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9:00 – 10:30
Welcome to Your Book!

Cut through the mystery of getting an agent to want YOU and an editor to say YES...and the many ways to create a writing career in today’s literary market. Learn tips on:

  • Practicing "PitchCraft"
  • Identifying the most exciting elements to compel your reader and propel your story
  • Making the perfect pitch
  • Building in cliffhangers
  • Writing the all-important first page
  • Crafting query letters with a strong hook in the first two lines
Essential secrets include what mistakes many writers make when querying agents, and seven surefire techniques that get you out of the slushpile. Learn how to identify and develop your selling points and sales engines, whet an agent’s appetite, and get editors to say “yes.” Learn what to doand what not to dowhen setting out to woo and win a literary agent.

KATHARINE SANDS has worked with a varied list of authors who publish a diverse array of books including fiction, memoir and nonfiction.  Among the books she represents are: The Apothecary’s Curse, by Bram Stoker Award nominee Barbara Barnett; Girl Walks Out of a Bar, a memoir by Lisa Smith that was featured by People Magazine as Notable Nonfiction; and teenage climate activist Jamie Margolin’s Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use it.  Katharine likes books that have a clear benefit for readers, lives in categories of food, travel, lifestyle, home arts, beauty, wisdom, relationships, parenting, and fresh looks, which might be at issues, life challenges or popular culture. When reading fiction she wants to be compelled and propelled by urgent storytelling, and hooked by characters. For memoir, femoir, and himoir, she likes to be transported to a world rarely or newly observed.

10:45 – 12:15
Shedding Light on the Agent Hunt

Finding and acquiring a literary agent can feel like stumbling down a dark tunnel without a flashlight. Elle Ire and her partner, Jose Iriarte, will shine a beacon into that shadowy abyss going step-by-step through the process including finding literary agents to query, writing the query letter, pitching to agents at conferences, fielding “the call,” choosing between multiple agent offers, what it’s like to work with an agent, and finally, what to do if the agent/client relationship isn’t working out. Between them, Elle and Jose have been offered agent representation fifteen times and worked with a total of five different agents.

ELLE E. IRE & JOSE IRIARTE As a presenting team, Elle and Jose have a wide and varied range of experience. Elle is a bisexual author of four traditionally published lesbian and bisexual science fiction/romance novels with four more already contracted. Jose is a Nebula award finalist and on the board of directors of the Science Fiction Writers of America. He is multi-published in short stories and a novelette. Both have had multiple offers of agent representation. Elle has worked with four different literary agents. They also happen to be a married couple who enjoy teasing one another about their different approaches to publication while instructing their audience on the various possible paths to take.

1:45 – 3:15
Spotlight on Literary Magazines: 10 Tips for Submitting Your Work

Are you ready to submit your stuff (short fiction, poetry, personal essays, hybrids) to literary magazines, or improve your acceptance rate? In this workshop with writer and editor Melanie Figg (she’s judged writing contests as well as worked at Quarterly West, Graywolf Press, and others), you’ll learn how to professionally present your work and yourself to online and print literary magazines. You’ll also learn what makes effective cover letters and biographies, how to find magazines that are a good fit for your work, how to combat rejection, and other helpful tips. 

MELANIE FIGG is the author of the award-winning poetry collection, Trace (named one of the Best Inde Books of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews), and is currently working on a hybrid memoir. She’s won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council and others, and her poems and essays are published widely. Melanie teaches writing in the DC area, as well as privately. As a certified professional coach, she offers women’s writing retreats, manuscript reviews, and works 1-1 with writers to demystify the business of writing, finish their projects, and build more confidence and ease as a writer.

3:30 – 5:00
Revising with Focus: The Guiding Light of the Novel

Once you've written a draft, it can be difficult to figure out where to go next. A range of people will provide feedback, but who is right? How do you go about discerning what to edit and what to keep the same? To effectively edit, it’s critical to identify a novel’s underlying argument—it’s heart and guiding light. In this workshop, we’ll discuss the “thesis statement” approach to editing, looking at examples of novels’ “thesis statements,” as well as providing exercises to help you identify and hone in on your novel’s thesis to use to guide your editing process.

MEG EDEN is a 2020 Pitch Wars mentee, and winner of the 2021 Towson Prize for Literature. Her work is published or forthcoming in magazines including Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Crab Orchard Review, RHINO and CV2. She teaches creative writing at Anne Arundel Community College. She is the author of five poetry chapbooks, the novel "Post-High School Reality Quest (2017), and the poetry collection, Drowning in the Floating World (2020). Find her online at www.megedenbooks.com or on Twitter at @ConfusedNarwhal

Session Summaries by Track:

Fiction I  |  Fiction II  |  Poetry I  |  Poetry II  |  Publishing & Editing  |  Marketing  |  Craft  |  Specialty Writing




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