The 2019 Writing Workshop of Chicago: June 29, 2019

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 10.34.26 PM.pngAfter successful 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 events in Chicago, Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2019 Writing Workshop of Chicago — a full-day “How to Get Published” writing event in Chicago, IL on June 29, 2019.

This writing event is a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. Note that there are limited seats at the event (300 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2019 Writing Workshop of Chicago!


This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, June 29, 2019, at the historic Congress Plaza Hotel, just south of the downtown area. In other words, it’s one day full of classes and advice designed to give you the best instruction concerning how to get your writing & books published. We’ll discuss your publishing opportunities today, how to write queries & pitches, how to market yourself and your books, what makes an agent/editor stop reading your manuscript, and more. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres are welcome.

This event is designed to squeeze as much into one day of learning as possible. You can ask any questions you like during the classes, and get your specific concerns addressed. We will have literary agents onsite to give feedback and take pitches from writers, as well. This year’s agent faculty so far includes:

  • [NEW ADDITION] literary agent Dawn Michelle Hardy (Dream Relations PR & Literary Consulting)
  • [NEW ADDITION] literary agent Dan Cramer (Flannery Literary)
  • literary agent Jennifer Flannery (Flannery Literary)
  • literary agent Kerstin Wolf (D4EO Literary)
  • literary agent Ayesha Pande (Pande Literary)
  • literary agent Weronika Janczuk (D4E0 Literary)
  • literary agent Bethany Morehead (Hartline Literary)
  • literary agent Joanna Mackenzie (Nelson Literary)
  • literary agent Jennifer Mattson (Andrea Brown Literary)
  • literary agent Laura Crockett (TriadaUS)
  • editor Stacy Abrams (Entangled Publishing)
  • literary agent Amanda Luedeke (MacGregor Literary)
  • script/literary agent Sarah Louise Gorman (C.Y.L.E. Literary)
  • literary agent Stephany Evans (Pande Literary)
  • literary agent Alexandra Weiss (Jennifer De Chiara Literary)
  • literary agent Tina P. Schwartz (The Purcell Agency)
  • editor Emily Clark Victorson (Allium Press)
  • editor MJ Johnston (Sourcebooks and Sourcebooks Landmark)
  • and possibly more to come

By the end of the day, you will have all the tools you need to move forward on your writing journey. This independent event is organized by coordinator Jessica Bell of Writing Day Workshops, with assistance from regional Chicago writing groups.


9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, June 29, 2019 — the historic Congress Plaza Hotel, 520 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605, just south of the downtown area. (312)427-3800.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.44.44 AM.png


What you see below is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.

Please Note: There will be 3 classes/workshops going at all times during the day, so you will have your choice of what class you attend at any time. The final schedule of topics is subject to change, but here is the current layout:

8:30 – 9:30: Check-in and registration at the event location.

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. Getting Published in Today’s World: 10 Tips to Make You the Writer Agents and Publishers Want. (Windsor Room) This workshop discusses the challenges writers face in publishing today and offers up 10 practical tips to help you break through the barriers and find success.

2. How to Use Market, Trends, and Conventions of Romance to Help You Sell Your Romance Novel. (Alcove Room) This workshop will discuss using conventions, twisting tropes and targeting what editors and agents want while still writing the romance novel you love.

3. Writing Sellable Crime/Thriller/Mystery Novels. (Alcove Room) This workshop will examine the fundamentals of what constitutes good crime fiction (“How Good’s Your Hook?” and “Mr. Sweat and the Arc of Suspense,” among others) and then discuss the myriad opportunities for publishing your masterwork.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.44.34 AMBLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Crafting a Submission Query Letter that Sparkles. (Windsor Room) This course takes you through crafting an email that will sparkle with content that is needed to be seen and how to get your work noticed.

2. 15 Tips on How to Write Like the Pros. (Buckingham Room) This workshop is a thorough crash course concerning craft, style and voice.

3. Self-Publishing: One Writer’s Experience. (Alcove Room)Over the last 10-15 years, self-publishing has developed into a career path both for new authors and the traditionally published. In this workshop, an author discusses why she chose to self-publish her backlist, all the creative and business choices she needed to make along the way, and why she needed to learn the differences between tracking, kerning, and leading.

(What you see here is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.)

