The 2016 Alabama Writing Workshop: Feb. 19, 2016

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 12.43.29 PM[THE 2016 ALABAMA WRITING WORKSHOP IS NOW COMPLETE. Thank you to all who attended. We do not know when the next workshop will happen in Alabama, but if you are interested in being on an e-mail list with that date/news (and you have not contacted us previously), send us an email saying so to writingdayworkshops [at] gmail.com. Thanks!]

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Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The Alabama Writing Workshop — a full-day “How to Get Published” writing event in Birmingham, AL on February 19, 2016.

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 (100 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2016 Alabama Writing Workshop!

WHAT IS IT?

This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, at the Holiday Inn Birmingham – Hoover (where I-459 meets I-65). 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 literary agent Kaylee Davis (Dee Mura Literary); literary agent Julie Gwinn (The Seymour Agency); literary agent Kurestin Armada (P.S. Literary); literary agent Veronica Park (Corvisiero Literary); and literary agent Lauren MacLeod (Strothman Agency).

By the end of the day, you will have all the tools you need to move forward on your writing journey.

THIS YEAR’S PRESENTER/INSTRUCTOR

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 1.09.19 PMChuck Sambuchino (chucksambuchino.com, @chucksambuchino) of Writer’s Digest Books is the editor of Guide to Literary Agents as well as the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market. His authored books include Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript; Create Your Writer Platform, which was praised by Forbes.com; and How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, which was optioned for film by Sony. He oversees one of the biggest blogs in publishing (the Guide to Literary Agents Blog) as well as one of the biggest Twitter accounts in publishing (@WritersDigest). He is a freelance editor who has seen dozens of his clients get agents and/or book deals, and he has presented at 120 writing conferences and events over the past ten years.

EVENT LOCATION & DETAILS

9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Friday, February 19, 2016: Holiday Inn Birmingham – Hoover, 2901 John Hawkins Pkwy, Hoover, AL 35244. (205) 682-2901.

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WORKSHOP SCHEDULE (FEB. 19, 2016)

9 – 9:30: Check-in and registration at the event location.

9:30 – 10:30: “Your Publishing Options Today.” This workshop examines the two largest routes any writer can take with their book: traditional publishing and self-publishing (e-publishing). We will examine the upsides of both routes, the downsides, and the next steps no matter what you decide. In today’s publishing world, a writer has to understand what they’re in for before they send their book out. This session is designed to prepare them for what’s to come and what options exist.

10:30 – 11:45: “Everything You Need to Know About Agents, Queries & Pitching.” This workshop is a thorough crash course in dealing with literary agents. After quickly going over what an agent is and what they do for writers, we will discuss resources for finding agents, how to ID the best agents for you, query letter writing, as well as the most important things to do and not to do when dealing with representatives.

11:45 – 1:15: Lunch on your own. There are several restaurants within quick driving distance. A map of places to eat will be passed out prior to the event.

Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 10.30.04 PM1:15 – 2:30: “Writers’ Got Talent: A Chapter One 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 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.)

2:30 – 3:45: “How to Market Yourself and Your Books: Author Platform & Social Media Explained.” A writer’s platform is as important as ever now. Visibility and ability to self-market are mandatory these days for writers of nonfiction and self-published works. Furthermore, fiction writers want a platform to sell more books, meet readers, and increase their value. This speech teaches writers the basics of what a platform is and why it is necessary. Then we delve into the building blocks of what can constitute a platform, from media appearances and speaking engagements to blogs, Facebook, Twitter and more.

3:45 – 5:00: “How to Get Published: 10 Professional Writing Practices That You Need to Know NOW to Find Success as a Writer.” This final speech is a general presentation examining good writing practices that all editors appreciate—whether writing for books, magazines, newspapers or online. It discusses how to not put all your eggs in one writing basket, how to steal ideas from yourself to generate more stories and books, how to avoid the two most common reasons agents reject you, and much more.

All throughout the day: Agent & Editor Pitching.

PITCH AN AGENT!

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 2.07.00 PMKaylee Davis [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Dee Mura Literary. Kaylee is actively acquiring middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction — particularly sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, literary, and LGBTQ. She is drawn to exciting, thought-provoking stories with a fresh perspective that explores what it means to be human. She loves plot twists, genre-bending, unlikely allies, flawed heroes, and stories that are both literally and figuratively out of this world. Kaylee is also taking pitches for memoir on behalf of her agency. Learn more about Kaylee here.

Screen shot 2014-09-25 at 10.27.21 PMJulie Gwinn [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is an agent with The Seymour Agency, and was formerly an editor with many years of publishing experience. Her primary areas of interest include Christian and inspirational fiction and nonfiction, women’s fiction (contemporary and historical), new adult, Southern fiction, literary fiction, as well as young adult novels. Learn more about Julie here.

