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Writers’ Institute helps authors find publishing success

January 9, 2020 By Jill Schaefer

Participants in the Writers’ Institute learn how to improve their writing and get published. UW-Madison

For 31 years, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Writers’ Institute has provided personalized guidance to emerging, aspiring, and experienced writers of all genres.

Named in 2019 as the Best Writing Conference in Wisconsin by The Writer magazine, Writers’ Institute also has a strong track record of helping its writers navigate a path to publication.

“In recent years, we have seen momentum from writers of all levels to be published,” says Writers’ Institute director Laurie Scheer. “It is clear that our writers want to share their words and make a difference in the world. Writers’ Institute not only includes sessions about craft, but also about marketing and publishing.”

This year, writers from across the country will gather March 26–29, 2020, at the Madison Concourse Hotel to get their work polished and ready for publication.

Registration is now open; go to to register.

Writers who have attended the conference have found publishing success — including novels, memoirs, short stories, articles and other digital forms of writing — often to critical acclaim:

  • In June of this year, Greg Renz published his first novel, Beneath the Flames, which received the First Place Gold Medal for Fiction-General in The Readers Favorite International Book Awards, part of the Miami International Book Fair.
  • In April, r.r. campbell published the second installment in his science fiction series EMPATHY, Mourning Dove. The first in the saga, Imminent Dawn, debuted as the number one new release in LGBT science fiction on Amazon, and he’s signed a contract for the next book.
  • Laurie Buchanan published two self-help books including The Business of Being: Soul Purpose In and Out of the Workplace, named in 2018 as an International Book Awards Finalist for Self Help: Motivational.

All of these authors, among others, will return as instructors to the 31st Writers’ Institute.

“Writers’ Institute is incredibly helpful in developing a solid plan to accomplish the elusive goal of publication,” says Renz. “I would still be querying agents and receiving rejections had I not signed up for this conference, but with one-on-one help from the Writers’ Institute, my novel was published last spring.”

Coached by industry professionals including writing experts, published authors, and literary agents, attendees of the annual conference get practical tips for developing ideas, structuring stories, and crafting language.

Writers at the conference also learn the art of pitching their work through workshops and practice sessions with experienced professionals. Once they’ve mastered their pitch, they can deliver it to the literary agents who attend Writers’ Institute looking for new work. Writers who require more time to develop their writing can opt to enroll in the conference’s Pathway to Publication personal coaching program, which aims to help them publish their work within a year.

“Past attendees have said that their Writers’ Institute experience could be described as a condensed four-day graduate writing program as they learn so much about all levels of writing, marketing, and publishing,” says Scheer. “Whether a writer is interested in writing and/or publication, this conference provides them with the knowledge and tools to meet their goals.”