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A Letter From Carol

Hello, Writing Friends!


Can you believe we are already preparing for Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers 2023? It takes more than a year to get a conference going. Whew!
This is a difficult conference to run. There are a lot of moving parts. I could never, ever do this alone. There are those who step up and work with me as assistants year after year. There are those who think assisting is nothing more than checking in people at the front desk.

I often wonder if this week away from everything except writing is worth it. I hope, as do those who work so closely with me, that it is.  Writing is such a solitary event. At the end of a long writing day you might think those people you hung out with all day are real, but mostly, they aren’t.


The truth is, we need each other. I know I need you. Saying ‘hello’ online, asking for good thoughts and prayers, supporting friends who are having a hard time, knowing I have friends when things are difficult, plus celebrating when there is good news, laughing together, sharing a sale, mourning a loss. After a week together at Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, you walk away feeling like the people you met are a part of your extended family. The part you like!


All our hard work is worth it when someone says, “Because of WIFYR, I sold a picture book!” (That happened this past year.) “Because of the people I met at WIFYR, I sold my novel.” (That happened, too.) “I never thought I would figure out what was wrong with this book but I can see it now clearly because of the time we spent here.” (Another yes.) And there’s more. “My faculty member loved my novel. I could’t believe it.” “My faculty member suggested my novel to an agent and an editor.” “Even though I was published already, I found an agent.” “Even though I was repped by an agent, I found a new agent.” The list goes on and on. And on.


For almost 25 years Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers has helped people reach that publishing goal. It’s given writers and illustrators a leg up. It’s put them ahead. When you come to WIFYR, working hard before the conference and during that week, plus the preparation for that week, makes you a better, stronger, more powerful creator. 


Your work is noticeably stronger. Agents and editors have said, “There is a difference in quality from the writers and illustrators who attend WIFYR than from every other writing conference.”

So join us this June. We’d love you to be a part of the WIFYR family. That part we like 

Most sincerely,

Carol Lynch Williams

Frequently Asked Questions


Are the morning workshops different than the afternoon sessions?


Yes. If you sign up for a morning workshop, you will find yourself with writers just like you who are ready to improve their writing. You spend 20 hours in the same classroom with the same people going over your predetermined amount of work. Morning sessions are to develop your craft and make your work as strong as possible.


Afternoon classes are conference breakout sessions on craft, marketing, what major publishing houses are looking for, etc. Those who are signed up for the morning sessions get the afternoon sessions at no extra charge. Those who are interested can take the afternoon classes only. Both are tremendous experiences.

How do I register?


To see all our workshops, go to the Conference menu and select Workshops. You will be taken to a page that lists our workshops. Once you’ve decided which workshop you want to register for, click that workshop’s Register button to sign up.


If you plan to attend only the Afternoon Sessions, then click on the Conference menu and select Afternoon Sessions Schedule. From this page, you’ll be able to see the afternoon schedule for the whole week, as well as a registration button at the top. Click the Register for Afternoon Only Sessions button to see the product page, which will allow you to register.


On the registration pages, you’ll be able to sign up for a Hands-on Workshop (HOW) if you want. You can also purchase a WIFYR 2022 T-shirt, to be delivered at the conference.


Be sure to click on Contact Us and send us a message if you have questions about registering.


I’ve been to other writing conferences. How is this one different?


This isn’t your typical two-day conference. WIFYR really is hands-on. You’re going to be working . . . hard! As Dr. Chris Crowe has said, Writing and illustrating for Young Readers is not for the faint of heart.


If you want to really improve your writing, this is the conference for you. Look over the website. Read what people have said about the week. Look closely at what your goals as a writer or illustrator are. Is publishing for children something you really want to do? This conference is a true investment that has an incredible payoff. If you work hard, you will walk away a stronger writer or illustrator.


I’ve signed up for a morning workshop. How do I prepare for the conference?


Soon after registration, you’ll receive an email from the assistant who will be taking care of logistics for your morning class. This assistant will be your liaison to the teacher and to the conference. They’ll send you messages from your faculty member and help everyone in the class get to know each other before the conference. Have any questions about expectations or pre-conference homework? Ask your assistant. They will gladly and enthusiastically, answer.


Also, take time to read Carol Lynch Williams recommendations for making the conference a success, here, and her letter to those interested in coming to WIFYR, here.


