Presentations.

What is needed to apply for the Pitching Roundtables?

A finished book.

An enticing query letter: Query Guidelines, Sample Query Letters

When you submit your query and first pages, your work will get careful consideration from the Gotham staff. We’re qualified to determine if your work has a viable chance with agents at this stage.

What is the deadline to apply for the Pitching Roundtables?

The deadline is Monday, September 16, or until seats are filled.

Will the agents read my materials ahead of time?

No, we don’t ask them to. The way the conference is formatted, we are replicating the process of cold querying, but with a personal touch. First impressions are everything and we believe you can learn more from a first impression than from a formulated response. As such, the agents will be seeing your materials for the first time, and you’ll be able to get their genuine first impressions.

Do I have to stay for the entire roundtable, or can I just pitch and go?

We ask that you stay for the entire roundtable unless there is something pressing, in which case please communicate that with Gotham ahead of time. You'd be surprised what you can learn from listening to the pitches of other writers in your genre. Remember, these agents are here to talk about the genre you're writing in, so they’ll be offering insights throughout the session. It's worth your while!

Can I cancel my registration?

You may cancel your registration for a full Gotham credit (good for any Gotham class or conference), but, unfortunately, there are no refunds for conference registrations.

For Day 1: Contact us two business days or more before the start of the conference.
For Day 1 + 2: Contact us ten business days before the start of the conference.

If you don’t contact us by the deadline, then we will not be able to issue a credit.