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

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. A Bird’s-eye View of Publishing and Books in the Year 2018 (State Suite), taught by Brian Klems. This workshop is quick and easy 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.

2. The Joy of Self-Editing: How to Hit Delete Before Your Editor Does (Governor 1), 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 Exciting Thrillers and Mysteries (Governor 2), taught by Allen Eskens. If you’re writing a thriller, suspense novel, mystery, or crime novel, you will not want to miss this speech. The presentation, taught by successful published thriller writer Allen Eskens (whose work has been adapted into 16 languages), will show you how to up the ante and hook readers with intrigue, suspense, and skill.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Query Letter Comprehensive (State Suite), taught by Erik Hane. 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. Sell Your Books and Yourself — Social Media and Book Marketing 101 (Governor 1), 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 online cheaply and easily.

3. A Self-Publishing Overview: What You Need to Know (Governor 2), taught by Amanda Shofner. The best (and worst) part of self-publishing is having all the control. There are many decisions to make. Print or ebook? CreateSpace or IngramSpark? Freelancers or self-publishing company? How much editing does your book really need? With all the choices you have and decisions to make, it can be difficult to know where to start. This workshop gives you the foundational knowledge you need to determine the right publishing path for you.

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 (State Suite), 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 (Governor 1), 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. With both a writer and agent to instruct and answers questions, 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 (Governor 2), taught by Mary Cummings. 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. Talking Fantasy and Science Fiction (Governor 1), taught by literary agent & author Eric Smith. A discussion regarding the genres of science fiction and fantasy — how the markets are changing, what writers can do to improve their craft in these genres, and much more. It’s a great session to attend if you’re trying to write and sell speculative fiction. Instructor Eric Smith not only acquires these genres, but is published in them, as well, as a YA author with Bloomsbury.

2. Twenty Questions You Need Answered Before You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book (State Suite), taught by Brian 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.

3. How to Write and Sell Romance in Today’s Market (Governor 2), 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. Twenty Questions You Need Answered After You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book (State Suite), taught by Brian 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.

2. Simple Editing Tricks for Enhancing Voice (Governor 1), taught by Laura Zats. In fiction, a solid, engaging voice is the hardest thing to nail down. The reason why a book’s voice might fail is very often linked to one issue: a lack of connectivity between a character and the space they occupy (both their body and the world around them). The good news is that there’s a fairly simple solution to this problem: deepening POV. This class will focus on some simple self-editing techniques you can use to deepen your book’s POV without rewriting entire chapters.

3. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction (Governor 2), taught by David Oppegaard. In a world awash with media options, writing for teens and pre-teens is as demanding as ever. In this session we’ll discuss the various challenges of writing for readers and go over attention grabbing strategies for doing so.


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.