After successful events in 2016, 2017, and 2019, Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2020 Alabama Writing Workshop — a full-day “How to Get Published” writing event in Birmingham, AL on Friday, March 6, 2020.
This writing event is a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. Note that there are limited seats at the event (150 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2020 Alabama Writing Workshop!
WHAT IS IT?
This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Friday, March 6, 2020, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Birmingham (near the Birmingham Zoo). In other words, it’s one day full of classes and advice designed to give you the best instruction concerning how to get your writing & books published. We’ll discuss your publishing opportunities today, how to write queries & pitches, how to market yourself and your books, what makes an agent/editor stop reading your manuscript, and more. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres are welcome.
This event is designed to squeeze as much into one day of learning as possible. You can ask any questions you like during the classes, and get your specific concerns addressed. We will have literary agents onsite to give feedback and take pitches from writers, as well. This year’s faculty includes the following:
- literary agent Erin Clyburn (Jennifer De Chiara Literary)
- literary agent Erica Bauman (Aevitas Creative Management)
- literary agent Leah Pierre (Ladderbird Literary)
- literary agent Katharine Sands (Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency)
- literary agent Cate Hart (Harvey Klinger Inc)
- literary agent Beth Marshea (Ladderbird Literary)
- editor Mike Parker (Wordcrafts Press)
- and possibly more to come
By the end of the day, you will have all the tools you need to move forward on your writing journey. This independent event is organized by coordinator Brian Klems of Writing Day Workshops, with help from the Alabama Writers Cooperative.
EVENT LOCATION & DETAILS
9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Friday, March 6, 2020: Embassy Suites by Hilton Birmingham, 2300 Woodcrest Pl, Birmingham, AL 35209. (205)879-7400.
WORKSHOP SCHEDULE & INSTRUCTORS (MARCH 6, 2020)
9 – 9:30: Check-in and registration at the event location.
9:30 – 10:30: 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.
10:45 – 11:45: “Master-Pitch Theatre: How to Successfully Pitch/Query an Agent,” taught by Katharine Sands. Your pitch is a performance. Whether you deliver it in person or on the printed page. Literary agent Katharine Sands shows you how to hone the on-page elements and in-person aspects of the pitch to create the actual script you will use at the conference, and beyond. Pitchcraft™ is an invaluable tool—You will learn what to do–and what not to do–when summarizing your book: the description of your book in 200-250 words; — How to get an agent from the get-go; start in a logical place, yet from a compelling perch; how to encapsulate in clear core points; ways to create coming attractions that whet the reader’s appetite for more—and how to avoid “Querial Killers”: the easy-to-fix mistakes writers make when querying agents. As a writer you are always going to be asked to introduce your work, to share your enthusiasm for your writing, and to get others excited about what is exciting to you. Instruction covers how to take a pitch from ho-um to magnum opus. “Tell me about your work,” means: 15 minutes of fame is yours to shine in. This presentation cuts through the mystery of getting an agent to want YOU, to read YOU and to say YES to YOU.
11:45 – 1:15: Lunch on your own. There are several restaurants within quick driving distance on the block.
1:15 – 2:30: “Writers’ Got Talent: A First Page Critique-Fest.” 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 our 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.)
2:45 – 3:45 “Characterize Your Characters,” taught by Beth Marshea. We all have our favorite character tropes, whether it’s the tough guy with a heart of gold, the reluctant leader, the sassy-butt-kicking anti-hero, or the sweet-heart girl next door. But, how do turn these tropes into memorable characters with depth and emotional resonance. In this workshop, we’ll learn about creating backstories and motivations to bring your characters to life. And, we’ll learn how, when and why to disseminate that information to your reader.
4:00 – 5:00: “From Landing an Agent to Publishing Your Book,” taught by Cate Hart. An in-depth look at the author’s journey from the query trenches across the submission field to publication and beyond. Literary Agent Cate Hart will discuss queries that work and why, break down an agent’s role from signing a client to the process of preparing and pitching a project for submission to continued client advocacy once a project sells plus next steps and new ideas. And finally, she will demystify what happens once a book is bought by a publisher and what the life cycle of a book might look like.
