Frequently Asked Questions

The Seminar and the Writers’ Workshop Program are two separate and distinct programs. The Seminar explores a different literary theme each January through a four-day program of readings, conversations, lectures, panel discussions, and interviews. Approximately twenty writers are featured at the Seminar, with around 400 people in the audience at any given session.

The Workshop Program is composed of 8-12 individual workshops. Each workshop is led by a different instructor, and each has its own focus and eligibility requirements. Class size is limited to twelve participants per workshop; with a total of 100-140 participants in the program. Some workshops are open to all levels, and can be registered for on a first-come, first-served basis. Entry into advanced-level classes is typically more competitive, and requires an application and/or writing sample.

The Workshop Program begins the day after the Seminar ends. It is possible to attend either a workshop or the Seminar on their own; or to attend both the Seminar and a workshop.

The registration fee for the Seminar is $575 per person. The fee for writers’ workshops can vary, but is generally $550 per person.

Although payment-in-full is appreciated, you may instead register for the Seminar with only a $200 per-person deposit. The balance must be received by September 30. See the bottom of this page for our cancellation/refund policy.

The revenue we generate from registration fees covers around 50% of our total operating costs. We are grateful to the members of our Patrons Circle whose funding support allows us to keep registration fees low and essentially subsidizes the experience for most audience members.

The Seminar and Workshop Program happen once a year in January.

The 2018 Seminar will take place January 11-14, 2018.

The 2018 Workshop Program will take place January 15-19, 2018.

Confirmed speakers for the upcoming Seminar are listed here. Click through for biographical information, a selected bibliography, and links to online resources.

Writers’ Workshop faculty and course offerings are posted here.

Seminar waitlist:

The waitlist is now closed.

The 2017 Seminar sold out in twenty-five minutes, eleven months before the event will take place. However, there is still a chance to register by means of our waitlist. In April, we will select up to 20 individuals at random from the waitlist and offer the opportunity to register.

Based on past experience, we assume a certain number of cancellations each year and “oversell” the Seminar to account for this. Therefore, it is unlikely that additional spaces will open to members of the waitlist after the April drawing.

Workshop Program waitlists:

Each workshop is limited to twelve participants. Once each class is full, a priority waitlist will be created. If and when an enrolled participant drops out of the workshop, we will offer the space to members of the waitlist in the order they signed up. Over the course of the year, two or three cancellations per class are typical.

The Seminar begins with a keynote presentation on the evening of Thursday, January 12, around 7:00 pm. You may check in and pick up your registration packet during the afternoon earlier that day, shortly before the keynote, or anytime during the weekend.

Programming begins again on Friday morning around 9:30, and continues all day Friday and Saturday, and into the evening on Saturday. We officially conclude on Sunday January 15 around 1:00 pm. Later that afternoon, we present another program which is free and open to the general public. You are welcome to attend, but this portion is not included in your registration fee and seating is first-come, first-served.

All presentations take place in a single location, the San Carlos Institute (516 Duval St.), and run concurrently so that it is possible to see everything. A detailed schedule will be released in November.

In addition to the onstage activities, your registration includes an invitation to join us for the opening night reception (catered, open bar) following Thursday night’s keynote; a sit-down dinner Saturday night; and a lunch on Sunday. There will also be a light, simple continental breakfast available in the San Carlos each morning. All of this is included in your fee. You may bring a guest to the evening receptions for an additional fee.

The workshop program officially begins on the evening of Monday, January 16, 2017, with an orientation dinner. Workshop classes begin Tuesday morning and take place each day through the final class on Friday, January 20. Most workshops will be scheduled from 10:00 am-1:00 pm. Most workshops will require some advance reading and/or a manuscript submission.

For the daily workshop sessions, you will be in a classroom with your instructor and eleven fellow students. Afternoon and evening events offer an opportunity to connect with the larger group of workshop participants (100-140 people). These include: a Craft Talks program featuring lectures and presentations on craft by KWLS faculty members; open readings for workshop participants; opportunities to go sailing with fellow workshop participants; and a final reception. The sailing opportunity requires an additional fee; all other events mentioned here are included in your workshop fee.

I want to apply for a scholarship but I see everything is sold out. Am I too late?

We reserve a number of spaces for scholarship recipients to participate in the Seminar and/or the Workshop Program. If you are awarded a scholarship, there will be a place for you.

Can I apply for multiple scholarships? What’s the difference?

Yes. Each of our scholarship opportunities has a different purpose, but you are welcome to apply for any and all opportunities that you qualify for. Our Teacher and Librarian Scholarships provide support for the Seminar only. Workshop Financial Assistance provides support for the Workshop Program only. The Emerging Writer Awards provide support for both the Seminar and the Workshop Program. Complete guidelines and application criteria are here.

I really want to take a workshop and I hope to qualify for financial assistance. How should I go about this?

Our typical workshop has twelve participants. Ten participants will pay the full fee and two will receive financial assistance. Workshop applicants who are able to pay the full fee are reviewed on a rolling basis; those seeking financial assistance are reviewed together at a later date. Therefore, applying to a workshop through the financial assistance process is much more competitive. If you can afford to attend without financial assistance, we recommend that you do not apply for assistance as this process will reduce your chances of being accepted into the workshop.

We urge you to make lodging reservations as soon as possible. Key West is among the most sought-after winter destinations in the country and availability is limited. The lodging guide on our website offers a number of good recommendations. Many offer discounts to KWLS participants, and all are located in old town, Key West’s walkable/bike-able historic neighborhood. See here: kwls.org/lodging/. You can also call the good people at Vacation Key West (305-295-9500) for assistance with current rates and availabilities at a number of places.

The easiest route is to fly into Key West (airport code: EYW) — good connections are available on Delta and American via Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Atlanta; and U.S. Airways via Charlotte. It’s possible to save a bit of money by flying into Ft Lauderdale or Miami and taking the airport shuttle to Key West (keysshuttle.com), but keep in mind that the drive will add as much as 4-5 hours to the trip. Key West itself is very small; if you stick to the options on our lodging guide, you’ll likely be able to walk from your hotel to Seminar and/or Workshop locations, and you can rent a bicycle to explore further. You really don’t need a car.

The Seminar and Workshop registration fees include a $200 “deposit” component and the remainder, known as a “balance.” A deposit is required at time of registration, and balance payments must be received in full by September 30.

All payments are fully refundable until June 30 or 60 days from date of payment, whichever is later. After this date, deposits are strictly nonrefundable, but balances remain refundable until September 30.

Cancellations after September 30 but before December 1 will incur a $50 cancellation fee (per person) in addition to the forfeited deposit.

No refunds will be granted after December 1 except in cases of medical emergency or bereavement. No refunds will be granted for any reason within two weeks of the start of the event for which you have registered. If you are not eligible for a refund, payments made will be recorded as a tax-deductible contribution to support our scholarship program. You’ll receive a letter to this effect for IRS purposes by the end of the year.