After successful 2017, 2018, 2021, and 2022 events in Pittsburgh, Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2023 Pittsburgh Writing Workshop — an online “How to Get Published” writing event on August 4-5, 2023. (Writers are welcome to attend virtually from everywhere and anywhere.)
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 online “seats” at the event (200 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2023 Pittsburgh Writing Workshop!
ONLINE: Writing Day Workshops plans both in-person and virtual/online conferences. The 2023 PWW isan Online Conference, on August 4-5. Online events are easy and awesome, and the virtual events we’ve done thus farhave received wonderful feedback. You do not have to be tech-savvy to do this, and understand we are keeping all aspects of a traditional in-person event, including one-on-one agent & editor pitching, which will now be done by Zoom or phone.Learn all details about what it means to have a writers conference online.)
WHAT IS IT?
This is a special two-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on August 4-5, 2023. In other words, it’s two days 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. And even though this is the “Pittsburgh” Writing Workshop, make no mistake — writers from everywhere are welcome to attend virtually. Our WDW writers conferences have helped dozens of writers find literary agent representation — see our growing list of success stories here.
This event is designed to squeeze as much into two days of learning as possible. You can ask any questions you like during the online classes, and get your specific concerns addressed. We will have literary agents online to give feedback and take pitches from writers, as well. This year’s 2023 PWW agent & editor faculty so far includes:
- literary agent Gwyn Jordan (Gold Dust Literary)
- literary agent Lori Colvin (Birch Literary)
- literary agent Marin Takikawa (The Friedrich Agency)
- literary agent Lori Galvin (Aevitas Creative Management)
- literary agent Cole Lanahan (The Seymour Agency)
- editor Meg Gaertner (Flux & Jolly Fish Press)
- literary agent Tori Sharp (Jennifer De Chiara Literary)
- literary agent Ameerah Holliday (Serendipity Literary Agency)
- literary agent Caitlin McDonald (Donald Maass Literary Agency)
- literary agent Kelly Thomas (Serendipity Literary)
- literary agent assistant Rae Loverde (Donald Maass Literary Agency)
- literary agent Elizabeth Copps (Copps Literary Services)
- literary agent Becky LeJeune (Bond Literary)
- literary agent Jane Chun (Janklow & Nesbit)
- literary agent Lucy Hamilburg (The Hamilburg Agency)
- literary agent Coco Freeman (Linda Chester Literary Agency)
- literary agent Reiko Davis (DeFiore & Company)
- literary agent Paul Levine (Paul Levine Literary)
- literary agent Najla Mamou (Savvy Literary Services)
- literary agent Dani Segelbaum (Carol Mann Agency)
- literary agent Eric Smith (P.S. Literary)
- literary agent Stephanie Phillips (SBR Media)
- literary agent Keir Alekseii (Azantian Literary Agency)
- literary agent Claire Draper (The Bent Agency)
- and more agents 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. Contact Brian at WDWconference@gmail.com to register.
EVENT LOCATION & DETAILS:
ONLINE: Writing Day Workshops plans both in-person and virtual/online conferences. The 2023 PWW isan Online Conference, on August 4-5. Online events are easy and awesome, and the virtual events we’ve done thus farhave received wonderful feedback.You do not have to be tech-savvy to do this, and understand we are keeping all aspects of a traditional in-person event, including one-on-one agent & editor pitching, which will now be done by Zoom or phone.Learn all details about what it means to have a writers conference online.)
THIS YEAR’S SESSIONS & WORKSHOPS (AUGUST 4-5, 2023):
What you see below is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.
Agent pitches and critique consultations overlap with Saturday sessions. The schedule of presentation topics below is subject to change and updates:
FRIDAY, AUGUST 4, 2023
9:30 – 10:30: Unpacking the Query Letter. Publishing is a subjective industry — and guess what? Turns out the query letter is a bit subjective too. Where should the pitch start? Do you need comparable titles listed? You’ll find a lot of different answers for each of these questions, and during our query letter chat, we’ll use real-world query letter examples to unpack what works, what doesn’t, and why you should always read submission guidelines.