ArmadaKurestin Armada [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with P.S. Literary and is actively building her list. Her fiction areas of interest include upmarket and commercial fiction, magic realism, science fiction, fantasy, alternative history, historical fiction, LGBTQ (any genre), select young adult and middle grade, graphic novels, mystery (including mystery with elements of science fiction & fantasy), romance. She can also take picture book pitches on behalf of her kidlit co-agents. Kurestin’s nonfiction areas of interest: design, cooking, pop psychology, humor, photography, and pop science. Learn more about Kurestin here.

Screen shot 2015-06-09 at 10.22.43 PMVeronica Park [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Corvisiero Literary. Veronica is representing the entire agency and their genres, and is open to hearing pitches for all her co-agents in the genres of fantasy, science fiction, romance, thrillers, romantic suspense, adventure, paranormal, young adult, middle grade, picture books, historical romance, new adult (both romance and non-romance), and graphic novels. In nonfiction, she can take pitches for parenting, education, self-improvement, science, and business. Learn more about Veronica here.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 9.51.51 AMLauren MacLeod is an agent at The Strothman Agency, LLC. Lauren’s primary interests are young adult fiction and nonfiction, middle grade novels, as well as highly polished literary fiction and narrative nonfiction. She is currently especially drawn to young adult & middle grade projects with humorous situations, funny characters, a lovely romance, a great voice, or all of the above. Learn more about Lauren here.

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.)

PRICING

$129 — FINAL registration pricing! This is the complete base price for registration to the 2016 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 some testimonials from writers who have signed with literary agents after pitching them at prior Writing Day Workshops events:

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 3.01.32 PM“I signed with my agent, Patricia Nelson, after
meeting her at the Arizona Writing Workshop.”
– writer Axie Oh

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 3.05.52 PM“I officially signed with agent Renee Nyen of KT
Literary. I met her at the Colorado Writing
Workshop.” – writer Jessie Hilb Akos

Add $59 — for an in-depth, personal critique of your one-page query letter from instructor Chuck Sambuchino. (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?

How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Jessica Bell via email: writingdayworkshops@gmail.com, and she 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 Jessica plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Alabama workshop specifically.

REGISTRATION

Because of limited space at the venue of Holiday Inn Birmingham – Hoover, the workshop can only allow 90 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 Jessica Bell via email: writingdayworkshops@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 Jessica 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.)

 

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Thank you for your interest in the Alabama Writing Workshop.

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kaylee Davis of Dee Mura Literary

17232682-20503393-thumbnail[SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS]

Kaylee Davis is a literary agent with Dee Mura Literary.

Growing up in The Middle of Nowhere, Ohio, Kaylee’s lifeline to sanity was the local library where she nurtured her love of all things literary. Kaylee received a B.A. in English Literature and a B.A. in Sociology from Miami University, and she is certified in Copyediting from Emerson College. Recognized for her obsessive-compulsive attention to detail and crazy-fast reading ability, Kaylee joined the Dee Mura team as a professional copyeditor, proofreader, and administrative assistant before being named an agent.

She represents: Kaylee is actively acquiring middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction — particularly sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, literary, and LGBTQ. She is drawn to exciting, thought-provoking stories with a fresh perspective that explores what it means to be human. She loves plot twists, genre-bending, unlikely allies, flawed heroes, and stories that are both literally and figuratively out of this world. Kaylee is also taking pitches for memoir on behalf of her agency.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency

Screen shot 2014-09-25 at 10.27.15 PM[SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS]

Literary agent Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency most recently served as Marketing Manager for the Christian Living line at Abingdon Press and before that served as Trade Book Marketing Manager and then Fiction Publisher for the Pure Enjoyment line at B&H Publishing Group, a Division of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Last year she was awarded Editor of the Year from the American Christian Fiction Writers and won B&H’s first Christy award for Ginny Yttrup’s debut novel Words. She has more than 25 years public relations and marketing experience and has also worked in marketing for several Nashville non-profit organizations including the TN Assoc. for the Education of Young Children, the Nashville Area Red Cross and the YWCA. She is married and has two children.

Her primary areas of interest include Christian and inspirational fiction and nonfiction, women’s fiction (contemporary and historical), new adult, Southern fiction, literary fiction, and young adult novels.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kurestin Armada of P.S. Literary

Armada[SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS]

Kurestin Armada is a literary agent with P.S. Literary and is actively building her list.

Kurestin began her publishing career as an intern with Workman Publishing, and spent time as an assistant at The Lotts Agency before joining P.S. Literary. She holds a B.A. in English from Kenyon College, as well as a publishing certificate from Columbia University. Kurestin is based in New York City, and spends most of her time in the city’s thriving indie bookstores. She reads widely across genres, and has a particular affection for science fiction and fantasy, especially books that recognize and subvert typical tropes of genre fiction.

