Panel discussions are listed first, in alphabetical order by title. Individual workshops follow, listed by faculty member. Purple text indicates workshops that are offered once during the conference. For workshops or panels that are repeated, blue text indicates the second time the class is being offered.
With Danielle Burby, Ehsaneh Sadr, G.S. Denning, Sam Morgan, Paul Stevens and Dan Koboldt
How do authors find (and keep) a good literary agent? What happens after the papers are signed and an author is agented? Join these authors and their agents to hear the specifics of their own stories and learn more about the behind-the-scenes world of publishing.
In addition to the big players of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, there are new social networking sites being created daily it seems. How do you decide which platforms will best connect you to readers? And once you’ve signed up, how can you continue to engage with your audience in a meaningful way? Join Cheree Alsop, G.S. Denning, and Jason Porath to learn more about the differences between various social media platforms and how you can select and optimize the ones best suited to your career goals.
Danielle Burby, Grace Menary-Winefield, Alexis Sattler, Sam Morgan (Friday) and Paul Stevens, Rhonda Penders, Lisa Abellera, and Alyson Heller (Saturday).
When an agent or editor’s inbox is overflowing and other responsibilities are calling, how far do they read a first page before moving onto the next submission? Watch four industry experts respond to the anonymous first pages of conference attendees and find out if they stop reading, and why.
(Session 3) Lisa Abellera, Paul Stevens, Rhonda Penders, and Sam Morgan
(Session 4) Jane Friedman, Sam Morgan, Alexis Sattler, Rhonda Penders .
A query is a very different piece of writing than a book. How do you make sure that yours is getting people to carefully consider your submission and request additional material? Hear four industry experts share their favorite tips for improving queries, and give feedback to anonymous queries submitted by conference attendees.
To submit a query for this workshop, bring four copies and turn it in at the door. Query should be no more than 1 page in length with standard formatting (double spaced, 1 inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman font).
With Alexis Sattler, Alyson Heller, and Grace Menary-Winefield
Join three editors as they share why they acquired recent projects. What drew them to these stories and what challenges and opportunities did their projects face during the journey from submission to publication? Join Alexis Sattler (Penguin Random House, acquiring primarily adult fiction), Alyson Heller (Simon and Schuster, acquiring primarily Picture Book, MG, and YA), and Grace Menary-Winefield (Sourcebooks, acquiring primarily nonfiction) as they discuss how different markets impact a books path, and the synergy of editor and author in helping a story reach its fullest potential.
Publishing is a dynamic and fascinating industry. Join Jane Friedman, Amy Collins, Rhonda Penders, and Sam Morgan to hear these industry experts discuss the challenges and opportunities for authors and publishers in publishing.
You have a book idea, but is it sellable? Come learn tips and practical advice from an agent for creating ideas that sell themselves.
With the advent of social media, the pressure to constantly network and promote oneself as an author can be overwhelming. All the while, authors must still come up with compelling queries and tantalizing pitches for their books. With thousands of other authors in the same boat, how do you stand out? And how can an agent who is looking for your type of project find you? Agents and editors have begun using social media to find book projects. In her talk, Lisa will introduce authors to new ways to pitch and query their books using social media, providing in-depth information about online query contests and Twitter pitch parties.
Paul discusses the financial side of publishing: what an advance is, how royalties are calculated, what are reserves against returns, and the numbers publishers use to make publishing decisions, such as profit and loss statements. Join us to learn: 1) A clearer understanding of the financial elements that affect a publisher’s decision to acquire a book. 2) Understand royalties, advances, and how the author actually earns money. 3) Gain a better idea of pitfalls to look for when negotiating your own deal.
Trade Publishing: from submission to publication - Session 8, room 1; Session 12, room 1
For an editor, finding that perfect book is just the start! Then comes sales projections, editorial board meetings, copyedits, and cover concepts. Drawing on his 15 years of experience as an editor, Paul gives an overview of what steps a book takes from manuscript all the way to a finished book on bookstore shelves.
Being a writer is being a business owner, and a better understanding of what goes into that—from tax implications to the importance of professionalism—will help you improve both your craft and your bottom line. Join Rhonda Penders, president of The Wild Rose Press, to learn more about the business of writing.
In this panel, literary agent Sam Morgan shows you his one simple story structure trick that can help you unlock your story’s plot problems! There will be a lot of drawing, discussions of Harry Potter and Star Wars, and perhaps a demonstration or two of developing a full-fledged story right in front of your eyes.
Publishing by the Numbers—Session 10, room 1
They never tell you just how much math is involved in publishing. After all, we write and read so we don’t have to deal with numbers, right? On top of all of that, publishing has some of the vaguest accounting practices that makes even Quicken go “huh?” In this workshop, literary agent Sam Morgan breaks down some of the typical accounting practices you’ll see in a royalty report to help you understand just how much you’re selling… and earning.