10:45 – 11:45: Common First Chapter Mistakes in First Chapters. Whether in a bookstore, in a library, or using an electronic device, the reader uses the first chapter to decide if they want to continue on after the first chapter. Examine how to craft an excellent beginning that keeps readers (and agents interested).
11:45 – 1:15: Break
1:15 – 2:30: Bringing Characters to Life. Intriguing characters are the backbone of any good story. By examining motives, fears, desires, upbringing and other traits, you add depth to your characters, bringing them to life for your reader and making each personality unique.
2:45 – 3:45: Build Your Own Story Universe: Monetizing Your Books by Building Bigger Stories. Learn how to build a story universe that connects all your stories across multiple mediums in books, film, comics, gaming, and more to stand out in the marketplace and create an experience your fans will never want to leave!
4:00 – 5:00: Writing an Irresistible Nonfiction Book Proposal. Nonfiction is a massive, murky category in the publishing world. How do memoirs fit in? Or lifestyle and cookbooks? A literary agent instructor will cover the golden rules of writing the perfect book proposal and help you unpack what’s needed to write something enticing and salable.
* * * * *
SATURDAY, AUGUST 5, 2023
9:30 – 10:30: Create, Build, and Improve Your Author Website. This workshop will focus on what to put on your website — from what goes on a home page, to what subpages you need, and what add-ons to consider. If you have an established website, the class will also provide instruction on optimizing your site and getting more attention.
10:45 – 11:45: Picture This: How to Write Children’s Picture Books. This workshop will cover the “Who, What, Where, When, Why and How” of picture books for children. With exercises and instruction exploring types of picture books, literary devices in picture books and where to find inspiration for picture books, we will discuss examples and analyze different techniques and styles.
11:45 – 1:15: Break
1:15 – 2:30: “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest, 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.)
2:45 – 3:45: Open Agent Q&A Panel. Several attending literary agents will open themselves up to open Q&A from PWW attendees. Bring your questions and get them answered in this popular session.
4:00 – 5:00: Your Book is Your Business This class will give aspiring authors essential tools to navigate the publishing industry at various stages of the publication process. Learn what makes the industry tick, and what strategies writers can add to their toolbox as they query agents.
Agent pitches and critique consultations overlap with Saturday sessions. The schedule of presentation topics below is subject to change and updates:
(What you see here is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.)
Agent & Editor Pitching: All throughout the day.
PITCH AN AGENT OR EDITOR:
Jane Chun is a literary agent with Transatlantic Agency. For fiction, she is seeking commercial, upmarket, and literary works in both adult and MG/YA about the search for and rebuilding of identity, diaspora, family and community, and examinations of power in relationships. She is also looking for fantasy, sci-fi, and speculative fiction that delve into sharp social commentary and have meticulous worldbuilding and settings that don’t feel like Western Europe. For historical fiction, she likes hidden histories and anything that is set in a time or place she’s not familiar with or focuses on a community that has been often overlooked if it’s a time/place she knows. In terms of nonfiction, she is looking for memoirs, essay collections, and narrative nonfiction with a nuanced, intersectional approach and similar themes to her interests in fiction. She also is interested in books about food, travel, pop culture, and cultural criticism that dive deeply and thoughtfully into culture and traditions. In addition to traditional prose, she is very interested in graphic novels and nonfiction. She is looking for stylistically engaging, unique art that feels either nostalgic without being derivative or fresh and boundary-pushing. Learn more about Jane here.
Lori Galvin is a literary agent with Aevitas Creative Management. Lori represents both adult fiction (especially women’s fiction and crime fiction) and nonfiction (memoir, food writing, and cookbooks). Prior to joining Aevitas, Galvin was executive editor at the multimedia publisher America’s Test Kitchen, where she led a team that produced dozens of landmark cookbooks. Learn more about Lori here.