LUNCH ON YOUR OWN: 11:50 – 1:15

Lunch is on your own during these 85 minutes.

BLOCK THREE: 1:15 – 2:30

1. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest. (Windsor Room) In the vein of “American Idol” or “America’s Got Talent,” this is a chance to get your first page read (anonymously — no bylines given) with attending agents commenting on what was liked or not liked about the submission.

2. How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal. (Buckingham Room) This session is completely devoted to nonfiction that is not memoir. So if you are trying to create an awesome nonfiction book proposal, this presentation is for you.

3. Picture Book Boot Camp. (Alcove Room) In this session, you will examine how to write a picture book that catches the eyes of agents, editors, and readers.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Ask An Agent Anything Panel (Windsor Room). In this session, literary agents, publishers and editors sit on a panel to answer your questions on everything to writing, publishing, building a platform, what agents want, what are the latest trends in publishing, how movie options work, and more. Come ready to ask questions about anything you want related to the writing and publishing industry and our panel will answer them. 

2. Prewriting for Pantsers: How to Write Your Novel Without Mapping Out Your Plot Ahead of Time. (Buckingham Room) Some people plan and plot a novel, while others write by the seat of their pants. The problem with being a “pantser” is that at some point, you will have to write under deadline and you might not have the time to write, rip apart, and rewrite the same book to make it publishable. This workshop will discuss ways to pre-write without plotting to help the writing process go smoother.

3. Science Fiction & Fantasy: I Have This Great New World, But(Alcove Room) This workshop shows you ways to revive your story, rediscover the excitement you felt when you started writing it, and enhance what’s already there.

(What you see here is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.)

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. 18 Frequently Asked Questions About Publishing All Writers Should Know. (Windsor Room) Before you publish your work or query an agent (and after), there are plenty of things you need to know — such as how to submit to agents properly, what social media channels you should be on already, how to launch your book right, how to draft a compelling query/pitch and synopsis, how to land book blurbs, how to find other writers who can help you, and much more.

2Plot and Voice: The Not-So-Basic Elements of the Novel. (Buckingham Room) In this session, we’ll talk about tense plots and unique voices: in short, two of the main reasons readers can’t stop turning the pages. Come with questions!

3. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction. (Alcove Room) There are some genre specific things to keep in mind when crafting books for those readers under 18. In this session, presenter Madeline Smoot, acquiring editor for CBAY Books, will discuss the tips and tricks for making middle grade and YA novels great.


At 5 p.m., the day is done. Speakers will make themselves available by the workshop’s Barnes & Noble station for a short while to sign any books for attendees.

Agent & Editor Pitching: All throughout the day.



Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 12.43.52 AM.pngBethany Morehead [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a jr. literary agent with Hartline Literary. She is seeking: children’s picture books, middle grade fiction, young adult fiction, women’s fiction, romantic fiction, and speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy novels). She is actively building her client list. Learn more about Bethany here.

Screen Shot 2019-05-22 at 11.54.10 PMDan Cramer is a literary agent with Flannery Literary. He is seeking: children’s picture books with great rhythm (no rhyming), middle grade (adventure, sci-fi, fantasy), young adult (contemporary, rom-coms, sci-fi, dystopian, historical), new adult (contemporary, thriller, historical fiction). For new adult, protagonists should be in college or college aged. Learn more about Dan here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-27 at 10.19.37 PM.pngDawn Michelle Hardy is a literary agent with Dream Relations PR & Literary Consulting. Dawn sticks to nonfiction. She likes memoir writers who can capture a larger narrative through their personal story and strong hook, best-in-class professionals and educators in a variety of fields, an engaging and outspoken cultural critic, pop-culture, sports or music enthusiast with a “hip” idea from an untold vantage point. Creatives who use art as activism. She wants to hear from loud millennials, women, and multicultural voices looking to better the world through their writing. Learn more about Dawn here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 11.20.32 AM.pngJoanna Mackenzie [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Nelson Literary. She is seeking: “I’m looking for the epic read that, at its center, beats with a universal heart. In particular, I’m drawn to smart and timely women’s fiction, as well as absorbing, character-driven mysteries and thrillers – both, ideally, with a little edge. I have a weird obsession with, what I call, ‘child in jeopardy lit’ and can’t get enough kick-ass mom heroines. On the YA side, I’m interested in coming-of-age stories that possess a confident voice and characters I can’t stop thinking about.” Learn more about Joanna here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 9.24.23 PM.pngAyesha Pande [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent and founder of Pande Literary. Her interests are wide-ranging and include literary as well as popular fiction, young adult, women’s fiction, historical fiction, African-American fiction, and international fiction. She is also seeking authors of nonfiction, including biography, history, popular culture, cultural commentary, and memoir. She is particularly drawn to distinctive, original voices. Learn more about Ayesha here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 1.27.44 PM.pngJennifer Mattson [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She represents children’s books — picture books, middle grade, and young adult. In the picture book arena, Jennifer is interested in authors, illustrators, and author-illustrators who bring a distinctive, well-developed point of view to their work. She is particularly drawn to fiction in middle grade and YA, especially richly imagined fantasies that depart from typical quests. The most dogeared books in her childhood library tended to be fantasy adventures, survival stories, and sprawling, atmospheric tales with Dickensian twists and satisfying puzzles. She gravitates to all of the above, but contemporary realistic fiction can work for her too, especially if it’s voice-driven and carefully structured. Learn more about Jennifer here.

