Schedule: 2018 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. A Bird’s-eye View Publishing & Books in the Year 2018 (Salon A-B), 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. How to Make Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction a Reality (Salon D-E), taught by Michael J. Sullivan. There’s a good reason why fantasy and science fiction is classified as popular fiction. These markets are robust ones and many novelists (both self-published and traditional) are finding it possible to make a living writing speculative fiction, but as with all genres, you need to know what to do (and not do) to find success. In this session, Michael will discuss the changes that have occurred in the genre over the years as well as diverse topics as world-building, pacing, character development, prequels and sequels, and writing a killer opening. He’ll also touch on his success in both self-publishing and releasing books through two of the big-five publishers (Orbit, the fantasy imprint of Hachette Book Group and Del Rey, a fantasy imprint of Penguin Random House).

3. Developing Compelling Characters (Salon C), taught by Greer Macallister. Without compelling characters, even a five-star plot falls flat. We’ll discuss what the most interesting characters have in common across all genres, as well as practical strategies to take your characters from paper dolls to fully-fledged people.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Tips on How to Write Like the Pros (Salon C), 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.

2. How to Query a Literary Agent (Salon A-B), taught by Kimberly Brower. This workshop, taught by an agent, is a thorough crash course on how to query literary agents. The class will discuss what goes into a successful query letter, and address many dos and don’ts for composing that initial contact.

3. Tips for Writing Great Mysteries, Thrillers, and Crime (Salon D-E), taught by Robert Bidinotto. 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.

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 (Salon A-B), 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 (Salon D-E), 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. Writing for the Little Ones: How to Craft an Amazing Picture Book For Kids (Salon C), taught by Madeline Smoot. Picture books are tricky works of art that require a lot to happen in very few words. In this session, we’ll discuss questions to consider before sending a picture book manuscript out in the world.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Twenty Questions You Need Answered Before You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book (Salon A-B), taught by Brian A. 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. The Secrets to Self-Publishing Success (Salon C), taught by Robin Sullivan. Changes in the publishing environment have made self-publishing a viable path. But with thousands of would-be writers diving in, how can you rise above the morass and find success? Robin Sullivan has sold more than 150,000 self-published books and will share her secrets including: the three keys to self-publishing books successfully, how to gain initial readers and help them spread the word about your book, how to leverage Amazon’s algorithms to maximize your book’s online exposure, and what pitfalls you need to avoid when self-publishing.

3. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction (Salon D-E), taught by Madeline Smoot. 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.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. Sell Your Books and Yourself — Social Media and Book Marketing 101 (Salon C), taught by Robert Bidinotto. Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, everyone could use some helpful guidance on how to effectively market themselves and sell more books. This session includes easy-to-understand advice on social media (Twitter, Facebook, more), blogging, and other simple ways you can market your work online cheaply and easily.

2. Twenty Questions You Need Answered After You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book (Salon A-B), taught by Brian A. Klems. After you self-publish your work or get a traditional publishing book deal, there are plenty of things you need to know — such as how to promote yourself, how to keep your career going with multiple books, how you cross between the words of self-publishing and traditional publishing (i.e., use them both) to make the most money, how to build a readership, and much more.

3. A Guided Tour of the Elements of Writing Romance – Hands-on Plotting at High Speed (Salon D-E), taught by Delancey Stewart. This workshop will not be the typical sit-in-your-seat and listen session. Romance author and editor Delancey Stewart will lay down the critical elements for writing a romance, and act as a guide for the group as you plot an example novel together. Many attendees will leave this workshop with the bare bones plot for their own romance novels in hand!


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.