CoCo Freeman is a literary agent with Linda Chester Literary Agency. “I am looking for smart adult commercial fiction in a variety of genres, including mystery/thriller/suspense, fantasy, romance, women’s fiction and historical, Young/New Adult, Middle Grade and select picture books.” Learn more about CoCo here.
Lucy Hamilburg is a literary agent at The Hamilburg Agency. Lucy is looking for picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction. As a former middle school teacher, she knows what flies off the shelves and is always seeking novels, graphic novels, lyrical prose, and picture books that make kids and young adults laugh out loud and simultaneously pull at their heart strings She is open to all genres and categories within kidlit books — including fantasy, suspense/thriller, romance, contemporary, humor, paranormal, historical fiction, and everything in between. Learn more about Lucy here.
Eric Smith is a literary agent at P.S. Literary Agency, with a love for young adult books, literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. Eric is eagerly acquiring fiction and nonfiction projects. He’s actively seeking out new, diverse voices in young adult (particularly sci-fi and fantasy), middle grade, and literary and commercial fiction (again, loves sci-fi and fantasy, but also thrillers and mysteries). In terms of non-fiction, he’s interested in cookbooks, pop culture, humor, middle grade, essay collections, and blog-to-book ideas. Learn more about Eric here.
Paul S. Levine is a literary agent and the founder of Paul S. Levine Literary. He is also an attorney. His fiction interests include adventure novels, mainstream fiction, mysteries, romance, thrillers, and women’s fiction. His nonfiction interests include business/commerce, pop culture, how-to, self-help, politics/law, relationships, and sports. Learn more about Paul here.
Dani Segelbaum is a literary with the Carol Mann Agency. Dani joined the agency in 2021 as a literary agent and subrights manager. She is interested in both fiction and nonfiction. Dani is seeking nonfiction titles with an emphasis on politics, women’s issues, popular culture, and current events. Dani also loves memoir, narrative nonfiction, lifestyle, and cookbooks. In fiction, she is looking for literary and upmarket adult fiction including debut, historical, rom-coms, mysteries, and women’s fiction. In both fiction and nonfiction, Dani hopes to work with authors from diverse backgrounds to tell stories that are important to them. She loves compelling narrators and is drawn to writing that is voice-driven, highly transporting, and features unique perspectives and marginalized voices. Learn more about Dani here.
Keir Alekseii is a literary agent with Azantian Literary Agency. Keir is seeking young adult and adult science fiction & fantasy, as well as young adult contemporary. She is only open to receiving queries from writers who identify as belonging to a marginalized or underrepresented group such as (but not limited to) BIPOC, LGBTQ+, immigrants, ND, folks who speak English as a second language, and DIS people. She has a fondness for disaster bi/pan characters, being one herself, and appreciates seeing diverse representations of queerness. She’d also love to read more books with nonbinary characters and love that runs deep even without a romantic element (yes, that means aro characters and stories with friendships that don’t turn romantic are welcome). Learn more about Keir here.
Rae Loverde is an agent assistant at Donald Maass Literary Agency. At the 2023 WDW online events, she will be acting as a literary scout — taking pitches at the workshop on behalf of one or multiple co-agents at her agency. Her co-agent Cameron McClure is seeking the following: projects that combine genre style plotting with literary quality writing. She’s up for anything speculative (Fantasy, sci-fi, etc.), and is interested in seeing science fiction and fantasy, mystery and suspense, horror, and projects with multi-cultural, international, environmental, and LGBTQIA+ themes. Learn more about Rae and her co-agents here.