All throughout the day: Agent & Editor Pitching.
* * *
PITCH AN AGENT!
Erin Clyburn is a literary agent with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. She is seeking nonfiction picture books, high-concept chapter book series, some middle grade, and some young adult. For adult fiction, she seeks character-driven literary fiction; plot-driven suspense / mysteries / thrillers, all horror from psychological to gothic to slasher, multigenerational family sagas. In nonfiction, she wants pop science, high-interest nonfiction, true crime, cookbooks, science- or culture-focused memoirs. Learn more about Erin here.
Erica Bauman is a literary agent with Aevitas Creative Management. Erica is currently focused on representing a wide range of authors across middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction, as well as some select narrative nonfiction projects. She is most interested in novels that straddle the line between literary and commercial, imaginative tales with a speculative twist, fearless storytellers that tackle big ideas and contemporary issues, and working with and supporting marginalized authors and stories that represent the wide range of humanity. “In adult, I gravitate towards stories that have a commercial premise and beautiful writing. I love voice-driven, witty romcoms, historical novels (especially mysteries), and light SFF and magical realism. I’m on the lookout for books starring nerds, and stories that make me laugh. Across all age ranges and genres, I’m eager to support and work with marginalized authors and stories that represent the wide range of humanity.” Learn more about Erica here.
Leah Pierre is a literary agent with Ladderbird Literary. She is seeking: “I am looking for diverse and unique work that is fast paced, that I will not be able to put down, and will leave me on the edge of my seat. As much as I pretend to hate them, I do love a good plot twist and a shocking ending. I love stories with a complex cast of characters and I am a sucker for camaraderie, banter, and the tight-knit, family-like group of friends trope.” Adult novels: romance (ideally interracial), fantasy with elements of myth and legends, historical fantasy/fiction, social-justice-inspired espionage/heist. New adult novels: romance, coming-of-age, finding one’s identity, F/F friendship, the college experience as well as the post-college experience. Young adult novels: Fantasy with elements of myth and legend (lesser know myths/legends i.e. Middle Eastern), Meet-Cute/Coming-of-age that involves romance and self-discovery/self-love, Contemporary, realistic and raw family-centered novels, mysteries and thrillers (unreliable narrators are okay), fairy-tale retellings, and a good heist concept. “A lot of what I am looking for does overlap, so please use your best judgement when submitting. If you’re not sure, give it a try.” Learn more about Leah here.
Katharine Sands is a literary agent with the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. Katharine is seeking all types of fiction, memoir and nonfiction. 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. Learn more about Katharine here.
Cate Hart is a literary agent with Harvey Klinger Literary Agency. She specializes in historical, whether in young adult, women’s fiction and romance, or narrative nonfiction. She is particularly drawn to oft-forgotten stories of the past and underrepresented voices, and especially personal to her is unexplored Southern history and culture. She also loves high-concept fantasy in YA and Adult fiction. Cate seeks the following nonfiction categories: narrative, history, film, TV, theatre, pop culture, and music. She also seeks the following fiction genres: historical, commercial, women’s fiction, romance, fantasy, mystety, psychological thriller, middle grade, and young adult. Learn more about Cate.
Beth Marshea is a literary agent and the founder of Ladderbird Literary. She is seeking mainstream/commercial fiction, family sagas, literary fiction, women’s fiction, RomComs (especially LGBTQ+), mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction. For young adult, she seeks contemporary, mysteries, thrillers, and fantasy. Beth is also starting to acquire a very select list of middle grade and picture books. Learn more about Beth here.
Mike Parker is the publisher and acquiring editor for Wordcrafts Press. Mike is actively seeking adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction in the following genres: contemporary, literary, historical, Biblical, fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, horror, sweet romance, mystery, and thriller. Mike seeks nonfiction in the following categories: pop culture, technology, sports, memoir, history, inspirational, and faith-based. Mike is actively seeking stage plays in any genre, but is particularly interested in scripts offering strong roles for females. Learn more about Mike here.
More 2020 agents may be added.
