NCTE, a very special book event plus more

I have attended lots of book fests, retreats and conferences in the last two years to see which ones make most sense for me. I promised to report on some for you. Last month I attended NCTE - National Conference of Teachers of English. Hundreds of teachers and librarians attend this conference to figure out which books to use for their classrooms in the year to come. The location shifts from city to city. Last year it was in Atlanta, Georgia. This year it was in Saint Louis, Missouri. Next year it will be in Houston, Texas.

This conference is excellent for any author who wants to get their books read and taught in schools of any level--elementary, middle or high school. I shared a booth with fellow author, Gail Strickland, who writes fantasy using mythology, while I am focused on spreading word of my Fireseed series, which teaches about climate change, future farming and transgenic crops.
Gail and Catherine sharing a booth at NCTE

For me, there is nothing better than getting a chance to speak directly to teachers, who are passionate about reading and educating students.

I've found that even if you never plan to go to conferences, it is a good move to create a question list for book clubs or classrooms that can be accessed in the back of your book or directly downloaded from your website.

Next year I will pare down the amount of book cons I attend. They do cost money and take up time. One must weigh the costs and benefits. Here's a list of ones I've been to and what I found were the best aspects:
Roanoke Author Invasion: Great for selling books!
Squaw Valley Writers' Retreat: Good for receiving in-depth writing critiques, community, finding editors and agents. One must send a writing sample for entry.
Writers' Digest Con: Great for pitching to agents and editors.
Chapter Con UK: Wonderful for meeting UK authors and book lovers. The next one in 2019 will focus on writing sessions and writers' issues.
Penned Con (St. Louis): Excellent one for selling books.
RT Booklovers Con: HUGE event! Great for bookselling, and for high level panels. Can pitch one-on-one to editors and agents. Location switches from year to year.
Mendocino Writers' Con: Lovely little conference, which is good for small breakout groups on various writing topics. Can pitch to a small group of agents. Affordable.
RWA National Conference: A great con for anyone writing any type of romance. Location switches.
BEA - Book Expo: HUGE event. Many great breakout groups! Can buy half-priced books. Can get in at a discount if you belong to a group such as SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America). You can also sign your books with an org. such as this, but you must give the books away. I found my Evernight Teen editor this way.
Brooklyn Book Fest: A surprisingly homey event, with lots of live readings and lectures. A family event, so not good for romance but great for YA. Share a booth. It's expensive otherwise.

I will attend Once Upon a Book con in Michigan next summer, which I've heard great things about. But I cannot vouch for it yet. There are MANY events all over the USA. Google book fests in your area to see what's around.

Have you gone to any retreats or book fests you've enjoyed or found helpful for your author life?


  1. The NCTE event sounds like a great one. I've always wanted to go to BEA or ALA conference.

  2. That sounds awesome! I've not gone to any retreats or bookfests, but one day I'd like to.

  3. I have only attended one conference, and that was so many years ago. I'd like to attend a few more. I wanted to attend the Writers Digest conference at Halloween, but did not get the money for the hotel. Someday I will also want to attend a retreat.

    Looks like you have had many book adventures over the last couple years. I'm a bit envious :)

  4. I've never been to one, although I'd like to. I know we have one here at San Diego State every year, and that's my alma mater. I'll go some day.

  5. Some year I'll make it to one. Sounds like you've been having an awesome time. Thanks for the lowdown.

  6. What a great share! Actually, I haven't been to any bookfests, but you've inspired me to look into the booksellers cons, as I have two published books I'd like to get more coverage.


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