Najla Mamou is a literary agent with Savvy Literary Services. Najla represents adult fiction and some YA. She’s most interested in mystery, romance, crime, and thriller. She’s most interested in main characters that are BIPOC or immigrants or expats, anything set in rural and inner city areas, and historical fiction genres/categories/settings. She also is interested in narrative and creative nonfiction. She enjoys stories about: rags to riches, overcoming discrimination, fish out of water, forbidden love, secret babies, arranged marriage, redemption, road trips or stories where the discovery happens away from home and more expat books where a POC moves to another place. Learn more about Najla here.
Elizabeth Copps is a literary agent with Copps Literary Services. What Elizabeth is looking for: Fresh takes on timeless plots; stories that are thought provoking and discussion spurring. She loves complex characters who are brimming with personality and burst off the page. Who are irreverent and dark. Smart and sarcastic. Creative and wise. She specializes in humorous and heartfelt contemporary novels, horror, and historical fiction for middle grade and adult audiences. She is also partial to gut-busting romantic comedies. In nonfiction, she loves platform-driven memoir and biography, as well as policy-driven, narrative nonfiction. Learn more about Elizabeth here.
Meg Gaertner is a senior editor with Flux and Jolly Fish Press. She is seeking young adult works in all genres and voices. In young adult, she is happy to consider contemporary, science fiction, historical fiction, horror, thrillers, mystery, contemporary fantasy, genre-blending stories, “out-of-the-box” stories that combine social commentary with a killer voice and a fresh premise, diversity representation, and more. Learn more about Meg here.
Marin Takikawa [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with The Friedrich Agency. For fiction, I’m looking for character-driven upmarket and literary fiction. In particular, I’m always driven by the need to understand people and discover the various kinks that aren’t visible from the surface—what drives them? What do they desire most but can’t get? I’m particularly enamored by genre-bending works, fiction with a speculative or magical bent, literary suspense, narratives about complex family relationships, and those that subvert forms of power, specifically neocolonialist ones. My tastes in Young Adult are similar, although with more focus on speculative concepts and maybe surprisingly, contemporary rom-coms. In nonfiction, I gravitate toward memoirs that balance personal narratives with engaging and insightful research and/or cultural analysis. I’m also looking for narrative nonfiction that is resistant and radical in nature, that questions why we have the institutions, ideas, and systems we have in place. Learn more about Marin here.
Caitlin McDonald is a literary agent with Donald Maass Literary Agency. Caitlin represents: All science fiction & fantasy categories for adult and young adult, especially secondary world fantasy or alternate history; Genre-bending or cross-genre fiction, and stories that examine tropes from a new angle; Diversity of all kinds, including (but not limited to) race, gender, sexuality, and ability, in both characters and worldbuilding. Learn more about Caitlin here.
Ameerah Holliday is a literary agent with Serendipity Literary Agency. Ameerah is primarily interested in middle grade, young adult, and (new) adult fiction. She enjoys contemporary literature, supernatural/paranormal stories (bonus points for witches!), RomComs, literary fiction, and novels in verse. Holliday looks for writing that explores diverse experiences with elements of intersectionality. She is drawn to stories that take you on a journey through growth, and she loves a good friendship story! Learn more about Ameerah here.
Cole Lanahan is a literary agent with The Seymour Agency. Cole is actively looking for all genres of YA, all genres of adult romance, psychological suspense in the vein of The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine, and thrillers in the vein of Verity by Colleen Hoover and I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid. In nonfiction she is looking for humor, business, self-help, lifestyle, and arts and crafts books. Learn more about Cole here.
Kelly Thomas is a literary agent with Serendipity Literary. Kelly considers herself a generalist who is drawn to lyrical writing and strong voices. She is interested in nonfiction (narrative nonfiction, memoirs, true crime, self-help, business, travel writing, photography, medical, STEM, psychology, health and fitness, music, food & drinks, cooking) and adult fiction (psychological thrillers, suspense, comedies). She enjoys working with musicians, television personalities, athletes, and other pop culture figures to help translate their stories or expertise onto the page. She also represents children’s books including picture books, middle grade, and young adult. The truth is often stranger than fiction, so Kelly is actively looking for the next great true crime manuscript with a murderous and methodical plot. Learn more about Kelly here.
