The 2017 Michigan Writing Workshop: March 25, 2017

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 9.18.06 AM.pngAfter a successful 2015 event in Detroit, Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2017 Michigan Writing Workshop — a full-day “How to Get Published” writing event outside of Detroit, MI on March 25, 2017.

This writing event is a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. Note that there are limited seats at the event (150 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2017 Michigan Writing Workshop!


This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, March 25, 2017, at The Baronette Renaissance Detroit-Novi Hotel. In other words, it’s one day full of classes and advice designed to give you the best instruction concerning how to get your writing & books published. We’ll discuss your publishing opportunities today, how to write queries & pitches, how to market yourself and your books, what makes an agent/editor stop reading your manuscript, and more. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres are welcome.

This event is designed to squeeze as much into one day of learning as possible. You can ask any questions you like during the classes, and get your specific concerns addressed. We will have literary agents onsite to give feedback and take pitches from writers, as well. This year’s agent faculty so far includes:

  • [NEW] literary agent Moe Ferrara (BookEnds Literary)
  • literary agent Abby Saul (The Lark Group)
  • literary agent Alexandra Weiss (Jennifer De Chiara Literary)
  • literary agent Elana Roth Parker (Laura Dail Literary Agency)
  • literary agent Irene Goodman (Irene Goodman Literary)
  • literary agent Paul Stevens (Donald Maass Literary)
  • literary agent Regina Brooks (Serendipity Literary)
  • literary agent Sara Megibow (KT Literary)
  • literary agent Jennifer Wills (The Seymour Agency)
  • literary agent Janna Bonikowski (The Knight Agency)
  • literary agent Kirsten Carleton (Prospect Agency)
  • editor Elizabeth May (Kensington Publishing)
  • literary agent Alice Speilburg (Speilburg Literary)
  • literary agent Michael Caligaris (Holloway Literary Agency)
  • agent assistant Lesley Sabga (The Seymour Agency)
  • and possibly more to come

By the end of the day, you will have all the tools you need to move forward on your writing journey. This independent event is organized by coordinator Jessica Bell of Writing Day Workshops, with assistance from the Michigan SCBWI (Detroit chapter).


9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, March 25, 2017, at The Baronette Renaissance Detroit-Novi Hotel: A Marriott Hotel, 27790 Novi Rd, Novi, MI 48377. (248)349-7800. If you wish to reserve a hotel room at the hotel using the event’s group block rate, use this signup link.

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 10.25.17 AM.png


What you see below is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.

Please Note: There will be 2-3 classes/workshops going at all times during the day, so you will have your choice of what class you attend at any time. The final schedule of topics is subject to change, but here is the current layout:

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

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

* Official welcome from coordinator Jessica Bell.

1. An Overview of Your Publishing Options Today (Grand Oak 2+3 combined). This workshop examines traditional publishing vs. self-publishing / e-publishing.

2. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction (Grand Oak 1). This session will discuss the tips and tricks for making middle grade and YA novels great.

3. How to Write, Sell, and Market Your Memoir (Grand Oak 4). In this session, you’ll learn what sells (and why), and how you can get your memoir published.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.44.34 AMBLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Talking Diversity in Fiction (Grand Oak 1). Educate yourself on what it means to write diverse characters, and how the publishing industry is looking for a variety of voices and characters in the new stories they acquire.

2. Everything You Need to Know About Agents and Query Letters (Grand Oak 2+3 combined). This workshop is a thorough crash course in dealing with literary agents.

3. Ten Tips for Writing Great Mysteries, Thrillers, and Crime Fiction (Grand Oak 4). This presentation will teach you how to keep readers—including agents and editors—turning pages late into the night.

(What you see here is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.)

LUNCH ON YOUR OWN: 11:50 – 1:15

Lunch is on your own during these 85 minutes.

BLOCK THREE: 1:15 – 2:30

1. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest (Grand Oak 2+3 combined). 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.
2.  Nonfiction Intense: Book Proposal Tips (Grand Oak 4). If you are trying to create an awesome nonfiction book proposal, this presentation is for you.

3. Picture Book Intensive: Advice on Selling Your Children’s Book (Grand Oak 1). In this session, we’ll discuss questions to consider before sending a picture book manuscript out in the world.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. How to Self-Publish Your Book Now and Do It Right (Grand Oak 4). You’ll learn how to: prepare your manuscript, design your cover, format your paperback interior & ebook, register with desired retailers/distributors, and much more.

