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Sanibel Island Writers Conference

Sanibel Island Writers Conference

Sanibel Island Writers Conference
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Tom DeMarchi, Director
Sanibel Island Writers Conference

Reed Hall 242
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Can anyone attend the Sanibel Island Writers Conference, or are there certain requirements (e.g. a certain number of publications, an MFA in Creative Writing, job experience, a writing sample, etc.)?

A: Anyone interested in writing, reading, and/or publishing is invited to attend. The only requirements are notebooks, pens, pencils, enthusiasm, creativity, and an open mind. If you preregistered for a private manuscript consultation or small-group workshop, please bring a copy of your manuscript. Also: Bug spray and sun block for the beach.

Q: Is there a dress code? 

A: Appropriately/comfortably casual. Shoes & shirts required, just like 7-11.

Q: What is BIG ARTS? How do I get there? 

A: For Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About BIG ARTS But Were Afraid to Ask, click on the "BIG ARTS" link over there on the left side of your screen.

A couple of highlights:

BIG ARTS Center is the performance space where we hold the majority of the conference events. 

900 Dunlop Road, Sanibel
(239) 395-0900

Directions to BIG ARTS' Dunlop Rd. location can be found on or  
BIG ARTS also runs the Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater and has office space on Periwinkle Road, but nothing related to the conference takes place at either of these locations.  

Q: Okay, now I know how to get to BIG ARTS, but I heard that some of the conference events take place at the Sanibel Island Public Library. Where do I go on the first day of the conference to check in—BIG ARTS or the library?

A: BIG ARTS. In the past we held a few workshops and a couple of readings at the library, but this year everything is happening at BIG ARTS. 

Q. I hear the parking at/near BIG ARTS is fairly limited. Should I carpool?

A: You heard right. BIG ARTS shares a parking lot with the Historical Village & Museum. Conference attendees are not allowed to park in the spots designated for the HV&M. There’s no parking on the street. There IS overflow parking across the street, but just to be safe we encourage people to carpool or bike.

Q: Are any meals included in the conference fee?

A: We provide coffee and pastries each morning at BIG ARTS, but your daily meals are not included. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings we will host a cocktail party—appetizers, soft drinks, and beer and wine—at BIG ARTS that is open to all conference participants. There are many restaurants on Sanibel--some of which are close to BIG ARTS--that offer a wide variety of food and prices.

Q: Are minors permitted to attend the conference?

A: Yes. The more the merrier. All minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Q: Will I be able to buy copies of the authors' books at the conference?

A: Yes. Follett, FGCU's campus bookstore, will be selling books by all the authors at BIG ARTS all weekend.

Q: I'm a published author and wonder if Follett could sell my books during the conference as well. Is that possible?

A: Sorry, but during the conference Follett only sells books by conference presenters. 


Q: I’m a college student. I heard that there’s a 3-credit class attached to the conference. Is that true?

A: Yes, it’s true.  The class is offered at FGCU through the Department of Language & Literature. Course title: CRW 3053 Writing Theory and Practice. The class requires you to read and write responses to the presenters’ books. At the conference, you’ll get to meet them in person, take workshops with them, and ask them all about their work.  Spots tend to fill quickly, so register at FGCU soon! 

Q: Will I be able to get my books signed?

A: As long as you're patient and don't scare the authors, yes.

Q: Are BIG ARTS and the Sanibel Island Public Library wheelchair accessible?

A: Yes.

Q: Once I’ve registered for the conference, do I have to pre-register for the daily workshops or can I just attend any or all as I please?

A: All General Craft Workshops are open admission. Pick and choose as you like, but arrive early to make sure you get a seat. We're getting better at matching room sizes with anticipated crowds for each workshop, but it's entirely possible that way more people than expected could show up for a specific workshop. Sessions tend to fill quickly and space is limited (though the workshops taking place in Schein Hall have plenty of seats for everyone). We also offer Small-Group Manuscript workshops, which each cap at six students, require pre-registration, and cost extra. Click on the Register link for more info on Small-Group Manuscript workshops. 

Q: I noticed that most of the general craft workshops are scheduled across two days (Th/Fri or Sat/Sun). Is it the same material repeated on both days, or does the material build upon/continue/complete/conclude what was covered on day one? If it's the latter, does that mean I have to stay with the same workshop over multiple days, or am I allowed to take a Whitman Sampler approach and attend whatever workshops I want on day two even though I attended different workshops on day one? 