Reiko Davis is a literary agent with DeFiore & Company. Reiko’s interests are varied, but on the adult side she’s primarily seeking literary and book club fiction. She loves historical, contemporary, or multigenerational novels both in the U.S. and internationally; family sagas; voice-driven coming-of-age stories; the occasional rom-com; and fierce, compassionately written works that grapple with identity and belonging and portray diverse lived experiences. She’d love to connect with promising writers of short fiction who are at work on a debut story collection and/or novel. She also represents select narrative non-fiction projects that explore social justice, issues of race and gender, and the history and experiences of women and people of color. She consumes a lot of true crime in her free time so is open to seeing projects in the vein of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. On the children’s side, Reiko is actively looking for middle grade fiction and nonfiction. Learn more about Reiko here.
Lori Colvin is a Literary Agent with Birch Literary. Lori has a special empathy for authors, having penned over 150 books herself, under a successful pen name. She is seeking:If a book doesn’t grab Lori on the first page, she generally won’t read any further, so bring out your best right away. Lori’s looking for fresh viewpoints in multiple genres, including women’s fiction, Thriller, Book Club Fiction, Mystery (but no Cozy), and more. Things she’s not seeking at the moment: Romance, MG, or PB. If you can make Lori laugh, cry, gasp, or stay up all night reading, you may be a good match. Learn more about Lori here.
Gwyn Jordan is a literary agent and founder of Gold Dust Literary. “I represent authors of romance, women’s fiction, cozy mystery, mystery, thriller, suspense, and crime novels. I do not accept: Paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi, YA, or religious/inspirational.” Gwyn is also a freelance editor for Hallmark, Publishers Weekly, Entangled Publishing, and more. Learn more about Gwyn here.
Claire Draper is a literary agent with The Bent Agency. “I am building my list with a collection of very queer books for kids of all ages, including graphic novels, picture books, middle grade, and young adult. And then I embarked on books for adults, when I decided to return to my favorites with particularly queer memoir, queer romance novels, and select adult nonfiction. For all the books I work with, I prefer to work with queer creators and BIPOC creators, and strongly encourage those creators to send me their work. Regardless of genre, age, or subject, I like lighthearted, emotional, hopeful, adventurous reads. I am largely genre-agnostic, but I do prefer books with a fast pace, high stakes, and strong emotional development for the main character(s). I do not want to see books from authors writing identity-based books not of their own identity.” Learn more about Claire here.
Becky LeJeune is an agent with Bond Literary Agency. She is interested in adult and teen general fiction, horror, mystery/thriller, historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy, and cookbooks. The Bond Agency works with both first-time and previously-published authors, and their clients write adult fiction in various genres, young adult fiction, and many categories of nonfiction. They do not represent traditional romance, poetry, children’s picture books or screenplays. Learn more about Becky here.
Tori Sharp is a literary agent with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. She does not represent adult fiction. Currently, she is solely on the lookout for children’s graphic novels, and middle grade manuscripts (especially fantasy, high-concept fiction, and memoirs). “I love to see silliness, silliness, silliness. I like prose that is strange and joyful, while also being grounded, smart, and evocative; I love a balance of humor and heartfelt moments. I have a soft spot for chaotic/trickster characters, proactive main characters, riddles and lateral thinking problems in the narrative, thoughtful neurodivergent representation, LGBTQ+ characters, and invisible disabilities. If your project features healthy, reciprocal friendships, creativity, geekery, saying ‘no,’ or kids with big dreams, send it my way.” Learn more about Tori here.
Stephanie Phillips is a literary agent with SBR Media. With over two hundred clients and three times as many deals between her and her eight agents, she’s happy to see SBR Media is a force in the literary world. “The genres I prefer are Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romantic Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Contemporary Romance, BDSM, Erotica, Women’s Lit.” Learn more about Stephanie here.