Schedule: 2017 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, but here is the current layout:

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), taught by Chuck Sambuchino. This workshop examines the two largest routes any writer can take with their book: traditional publishing and self-publishing / e-publishing. We will examine the upsides of both routes, the challenges with both, and the next steps no matter what you decide. In today’s publishing world, a writer has to understand what they’re in for before they send their book out. This session is designed to prepare them for what’s to come and what options exist.

2. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction (Grand Oak 1), taught by Madeline Smoot. Writing for children isn’t all that different from writing for adults. You still need great characters in interesting situations doing meaningful things. However, there are some genre specific things to keep in mind when crafting books for those readers under 18. In this session, presenter Madeline Smoot, acquiring editor for CBAY Books, 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), taught by agent Regina Brooks. Writing and selling a commercially viable memoir in today’s marketplace can often seem difficult. But even more daunting is knowing how to get the competitive edge so that agents and editors will take your project seriously and be willing to take a chance on you even if you don’t happen to be famous. In this session, you’ll learn what sells (and why), and how you can get your memoir published

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Talking Diversity in Fiction (Grand Oak 1), taught by Kirsten Carleton. Diversity is the hot-button issue in publishing, and navigating it can feel like a minefield. What’s the big deal, and what’s your role in all this as a writer? In this session, we’ll talk about how discussions about diversity affect you commercially and artistically, and what goes into researching & writing diverse characters.

2. Everything You Need to Know About Agents and Query Letters (Grand Oak 2+3 combined), taught by Chuck Sambuchino. This workshop is a thorough crash course in dealing with literary agents. After quickly going over what an agent is and what they do for writers, we will discuss resources for finding agents, how to ID the best agents for you, query letter writing, as well as the most important things to do and not to do when dealing with representatives.

3. Ten Tips for Writing Great Mysteries, Thrillers, and Crime Fiction (Grand Oak 4), taught by D.E. Johnson. If you’re writing a thriller, suspense novel, mystery, or crime novel, you will not want to miss this speech. This presentation will teach you how to keep readers—including agents and editors—turning pages late into the night.

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 (Grand Oak 2+3 combined), with participating literary agents. 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.  Nonfiction Intense: Book Proposal Tips (Grand Oak 1), taught by Chuck Sambuchino. 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. Picture Book Intensive: Advice on Selling Your Children’s Book (Grand Oak 4), taught by Madeline Smoot. Picture books are tricky works of art that require a lot to happen in very few words. 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), taught by Weam Namou. Self-publishing provides an enormous opportunity to writers, but how do you make sure you’re giving yourself the best chances of success? How do you get a good cover and a chance for your books to sell? Perhaps you feel ready to self-publish, but dread the massive learning curve. Well, dread no more. This workshop will explain exactly what you need to know by suggesting a foolproof, cost-efficient, time-efficient, extremely easy-to-follow, step-by-step self-publishing method. You’ll learn how to: prepare your manuscript, design your cover, format your paperback interior & ebook, register with desired retailers/distributors, and much more. Not only will this course save you time and money, but it will also save you from inevitable stress.

2. Ten Keys to Writing Success (Grand Oak 2+3 combined), taught by Chuck Sambuchino. Learn 10 things you can be doing right now that will help get your book(s) published and have more control over your writing destiny. This is a general course that addresses commonsense things any writer can do to give their work the best shot at getting published, such as writing the best thing they can, stealing from themselves, and why writing for love and money is a good idea.

3. Talking Fantasy and Science Fiction (Grand Oak 1), taught by Paul Stevens. This session will discuss 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.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. How to Market Yourself and Your Books: Talking Author Social Media, Blogging, and Platform (Grand Oak 1), taught by Chuck Sambuchino. 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.

2. Talking Craft and Revision (Grand Oak 2+3 combined), taught by D.E. Johnson. Learn how to craft excellent fiction, and then ruthlessly self-edit your own work. 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), taught by Janna Bonikowski. This panel will address important topics such as what makes up a romance, the differences between romance and similar genres, romance novel guidelines and rules, how to craft a story that stands out in the market, how to find romance markets such as agents and contests and publishers, and an overview of romance in the publishing industry today.


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.