I did a poll on Twitter and found that most of my followers don’t know about the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference. Or maybe you’re curious about going. Since I went this last March, I’ll let you know about my experience.
For national conferences, this is one of the cheapest I have found. I went to the ACES conference last year, which was about double the price of AWP.
For a student, it was about $55 to go. For normal registration, it was $155. Of course, if you want to be a panelist or hold a spot at the bookfair, that’s a different price.
Panels started around 8 a.m. and would go to around 4 p.m. with special events afterward until around 10 p.m. About ten panels would go on at one time, which could seem overwhelming. But I was able to pick the ones I wanted to go to in the app and cut the list down to only see those. When it came to the day of, I could choose by which one interested me the most in the moment.
However, due to COVID-19 being active in San Antonio, a lot of panels got cancelled this year. That didn’t stop anyone’s spirit though. In one of my first panels, no panelists showed up, so an improv panel from the crowd came up and talked about their experience. We had a great conversation from there.
I expected the bookfair at AWP to be like the ACES’ bookfair, but then I saw the map. AWP had a bookfair that could fill up a football field. MFA programs, literary magazines, small book publishers, and more filled up the booths. Everyone from somewhere came.
COVID-19 did affect the fair as well though. A lot of tables were empty, but even then, I felt like I had too many tables to stop by. I didn’t end up seeing them all. I tried to get to as many as I could between panels, and I did get to see a great amount of everything.
I’m the worst at this. The introvert and anxiety in me makes me shy around strangers. And of course, I knew no one going to AWP. I did make more connections at AWP than ACES though. I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve had more experience now or if the atmosphere was more open. But I did talk to a more wide range of people and made more connections.
AWP is a good experience for book lovers, writers, and publishers. It’s a community of everyone coming together. I have pages filled with wisdom from published authors and editors from all different levels of experience. It’s worth the money.