A: The material is not repeated over both days, but it is referred to and expanded upon. (The workshop leader might open day two by saying something like, "For those of you who weren't here yesterday, we discussed X, Y, and Z, and did a writing exercise based on this handout. Today we're picking up where we left off yesterday. Raise your hand if you weren't here yesterday so I can give you a copy of the handout.") In other words, it makes sense for you to attend both days of the same workshop. All workshops are open enrollment, so people can pick and choose as they like, but feedback from past conferences indicates that people get more out of the workshops if they attend both days. 

Q: Are the daily panels and nightly readings/concerts/keynote addresses included in my registration fee?

A: Yes. If you're registered for the conference, everything is included except the optional Small-Group Manuscript workshops and Individual Manuscript Consultations with one of the presenters. (See Registration form for manuscript consultation guidelines and cost.)

Q: I opted for the manuscript consultation with one of the presenters. When do I meet with him/her? 

A: The presenter should contact you via email prior to the conference to schedule your meeting time and location. When you check in at orientation on day one, you will be encouraged to introduce yourself to the presenter who read your manuscript and to confirm your scheduled meeting time and location. If you're having trouble locating your presenter, go to the registration desk and someone will put you in contact.

Q: I've opted for the manuscript consultation with one of the presenters. According to your guidelines, my manuscript cannot exceed 10 doubled-spaced pages (with a font size of 12 and standard margins). My manuscript is longer than 10 pages. In fact, it's a novel/memoir. Can I submit my entire manuscript?

A: Due to time constraints and the large number of people who want individual feedback, the presenters have agreed to read no more than 10 pages for each manuscript conference, and we are honoring their wishes. Pick your strongest consecutive 10. The only way to have more pages read is to sign up for more manuscript consultation spots (one spot for every 10 pages). 

Q: Will commemorative merchandise be available at the conference?

A: All attendees receive an official Sanibel Island Writers Conference tote bag as part of their registration. We might have a limited number of commemorative posters and t-shirts for sale. If so, the on-site book store will be selling them.  

Q: How do I get to Sanibel from the airport?

A: There are plenty of taxis and car rental agencies at the Fort Myers airport. If you're interested in the latter, we suggest you check out or for good deals.

You can also go to for directions.

Q: Do the conference organizers provide transportation to and from hotels and BIGARTS?

A: We have one van to taxi people to and from BIG ARTS, but service will be limited and on a pretty tight schedule. It is about three miles from our partner hotels to BIG ARTS. Many people opt to carpool, walk, rollerblade, or bike ride.

Q: Do I have to stay at The West Wind Inn, Sundial Resort or Sanibel Holiday Inn?

A: We've partnered with them for a discount rate, but you are free to stay wherever you like.

Q: Can I submit suggestions for future conferences—you know, classes I'd like to see offered, or authors you might want to invite?

A: Absolutely! In fact, we encourage it.

Q: Are the evening events free and open to the public?

A: Yes. All evening events are open to the public. There is no charge to attend, but we encourage a small donation at the door. Not required...just if the spirit moves you. Check schedule for event times.

Q: Do I need advance tickets to attend these evening events, or can I just come that night?

A: It's first come, first serve, general admission. We suggest you arrive early and get in line, as these events fill quickly. Also, be advised that Schein Hall has 400 seats, 200 of which are already reserved for the people who registered for the entire conference. Once all the paid registrants have taken their seats, we'll open the doors to the general public. It’s free, but, again, donations are accepted (and super helpful in ensuring the conference's future). 

Q: I can't get there early. Does this mean I'll get shut out of the event?

A: There's no way to tell which events will fill up, so there is a chance you'll get shut out. That being said, all events will be broadcast via speakers into the BIG ARTS courtyard. So even if you don't get a seat in the venue you will be able to hear the readings and presentations. Book/CD signings follow each event.

Q: Are the public readings suitable for all ages?

A: The definition of “suitable” varies from parent to parent. Unless an author’s reading from a children’s or young adult book, there's a chance you'll hear some PG or R-rated language.

Q: I have other questions that aren't addressed here. Who can I contact?

 A: Call or e-mail Tom DeMarchi at 239-590-7421 or