Schedule: 2020 Workshop

(IMPORTANT MAY 2020 UPDATE: The 2020 WWoC is now an Online Conference to keep everyone safe. There is much more to say about this, but immediately you should understand 1) This will be easy and awesome, and online conferences we’ve done thus far have received wonderful feedback, 2) You do not have to be tech-savvy to do this, and 3) We are keeping all aspects of the event, including one-on-one agent & editor pitching, which will now be done by Skype or phone. Learn all details about the new June 27 WWoC Online Conference here and what everything means.)



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. Plotting Your Novel (or How Outlining Can Prevent Your Head Exploding), taught by Julie Hyzy. First drafts are how authors tell themselves the story. Do you need an outline to get started? Do all authors outline at some level? As you’re writing, how best to keep all the story’s twists and turns straight in your head? How can we know what’s coming yet keep the story fresh for ourselves as well as for our readers?

2. The Most Common Query/Submission Mistakes and How to Fix Them, taught by Alyssa Roat. After looking at hundreds upon hundreds of submissions, I’ve noticed quite a few trends in what makes a good—and not so good—submission. This class demystifies what agents and editors are looking for and will cover submission do’s and don’ts from formatting, to etiquette, to information you should (and shouldn’t) include.

3. Do’s & Don’ts in Science Fiction & Fantasy World Building, taught by Eric Smith. Join literary agent Eric Smith for a chat about worldbuilding in SFF! Some of the books he’s worked on in the SFF include Mike Chen’s critically acclaimed Here & Now & Then as well as A Beginning at the End, Alison Stine’s Road Out of Winter, Julia Ember’s Ruinsong, Helen Corcoran’s Queen of Coin and Whispers, and more! He’ll dig into what works and what doesn’t, drawing from his experience as both an agent of SFF and a writer of it.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Writing Mystery/Thriller/Crime Fiction, taught by Julie Hyzy. From cozy mysteries to thrillers and all the crime fiction in between: Why this genre is so much fun to write, why it endures, and how to craft suspense in your stories. In this session, a best-selling authors explains these topics, and more.

2. Publicity and Marketing 101 for New Authors, taught by Jessica Burkhart. Author Jessica Burkhart will teach workshop participants how to market and publicize their book no matter if one is from a small house or a large one. With a minuscule to non-existent publicity budget, Jess was able to help her books sell over 1 million copies. Jess will begin with a brief introduction about why self-promotion and marketing are important. Then, she will detail how and when to begin putting together a marketing plan which includes a monthly to-do list as far as 18 months from publication. Jess will share the best tips and tricks she learned in her ten years promoting her books. The remaining workshop time will be dedicated to Q&A.


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 (Windsor Room), 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 Picture Books that Show Inclusion, taught by Lisa Rose. In this session you will learn about the evolution of diversity in children’s books. You will also learn about books that depict inclusion well, and will have an opportunity to develop unique book pitches that focus on both inclusion and diversity (and more). By the end of this course, you will leave with a new story idea ready for you to write.

3. Romance 101, taught by Sally Kilpatrick. Have you always wanted to write a romance but didn’t know where to start? This workshop will include the basics of writing a romance novel including tropes, industry terminology, and how to find an agent or editor as well as what to do with your novel once you’ve finished it. In addition to writing (plot, characterization, revision), you’ll also learn about the pros and cons of traditional publishing, indie publishing, and a hybrid approach.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Setting, Sidekicks, and other Supporting Players, taught by Julie Hyzy. It is the rare protagonist who makes it through an adventure without a little help from their friends. Fully realized secondary characters and vivid settings are crucial to creating a memorable tale. Learn how to layer details and craft subplots without slowing the story’s pace.

2. Panel: Ask an Agent Anything. In this session, attending 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.

3. How to Write Young Adult and Middle Grade that Sells, taught by Jessica Burkhart. Author Jessica Burkhart will take writers through creating a YA or MG novel that sells. Jess will use forty-five minutes to explore: brainstorming a concept and idea, outlining and what kind of outline Jess uses, creating relatable characters, constructing an interesting setting, crafting realistic voice and realizing the importance of a strong chapter ending. Jess will include her favorite list of resources, too, that will be helpful to both new and veteran writers. The remaining workshop time will be dedicated to Q&A.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. Self-Publishing: Top 10 Ways To Get It Right, taught by Marian L. Thomas. From book cover design to getting your ISBN, this note-taking worthy session will take you through the top 10 ways to self-publish your first book the right way. Learn cost-saving strategies and marketing techniques, plus learn how to get reviews and reach book clubs.

2. 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.

3. Making Social Media Work For You, taught by Kenzi Nevins. As authors, most of us wish we could spend more time writing and leave marketing to the experts, but in today’s world, social media is a necessary part of our job. Fortunately, with a little work, you can turn it in to a vehicle for reaching the world with your words, rather than a frustrating time-waster.


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.