University of Wisconsin–Madison

Writers’ Institute voted one of the top writing conferences in America

people talking at a book event at the Writers' Institute
The Writer magazine cover
Readers of The Writer magazine picked the Writers’ Institute as one of their favorite writing conferences.

Readers of The Writer magazine voted the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Writers’ Institute the best writing conference in Wisconsin and one of the best in the country in the February 2019 issue. The article identifies the essential writing conference in every state, from California’s Central Coast Writers Conference to the Stonecoast Writers’ Conference in Maine.

Founded in 1887, The Writer is one of the country’s oldest magazines focused on the craft of writing. Luckily, its readers—and all writers interested in taking a literary career to the next level—still have time to register for the 30th annual Writers’ Institute, which takes place April 4-7 at the Madison Concourse Hotel. It features presentations by authors, literary agents, and UW–Madison Continuing Studies faculty. The conference provides practical tips for writers of fiction and nonfiction, including such genres as mystery, romance, memoir, history, and true crime.

Writers learn how to polish, publish, and promote their work, drawing on UW–Madison expertise. They also have the unique opportunity to pitch their manuscripts to industry professionals, who attend the conference to find new authors and to help attendees sharpen their skills.

‘Writers get results’

Many are drawn to the Writers’ Institute because it helps authors get published.

“I love applauding every single success each writer has along the way,” said Christine DeSmet, faculty associate with UW–Madison Continuing Studies and one of the originators of the Writer’s Institute. “This conference provides inspiration galore. And writers get results.” Success stories  are posted on the Writers’ Institute website.

This year’s conference marks the second year of the Pathway to Publication program, in which devoted UW–Madison coaches work one-on-one with authors to whip their manuscripts into shape. The 2019 Writers’ Institute will include a panel made up entirely of participants in the Pathway to Publication program, describing the progress they’ve made.

Slate of great speakers and agents

headshot of Jane Friedman
Presenter Jane Friedman specializes in business strategies for authors.

The 2019 Writers’ Institute will feature agents from Curtis Brown, Ltd., Fuse Literary, Nelson Literary Agency, and D4EO Literary Agency. Speakers include publishing insider Jane Friedman, who specializes in business strategies for authors and publishers; and book coach Jennie Nash of Author Accelerator.

Speakers, along with our UW-Madison Continuing Studies faculty, will teach master classes and manuscript critiques, and previous attendees who’ve published their work will share the secrets of their success.

“Our keynote speakers have been first-rate in the literary and writing world,” DeSmet said. “I’m in awe of how fortunate we’ve been to have a long list of incredible people at this event.”

Anyone interested in attending—per The Writer—one of the country’s best writing conferences can go to the conference website or contact Writers’ Institute director Laurie Scheer at 608-265-3972 or laurie.scheer@wisc.edu.