These one-on-one meetings are an amazing chance to pitch your book face-to-face with an agent, and get personal, individual feedback on your pitch/concept. If the agent likes your pitch, they’ll request to see part/all of your book — sending you straight past the slush pile. It also gives you an intimate chance to meet with an agent and pick their brain with any questions on your mind.
(Please note that Agent/Editor Pitching is an add-on, separate aspect of the day, for only those who sign up. Spaces are limited for these premium meetings, and pricing/detail is explained below.)
$169 — EARLY BIRD registration pricing! This is the complete base price for registration to the 2020 AWW and access to all workshops, all day.
Add $29 — to secure a 10-minute one-on-one meeting with any of our literary agents in attendance. Use this special meeting as a chance to pitch your work and get professional feedback on your pitch. (Spaces limited.) If they wish, attendees are free to sign up for multiple 10-minute pitch sessions at $29/session — pitching multiple individuals, or securing 20 minutes to pitch one person rather than the usual 10. Here are quick testimonials regarding writers who have signed with literary agents after pitching them at prior Writing Day Workshops events. (Our bigger, growing list of success stories can be seen here.)
“I met my client, Alison Hammer, at the Writing
Workshop of Chicago and just sold her book.”
– literary agent Joanna Mackenzie of Nelson Literary
“Good news! I signed a client [novelist Aliza Mann]
from the Michigan Writing Workshop!”
– literary agent Sara Mebigow of KT Literary
“I signed author Stephanie Wright from
the Seattle Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kathleen Ortiz of New Leaf Literary
“I signed an author [Kate Thompson] that I
met at the Philadelphia Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kimberly Brower of Brower Literary
“I signed novelist Kathleen McInnis after meeting her
at the Chesapeake Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Adriann Ranta of Foundry Literary + Media
Add $69 — for an in-depth, personal critique of your one-page query letter from instructor Brian Klems, who previously taught at this Alabama workshop. (This rate is a special event value for Alabama Writing Workshop attendees only.) Registrants are encouraged to take advantage of the specially-priced critique, so they can send out their query letter with confidence following the workshop. Also, if you are meeting with an agent at the event, you’re essentially speaking your query letter aloud to them. Wouldn’t it be wise to give that query letter (i.e., your pitch) one great edit before that meeting?
Add $89 — for an in-depth personal critique of the first 10 pages of your novel. Spaces with faculty for these critiques are very limited, and participating attendees get an in-person meeting at the workshop. Options:
- Literary fiction, mainstream fiction, science fiction, fantasy, horror, women’s fiction, memoir, humor: Faculty member Ricki Cardenas, a published writer, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your story, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting. Ricki has two novels published through Grand Central and is represented by the Irene Goodman Literary Agency. Unlike other critiquers who may join the 2020 Alabama event, Ricki will not personally be at the event, so she will be doing her 10-minute critique consultations through phone calls or Skype.
How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Brian Klems via email: WDWconference@gmail.com, and he will provide specific instructions for payment and registration to get you a reserved seat at the event. Payment is by either PayPal or check. Because Brian plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Alabama workshop specifically.
Because of limited space at the venue of Embassy Suites by Hilton Birmingham, the workshop can only allow 150 registrants, unless spacing issues change. For this reason, we encourage you to book sooner rather than later.
Are spaces still available? Yes, we still have spaces available. We will announce RIGHT HERE, at this point on this web page, when all spaces are taken. If you do not see a note right here saying how all spaces are booked, then yes, we still have room, and you are encouraged to register.
How to Register: The easy first step is simply to reach out to workshop organizer Brian Klems via email: WDWconference@gmail.com. She will pass along registration information to you, and give instructions on how to pay by PayPal or check. Once payment is complete, you will have a reserved seat at the event. The AWW will send out periodic e-mail updates to all registered attendees with any & all news about the event. Because Brian plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Alabama workshop specifically.
Refunds: If you sign up for the event and have to cancel for any reason, you will receive 50% of your total payment back [sent by check or PayPal]. The other 50% is nonrefundable and will not be returned, and helps the workshop ensure that only those truly interested in the limited spacing sign up for the event. (Please note that query editing payments are completely non-refundable if the instructor has already edited your letter.)