Writing Conference Carousel

Hey, Gotham now has a rotating carousel of writers conferences—each a great ride if you’re hoping to publish a book. Each with a Day 1 of panels/presentations and a Day 2 of pitching roundtables with agents. You can attend either day or both. All on Zoom.

We take great pride in these conferences, featuring the best authors and agents out there.

Children’s Lit Conference
This one just happened on the weekend of May 20-21.

On Day 1, I had the privilege of interviewing Matt de la Peña, acclaimed author of YA novels and picture books, winner of the Newbery medal for his picture book Last Stop on Market Street.

We talked about the layers Matt brings to his books.

For one thing, all his books have a mix of darkness and hope. His YA book Ball Don’t Lie is about a teenager walking the mean streets of LA, bounced from one foster home to another, self-sabotaging his ambitions with shoplifting and robbery. And yet we see the kid’s good heart and root for him.

Matt told me:
    I want people to see the moments of grace and dignity on the quote-unquote wrong side of the tracks.

Matt’s picture book, Milo Imagines the World, is about a little boy riding the subway to visit his mother who’s in prison. We glimpse the layers of emotion in Milo here:

     Milo is a shook-up soda.
     Excitement stacked on top of worry
     on top of confusion
     on top of love.

Here Matt explains what the kid does on the subway ride:
    I have him drawing pictures of the people he sees on the subway, guessing where they’re going. But he’s also exploring the psychology of where he’s going. In all the pictures he does, you’ll see that something gets to go free or something is trapped. He doesn’t know that he’s doing this, but he’s exploring the psychology of incarceration and emancipation.

You can learn so much hearing great writers reveal their insights and secrets.

Genre Fiction Conference
August 12-13, 2023

This one’s coming this summer.

Our line-up for Day 1 is truly impressive. Four panels and presentations you won’t see anywhere else, capped by an interview with Ken Liu, the renowned science fiction & fantasy author, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award.

Literary/Commercial Fiction Conference
November 18-19, 2023
Stay tuned for further info.

Nonfiction Conference
February 24-25, 2023                                                                                 
Stay tuned for further info.

From someone who just attended:
    This conference blew me away. Amazing and talented writers, agents, and staff at the top of their game. The honesty, intimacy, and heart expressed by the panelists was unusual and inspiring. The agents were generous, kind, and spot-on in their feedback.
                                                                                                                – Jules Donne

Alex Steele,



While watching an episode of Party Down, I was struck by an important concept for us writers. The series is about cater-waiters in LA, every episode showing them working a different party. They’re mostly actors waiting for their big breaks, which, of course, may never come.

In this episode (from the original series, not the recent revival), they show up to work a birthday party for the real-life movie star Steve Guttenberg, who’s rich but no longer relevant. However, there’s a mix-up, so he’s not having this party, but he invites the cater-waiters to party with him instead. When he discovers that one of them, Roman, is a screenwriter, he insists they do a reading of Roman’s latest script.

Roman—who only writes “hard” science fiction—fancies himself a visionary who will never sell out. But when they start reading his script, it becomes painfully clear that it’s awful. Here’s a sample:


Reading on deuterium levels.

BORP-7 (a bio-cybernetic organism)

Seven oh five point two, captain.


Your ship will never withstand the quantum flux between a binary star.


It will in a Godel spacetime field.

Everyone, including Roman, realizes the script is dead on arrival. Steve Guttenberg urges Roman to do a quick revision, which he does. The actors read the new version, which begins showing the heat of life.


Captain. I’m worried–


About our deuterium levels? Me too.


About you, sir.


Since when was worrying part of your programing? Coordinates set?


Thread a binary star? You’ll kill us all, DuKlark. Or is that what you want, since she died?


Maybe it is.

No, it’s still not a great script. But Roman has started making the characters act and sound like real people (even the bio-cybernetic one) rather than entities with no discernible emotions.  

Roman, who almost never smiles, shows the hint of a smile, pleased with himself.

Roman didn’t just revise the script. He re-envisioned it. He saw his story in a new light and breathed some actual life into it, which spurred the actors to really play something rather than rolling their eyes as they spoke their lines. 

Sometimes, that’s what it takes. Not a tweak. A makeover. Don’t be precious with your writing, especially if it’s not quite working. Crumple it up. Take a break. Then start over, with a new perspective. Maybe it won’t be improved. Maybe it’ll even be worse. And that’s okay, because this is always a process. But…chances are quite good that you’ll have pushed yourself onto the path of making it better. Maybe even as great as you once imagined.

Alex Steele,

Gotham President

Gotham Children’s Book Conference

Yes, we have a Children’s Book Conference coming up, May 21 and 22. On Zoom.

This is a great event if you have a children’s book (picture book, middle grade, or YA) ready to go to market, or if you dream of publishing a children’s book. It goes like this:

Day 1: Panels and Presentations, featuring writers and agents, including two Newbery Medal-winning authors: Matt de la Peña and Erin Entrada Kelly.

Day 2: Pitching Roundtables, where you get the chance to present your book to a table of two top-shelf agents who rep the kind of book you’re pitching. (Most on Zoom, some in NYC.)

You can sign up for both days, or pick just one.

This follows the format of previous Gotham Conferences, but we have a beautiful new plan. Instead of one conference encompassing all kinds of books, we’re doing a rotating series of four conferences, each one specializing in a type of book:

Children’s Books
Genre Fiction

Literary/Commercial Fiction


You can view the full schedule here.

The mastermind of this whole thing is Gotham’s Director of Publishing Guidance, Josh Sippie. Here Josh explains the logic behind this plan:

I wanted writers to know they were in the right place. By being more specific with four separate conferences, we can dig deeper into important topics within each genre to allow for a more targeted experience. And having multiple conferences also allows more exploration for writers eager to write across genres.

You can see the full lineup of panelists, presenters, and agents for the Children’s Book Conference right now, and stay tuned for the lineup of the coming conferences.

We believe our conferences are better than most (if not all) other conferences for these reasons:

  • We offer truly interesting and informative Panels and Presentations.
  • Our Pitching Roundtables give you in-depth exposure to agents right for your work, where you spend four hours with two agents, as well as some fellow writers.
  • Our prices are reasonable, in contrast to the high expense of many conferences. 

And, wait, Gotham also offers other ways to get direct feedback from an agent:

Query Letter Coaching

Agent/Editor Evaluation

Agent Evaluation Quickie

The mission is personal to Josh, who says:

I moved to NYC on a whim in 2014 to get involved in publishing and existed solely on trial and error for years before finding my path. I would have loved these kinds of resources at the start of that journey. 

Josh and the rest of us at Gotham are dedicated to giving you the best shot at success in the publishing world. We’d be honored to have you join us.  

Alex Steele, Gotham President