Screen Shot 2018-12-03 at 1.56.58 PM.pngWeronika Janczuk [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with D4E0 Literary. “I am not, and have never been, a single-genre reader. I am eager only for the best-told stories, building out a list of talented novelists and writers in many genres.” She is seeking: young adult, fantasy & sci-fi, literary fiction, commercial fiction, women’s fiction, romance crime, mystery & thrillers. memoir and nonfiction (innovative ideas & research; projects with a potential for social & cultural impact, etc.). Learn more about Weronika here.

Screen Shot 2019-02-26 at 5.12.00 PM.pngKerstin Wolf [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with D4EO Literary. She is seeking a wide variety of middle grade books, including fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, horror, and graphic novels. She is seeking a wide variety of young adult books, including fantasy, sci-fi, horror, paranormal, historical with magical elements, some steampunk, “geeky” contemporary romance, and graphic novels. For new adult and adult fiction, she seeks fantasy, women’s fiction, and romantic stories. Learn more about Kerstin here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-12 at 11.13.16 PM.pngLaura Crockett [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with TriadaUS Literary. In young adult, she is interested in contemporary realistic fiction (such as study abroad experiences, strong female friendships, falling in love, mental health, diversity, LGBTQ) and fantasy (particularly with excellent world-building, authentic characterization, fantasy inspired by fairytales and other cultures’ mythology, and historical fantasy). In adult fiction, she is interested in contemporary women’s fiction (heartfelt, juicy moral dilemmas, historical bends with parallel narratives), humorous chick-lit (especially if it’s millennial-driven), and fantasy (excellent world-building, authentic characterization, fantasy inspired by fairytales and other cultures’ mythology, and historical fantasy). Learn more about Laura here.

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 4.04.10 PM.pngMJ Johnston is an assistant editor with Sourcebooks and Sourcebooks Landmark. Fiction interests: women’s fiction with an emotionally charged hook (think Jojo Moyes or The Light We Lost); book club fiction; psychological suspense and literary thriller; and mystery (particularly cozy and crossover literary). Nonfiction interests: smart, practical nonfiction; history, science, and social science that presents a new lens on a contemporary issue. Learn more about MJ here.

