NEW in 2017

2017 Conference Theme: What’s a Writer For? 

In the months leading up to the conference, and at the conference itself, we will be exploring, in various ways, the question of the writer’s role in society. Is it enough for writers to “entertain?” Should entertainment even be our goal? How political should a writer be? Is everything we write political anyway? Do we have a particular responsibility to the audience that aligns with our cultural background? How can examining our purpose and individual mission open up possibilities for our fiction and/or nonfiction that we have yet to consider?

Follow the ongoing discussion on the GrubDaily blog and look for opportunities to continue and deepen the conversation at the conference.

Opening Keynote Conversation

We are taking a slightly different approach to our opening keynote this year. Rather than one talk from a single author, we are hosting a lively all-conference conversation among high-profile authors John Freeman, Aleksandar Hemon and Claire Messud on Friday morning discussing various questions pertaining directly to the role of the writer. Saturday’s keynote, delivered by the amazing Isabel Wilkerson, will be a traditional talk over breakfast.

Marketplace Keynote: The Strategic Writer (Sunday)

Again this year, The Muse and the Marketplace will close in dramatic fashion with our Marketplace Keynote, when the entire conference will gather in the Grand Ballroom of the Park Plaza Hotel for an interactive conference-wide presentation called, “The Strategic Writer.” Hosted by Publishing Perspectives’ Porter Anderson and Michelle Toth of sixoneseven books, the event will feature brief multi-media presentations by three authors with new books being published in the year after the conference. On the stage will sit a group of experts in the field of book promotion and publicity, social media, marketing, and bookselling who, together with the audience and the authors, will discuss practical strategies for authors at every stage of development. It is never too early to build your platform as a writer, to develop a mission-driven plan for yourself and your book(s), and to apply a logical framework to your efforts that maximizes your time and money.

Recommended Session “Tracks”

Choosing from 120+ sessions can be overwhelming, so — new this year — we have grouped sessions into 9 suggested “tracks” based on broad common interests of previous attendees. See them all!

Muse Buddies

Though we try hard not to make it so, we are aware a large writing conference can be lonely and overwhelming and intimidating, especially if you are attending for the first time. At this year’s conference, we will pair you with one other Muse-goer to make sure that you always have someone to check in with, turn to for advice, have lunch with, and/or help with their goals. We hope and expect that your Muse Buddy will do the same for you. Our goal is to  help you build a networking, a partnership, a friendship, and possibly even a potential collaboration with another attendee. If you prefer to fly solo, don’t worry: this aspect of the conference is 100% opt-in.

Spitballing Event

On Friday night, join us for the Muse’s first-ever “Spitballing” event– an inventive new forum for reaching beyond our usual go-to ideas while writing fiction and nonfiction. Fun, innovative, and likely hilarious. Details to come!

“Grub Gone…” 20th Anniversary Party

GrubStreet was founded twenty years ago, and we are taking the night of Saturday, May 6th to celebrate that important milestone. In the tradition of the “Grub Gone…” theme parties of the past (including “Grub Gone…Wild, Grub Gone..Guilty and last year’s Grub Gone…Drag”) we will throw a party featuring short readings by amazing authors, a cash bar, music, and maybe even some dancing. This event will also be open to the public and take place at the ICON Nightclub at 100 Warrenton Street in Boston. Conference-goers get advance tickets.


Muse Fellows

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, GrubStreet has named two of this year’s out-of-town authors — one in fiction and one in nonfiction — as 2017 Muse Fellows. A committee selected these two emerging authors who have written books that are culturally relevant, artistically innovative, and/or published by a small press. Each author receives a cash award and an all-expenses-paid trip to Boston for the conference. Our Fiction Fellow this year is Randa Jarrar, author of Him Me Muhammad Ali (Sarabande), and our NonFiction Fellow is Amy Jo Burns, author of Cinderland (Beacon Press). Each fellow’s book has also been chosen as an all-conference read (see below).

All-Conference Reads

New this year, we have designated the books by our Muse Fellows as our all-conference reads. We encourage all conference participants to read Randa Jarrar’s Him Me Muhammad Ali (fiction) and Amy Jo Burns’s Cinderland (nonfiction), both of which are available in paperback. Both books will be discussed as part of a book club from the writer’s perspective — structure, inspiration, process — in conversation with a mentor author. Amy Jo Burns will discuss Cinderland with another author TBA on Friday morning, and Randa Jarrar will be in conversation with Lidia Yuknavitch to discuss Him Me Muhammad Ali on Saturday morning. See the schedule for details.

Attendee Pop-Up Bookstore

If you are an attendee with a published book of your own, you are welcome to sell copies in the Authors’ Bazaar. Note that you will be responsible for collecting payment and displaying your books alongside those of other attendees. All we ask is that you tell us ahead of time that you plan to bring your books so that we can reserve a spot for you. Email us at

The Mentor Zone & the Zen Den

To further support our attendees, we’ve designated two rooms — The Mentor Zone and the Zen Den — as retreats from the intensity and fast pace of the conference. A schedule will be posted for both walk-ins and appointments. Both rooms are free for all attendees and presenters.

Mentor Zone: Looking for a little extra support, guidance, or advice? Not sure what your next step–or class–on your path to publishing is? The Mentor Zone offers “Booster Sessions,” which will be done in small groups on topics ranging from PR, platform, and brand, to mindfulness for enhanced creativity. There will also be Grub teachers available for one-on-one drop-in sessions.

Zen Den: Need to catch your breath and feel grounded? Looking for a quiet space to decompress, stretch and rejuvenate? The Zen Den, dreamed up and run by authors, mindfulness experts, and teachers Sara DiVello and Lara Wilson,  will provide guided meditation, yoga, and qi gong (guided breath and movement) throughout the day. No experience necessary. All are welcome.