The 2020 Writing Workshop of Chicago: June 27, 2020

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 10.34.26 PM.pngAfter successful 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 events in Chicago, Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2020 Writing Workshop of Chicago — a full-day “How to Get Published” writing event in Chicago, IL on June 27, 2020.

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 2020 Writing Workshop of Chicago!

WHAT IS IT?

This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, June 27, 2020, 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:

  • literary agent Beth Marshea (Ladderbird Literary)
  • editor Alicia Clancy (Lake Union / Amazon)
  • literary agent Lindsey Smith (Speilburg Literary)
  • literary agent Chrysa Keenon (CYLE Literary)
  • literary agent Dan Cramer (Flannery Literary)
  • literary agent Kerstin Wolf (D4EO Literary)
  • literary agent Alice Speilburg (Speilburg Literary)
  • literary agent Alexandra Weiss (Jennifer De Chiara Literary)
  • editor Emily Clark Victorson (Allium Press)
  • literary agent Jennifer Flannery (Flannery Literary)
  • editor Anna Michels (Sourcebooks)
  • and 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 Brian Klems of Writing Day Workshops, with assistance from regional Chicago writing groups.

EVENT LOCATION & DETAILS:

9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, June 27, 2020 — the historic Congress Plaza Hotel, 520 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605, just south of the downtown area. (312)427-3800.

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THIS YEAR’S SESSIONS & WORKSHOPS (JUNE 27, 2020):

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

CLASS LIST COMING SOON

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

CLASS LIST COMING SOON

(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

CLASS LIST COMING SOON

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

CLASS LIST COMING SOON

(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

CLASS LIST COMING SOON

SESSIONS END: 5:00

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.

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PITCH AN AGENT OR EDITOR:

Screen Shot 2019-10-29 at 9.34.57 PMDan Cramer is a literary agent with Flannery Literary. He is seeking: picture books with great rhythm, fiction and nonfiction (no rhyming please); middle grade adventure, sci-fi, and fantasy; young adult contemporary (rom-coms), science fiction, dystopian, historical fiction, and thrillers; and LGBTQIA+ themes. Learn more about Dan here.

Screen Shot 2019-10-24 at 4.34.16 PMBeth Marshea is a literary agent and the founder of Ladderbird Agency. She is seeking literary fiction, women’s fiction, adult fantasy (specifically looking for non-European centric fantasy), adult science fiction (quick, exciting, fun adventures), crime novels, and YA sci-fi & fantasy. Beth is not seeking horror, middle grade, picture books, or historical fiction. Learn more about Beth here.

Screen Shot 2019-11-15 at 4.01.33 PMAlicia Clancy is an editor with Lake Union Publishing, an imprint of Amazon. Lake Union Publishing seeks absorbing works of contemporary and historical fiction for voracious readers. This includes literary fiction, mainstream fiction, upmarket / book club fiction, historical fiction, contemporary/domestic suspense, and women’s fiction. Learn more about Alicia here.

Screen Shot 2019-11-01 at 11.31.03 PMLindsey Smith is a literary agent with Speilburg Literary. Lindsey is interested in cookbooks, lifestyle, health, pop culture, gender issues, self-help, true crime, and current events. She is especially interested in podcast-to-book ideas, journalists who specialize in specific research, and cookbooks that have a niche and/or narrative voice. Please do not pitch diet books. Lindsey is excited to work with first-time authors as well as those who are established. She is seeking nonfiction only, specifically prescriptive nonfiction that is compelling, and voice-driven, with the ability to shed light on a topic that might be unknown. She especially loves projects and people that bring humor to serious situations. Learn more about Lindsey here.

ChrysaChrysa Keenon is a literary agent with CYLE Literary. She is seeking: For adult novels, she seeks humorous romance, LGBTQ+ romance, and low fantasy. In young adult, she seeks humorous/lighthearted contemporary romance, fantasy LGBTQ+, diverse romance, magical realism, and stories about characters from marginalized backgrounds. She also will consider fairytale retellings/spinoffs and middle grade fantasy. Learn more about Chrysa here.

Screen Shot 2019-11-21 at 2.32.54 PM.pngAlice Speilburg is the founding literary agent of Speilburg Literary Agency. She enjoys nonfiction in the areas of History, Journalism, LGBTQ, Pop Culture, Psychology, Science, Travel, and True Crime. “In nonfiction, I’m looking for cultural narratives, microhistory, nature, and pop science written by journalists and academics.” In fiction, she represents women’s fiction, crime fiction, some fantasy (specifics on her agent page), upmarket genre fiction, historical fiction, mystery, thriller, action/adventure, and horror. Learn more about Alice here.

Screen Shot 2019-02-26 at 5.12.00 PM.pngKerstin Wolf 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 2019-11-11 at 9.47.12 AMAlexandra Weiss is a literary agent with Jennifer De Chiara Literary. She is seeking beautifully written young adult fiction (realism, science fiction, and fantasy – but stories that include magic, space, or science are not for her). She loves coming-of-age tales; stories that explore culture, race, sexuality, and identity; and literature from diverse and underrepresented voices. She represents all types of adventurous, silly, and out-of-the-box children’s picture books and middle grade books. In adult fiction, she is “open to most genres, but category romance, or heavy mystery/horror/thriller stories are not for me. 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 I look for.” Learn more about Alexandra 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 11.01.38 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.