Her fiction areas of interest include upmarket and commercial fiction, magic realism, science fiction, fantasy, alternative history, historical fiction, LGBTQ (any genre), select young adult and middle grade, graphic novels, mystery (including mystery with elements of science fiction & fantasy), romance. She can also take picture book pitches on behalf of her kidlit co-agents. Kurestin’s nonfiction areas of interest: design, cooking, pop psychology, humor, photography, and pop science.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Veronica Park of Corvisiero Literary

Screen shot 2015-06-09 at 10.22.39 PM[SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS]

Veronica Park is a literary agent with Corvisiero Literary.

Veronica is representing the entire agency and their genres, and is open to hearing pitches for all her co-agents in the genres of fantasy, science fiction, romance, thrillers, adventure, paranormal, young adult, middle grade, picture books, historical romance, new adult (both romance and non-romance), and graphic novels. In nonfiction, she can take pitches for parenting, education, self-improvement, science, and business.

About Veronica personally: She seeks young adult and new adult (anything with a unique voice, but especially contemporary), as well as adult thrillers, romance, and romantic suspense. She also seeks humorous nonfiction. In particular, Veronica loves: dark, edgy YA/NA that deals with real issues, romances that make you laugh out loud and deeply love – or love to hate – some of the characters, gender swapping and/or seriously twisted fairytale retelling.

Veronica is an author, journalist and marketing consultant with more than five years of experience writing and editing for publication. She graduated with a BA in print journalism with an emphasis in linguistics and and business marketing from Brigham Young University and went on to expand her writing skills as a broadcast journalist and independent film producer, before running away with her husband to work on cruise ships in the Caribbean as a port lecturer and luxury goods marketing specialist. In the publishing industry, she has finally found an arena that requires her entire assortment of professional skills, while allowing her to read and write every single day. Find her on Twitter.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Lauren MacLeod of The Strothman Agency

Screen shot 2014-10-05 at 12.57.49 AMLauren MacLeod joined The Strothman Agency, LLC after graduating cum laude from Emerson College with a BFA in Writing, Literature and Publishing. She lives in Nashville, TN and tweets under @Lauren_MacLeod. She is an Agent Member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives.

Lauren’s primary interests are young adult fiction and nonfiction, middle grade novels, as well as highly polished literary fiction and narrative nonfiction. Some of her favorite (non-client) YA authors are Melina Marchetta, Meg Rosoff, Maureen Johnson and John Green.

She is especially looking for beautifully plotted YA thrillers or mysteries, contemporary YA or MG,  YA or MG  romance or chick lit,  Ya or MG sci-fi, scary YA horror.  She is currently especially drawn to YA & MG projects with humorous situations,  funny characters, a lovely romance, or a great voice.

Lauren is not accepting pitches for picture books or chapter books for early readers at this time. She does not represent adult romance, sci-fi or chick lit.

Tips For Pitching Your Book at the 2016 AWW

If you are coming to the 2016 Alabama Writing Workshop, you may be thinking about pitching our agent-in-attendance or editor-in-attendance. An in-person pitch is an excellent way to get an agent excited about both you and your work. Here are some tips (from this year’s instructor, Chuck Sambuchino) that will help you pitch your work effectively at the event during a 10-minute consultation. Chuck advises that you should:

  • Try to keep your pitch to 90 seconds. Keeping your pitch concise and short is beneficial because 1) it shows you are in command of the story and what your book is about; and 2) it allows plenty of time for back-and-forth discussion between you and the agent. Note: If you’re writing nonfiction, and therefore have to speak plenty about yourself and your platform, then your pitch can certainly run longer.
  • Practice before you get to the event. Say your pitch out loud, and even try it out on fellow writers. Feedback from peers will help you figure out if your pitch is confusing, or missing critical elements. Remember to focus on what makes your story unique. Mystery novels, for example, all follow a similar formula — so the elements that make yours unique and interesting will need to shine during the pitch to make your book stand out.
  • Do not give away the ending. If you pick up a DVD for Die Hard, does it say “John McClane wins at the end”? No. Because if it did, you wouldn’t buy the movie. Pitches are designed to leave the ending unanswered, much like the back of any DVD box you read.
  • Have some questions ready. 10 minutes is plenty of time to pitch and discuss your book, so there is a good chance you will be done pitching early. At that point, you are free to ask the agent questions about writing, publishing or craft. The meeting is both a pitch session and a consultation, so feel free to ask whatever you like as long as it pertains to writing.
  • Remember to hit the big beats of a pitch. Everyone’s pitch will be different, but the main elements to hit are 1) introducing the main character(s) and telling us about them, 2) saying what goes wrong that sets the story into motion, 3) explaining how the main character sets off to make things right and solve the problem, 4) explaining the stakes — i.e., what happens if the main character fails, and 5) ending with an unclear wrap-up.