Southwest Michigan Writers’ Conference returns to Niles Oct. 23

Published 3:01 pm Thursday, September 30, 2021

NILES — After going virtual in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one regional conference is returning in person to Niles in late October.

Registration is now open for the fourth annual Southwest Michigan Writers’ Conference to be hosted starting at 9 a.m. Oct. 23 at the Niles District Library, 620 E. Main St., Niles. The event is free to attend, and there is no limit on event participation.

“It feels really good to be back in person,” said event organizer Brian Johnston, of the Lincoln Township Public Library in Stevensville. “Last year’s conference was really good, but we missed a lot of the advantages of having an in-person conference, especially the networking aspect of it. We really missed doing that, so the fact that we are able to go back to doing this in-person this year, and all the attendees are able to connect with the presenters and each other, that’s a really important part of the conference, and we are really glad we are able to do that again this year.”

The event will feature a number of writing workshops and seminars aimed at providing aspiring authors with the information they need to build skills in writing, editing, marketing and more.

This year’s seminars will include:

  • “Ten Reasons You are Getting Rejected and How to Correct Them”
  • “Traditional vs. Self-Publishing”
  • “Writing Murder Mysteries”
  • “Researching Publications for Submission”
  • “Epic Lessons from One Freelancer’s Journey”

Since starting the conference four years ago, Johnston said he has always been happy to see the number of local writers who attend the conference. In the event’s first year, 67 people participated, which rose to 81 in its second year. Last year’s conference saw a dip in attendance, which Johnston attributes at least in part to the pandemic. He is hoping that this year’s in-person conference draws a large audience.

“As a librarian in adult services, one of my goals I’ve had is to help aspiring writers,” he said. “I’ve self-published three books myself, so because I know how hard it is to break into the writing industry, I’ve made it one of my goals to help writers, and to see so many potential writers in the area emerge and want to take advantage of this program, it really is encouraging.”

Johnston said his favorite part of each year’s conference is seeing how new writers gain confidence in themselves and their work. Because he wants to see that in even more area residents, he said he would encourage any writer of any experience level to attend the conference.

“I think it’s important to have an event like this for the people of southwest Michigan,” he said. “I’ve you’ve ever wanted to write a book or start a blog or something like that, and you’ve been on the fence about it — maybe you want to do, are really motivated, but not sure where to begin — this will be a really good opportunity for you to get some good instruction and network with other authors. It’s an opportunity you should really take advantage of.”

The conference is a collaborative effort between area libraries, including the Lincoln Township Public Library, Niles District Library, Van Buren District Library, Berrien Springs Community Library, Benton Harbor Public Library, Sturgis District Library and the Buchanan District Library.

A registration form can be found on the Southwest Michigan Writers’ Conference Facebook page or the Lincoln Township Public Library website. For more information, email