THIS YEAR’S SESSION & WORKSHOPS:
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
1. A Bird’s-eye View of Publishing and Books in the Year 2018 (Grand Salon 1+2 combined), 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. Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction: Tricks and Traps (Design and Discovery rooms combined), taught by Scott Hawkins. Science fiction and fantasy writers face a unique challenge: How do you convey the details of imaginary worlds without bogging down your story? This workshop will focus on practical techniques you can use to immerse readers in your world. In parallel with that, you’ll learn common narrative pitfalls and suggest specific techniques for avoiding them.
3. Ten Romance Writing Tips to Keep Readers Turning Pages (Grand Salon 3), by Susan Sands. Engage romance readers from the first page with irresistible hooks, clear writing, sharp dialogue, and engaging characters in heart-pounding, romantic settings.
BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50
1. Understanding Literary Agents and Query Letters (Grand Salon 1+2 combined), taught by Kristy Hunter. Taught by an attending literary agent, this session will teach you how to find agents, how to get them interested in your work, and how to stand out from the slush by 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.
2. Voice and Craft: Tips on How to Write Like the Pros (Design and Discovery rooms combined), 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.
3. You Got a Book Deal! — Now What? (Grand Salon 3), by Latoya C. Smith. This session, taught by literary agent and former editor Latoya C. Smith, examines what happens after you sign on the dotted line. Whether an author gets a book deal from a Big 5 Publisher or a regional press down the block, they oftentimes have no idea what to expect once a contract is in place. This session will examine how a publisher’s editorial process works, how you can be a valuable long-term client to your publisher, basic marketing steps you can do, how collaborating with a publicist actually works, the value of writing your next book during downtime, what is expected of you around your book’s release date, and more.
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 Salon 1+2 combined), 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 (Design and Discovery rooms combined), 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 (Grand Salon 3), taught by Shelli Johannes. 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. Book Marketing for Writers (Grand Salon 1+2 combined), taught by Angela DeCaires. Many authors think drafting their manuscript is the hardest or most time-consuming step in the publishing process, but it’s actually the marketing and promotion. This easy-to-understand workshop will cover the simple basics of book marketing, including: methods today’s authors can use, tips on using social media to promote a book, and what skills an author needs to market a book in this digital age.
2. Tips for Writing Great Mysteries, Thrillers, and Crime (Design and Discovery rooms combined), taught by Susan Crawford. If you’re writing a thriller, suspense novel, mystery, or crime novel, you will not want to miss this speech. The presentation will teach you how to keep readers—including agents and editors—turning pages late into the night.
3. How to Revise and Self Edit Your Manuscript — Without Losing Your Mind (Grand Salon 3), by Susan Sands. This workshop focuses on tips to help you dive back into your story after typing “The End.” Learn how to refine your writing, improve your work, and wrestle the beast into something someone will want to publish.
BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00
1. Twenty Questions You Need Answered Before You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book (Grand Salon 1+2 combined), 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.
2. Your Story: Writing and Publishing a Memoir (Design and Discovery rooms combined), taught by Mark Beaver. Join us for conversation about bringing the story of your life to the page. We’ll discuss “truth” in nonfiction, story structure, voice, and marketing your project. We’ll also spend considerable time exploring how to make your story about more than just you. Whether you’ve lived an “ordinary” life or an unconventional one, you’ll gain the tips and techniques that will make readers care.
3. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction (Grand Salon 3), taught by Shelli Johannes. 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.
SESSIONS END: 5:00
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.