2. Ten Keys to Writing Success (Grand Oak 2+3 combined). Learn 10 things you can be doing right now that will help get your book(s) published and find success.

3. Talking Fantasy and Science Fiction (Grand Oak 1). A presentation that discusses the genres of science fiction and fantasy — i.e., how to write and sell speculative fiction.

(What you see here is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.)

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. Author Social Media and Blogging (Grand Oak 1). This session includes easy-to-understand advice on social media (Twitter, Facebook, more), blogging, and other simple ways you can market your work online.

2. Talking Craft and Revision (Grand Oak 2+3 combined). This session will discuss common manuscript problems as well as tools you can use to create the manuscripts that will get the attention you want from agents and editors—and readers.

3. How to Write and Sell Romance in Today’s Market (Grand Oak 4). This session will address important topics and tips for writers of romance.


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

Agent & Editor Pitching: All throughout the day.



Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 12.24.27 AM.pngMoe Ferrara [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with BookEnds Literary Agency. Moe is interested in books for middle grade, young adult, and adult readers in most genres–especially science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, and light horror. The right contemporary or paranormal romance (sans-vampires of course) will spark her interest. She’s LGBTQ friendly, so send her that male/male erotic romance in your back pocket. Learn more about Moe here.

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.05.34 AM.pngAbby Saul [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with The Lark Group. She’s looking for great and engrossing writing, no matter what the genre, and is actively exploring new digital possibilities for books. (She also occasionally reps young adult and middle grade, but does not want to see fantasy or science fiction for any age of reader.) A magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College, Abby spends her weekends—when she’s not reading—cooking and hiking with her husband. Learn more about Abby here.

Screen Shot 2016-10-17 at 10.35.49 AM.pngAlexandra Weiss [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Jennifer De Chiara Literary. Within young adult, the genres she is most interested in representing include realism, science fiction, and fantasy – but also stories that include magic (think The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern) are her favorite, as are stories that include space and science. She loves stories that include diverse and risk-taking subjects, including culture, race, sexuality, and identity. She also seeks all types of adventurous, silly, and out-of-the-box children and middle grade books. Books with or without pictures intrigue her, and she is most interested in a character-driven story and big plot to explore. Concerning adult fiction, she is looking for strong literary voices that take the notion that every story is a love story to new levels.  She seeks interested in complex relationship stories that surround something bigger. Alexandra is open to most adult genres, but heavy mystery, horror, or thriller stories are not for her. Books that are written in or include uses of uncommon formats (uses of letters, screenplay, photos, poetry, or collection of short stories or essays) is another unique quality she looks for. Learn more about Alexandra here.

Screen Shot 2016-10-12 at 12.38.19 PM.pngJennifer Wills [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with The Seymour Agency. Jennifer is particularly interested in a wide range of picture books and cookbooks, with a soft spot for author-illustrators of sweet and wacky picture books, and cookbooks with mouth-watering recipes of the health conscious, budget friendly or celebrity chef variety. For fiction, she’s also interested in middle grade and YA with a sci fi/fantasy, horror/suspense, or contemporary bent, and upmarket women’s fiction with a sense of humor. On the nonfiction side, narrative nonfiction and memoir are also welcome. Jennifer tends to shy away from rhyming picture books, historical fiction and high fantasy, although she’s willing to make exceptions.  If your manuscript has a great hook, a distinct voice, and can make her laugh out loud or ugly cry (or, even better, both), she’d love to see it. Learn more about Jennifer here.

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 11.34.00 PM.pngIrene Goodman [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent and the founder of Irene Goodman Literary. Her fiction list includes upmarket women’s fiction, middle grade novels, young adult novels, thrillers, historical fiction, and mystery novels. Her nonfiction list includes pop culture titles, Jewish interest, science, self-help books, Francophilia, and lifestyle. Learn more about Irene here.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.18.49 AM.pngRegina Brooks [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Serendipity Literary Agency. She seeks young adult and middle grade fiction. In nonfiction, she is open to any subject where the author has a great platform, but especially enjoys memoir, health, how-to, business / finance, relationships, biography, cooking, and science. At the workshop, she will also be teaching on memoir writing. Learn more about Regina here.

Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 11.18.08 AM.pngSara Megibow [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with KT Literary. Sara specializes in middle grade fiction, young adult fiction, romance novels, erotica, adult science fiction novels, and adult fantasy novels. Sara is LGBTQ-friendly and presents regularly at children’s book writing and romance writing events around the country. Learn more about Sara and her wishlist here.

