Schedule: 2023 Workshop

(Please note that this is an in-person event. We at Writing Day Workshops plan both online/virtual as well as in-person events. This next WWOC is an in-person event happening in Chicago on June 24, 2023. See you there.)

All times listed here are Central Time.



Agent pitches and critique consultations overlap with the sessions below. The schedule of presentation topics below is subject to change and updates:

9:30 – 10:30: Session 1

1. The Paths to Publishing. You wrote a book. Or maybe you’re just getting started on the journey. You may be wondering, “Should I try to get a book deal with a big-name publisher, try to get it published by an independent press, or should I self-publish by myself?” If you’re a first-time author, or don’t have much experience in the publishing industry, this can be an especially dizzying and overwhelming decision. Fortunately, Lindsey Smith—best-selling and award-winning author and literary agent—is ready to help by presenting The Paths to Publishing. Understand the differences between traditional publishing and author-owned publishing (aka self-publishing). Be able to make a decision on which path is best for you and your book. Feel excited to take the next steps and move your project forward.

2. Wrangling With Plot: How to Pace Your Story. This session will lead you on a step-by-step course for plotting a storyline that balances the need for fresh ideas against the need for meeting reader expectations. The focus of this session will be on pacing your novel in a way that quickly engages an audience. This session will also include a discussion on popular novels and movies and how they hit (or miss) when it comes to pacing. Bring the manuscripts you’re working on or get ready to start plotting some new ideas.

10:45 – 11:50: Session 2

1. Overcoming Failure—How to Keep Striving for “Yes” in the Face of a Hundred “Nos.” We’ve all heard the publishing stories that read like fairy tales, about authors who receive multiple offers of representation before selling their manuscript to the highest bidder in a multi-house auction. So how do we cope with dozens of rejections to our own queries, or find a way to keep writing when our own books go out on submission and receive no offers? In this talk, you’ll hear stories of accomplished people who have weathered terrible defeats, and you’ll come to see that “failure” is not the opposite of “success” but is actually the pathway to it. As Julie Eshbaugh’s agent likes to remind her, it only takes one “Yes” for your manuscript to become a book. You’ll leave this talk with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for the process of getting to that Yes.

2. The Agent-Author Relationship. Getting a literary agent to represent your work is a big step, but it’s only the beginning. What happens after an agent says yes? How do you work together to plan a writing career? What if your first book doesn’t sell? How to communicate difficult concerns to your agent? All these questions, and more, will be addressed in this important class.

11:50 – 1:15: Lunch on Your Own

You have 85 minutes on your own to break and eat.

1:15 – 2:30: Session 3

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 Sell a Nonfiction Book, 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, creating a great title (and subtitle), effective pitching, and more.

2:45 – 3:45: Session 4

1. Open Agent Q&A Panel. Several attending literary agents will open themselves up to open Q&A from PWW attendees. Bring your questions and get them answered in this popular session.

2. How to Market Yourself and Your Books: Talking Author Social Media, Blogging, and Platform. 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 online cheaply and easily.

4:00 – 5:00: Session 5

1. Everything You Need to Know About Agents and Query Letters. There are more ways than ever to find and pitch literary agents, so how do you navigate the modern pitching world? Twitter contests? Cold email queries? Online classes taught by agents? All can be helpful. In this class, attendees will understand the basics of query letters, synopses, the difference of pitching fiction vs. nonfiction, agent submission pet peeves, and more.

2. 10 Things I’ve Learned by Editing 1,000 Manuscripts (and What Writers Can Take Away from My Experience). A professional writer is a professional rewriter, so the adage goes. In the publishing industry, the first edit—long before line- or copy-editing come into play—is called the developmental or “dev” edit. It aims to shape the book; to challenge and thus cement its structure; and ultimately to deliver a more competitive product. Thinking like a developmental editor can help you mold your book for success even as you write; it can eventually help you edit yourself so that the book you submit is the book an editor is looking for. In this seminar, we will discuss developmental vs. line- or copy-editing, what dev editors consider when editing and exercises that can help you dev-edit yourself.

5:00: The Day is Over

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We will actually send attendees extra FREE pre-recorded classes as part of their attendance. In addition to getting the weekend’s classes to enjoy live and in person, we will also send you 5 more free recorded classes on the side, from amazing instructors. In the week leading up to your in-person conference, we will send all confirmed attendees these classes below, some of which will aid in your pitching efforts:

  1. “Tips on Pitching Literary Agents & Editors at an In-Person Event,” taught by literary agent Carlie Webber.
  2. “Tips on Pitching Literary Agents & Editors at an Online Event,” taught by literary agent Carlie Webber.
  3. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest,” with literary agents at the online 2022 Minnesota Writing Workshop. (If you enjoy this amazing agent panel, we sell a bundle of these First Pages agent panel recordings here.)
  4. “Ask an Agent Anything: Open Agent Q&A Panel,” with literary agents at the online 2022 Writing Workshop of Chicago.
  5. “Extreme Research For Your Story (If You Dare!),” taught by literary agent Sera Rivers at the online 2022 Writing Conference of Los Angeles.