Do you know how to dramatically increase the chance that readers will FIND your book on Amazon? Keywords are the secret of getting your book FOUND on Amazon. The right keywords and the proper use of comparable titles in Amazon advertising can make the difference between being a top seller and just “one in a crowd.” Keywords and the use of those keywords can make a HUGE difference. Join Amy Collins as she walks through an easy method to FIND and USE search engine keywords and comparable titles as keywords so you can sell a LOT more books on Amazon. Amy’s method yields 3 to 4 times more sales once authors follow her suggestions.
What Are Book Buyers Looking For? Session 9, room 2; Session 14, room 3
Want your books on bookstore and the major chain’s shelves? Not sure HOW books get on their shelves? Want to know the process AND how YOUR book can get into bookstores all over the US? Amy Collins will walk us through the exact details authors need to know to get their books into bookstores and the big chains. It is not hard to get onto the shelves of the stores you have been aiming for…. But you need to know the rules and what they are looking for. This session will cover: what bookstores need to work with you and what bookstores need to consider stocking your book.
Time is one of the most precious things anyone has, so it’s a smart writer who asks, “Is this social media stuff really the best use of my time?” While it can be a highly subjective matter (every career has different needs and phases), we’ll talk about how to quantify your activity on social media, analyze its impact, and make the best choices for the short term and long term. Rather than being driven by trends (or what your friends are doing), we’ll look at how you can make the best decision for you.
How to Write a Strong Non-Fiction Book Proposal—Session 8, room 3; Session 10, room 2
A nonfiction book proposal argues why your book (idea) is a salable, marketable product. They aren’t something you dash off in a day or two. They can take weeks or months to write if properly developed and researched. In this session you’ll learn the difference between a nonfiction book concept that gets an immediate, enthusiastic response from agents/editors—and one that gets no response. Issues covered: the three questions every book proposal must answer; what part of the proposal most writers mess up, and why it’s one of the most important areas that agents and editors look at; how to make writing the proposal and easier process from the start; the types of memoirs that can and do sell today; how much of a platform you’ll need to secure a book deal from a big New York house; the most common weaknesses in book proposals.
Learn how to draw your reader in and make them become part of the story by using all five senses in your writing. This class will include hands-on activities, so bring a pen and paper and be ready for a creation challenge!
The Healthy Writer’s Lifestyle—Session 4, room 3; Session 13, room 3
The Healthy Writer's Lifestyle- Writing, while rewarding, can also be grueling on the body and mind. Learn how to create healthy writer habits to keep your ideas fresh, your body healthy, and the ability to maintain the creative story flow while supporting a healthy lifestyle.
This is not a "copyediting" class but a tactical editing class taught by a book doctor. Christine examines the common attributes identified in Mega-Bestsellers (like Gone with the Wind, Bridges of Madison County, Hunt for Red October) and translated these qualities into editing cycles you can easily apply to your story. She’ll look at how bestsellers commonly handle key storytelling elements into gold, including character development, dialogue (her specialty), plot and setting. This class is geared toward all levels of authors who want to know the secrets to master storytelling techniques.
Dynamic Dialogue—Session 7, room 3; Session 14, room 4
Dialogue is one of the most important elements of any work of fiction. If you want readers to salivate for your character’s every word, then you must know how to reveal character development, build character relationships, deliver / foreshadow suspense, and leverage subtext to keep dialogue engaging. Class includes dialogue Do’s & Don’ts handout. This class is geared toward all writing levels and both book and screenplay writers.
While the world of book publishing is more competitive than ever, the digital age brings many new opportunities for catching the attention of literary agents and editors. Online pitching events such as #PitMad and Pitch Wars have helped numerous authors find literary representation; some of them went on to sign six-figure publishing deals. Author Dan Koboldt, a Pitch Wars mentor and founder of the #SFFpit Twitter pitching event will walk you through the different types of pitching events. You'll learn about their advantages and disadvantages, and also hear tips for crafting a successful pitch and getting the most out of the vibrant online author community.
Science and Fiction: Crafting Realistic Stories with Expert Input—Session 4, room 2; Session 6, room 4
How do you write stories with accurate scientific, medical, or technical elements, even if you aren't an expert? Using examples from popular books and movies to illustrate common science misconceptions, geneticist and author Dan Koboldt discusses how to balance realism with good storytelling, where to find reliable information, how to approach experts, and why accurate representation of science and technology yields more convincing and compelling stories.
Objective based narrative. Characters getting away from you? Plot won't do what you want? Come learn the cheat the improv comedians use to keep eight on-the-fly stories per night on track. Craft satisfying tales from start to finish with this simple technique.
We hear it time and time again: you're supposed to be on social media, you're supposed to have a following. But what happens when you actually get that following—and a bunch of jerks come with it? In this session we explore the day-to-day realities of being a social media presence in an uncivil era, how to handle the haters, how to turn them into fans, and how to save your sanity in the process.
