About the Conference

What has changed now that the Conference is on Zoom?

Not that much. Since COVID has made large gatherings impossible, the big change to the Conference is obvious—we just won’t be meeting in person. But the timing of the conference and the content remains largely the same. Rather than have five panels in one day, we offer six panels over two days. All happening on Zoom.

And the Pitching Roundtables will still bring you unrivaled face time with top agents in your genre. Rather than sitting at a table together, you’ll be sitting in a Roundtable Zoom Session together—still four hours long, still plenty of time to talk about your projects and learn about your genre.

The pricing is less expensive on Zoom. Since all the in-person amenities have been taken out of the equation, the pitching portion of the Conference is now $395 and the panels/presentations are $145. But if you sign up for both at once, it’s $495 total.

Just like a “live conference,” a Zoom conference takes place in real-time. The panels, presentations, and roundtables will meet via videoconference on Zoom. (All times listed are for Eastern Time.)

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

What’s special about the Gotham Writers Conference?

This writing conference works in a unique way.

On Days 1 and 2, there are six panels and presentations, just one at a time, each one a gem, each designed to give you a peek behind the publishing curtain. You’ll hear from agents, editors, and writers, all offering their insight into the process of getting a book out to the world.

On Day 3, 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 (mainstream/literary fiction, genre fiction, middle grade/young adult fiction, picture book, graphic novels/graphic memoirs, nonfiction). You will be pitching your book project to the agents, but rather than sweating through a very quick pitch (as done at most conferences), you will spend four hours with the two agents, presenting 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 for a Pitching Roundtables.

If you wish to participate in a Pitching Roundtables then you must apply by sending a query letter, 10 pages of a manuscript, and answering some questions. You will be notified within 30 days of applying if you are accepted or not for the table. If you are accepted, then we will ask for payment within 48 hours of acceptance. If you are not accepted, then you may choose to attend the Panels and Presentations only.

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 to hook an agent. 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 will still gain valuable insight into the publishing process during the Panels and Presentations.

What is needed to apply for the Pitching Roundtables?

Novels and memoirs: a finished book. Nonfiction books (excepting memoir): a mostly finished book proposal and sample chapter.

An enticing query letter: Query Guidelines, Sample Query Letters

A well-written first ten pages.

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

What are the Pitching Roundtables exactly?

Each roundtable will focus on a type of book: literary/mainstream fiction, genre fiction, young adult/middle grade fiction, picture book, graphic novels/graphic memoirs, nonfiction.

Each roundtable will have two agents who specialize in that roundtable’s field and up to eight writers with book projects in that field.

In the first half of the day, 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 day, 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.

Will the agents read my materials ahead of time?

No, we do not 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 will be able to read 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 will be offering insights throughout the course of the day. It's worth your while!

When and where does this writing conference take place?

October 15-17, 2021 on Zoom.

Can I see a timetable of events for this writing conference?

Yes. You can see the 2021 schedule listed here.