Tips to get your panel accepted to AWP

So, you’ve got it. The best, most amazing panel idea ever.

And you want to do everything to make sure it gets accepted for #AWP19. Well, the LGBTQ Writers Caucus has some tips and tricks for you!

Remember to add your panel to our proposal spreadsheet. This can also help you find interested people.

1. Start early.

Start now. Brainstorm ideas. Cast a wide net for panelists/readers, and don’t be afraid to ask writers you don’t know to be involved with your panel. We’ve got some great discussions going on in our Facebook group — so join the conversation and join a panel. Or share your idea(s)!

Don’t put off writing the details of the panel — get it done now so you won’t be submitting at 11:59 on April 30th. That’s never going to end well. Make sure you read and follow the instructions, and follow them carefully.

Panel proposals are due May 1!

2. Answer the so what.

The so what is hard enough to answer in our writing. But it’s just as important to consider why people should come to your panel. Why is it important? Why are the panelists/readers on it? Tout your qualifications, strengths, and lineup. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horns — this is the space to do that.

3. Diversify the panelists/readers.

Take a look at who’s on your panel. Only white folks? Only cis straight folks? Professors from the same college or university? All gay but no bi or trans writers? This is problematic and lacks representation. Diversity is so important, not just as a “trick” to get your panel accepted, but because the writing world and literary community IS diverse. Representation really matters in media and literature, so check your privilege, broaden your scope, and make sure to ask a diverse group to be involved in your panel. If you don’t know a diverse set of writing friends, then reach out on social media or our Facebook group. Don’t stay limited to those you know.

And here’s a note from AWP on diversity:

“The AWP conference committee seeks proposals featuring panelists who are diverse in their backgrounds, pursuits, affiliations, and ages. While an institutional affiliation is not required of participants, when appropriate panels should showcase presenters from a variety of organizations and institutions who are at different stages of their careers. The ideal panel will consist of participants who represent a broad range of perspectives and experiences. The committee also encourages panel participation from graduate students.”

4. Moderation recommended.

The moderator is an oft overlooked, but highly important, role in the panel process. An effective moderator introduces the panelists, guides the discussion, may pose the questions, can offer their opinion, and opens the conversation up to questions from the audience. The moderator should also offer handouts for those who may need them at the beginning of the session, and repeat questions into the microphone.

5. Look back at past events.

Check out the panel lineup from past AWP conferences. What was missing? What was there a lot of? Bring your own ideas and writing to the table. You belong at AWP. We want to see more of our voices — so submit that panel! And if you’re looking for even more tips, check out last year’s blog post.

If you’d like someone to take a look at your proposal before submitting it, send it over to David Groff at least a week before the deadline. Good luck!

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