Schedule: 2020 Workshop


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: This is Going to Be Harsh: 10 Things that Writers Need to Know About Writing and Publishing, taught by Cecilia Lyra. This session, taught by a literary agent, is a no-nonsense class on what aspiring (and even published) writers need to understand immediately to make the most out of their writing career and journey.

10:45 – 11:45: Working With a Literary Agent, taught by Kortney Price. This session, taught by a literary agent, explains how to best work with a literary agent once you have found representation. Have do you deal with long wait times when your work is on submission? How to communicate effectively with an agent when you’re not on the same page? What happens when you want to write in a different genre, but the agent doesn’t rep that category? These questions, and more, will be addressed.

1:15 – 2:30: “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 or picture books. 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.

2:45 – 3:45: So You’ve Finished Writing and Revising Your Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel — Now What? by Julie Eshbaugh. 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.

4:00 – 5:00: The Dos and Don’ts of Pitching Picture Books: What Agents and Editors Need to See, taught by Kelly Andrews. I’ll answer questions like; Do I need to work with an illustrator to develop my story? How many pages should a picture book be? What’s trending right now? Then, we’ll go into how best to pitch you picture book, answering questions like; What’s going to catch an agent’s eye? Are comparison titles really that important? And, what should I look for when researching agents?


9:30 – 10:30: How to Write a Damn Good Query Letter, taught by Eric Smith. In this lively workshop, a literary agent will guide you through some of the key dos and don’ts of putting your best self forward in your query letter. Can you be funny? Is there such a thing as being too clever? How much do rhetorical questions suck? [A: yes, yes, and a lot.] We’ll cover these questions and more and offer tons of insight from the agent’s side of the desk, so you can ensure that your query stands out (in a good way.)

10:45 – 11:45: Subsidiary Rights — What are They, and When Does It Make Sense to Retain? taught by Bibi Lewis. In this workshop, a literary agent will outline the key subsidiary rights (foreign, audio, book club, first serial etc.) and teach authors the ins and outs of retaining and reselling rights. When is it important to put up a fight? Which of my works will be sellable in other territories or formats? Who is my best bet to sell these rights (answer, agents!) Sub-rights are a major source of potential income for authors and as we all know, knowledge is power. This is increasingly an important topic as authors blur the lines between self pubbed and traditionally pubbed. Everyone can benefit from knowing their rights!

1:15 – 2:30: 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 today’s market, you’re going to have to do a lot more than just write a great book (though that’s a good start). In this session, former Writer’s Digest editor Brian A. 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.

2:45 – 3:45: How to Create Suspense in Your Mystery or Thriller, taught by Lisa Regan. In this class we will discuss the definition of suspense and the form it takes in different crime fiction sub-genres (i.e. mystery, thriller, police procedural, psychological thriller, etc.). You will learn how to use various elements of writing such as the plot, setting, dialogue, and character development to create, build, and heighten suspense throughout your novel. You will also learn tips and tricks for pacing your novel to avoid losing momentum in the middle of the story. Finally, you will learn how to keep the reader engaged and breathless until the very last page.

4:00 – 5:00: How to Write Great Romance Novels, taught by Xio Axelrod. Romance is the largest literary genre. Like all genres, it’s got its nuances, its reader expectations and its hidden pitfalls. We will deep dive about the tropes and requirements as well as the changing expectations of the most successful of all genres. We’ll talk about the highs, the lows, and the dark moments that all go into writing a successful romance novel. Hint: It’s all about the characters, gang.

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Lastly, having this new technology allows us WDW faculty members to pre-record sessions, too—meaning we will actually send attendees many extra FREE classes as part of their attendance. In addition to getting the weekend’s 10 classes sent to you to watch over and over again, we will also send you 10 more free classes:

  1. “An Overview of Your Publishing Options Today”—a class on understanding the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing, by Chuck Sambuchino
  2. “10 Query Letter Tips”—a class to help your submission chances, by Chuck Sambuchino
  3. “15 Tips on How to Write Like the Pros”—a class on craft and voice, by Brian Klems
  4. “Talking Elevator Pitches, Twitter Pitches, and Query Letters”—a class on understanding the various ways to pitch your book to agents, by agent Heather Cashman
  5. “The Ins and Outs of Perfecting Voice in Your Writing,” taught by author Christina Kaye
  6. “Ask an Agent Anything Panel (Michigan Writing Workshop)”—hear writers ask questions and agents give blunt feedback
  7. “How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal” by Brian Klems—a class specifically designed for writers of nonfiction who want to craft an awesome proposal
  8. “You Have an Agent Offer or Book Contract — Now What?”—a class explaining what happens after you sign with a rep, by agent Carlie Webber
  9. “Pitch, Please”—a class on pitching to agents successfully, by Ben Miller-Callihan and Courtney Miller-Callihan
  10. “Making Social Media Work For You”—a class on promoting yourself and your book via social media, by agent Kenzi Nevins