Screen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.56.45 PM.pngStacy Abrams is the editorial director of Entangled Amara and Entangled Teen, the two print imprints of Entangled Publishing. In teen fiction, she is seeking contemporary coming-of-age/romance, contemporary mystery/thriller, trope-driven short romances (particularly those set in high schools), romantic comedies, and accessible fantasy or paranormal. In adult fiction, she seeks contemporary romance (specifically weddings, cowboys, holiday, babies), political thrillers, and literary women’s fiction (particularly “ripped from the headlines” issues). Learn more about Stacy here.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 12.09.01 AM.pngEmily Clark Victorson is the co-founder and publisher of Allium Press of Chicago.  Allium Press was founded in 2009 as a small, independent press and publishes literary fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, thrillers, middle grade, and young adult fiction — all with a Chicago connection. Learn more about Emily here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-16 at 11.15.56 PM.pngAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with Macgregor Literary. With eight years experience as an agent, Amanda brings unique interests to the MacGregor Literary team. She represents general market and CBA (Christian market) projects, and her areas of interest include nonfiction and romance. Learn more about Amanda here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 11.47.34 PM.pngTina P. Schwartz is a literary agent and the founder of The Purcell Agency. She seeks young adult fiction and women’s fiction. Within these two genres, she looks for contemporary/realistic stories, coming-of-age tales, sports tales, stories of family and friendship, and LGBTQ stories. She is also open to YA nonfiction. Learn more about Tina here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-17 at 10.22.34 AM.pngSarah Louise Gorman is currently a script/literary with literary agency Cyle Young Literary Elite. At C.Y.L.E., she is the resident screenwriting specialist and deals with all the agency’s screenplays and TV pilots. She also manages the screenwriting-focused client submissions, client relationships, networking, and pitching. Sarah takes screenwriting pitches and, occasionally, novel pitches. The only novels she wants to hear pitches for are middle grade novels (any type). Learn more about Sarah here.

screen shot 2019-01-27 at 1.42.54 pmStephany Evans [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Pande Literary. Now, for more than twenty-seven years, Stephany has represented nonfiction writers in the areas of health and wellness, spirituality, lifestyle, food and drink, sustainability, running and fitness, memoir, and narrative nonfiction. In fiction, she represents a range of women’s fiction, from literary to upmarket commercial to romance, as well as crime fiction (mysteries, thrillers), and the occasional literary or commercial novel not aimed at a female market. She is looking for fine, accomplished writing, whether the work is by a first time or established author. She loves to be told a great story! Learn more about Stephany here.

Screen Shot 2016-10-17 at 10.35.49 AM.pngAlexandra Weiss [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Jennifer De Chiara Literary. Within young adult, the genres she is most interested in representing include realism, science fiction, and fantasy – but also stories that include magic (think The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern) are her favorite, as are stories that include space and science. She loves stories that include diverse and risk-taking subjects, including culture, race, sexuality, and identity. She also seeks all types of adventurous, silly, and out-of-the-box children and middle grade books. Books with or without pictures intrigue her, and she is most interested in a character-driven story and big plot to explore. Concerning adult fiction, she is looking for strong literary voices that take the notion that every story is a love story to new levels.  She seeks interested in complex relationship stories that surround something bigger. Alexandra is open to most adult genres, but heavy mystery, horror, or thriller stories are not for her. Books that are written in or include uses of uncommon formats (uses of letters, screenplay, photos, poetry, or collection of short stories or essays) is another unique quality she looks for. Learn more about Alexandra here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-16 at 11.01.38 PM.pngJennifer Flannery is a literary agent with Flannery Literary. She seeks young adult novels, middle grade novels, and excellent picture books. For MG and YA, she is probably not the best fit for sci-fi or fantasy. And she does not represent illustrators. She prefers her picture book submissions to be text only. Learn more about Jennifer here

Anna Michels is an editor with Sourcebooks and Sourcebooks Landmark. Unfortunately, she can no longer attend the conference.

        More 2019 agents to be announced as they are confirmed. You can sign up for pitches at any time, or switch pitches at any time, so long as the agent in question still has appointments open.

These one-on-one meetings are an amazing chance to pitch your book face-to-face with an agent, and get personal, individual feedback on your pitch/concept. If the agent likes your pitch, they’ll request to see part/all of your book — sending you straight past the slush pile. It also gives you an intimate chance to meet with an agent and pick their brain with any questions on your mind.

(Please note that Agent/Editor Pitching is an add-on, separate aspect of the day, for only those who sign up. Spaces are limited for these premium meetings, and pricing/detail is explained below.)



$189 — EARLY BIRD base price for registration to the 2019 WWOC and access to all workshops, all day. As of October 2018, registration is now OPEN.

Add $29 — to secure a 10-minute one-on-one meeting with any of our literary agents in attendance. Use this special meeting as a chance to pitch your work and get professional feedback on your pitch. (Spaces limited.) If they wish, attendees are free to sign up for multiple 10-minute pitch sessions at $29/session — pitching multiple individuals, or securing 20 minutes to pitch one person rather than the usual 10. Here are some testimonials from writers who have signed with literary agents after pitching them at prior Writing Day Workshops events. (Our bigger, growing list of success stories can be seen here.)