Screen Shot 2016-10-26 at 12.38.01 PM.pngPaul Stevens [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with the Donald Maass Literary Agency. Paul is looking for science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, suspense, and humor (both fiction and nonfiction). He’s looking for strong stories with interesting characters. Well-rounded LGBT characters and characters of color are a plus. Paul is not looking for short story collections, poetry, memoirs, screenplays, picture books, or chapter books. Learn more about Paul here.

Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 7.14.57 PM.pngElizabeth May [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is an editorial assistant at Kensington Publishing Corporation. She is seeking: Fiction areas of interest include action/adventure, commercial, fantasy, general, historical, horror, humorous, LGBTQ, literary, mystery, new adult, religious, romance, science fiction, women’s fiction. Nonfiction areas of interest: biography, crafts/DIY, history, humor, journalism, memoir, pop culture, travel, and true crime. Learn more about Elizabeth here.

screen-shot-2014-09-26-at-12-34-10-amAlice Speilburg [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent at Speilburg Literary. In nonfiction, she’s looking for authors with established platforms who are writing books in the following categories: biography, food, gender issues, health, history, literary journalism, music, pop culture, relationships, science, travel. In fiction, she’s currently looking for character-driven novels that fall under the following genres: historical fiction, mainstream, literary, mystery, science fiction, thriller/suspense, middle grade, and young adult. Learn more about Alice here.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 3.46.16 PM.pngKirsten Carleton [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with The Prospect Agency. She is seeking the following fiction genres: action, adventure, crime, fantasy, general, historical, humor, LGBTQ, literary, military, mystery, science fiction, thriller, and young adult. “I’m interested in YA, speculative, and literary fiction in which I connect with the characters and can’t wait to read what they will do next. Great writing is a must, but not enough to stand alone: I want plot, action, movement.” Learn more about Kirsten here.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 12.11.39 PM.pngJanna Bonikowski [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with The Knight Agency. She is seeking romance, women’s fiction, literary/commercial fiction, suspense, young adult, and historical fiction. With such a wide range of literary loves, she manically adds to her to-be-read pile every new-release Tuesday, supporting the economy one book purchase at a time. Get to know more about Janna here.

Screen Shot 2016-10-18 at 4.09.19 PM.pngMichael Caligaris [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Holloway Literary Agency. His interests are as follows: literary Fiction, autobiographical fiction (i.e., So Long, See You Tomorrow; A River Runs Through It; Sylvia), short story collections or connected stories as a novel (i.e., Jennifer Egan, Elizabeth Strout, Junot Diaz), LGBTQ lit, novels that are set in the Midwest or could be considered Americana, crime fiction, mystery/noir (i.e., Walter Mosley, Kate Atkinson, Lou Berney), dystopian fiction, civil unrest/political uprising/ war novels, memoir, New Journalism and/or long-form journalism, essay collections (on art, race, mental health, music, etc.), satirical/humor writing, and environmental writing. Learn more about Michael here.

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 4.43.20 PM.pngLesley Sabga [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is an agent assistant at The Seymour Agency. She is taking pitches on behalf of all of the agency’s acquiring agents (except for Jennifer Wills, who is attending the event also). She wants to hear pitches for  happily-ever-after romance, mainstream suspense, thrillers, mysteries, young adult with a fresh voice (both contemporary and sci-fi/fantasy), science fiction, fantasy, action/adventure, Christian/inspirational fiction and nonfiction, women’s fiction (contemporary and historical), new adult, Southern fiction, and literary fiction. Learn more about Lesley here.

Screen Shot 2016-10-12 at 12.37.28 PM.pngElana Roth Parker [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent at Laura Dail Literary Agency, Inc. She seeks juvenile fiction books, including children’s picture books, middle grade fiction, and young adult fiction. Learn more about Elana here.

        More 2017 agents to be announced as they are confirmed. You can sign up for pitches at any time, or switch pitches at any time, so long as the agent in question still has appointments open.

These one-on-one meetings are an amazing chance to pitch your book face-to-face with an agent, and get personal, individual feedback on your pitch/concept. If the agent likes your pitch, they’ll request to see part/all of your book — sending you straight past the slush pile. It also gives you an intimate chance to meet with an agent and pick their brain with any questions on your mind.