Screen shot 2015-02-01 at 3.03.41 PMAnna Michels is an associate editor at Sourcebooks. She is seeking commercial/mainstream literary fiction with interesting settings and a strong narrative voice (such as Burial Rites by Hannah Kent and The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman); mystery (particularly historical and crossover literary—think Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger) and psychological suspense; and memoir by writers who connect the events of their lives to readers through incredible storytelling. She can take pitches on behalf of other Sourcebooks editors for young adult books, adult romance, and nonfiction gift books. Learn more about Anna here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 8.14.05 PM.pngAlyssa Roat is a literary agent with CYLE Literary Elite. She is seeking: any kind of young adult (but especially fantasy and speculative), middle grade fiction (any kind), fantasy, women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, unique historical fiction, all kinds of children’s picture books (nonfiction or STEM elements are great), some nonfiction (large platform only), occasional Christian titles, and a rare thriller/mystery/suspense. Learn more about Alyssa here.

        More 2020 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.)

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PRICING:

$189 — EARLY BIRD base price for registration to the 2020 WWOC and access to all workshops, all day. As of October 2019, 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 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
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 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 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 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
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:

  • Mystery, crime, thriller, horror, and general fiction: Faculty member Julie Hyzy, a published author, will get your work in advance, critique 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.
  • More 2020 critique options forthcoming.

How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Brian Klems via email: WDWconference@gmail.com, 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.

REGISTRATION:

Because of limited space at the venue, the workshop can only allow 300 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: WDWconference@gmail.com. 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 2020 Writing Workshop of Chicago.

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Alyssa Roat of CYLE Literary

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 8.14.05 PM.pngAlyssa Roat is a literary agent with CYLE Literary Elite.

She is seeking:

  • any kind of young adult (but especially fantasy and speculative)
  • middle grade fiction (any kind)
  • fantasy
  • women’s fiction
  • contemporary fiction
  • unique historical fiction
  • children’s picture books (nonfiction or STEM elements are great)
  • some nonfiction (large platform only)
  • occasional Christian titles
  • a rare thriller/mystery/suspense

She does not want to receive Western, horror, or erotica.

“I’m especially interested in anything with these elements: Southwestern settings; non-western contemporary, fantasy, and historical settings; Amish fiction; lesser-known mythologies and mythological creatures; humor.”

Hailing from Tucson, Arizona, Alyssa’s love of words blossomed while she spent her days hiding from the scorching desert sun in dim rooms with thick books. She emerged from her dark, bookish cave to attend college, where her articles were featured in several publications. Now, she is often found writing and editing in the much cooler sunlight of the Midwest.

Get to Know a Literary Agent in Attendance: Beth Marshea of Ladderbird Agency

Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 2.16.13 PM.pngBeth Marshea is a literary agent and the founder of Ladderbird Agency.

Ladderbird is a boutique literary agency. Beth has a long love of literature, which started as part of a family of bookworms. After obtaining an undergraduate degree in literature, Beth earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration. She became determined to find a way to merge her business passion and her love of literature, which she did as an agent. Beth is passionate about writing that pushes genres and boundaries and challenges the reader to accept a new point of view.

She is seeking:

literary fiction​: “We love literary fiction, particularly if it has an unusual setting or involves a deep look into problems with social constructs, gender roles, wealth disparity or racial tensions (particularly written by minority writers from any group). Literary is a genre where we really need to see beautiful, well thought out writing that lets us dive into ourselves and discover something new. We’re not especially limited in what we’ll look at, but it should be new; I don’t need another book about the difficulties of addiction.”

women’s fiction​: “We’d love to see a women’s adventure story that is smart, sharp, funny and page-turning!​​ Something like Stephanie Plum meets Indian Jones. In women’s fiction, we want strong characters, not people who are falling about over a breakup. We want women that inspirational and clever, not characters that need saving.”

fantasy​: “We are specifically looking for non-European centric fantasy. We would especially love to see fantasy that draws its inspiration from African, Indian, or Japanese culture. We like accessible fantasy that can reach a broad audience, I’m not interested in epics. Fantasies that are submitted to Ladderbird should be plot driven with strong well developed characters. We’d love to see something fun, magical and​ fast paced. I am especially draw to fantasy that is folkloric and draws inspiration from the old tales of the region of their focus.”

science fiction: “We would love to see quick, exciting, fun adventures. We prefer sci-fi that is closer to speculative fiction than deep sci-fi. They can involve space, but should not be space operas or epics. ​We love sci-fi that shows how technology impacts the world, especially in a positive way. We are especially interested in acquiring works have a utopic rather than dystopic environment, but we’ll look at both. We’re looking for the next Nnedi Okorafor!”

crime​ novels: “We’re looking for crime novels that have a strong setting, foreign or regional. We want fabulously developed characters that are interesting and relatable. We do not want police procedurals (no Law & Order!). We like the focus to come from the perspective of the criminal and offer insight into the illicit side of life while still being quick and fun, especially the ‘accidental’ criminal.”

young adult sci-fi & fantasy: “We are looking for YA sci-fi/fantasy that conforms to the same requirements as our adult sci-fi and fantasy but has a younger protagonists. YA should be able to reach both younger readers and adults. The themes should be universal and easily accessible for all readers.”

