Best Practices for Submitting an AWP Panel Proposal

By Megan Clark
Portland was not my first AWP rodeo (albeit my first one with New South!). With that in mind, I wanted to take the extra step this year and discover how I can become more active in the conference. Thursday night, I attended the LGBTQ Writers Caucus and connected with fellow queer writers. We discussed how to better have our voices heard by the organization and how to further promote queer writing at events.

This discussion helped spur me and a fellow writer-colleague to discuss proposing n panel for next year’s AWP conference in San Antonio. We had previously spoken and roughly outlined a roundtable presentation concerning queerness and domesticity in writing. As someone who has attended multiple AWP conferences but never presented at one, I felt the time was right, not only to potentially become a panelist, but also to propose an event that would diversify the conference schedule with our focus on often-marginalized queer writers.

On Saturday, I attended a panel entitled “Best Practices for Submitting an AWP Panel Proposal.” This discussion was extremely helpful in breaking down the steps for sending in a proposal as well as tips for getting the proposal accepted. I learned about the breakdown of event categories and the importance of balancing between picking a category that accurately describes the panel and choosing a category that is less competitive. (There are probably a lot of panels proposed about fiction craft and criticism.) We were also encouraged to be mindful of ensuring the panelists were a diverse group — across age, gender, race, etc. — so that it would include a wide range of voices and appeal to a broader audience.

Throughout my time at this year’s AWP conference, I was able to approach writers who would work well on my potential panel, which was received with interest. I was even able to snag a couple of yeses!