Schedule: 2018 Workshop


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

There will be 3 classes/workshops going at all times during the day for the 2018 workshop. Agent pitches and critique consultations overlap with the sessions below. The schedule of presentation topics below is subject to change, but here is the current layout:

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. A Bird’s-eye View Publishing & Books in the Year 2018, taught by Brian Klems. This workshop is quick & easy (updated) overview of the publishing industry today, and how it’s changing. The speech is designed to educate writers and help them understand what publishing options exist for them today and why it’s an exciting time to be a writer. Specifically, the class will examine writers’ two major paths to publication: traditional publishing and self-publishing.

2. How to Write and Pitch Awesome Science Fiction & Fantasy taught by Moe Ferrara. This session, taught by a literary agent who represents (and adores) speculative fiction, will share helpful tips on how write great SF/F, how to set your work apart from other submissions, how to make your unique world come to life, and how to effectively pitch your sci-fi and fantasy to literary agents and editors.

3. Tell Me True: Tips on Writing Memoir, taught by Anna Michels. Readers will always love an amazing true story, but the key is writing it well. In this session, learn how to take real life and transform it into gripping narrative, compelling characters, and tight prose. Learn what to keep, what to cut, and how to make your nonfiction read like a great novel.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Query Letter Comprehensive, taught by Kelly Van Sant. Stand out from the slush and workshop your way to crafting a successful query letter. It’s time to kick the clichés, ditch the info dumps, and get ready to dive deeper than a list of dos and don’ts. This in-depth course will help you showcase both your book and your bio to the best advantage. Writing a great query requires a unique skillset: an objective eye, a promotional style, and the ability to consider your book as a whole. We’ll study real queries that hooked an agent, talk about how to research the right agents for you, and examine the standard query rules (then learn when to break them).

2. Social Media and Book Marketing, taught by Brian Klems. Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, everyone could use some helpful guidance on how to effectively market themselves and sell more books. This session includes easy-to-understand advice on social media (Twitter, Facebook, more), blogging, and other simple ways you can market your work and yourself online freely and easily — even before you get published. Teacher Brian Klems has experience concerning newsletters, Facebook, and Twitter accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers and subscribers.

3. Write Awesome Middle Grade and Young Adult Novels, taught by Dawn Frederick. This workshop will show you the basics on composing middle grade and young adult novels — talking about word count guidelines, creating great characters, how the two categories are different, having a standout voice, plot & structure, and more. Taught by a literary agent, the class will examine successful YA/MG novels that broke through the slush pile with good pitching, good voice, good stories, good characters, and more.

LUNCH ON YOUR OWN: 11:50 – 1:15

Lunch is on your own during these 85 minutes. There are lots of options, including onsite restaurants, and nearby places to eat.

BLOCK THREE: 1:15 – 2:30

1. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest, with participating literary agents and editors. 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. Get expert feedback on your incredibly important first page, and know if your writing has what it needs to keep readers’ attention. (All attendees are welcome to bring pages to the event for this session, and we will choose pages at random for the workshop for as long as time lasts. All submissions should be novels or memoir—no prescriptive nonfiction or picture books, please. Do not send your pages in advance. You will bring printed copies with you, and instructions will be sent out approximately one week before the event.)
2.  How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal, taught by Brian Klems. 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. The session will talk about platform, identifying your book’s place in the market, effective pitching, and more.

3. Watch Your Language: Picture Book Pointers. Many picture book manuscripts have fun concepts but that fall short in execution. Often the problem is in finding the right use of language to match the needs of the subject; the picture book form; and the current market. In this session, you will examine some successful, recently published picture books to dissect them for what’s working well. You’ll also learn about common pitfalls for picture book writers. (Attendees are encouraged [not mandatory] to bring 1-2 picture book manuscripts to use for class exercises.)

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Twenty Questions You Need Answered Before You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book, taught by Brian A. Klems. Before you publish your work or query an agent, there are plenty of things you need to know — such as how to submit to agents properly, how to find the best self-publishing service for your need, 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 find other writers who can help you, and much more.

2. The Joy of Self-Editing: How to Hit Delete Before Your Editor Does, taught by Cynthia Ruchti. Would you like to build a reputation as a writer whom editors consider easy to work with? Do you want to catch an editor’s attention with how little he has to do to ready your piece for publication? Are you willing to learn what it takes to nip-and-tuck your writing to afford it the best possible chance of garnering a contract? You’ll leave this fun (seriously) workshop with practical tips and a new appreciation for the task of self-editing.

3. How to Write and Sell Romance in Today’s Market, by Michelle Grajkowski. The romance market is constantly changing, so how then, are you to know what and when to submit to editors and agents? In this workshop, you will learn not only what’s trending in the current marketplace, but how to research an agent/editor that best suits your needs, and the proper ways to approach them.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. Pursuing a Small Press Publisher for Your Book, taught by Emily Victorson. Authors seeking a publisher for their work are often frustrated by their inability to secure an agent or to attract the attention of a Big 5 or mid-sized publisher. Before they give up, and decide to go the self-published route, they should consider submitting their book to some of the many small presses currently operating. Emily Victorson, co-founder and publisher of Allium Press of Chicago, will talk about how publishing with a small press differs from self-publishing, when it makes sense to pursue traditional publishing, the advantages of working with a small press, how to identify small presses that might be interested in your work, how to pitch to a small press, and how being published by a small press can be a valuable first step in your publishing career.

2. Twenty Questions You Need Answered After You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book, taught by Brian A. Klems. After you self-publish your work or get a traditional publishing book deal, there are plenty of things you need to know — such as how to promote yourself, how to keep your career going with multiple books, how you cross between the words of self-publishing and traditional publishing (i.e., use them both) to make the most money, how to build a readership, and much more.

3. Finding, Working with, and Keeping an Agent, taught by Abby Saul. A good agent is a true partner for your writing career: helping you to get published, write well, and maximize your author brand. So how do you get and work with one, and what, exactly, can an agent do for you? This class, taught by a literary agent, will discuss finding an agent (including the art of the query letter), the winding way of the publishing path (and how an agent guides you along it), and what to expect of your agent partnership (including business management, contracts, and editorial processes).


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