Ladderbird is NOT seeking:

mainstream/commercial fiction​
horror
thriller
historical fiction
young adult contemporary
middle grade
picture books​

Get to Know an Editor in Attendance: Alicia Clancy of Lake Union Publishing

Screen Shot 2019-11-15 at 4.01.33 PMAlicia Clancy is an editor with Lake Union Publishing, an imprint of Amazon.

Lake Union Publishing seeks absorbing works of contemporary and historical fiction for voracious readers. This includes literary fiction, mainstream fiction, upmarket / book club fiction, historical fiction, contemporary domestic suspense, and women’s fiction.

Alicia Clancy works with a wide range of fiction authors, including the bestselling suspense duo Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke and USA Today bestselling author Julianne MacLean. She also cultivates upmarket debut novelists with fresh voices, including Glendy Vanderah and Suzy Krause, among many other talented writers.

Prior to joining Lake Union Publishing, Alicia worked as an assistant editor at St. Martin’s Press, where her acquisitions included award-winning novelist Julie Cohen and Susie Orman Schnall, among others. Previously, she also worked in sales at Palgrave Macmillan and interned for FinePrint Literary Management. An author herself, Alicia published her humorous gift book, Be My Galentine: Celebrating Badass Female Friendship, with St. Martin’s Griffin in 2017. Alicia has a British husband and an Australian cattle dog named Whiskey. Her favorite activities include hiking, SoulCycle, and working on her first novel (many have been started, but not finished).

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kerstin Wolf of D4EO Literary

Screen Shot 2019-02-26 at 5.12.00 PM.pngAfter years of interning at a number of literary agencies and publishers, freelance editing, and bookselling, Kerstin Wolf got her start as an agent in training at The Booker Albert Literary Agency before joining D4EO Literary as a literary agent in February 2019.

When not reading, editing, or doing anything related to publishing, Kerstin enjoys practicing martial arts. She has the most experience in judo, boxing, kickboxing, and Muay Thai. She also likes learning new languages. She has studied Spanish for a number of years now and also has some experience in Arabic, German, American Sign Language, Basque, Japanese, and Old English.

She is seeking the following for Middle Grade:

  • Fantasy of any kind
  • Science fiction
  • Mysteries along the lines of The 39 Clues series, York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby, and Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
  • Horror along the lines of Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
  • Graphic novels

She is seeking the following for Young Adult:

  • Fantasy of any kind
  • Science fiction
  • Horror along the lines of Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
  • Paranormal
  • Historical with magical elements
  • Steampunk along the lines of Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
  • “Geeky” contemporary romance along the lines of Geekerella by Ashley Poston and When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
  • Graphic novels

She is seeking the following for New Adult/Adult:

  • Fantasy along the lines of V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series and Villains series and Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
  • Women’s fiction
  • Romance along the lines of The Hating Game by Sally Thorne and Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Get to Know an Editor in Attendance: Anna Michels of Sourcebooks

Screen shot 2015-02-01 at 3.03.41 PMAnna Michels is an associate editor at Sourcebooks, an independent publisher located outside of Chicago. Over the course of her three years at Sourcebooks, she has worked on a wide variety of projects, most recently focusing on acquiring adult fiction and memoir.

She is looking for: commercial/mainstream literary fiction with interesting settings and a strong narrative voice (such as Burial Rites by Hannah Kent and The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman); mystery (particularly historical and crossover literary—think Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger) and psychological suspense; and memoir by writers who connect the events of their lives to readers through incredible storytelling. She can take pitches on behalf of other Sourcebooks editors for young adult books, adult romance, and nonfiction gift books.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Chrysa Keenon of CYLE Literary

ChrysaChrysa Keenon is a literary agent with CYLE Literary.

She is seeking: For adult novels, she seeks humorous romance, LGBTQ+ romance, and low fantasy. In young adult, she seeks humorous/lighthearted contemporary romance, fantasy LGBTQ+, diverse romance, magical realism, and stories about characters from marginalized backgrounds. She also will consider fairytale retellings/spinoffs and middle grade fantasy.

Chrysa holds a degree from Taylor University in Professional Writing with minors in Public Relations and Creative Writing. She began her agenting career as an intern at The Seymour Agency and gained experience in the editorial world at GenZ Publishing. She is the recipient of the Blue Seal Award for 1st place YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy fiction and 1st Place News and Feature Story from the Indiana Collegiate Press, among others. She has over 400 publications and currently works as a content writer for a Midwest bridal magazine. Chrysa enjoys puns, coffee, and traveling to oceanside cities.