Schedule: 2023 Workshop

(Please note that this is an in-person event. We at Writing Day Workshops plan both online/virtual as well as in-person events. This next PWW is an in-person event happening in Philadelphia on April 22, 2023. See you there.)



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: Session 1

1. The Paths to Publishing (Room 105B), taught by Lindsey Smith. You wrote a book. Or maybe you’re just getting started on the journey. You may be wondering, “Should I try to get a book deal with a big-name publisher, try to get it published by an independent press, or should I self-publish by myself?” If you’re a first-time author, or don’t have much experience in the publishing industry, this can be an especially dizzying and overwhelming decision. Fortunately, Lindsey Smith—best-selling and award-winning author and literary agent—is ready to help by presenting The Paths to Publishing. Understand the differences between traditional publishing and author-owned publishing (aka self-publishing). Be able to make a decision on which path is best for you and your book. Feel excited to take the next steps and move your project forward.

2. Beating Your Media Fears and Creating PR That Works (Room 106 A&B), taught by Suzanne Mattaboni. In this session, you’ll learn how to create attention for yourself and your work through publicity and PR that you can do yourself. It will include tips on researching and pitching media editors, applying for awards, and creating press releases and the value they have in generating searchable online headlines. We’ll discuss creating a story angle that will catch the eyes of press editors, interview and media training tips, and how building up some media placements can help you put “editorial reviews” on your Amazon page before your book is released. We’ll dip a bit into conquering technology and creating an author or book website on one of the popular “DIY” platforms, and how to leverage all these skills on social media. We’ll end by workshopping a few paragraphs for your first press release.

10:45 – 11:50: Session 2

1. Overcoming Failure—How to Keep Striving for “Yes” in the Face of a Hundred “Nos” (Room 106 A&B), taught by Julie Eshbaugh. We’ve all heard the publishing stories that read like fairy tales, about authors who receive multiple offers of representation before selling their manuscript to the highest bidder in a multi-house auction. So how do we cope with dozens of rejections to our own queries, or find a way to keep writing when our own books go out on submission and receive no offers? In this talk, you’ll hear stories of accomplished people who have weathered terrible defeats, and you’ll come to see that “failure” is not the opposite of “success” but is actually the pathway to it. As Julie Eshbaugh’s agent likes to remind her, it only takes one “Yes” for your manuscript to become a book. You’ll leave this talk with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for the process of getting to that Yes.

2. The Agent-Author Relationship (Room 105B), taught by Eva Scalzo. Getting a literary agent to represent your work is a big step, but it’s only the beginning. What happens after an agent says yes? How do you work together to plan a writing career? What if your first book doesn’t sell? How to communicate difficult concerns to your agent? All these questions, and more, will be addressed in this important class.

11:50 – 1:15: Lunch on Your Own

You have 85 minutes on your own to break and eat.

1:15 – 2:30: Session 3

1. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest (Room 105B), 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 (Room 106 A&B), 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. The session will talk about platform, identifying your book’s place in the market, creating a great title (and subtitle), effective pitching, and more.

2:45 – 3:45: Session 4

1. Open Agent Q&A Panel (Room 105B). Several attending literary agents will open themselves up to open Q&A from PWW attendees. Bring your questions and get them answered in this popular session.

2. Writing Under the Fantasy Umbrella (Room 106 A&B), taught by Gregory Frost. What’s different about writing in the fantasy genres? For that matter, how is writing fantasy not the same as writing science fiction, or even horror? Figure out where your idea is taking you, and what reader expectations might be. Do you need rules, and if so what do they look like when you’re building an imaginary world?

4:00 – 5:00: Session 5

1. Everything You Need to Know About Agents and Query Letters (Room 105B), taught by Eric Smith. There are more ways than ever to find and pitch literary agents, so how do you navigate the modern pitching world? Twitter contests? Cold email queries? Online classes taught by agents? All can be helpful. In this class, attendees will understand the basics of query letters, synopses, the difference of pitching fiction vs. nonfiction, agent submission pet peeves, and more.

2. 10 Dos and Don’ts When Self-Editing (Room 106 A&B), taught by Michelle Jackson. A professional writer is a professional rewriter, so the adage goes. The first draft is just the beginning. How do you overhaul and revise so your first draft becomes something magnificent? In this class, a literary agent instructor will explain her process for understand what to do, and what not to do, when rewriting and self-editing your own work.

5:00: The Day is Over

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We will actually send attendees extra FREE pre-recorded classes as part of their attendance. In addition to getting the weekend’s classes to enjoy live and in person, we will also send you 5 more free recorded classes on the side, from amazing instructors. In the week leading up to your in-person conference, we will send all confirmed attendees these classes below, some of which will aid in your pitching efforts:

  1. “Tips on Pitching Literary Agents & Editors at an In-Person Event,” taught by literary agent Carlie Webber.
  2. “Tips on Pitching Literary Agents & Editors at an Online Event,” taught by literary agent Carlie Webber.
  3. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest,” with literary agents at the online 2022 Minnesota Writing Workshop. (If you enjoy this amazing agent panel, we sell a bundle of these First Pages agent panel recordings here.)
  4. “Ask an Agent Anything: Open Agent Q&A Panel,” with literary agents at the online 2022 Writing Workshop of Chicago.
  5. “Extreme Research For Your Story (If You Dare!),” taught by literary agent Sera Rivers at the online 2022 Writing Conference of Los Angeles.