Schedule: 2023 MWW 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 MWW is an in-person event happening in St. Paul on March 25, 2023. See you there.)

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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. 10 Things I’ve Learned by Editing 1,000 Manuscripts (and What Writers Can Take Away from My Experience), taught by Mary Kole. 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.

2. The Quintessential Query: Writing a Query Letter that Gets Noticed, taught by Catherine Hedrick Armstrong. Not getting the agent response from your query that you’d hoped? Or maybe you’re brand new to the querying process and aren’t sure where to start. Join us for this short session outlining the key elements of a stand-out query, and discover what keeps an agent reading. Bring your own best query letters and, if time permits, we’ll look at them as a group and provide feedback. All query submissions will remain anonymous unless the authors wish to identify themselves.

10:45 – 11:50: Session 2

1. Create Awesome First Pages That Get Requests for More, taught by Savannah Brooks. This presentation, taught by a literary agent, covers the why and how of inserting motivation, voice, and tension into the first page. Most agents will never make it past reading your first page — even your first few paragraphs. How do you insert tension and great writing to add intrigue and get someone to keep turning the pages? This class will help you learn how.

2. Building an Author Brand, taught by Claire Harris. Learn how to thoughtfully and intentionally cultivate your author brand. From identifying what your author identity is (or should be) to how you can convey that image online to connecting with fellow readers and writers who will support you throughout your publishing journey, this workshop will answer all the questions you didn’t realize you had about marketing yourself alongside your books.

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 Write and Publish a Nonfiction Book, taught by Kerrie Flanagan. Do you have a wealth of knowledge, experience or curiosity about a topic and want to share that with others? Why not put all that information into a book. Nonfiction continues to be one of the top selling genres. During the session, Kerrie Flanagan will show you how to refine your idea, define your audience, organize your information, create an effective outline, learn about publishing options, and learn the components of an effective book proposal. Following this session you will have an overview of how to successfully write and publish a nonfiction book.

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 MWW attendees. Bring your questions and get them answered in this popular session.

2. All About Comps: A Primer on Talking About Comparable Titles in Your Query, taught by Laura Zats. Choosing comp titles for your book is notoriously tricky, but they don’t always have to be. The best comps are ones that work in concert with the rest of your pitch, so using whole, real-world query letters, we will do a deep dive into how you can make the most of this pesky metadata. This session, which will be the most useful for querying or soon-to-be querying writers, will also cover the different types of comp titles, how to find them, and will go in-depth on industry-wide best practices and rules.

4:00 – 5:00: Session 5

1. Wrangling With Plot: How to Pace Your Story, by Anne Greenwood Brown. In this session, a USA Today bestselling romance author leads 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.

2. How to Know if an Agent Offer of Representation is Right for You, taught by Erin Casey Westin. You queried! You got a full manuscript request! An agent wants to have a call! Hooray! But what do you ask them? And what do the answers mean? How do you know if you’re an ideal, longterm match with this agent? Have no fear! This presentation will cover everything you need to know before having The Call, including important questions to ask, questions NOT to ask, possible red flags, and what to do when the call is over. Ideally you’ll leave this session confident that when the time comes, you know what to ask to find the best representative for you and your work.

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.