Balancing Historical Accuracy and Entertainment—Session 11, room 4
It's every writer's least favorite message: the "um, actually" email. Historical novels are like catnip for pedants, and the demand for strict historical accuracy can sometimes drain the life out of a project, and out of you! So what's a writer to do? In this session, we discuss the juggling act of history and entertainment: when to put down the books and pull up the keyboard, where its okay to apply artistic license, and how to communicate your choices to the reader.
Have you ever gone food shopping without a list? How did that work out for you? Often you buy eye-catching things that you don’t really need. In other words, you don’t get the most out of your shopping trip.
A writing conference is just like that analogy. If you want to get the most out of it, you have to plan. Once you figure out what you need and want, you make a list to guide you. In this workshop Judy discusses how to best align the conference with your writing goals, your interests and needs, and your intentions. Then you’ll know how to best maximize your conference experience. An ideal workshop for first-time conference attendees.
You have this voice inside you screaming to get out. You HAVE to write. So, why aren’t you? What excuse can you come up with next? Is this you? “I’ll really begin to write when (pick one or fill in your own answer)
The kids leave home
The mortgage is paid off
The aliens land
I find a pen I like
I have something worth saying
I learn where the commas go
The holidays are over and Aunt Milly FINALLY goes home
Ah, the list goes from here to sundown. Face it, excuses don’t count in this business. Let’s examine why you are making excuses and discover if there really IS a writer hidden somewhere deep down inside you. How are we going to bring that shy little fellow out and how are we going to keep him out?
Mining the Past and Finding Gold—Session 4, room 4
Writing historical fiction requires more than studying the past. How do we find stories that have never been told? Redefine an era from the point of view of one who may have lived it? What responsibilities do we have to telling the truth and where might we take liberties? All good things to consider when we sit down to explore, expound, and expand history to make it compelling fiction.
The Art of Revision—Session 2 room 4, Session 9, room 4
Whether you are revising on behalf of an editor’s demands or your own demands, revising—rewriting, if you will—is a separate skill in itself. How to recognize the good, the bad, and the ugly? Whose advice do you listen to? How can you make your good story great?
How to Prepare For Your Life as a Published Author—Session 6, room 3; Session 15, room 1
So, you finally got that letter! You’re going to be published at long last! First, you celebrate, let’s get that straight right here and now—be it champagne or soda pop. Celebrate your success. But now what? You promote, that’s what. Your promotional campaign begins the minute the hangover wears off. If you think getting your novel sold was tough, wait until you try to get the book read. Therefore, there’s not a moment to lose. Your promotional strategy must be well-thought out in advance. Who to contact, how to contact, how loud to toot your own horn, how to make your book rise above the rest, how to contact Hollywood, how to deal with book tours, and how to stand out on the internet.
If you are considering creating an audiobook, this session is for you! You will get the critical elements of what steps you need to take; what costs to expect; how to produce your audiobook; a variety of resources; how to work with Amazon’s ACX and other providers; and of course, plenty of insider tips and tricks of the trade from a top Audible narrator and producer.
Audiobook Marketing Tips and Tricks – Session 5, room 2; Session 14, room 2
Audiobooks are the fastest-growing format in the publishing business. Learn how to create new income and gain new followers from existing manuscripts; how authors can bring a "mostly dead" book back to life as an audiobook; and key ways to promote and market your audiobook.
The Godfather, Darth Vader, Scarlett O’Hara—what do they all have in common? They are unforgettable. Long after we left the movie theatre, these characters remained with us, haunted us. What makes someone fascinating? Contradiction. We will start unpacking this new theory of charisma, starting with the character you know best. YOU.
Epic Electric—Session 8, room 4; Session 13, room 4
Have you ever had this experience? Someone you know is watching some terrible movie, and you KNOW its terrible because you hate THAT kind of movie, but as you linger... you find yourself slowly drawn in? You don't even like this kind of movie, but you have to admit, THIS one is kinda interesting! You're getting drawn in despite yourself. Likely what is happening is that moment by moment, the story, scene, or beats are TURNING, TWITCHING, REVERSING. Learn what this important technique means. How to recognize it. How to master it. Is your scene, short story, or book chapter dead? Lifeless on the page? Discover the high-voltage secret to bringing it back to life.
The Art of the Interview—Session 12, room 2
Does someone in your family have an incredible story to tell, and you don’t know how to get started? Maybe your parent has led a storied life, and you want to document it for the grandkids, or the world. Join Tetsuro as he guides you step-by-step on how to capture the story of a lifetime. From selecting the least expensive/most effective recording equipment, to creating simple tools that will help you easily search the hours and hours of unforgettable stories you will collect. Tetsuro draws from his own real-world experience of creating two-award winning theatre shows based on these very same techniques he has developed. Tetsuro will also draw upon his years of experience as an award-winning public radio broadcaster, where he perfected the "Art of the Interview," to draw out the most candid revelations from the most reserved interviewees. When our elders die, it is like a library burning down. Attending this workshop may be your first step toward completing the most meaningful, most emotionally satisfying work you’ll ever undertake.