(Please note that Agent/Editor Pitching is an add-on, separate aspect of the day, for only those who sign up. Spaces are limited for these premium meetings, and pricing/detail is explained below.)



$169 — EARLY BIRD base price for registration to the 2017 MWW and access to all workshops, all day. As of October 10, 2016, registration is now OPEN.

Add $29 — to secure a 10-minute one-on-one meeting with any of our literary agents or editors in attendance. Use this special meeting as a chance to pitch your work and get professional feedback on your pitch. (Spaces limited.) If they wish, attendees are free to sign up for multiple 10-minute pitch sessions at $29/session — pitching multiple individuals, or securing 20 minutes to pitch one person rather than the usual 10. Here are four quick testimonials regarding writers who have signed with literary agents after pitching them at prior Writing Day Workshops events. (Our bigger, growing list of success stories can be seen here.)

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.07.49 AM.pngI signed with my agent, Patricia Nelson, after
meeting her at the Arizona Writing Workshop.”
– writer Axie Oh

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.07.56 AM.png“I officially signed with agent Renee Nyen of KT
Literary. I met her at the Colorado Writing
Workshop.” – writer Jessie Hilb Akos

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.08.00 AM.png“After taking pitches at the Michigan Writing
Workshop, I signed writer Kyle Prue as a new
client.” – literary agent Veronica Park

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.08.09 AM.png“After taking pitches at the Alabama Writing
Workshop, I met Erin Hollis at a pitch session, and
she is now my newest client.” – agent Julie Gwinn

Add $69 — for an in-depth, personal critique of your one-page query letter from Chuck Sambuchino, one of the day’s instructors. (This rate is a special event value for Michigan Writing Workshop attendees only.) Registrants are encouraged to take advantage of the specially-priced critique, so they can send out their query letter with confidence following the workshop. Also, if you are meeting with an agent at the event, you’re essentially speaking your query letter aloud to them. Wouldn’t it be wise to give that query letter (i.e., your pitch) one great edit before that meeting?

Add $79 — for an in-depth personal critique of the first 10 pages of your novel. Spaces with faculty for these critiques are very limited, and participating attendees get an in-person meeting at the workshop. Options:

  • [NEW] Adult fantasy and science fiction: Faculty member David Erik Nelson, a published science fiction author, will get your work in advance, edit the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • Young adult / middle grade / chapter books: Faculty member Madeline Smoot, a children’s book editor, will get your work in advance, edit the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting. No picture books, please.
  • Memoir / contemporary fiction (literary fiction, mainstream fiction, women’s fiction): Faculty member Weam Namou, a published author, will get your work in advance, edit the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting. Please note that if you submit adult fiction to her (literary fiction, etc.), it should be a contemporary story — i.e., not a historical tale nor one with magical elements.
  • Mystery, suspense, crime, thriller, women’s fiction, romance (all types), and new adult romance [SOLD OUT]: Faculty member Tara Carberry, a former literary agent, will get your work in advance, edit the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting. (Tara is sold out of appointments as of March 1, 2017.)
  • More critique options: Details forthcoming.

How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Jessica Bell via email:, and she will provide specific instructions for payment and registration to get you a reserved seat at the event. Payment is by either PayPal or check. Because Jessica plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Michigan workshop specifically.


Because of limited space at the venue, the workshop can only allow 150 registrants, unless spacing issues change. For this reason, we encourage you to book sooner rather than later.

Are spaces still available? Yes, we still have spaces available. We will announce RIGHT HERE, at this point on this web page, when all spaces are taken. If you do not see a note right here saying how all spaces are booked, then yes, we still have room, and you are encouraged to register.

How to Register: The easy first step is simply to reach out to workshop organizer Jessica Bell via email: She will pass along registration information to you, and give instructions on how to pay by PayPal or check. Once payment is complete, you will have a reserved seat at the event. The MWW will send out periodic e-mail updates to all registered attendees with any & all news about the event. Because Jessica plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Michigan workshop specifically.

Refunds: If you sign up for the event and have to cancel for any reason at any time, you will receive 50% of your total payment back [sent by check or PayPal]. The other 50% is nonrefundable and will not be returned, and helps the workshop ensure that only those truly interested in the limited spacing sign up for the event. (Please note that query editing payments and manuscript editing payments are completely non-refundable if the instructor has already edited your work.)

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Thank you for your interest in the 2017 Michigan Writing Workshop.


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