If I sign up and can’t attend, can I get a refund?


We cannot offer refunds after April 30th. Before that, you will get a full refund minus an administration fee. Please see the Refund Policy for more information.


If I’m co-authoring a book with someone, can I bring them to the conference with me?


If you are co-authoring with another person, they will be required to purchase their own seat at the conference. Even though you’re working on the same book, each of you will have your own questions, perspectives, and points-of-view about the book to be addressed. This will take additional time in the workshop. In order to be fair to the other participants, each person in the classroom must pay their own way to the conference.


Is there a class for teen writers?


We do not have a class reserved for teens this year, but they are welcome to apply for our other morning classes. To attend, you must have graduated from 8th grade and be in high school. Click here for more information about the Rick Walton Teen Scholarship that allows teens to attend this conference for a fraction of the cost. You can find the teen workshop in the list of other workshops here.


What is an agent/editor consultation? Can anyone have one?


WIFYR offers agent or editor manuscript consultations to attendees of the 5-day workshops EXCEPT for the Teen workshop. You’ll submit 750 words of your manuscript in advance. The agent or editor assigned to you will read it and give you feedback in a brief meeting that takes place during the conference. This is an excellent opportunity to get professional feedback on your work.


Where is the conference located?


The conference is located in Draper, Utah, at American Preparatory Academy (431 West 11915 S Draper, Ut 84020).


Why don’t you offer paid pitches?


The downside of most traditional pitch sessions is that the agent goes in without reviewing your work and hears only your idea. It’s not much to go on. To successfully submit and publish, you need to back up that pitch with polished writing. The WIFYR MFA-level quality instruction and personalized feedback will help take your work to a higher, submission-ready level.

Will I have a chance to meet the authors and illustrators?


Yes! And they’ll do their best to answer your burning questions, too!


Will I have access to food and water at the conference venue?


There are plenty of places to eat nearby and water fountains on campus. You are welcome to bring a sack lunch and snacks. There is a large, sunny room with a few tables, as well as plenty of wonderful outdoor space for eating, writing, and relaxing.


Soak up this great advice from Carol Lynch Williams, the director of Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, on how to get the most out of your conference experience.

  • Listen and do not speak when you receive critique in your morning workshop group. Write down all the comments that are given, both suggestions and compliments. 

  • Don’t argue. This time you have with other writers—and especially ones who know about good writing—is so valuable. Listen carefully to all comments.

  • You are not the boss of the four-hour morning sessions. The faculty leader is. Keep your comments to specific points. Don’t monopolize conversation. Don’t interrupt. 

  • Don’t beat a point into the ground. Once a point is made (e.g. your character doesn’t seem realistic in his conversation) there’s no reason to hash and rehash that statement for the writer. Give a strong example of how this bit of the story is not working, then move on.

  • Pay attention when others are being critiqued.   Some of the best help I’ve received on a manuscript was listening to my peers discuss what fellow members of the group were working on.

  • Don’t focus only on the negative. We all want to believe there’s hope for our stories. Say what works in the piece and what doesn’t work. There’s no need to say, Be kind, but be honest.

  • Don’t only sing praises for an author either. Everyone wants to have a publishable manuscript underway by the time they leave this conference. If you don’t point out trouble spots, a writer can’t improve. 

  • We all like different things. Just because I don’t write fantasy doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a well-told fantasy tale. Don’t let your personal opinion color your professional opinion.

  • Don’t try to incorporate every single persons’ comment in your story. This is your work. Yours. So pick and choose. 

  • Make a list of questions you want answered before you come to the conference. Make it a goal to get these questions answered by the end of the week.

  • Listen more than talk. I don’t know how many times I hear the same things asked over and over from the editors and agents. Your questions may be answered in plenary sessions, during other people’s critiques, mingling, in the halls, in afternoon sessions, during the time with the agent and editors, etc. etc. Pay attention.

  • Set specific goals. 

  • Have fun and get out of your comfort zone! Mingle. Talk to others. Stretch. Writers and illustrators tend to be loners. We’re shy. We want to put on our jammies and go draw or write. But here at Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers there’s an opportunity to learn like crazy. So put yourself out there and gather up all the tidbits to help you succeed.

    Please click here to view our refund policy. 

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