Schedule: 2019 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. Getting Published in Today’s World: 10 Tips to Make You the Writer Agents and Publishers Want, taught by Brian Klems. If you want to land an agent and a book deal in today¹s market, you’re going to have to do a lot more than just write a great book (though that’s a good start). Brian Klems discusses the challenges writers face in publishing today and offers up 10 practical tips to help you break through the barriers and find success. (Regency Ballroom)

2. So You’ve Finished Writing Your Middle Grade or Young Adult Novel — Now What? taught by Chelsea Bobulski. An in-depth look at how to get your book published, from joining the writing community and crafting a head-turning query letter, to finding the right agent and surviving the submission process. While this class will focus on the route to traditional publication, we will also discuss the pros and cons of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing, and provide resources for those who want to know more about self-publishing, as well as online and print resources to help give your book its best fighting chance in the world of traditional publishing. (Diplomat Ballroom)

3. Settings to Make Your Novel Unforgettable, taught by Erin Bartels. Middle Earth. Lake Wobegon. Manderlay. They’re places we’ve never been and yet may know more intimately than our hometown. The setting of your novel is more than just a stage from which your characters deliver their lines—it’s an integral part of your story. Whether it’s a historical mining town, a modern metropolis, or a place that only exists in your imagination, you need to make it real to your reader. This talk covers best practices for researching and rendering your setting, as well as how to start with nothing but a great setting idea and work your way to an engaging plot and memorable characters. In this workshop, attendees learn how to: choose a setting that not only fits their story but drives their story, use the five senses (and more) to bring it to life, take into account the social, economic, religious, and political landscape that makes up their setting, and decide what details need to be on the page and which details are better left on the cutting room floor. (Ambassador Ballroom)

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. 15 Tips on How to Write Like the Pros, taught by Brian Klems. This workshop is a thorough crash course concerning craft, style and voice. We’ll discuss nuts & bolts tips for sentence construction like how to avoid passive tense, how to use vivid language, how to self-edit your own work, how to make your characters memorable, the art of compelling dialogue, and much more. (Regency Ballroom)

2. Crafting a Query that Sparkles, taught by Bethany Morehead. We often are found sitting at the computer and drawing a blank on how to craft an email query that will not simply be ignored by an agent, editor, and publisher. This course takes you through crafting a submission email that will sparkle with content that is needed to be seen and how to get your work noticed. (Ambassador Ballroom)

3. How to Write a Great Mystery/Thriller/Suspense Novel–and Sell It, taught by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli. A good mystery is easy to sell, horribly hard to write. Elizabeth, who has 13 published mysteries and has two under contract now, will tell you what editors look for, how many dead bodies are necessary, how many red herrings, and how many suspects you need. Well, not exactly. But she will tell you how to begin, how to develop the story until you get to a brilliant end where you leave the reader gasping for more. (Diplomat Ballroom)

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 (Regency Ballroom), 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: The 9 Musts of a Proposal, 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. (Ambassador Ballroom)

3. How to Write Picture Books that Show Inclusion, taught by Lisa Rose. In this session, you will learn about the evolution of diversity in children’s books. You will also learn about books that depict inclusion well, and will have an opportunity to develop unique book pitches that focus on both inclusion and diversity (and more). By the end of this course, you will leave with a new story idea ready for you to write. (Diplomat Ballroom)

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Traditional Publishing 101: Your Book’s Journey from Idea to Shelves, taught by Erin Bartels. For beginning writers who are curious about how a book actually gets made and into the hands of readers, this workshop demystifies what can seem like a convoluted process. As both an author and a longtime publishing professional, Erin Bartels offers an insider’s look at how a book gets from an author’s head into a reader’s hands. Along the way, attendees learn about: getting a literary agent, working with an editor, partnering with marketing managers and publicists, and supporting a sales team. (Ambassador Ballroom)

2. Writing Great Fantasy and Science Fiction That Sells, taught by Steven Piziks. Fantasy and science fiction are enjoying a resurgence, but how do you go about creating a world and writing about creatures who can’t exist? Should you start out trying to write a series or do a standalone novel? And what’s the market like? This workshop addresses the specialized challenges of writing fantasy and science fiction in today’s world. (Diplomat Ballroom)

3. The Best Strategies to Finish Your Novel (Finally!), taught by Chelsea Bobulski. Every writer struggles, at some point or another, to finish their novel. Whether you’re working on your first book and keep getting sidetracked, or whether you’re working on your fifteenth book and the struggle to reach ‘The End’ comes from writer’s block, or too many ideas, or drowning out other people’s voices of what your book should be, this class will give you the tools you need to finally finish your novel (and have fun doing it!). (Regency Ballroom)

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. 18 Frequently Asked Questions About Publishing All Writers Should Know, taught by Brian Klems. Before you publish your work or query an agent (and after), there are plenty of things you need to know — such as how to submit to agents properly, 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 land book blurbs, how to find other writers who can help you, and much more. (Regency Ballroom)

2. Everything Writers Need to Know About Copyrights, Contracts, Defamation and More, taught by Jacqueline Lipton. Can you quote song lyrics in your novel? Are you allowed to write about real people? How do you prevent someone from stealing your story idea? Can you re-use a title someone else has used for his or her book? What’s the difference between copyright and plagiarism? Legal issues are becoming increasingly important for authors, particularly those who self-publish without the benefit of an agent or attorney. The most common legal issues that impact authors and the publishing industry are copyright, contract, and, to some extent, defamation and privacy law. This workshop provides an introduction for both self-publishing and traditionally published authors to basic legal issues they may confront when writing and marketing their work. (Ambassador Ballroom)

3. Not Your Mother’s Romance Genre: How to Write Romance for Today’s Readers (& Publishers), taught by Aliza Mann. The romance genre has greatly evolved since its start and is ever-changing. Authors in this genre have learned how to appeal to savvy readers while delivering a modern take on relationships. For that very reason, it remains one of the highest grossing literary genres, earning upwards of $1B on an annual basis. This workshop offers an introduction to romance, will explore the evolution of the genre (including love-making positivity), the ins-and-outs of the industry today, and how to be carve a career in a wildly competitive marketplace. (Diplomat Ballroom)


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.