Screen Shot 2016-10-16 at 3.19.33 PM.png“I am happy to report that I signed a writer after meeting
them through a pitch session at the 2016 Writing Workshop of Chicago.”
– literary agent Marcy Posner of Folio Literary

Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 12.26.01 AM.png“I signed a lovely author after meeting her at the
2017 Writing Workshop of Chicago. I’m thrilled.”
– literary agent Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary

Screen Shot 2016-10-16 at 3.23.35 PM.png“I signed an author from the 2016 Writing Workshop of Chicago.
Her name is Georgina Cross and I’m delighted I found her.”
– literary agent Rachel Beck of Holloway Literary

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 11.11.29 AM.png“I met my client, Alison Hammer, at the 2017 Writing
Workshop of Chicago and just sold her book.”
– literary agent Joanna Mackenzie of Nelson Literary

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 11.47.54 PM.png“I wanted to let you know I signed a writer who
I met at the 2017 Writing Workshop of Chicago,
Rebecca Rissman. It was a quality conference.”

– literary agent Jennifer Unter of The Unter Agency

Screen Shot 2016-10-16 at 2.56.25 PM.png“I signed a client from the 2016
Writing Workshop of Chicago.”

– literary agent Abby Saul of The Lark Group

Add $69 — for an in-depth, personal critique of your one-page query letter from Brian Klems, one of the day’s instructors. (This rate is a special event value for Writing Workshop of Chicago attendees only.) Registrants are encouraged to take advantage of the specially-priced critique, so they can send out their query letter with confidence following the workshop. Also, if you are meeting with an agent at the event, you’re essentially speaking your query letter aloud to them. Wouldn’t it be wise to give that query letter (i.e., your pitch) one great edit before that meeting?

Add $89 — for an in-depth personal critique of the first 10 pages of your novel. Spaces with faculty for these critiques are very limited, and participating attendees get an in-person meeting at the workshop. Options:

  • Young adult / middle grade / chapter books: Faculty member Madeline Smoot, a children’s book editor who is teaching at the event, will get your work in advance, edit the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting. No picture books, please.
  • Romance (including contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense), women’s fiction, mystery: Faculty member Shannyn Schroeder, a published author, will get your work in advance, edit the first 10 double-spaced pages of your story, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • Literary fiction, mainstream/commercial fiction, women’s fiction, and historical fiction: Faculty member Lauren Fox, a published novelist, will get your work in advance, edit the first 10 double-spaced pages of your story, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • Science fiction, fantasy, supernatural, paranormal, thriller, mystery: Faculty member Kristine Smith, a successful traditionally published and self-published writer, will get your work in advance, edit the first 10 double-spaced pages of your story, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • Crime, mystery, thriller, suspense: Faculty member Jack Fredrickson, a published writer, will get your work in advance, edit the first 10 double-spaced pages of your story, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss his thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.

How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Jessica Bell via email:, and she will provide specific instructions for payment and registration to get you a reserved seat at the event. Payment is by either PayPal or check. Because Jessica plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Chicago workshop specifically.


Because of limited space at the venue, the workshop can only allow 250 registrants, unless spacing issues change. For this reason, we encourage you to book sooner rather than later.

Are spaces still available? Yes, we still have spaces available. We will announce RIGHT HERE, at this point on this web page, when all spaces are taken. If you do not see a note right here saying how all spaces are booked, then yes, we still have room, and you are encouraged to register.

How to Register: The easy first step is simply to reach out to workshop organizer Jessica Bell via email: She will pass along registration information to you, and give instructions on how to pay by PayPal or check. Once payment is complete, you will have a reserved seat at the event. The WWOC will send out periodic e-mail updates to all registered attendees with any & all news about the event. Because Jessica plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Chicago workshop specifically.

Refunds: If you sign up for the event and have to cancel for any reason, you will receive 50% of your total payment back [sent by check or PayPal]. The other 50% is nonrefundable and will not be returned, and helps the workshop ensure that only those truly interested in the limited spacing sign up for the event. (Please note that query editing payments and manuscript editing payments are completely non-refundable if the instructor has already edited your work.)

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Thank you for your interest in the 2019 Writing Workshop of Chicago.



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