The 2020 Pittsburgh Writing Workshop: March 28, 2020

screen-shot-2014-07-23-at-12-58-51-pm.pngWriting Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2020 Pittsburgh Writing Workshop — a full-day “How to Get Published” online writing event in on March 28, 2020. (This is the event’s third year.)

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 Pittsburgh Writing Workshop!

 (IMPORTANT MARCH 2020 UPDATE: The 2020 PWW is now an Online Conference to keep everyone safe. There is much more to say about this, but immediately you should understand 1) This will be easy and awesome, 2) You do not have to be tech-savvy to do this, and 3) We are keeping all aspects of the event, including one-on-one agent & editor pitching, which will now be done by Skype or phone. Learn all details about the new March 28 PWW Online Conference here and what everything means.)

* * * *


This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” Online writers conference on Saturday, March 28, 2020. 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 so far includes:

  • editor Gwen Hawkes (St. Martin’s Press)
  • literary agent Danielle Chiotti (Upstart Crow Literary)
  • literary agent Jacqueline Lipton (Raven Quill Literary)
  • literary agent Weronika Janczuk (The Janczuk Literary Agency)
  • literary agent Jennifer Wills (The Seymour Agency)
  • literary scour Rachel Saula (Metamorphosis Literary)
  • literary agent Lindsey Smith (Speilburg Literary)
  • literary agent Hope Bollinger (CYLE Literary Elite)
  • literary agent Uwe Stender (TriadaUS Literary)
  • literary agent Vicki Selvaggio (Storm Literary)
  • more agents possibly forthcoming

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 Kerrie Flanagan of Writing Day Workshops, with assistance from Pittsburgh’s Shut Up & Write chapter.


9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, March 28, 2020, at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown, 600 Commonwealth Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. (412)391-4600.

(Update: The conference is now online, on March 28, 2020. Anyone from anywhere can attend. Learn how an online conference works by clicking here.)

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

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 10.12.02 AM9:30 – 10:30: “How to Write a Damn Good Query Letter,” taught by Jennifer Wills. In this session, a literary agent will teach you the no-nonsense approach to writing a query letter that works. Learn what to include in your pitch, what to cut, and how to give voice and flavor in a small amount of words. At the end of this class, you will have inside information on how to entice an agent or editor to request more material from you.

10:35 – 11:45: “On Compact Writing: Using Words Intentionally & Strategically,” taught by Weronika Janczuk. This workshop will discuss how to tighten your prose, so that whatever you’re writing, your words can pack a punch. Learn how to write compactly, tightly, efficiently — with a goal of understanding good pacing, and what tools are at your disposal.

11:45 – 1:15: Lunch on your own. There are several restaurants within walking distance.

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.)

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 10.07.06 AM2:45 – 4:00: “How to Market Yourself and Your Books: Talking Author Social Media, Blogging, and Platform,” taught by Chuck Sambuchino and Tara Bailey. Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, aspiring or experienced, 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.

4:00 – 5:00: “Submissions and Beyond,” taught by Vicki Selvaggio. Literary Agent Vicki Selvaggio will share tips on the submission process and beyond. Learn about: tips on editing for the eye, ear, and the hand (i.e., how to ensure your manuscript is submission-ready); some common reasons as to why manuscripts are rejected; helpful resources to find the perfect agent; how a query and synopsis differ; and how to maximize a situation where your manuscript has interest from an agent or editor.

All throughout the day: Agent & Editor Pitching.


Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 2.05.49 PM.pngDanielle Chiotti is a literary agent with Upstart Crow Literary. Danielle is actively seeking fresh young adult and middle grade fiction across all genres. She is drawn toward gorgeous writing and strong, flawed characters. For adult fiction, she is seeking upmarket commercial fiction. For nonfiction, she is looking for compelling, voice-driven projects that shed a humorous or thought-provoking light on a previously unknown topic in the areas of narrative nonfiction/memoir, lifestyle, relationships, humor, current events, food, wine, and cooking. Learn more about Danielle here.

Screen Shot 2019-06-19 at 2.43.41 PM.pngGwen Hawkes is an editor with St. Martin’s Press and St. Martin’s Essentials. She acquires narrative nonfiction, thoughtful book club and upmarket women’s fiction, and prescriptive titles in the body, mind, spirit space. Her favorite thing about reading is the enchanting moment when you find yourself utterly transfixed by a single sentence and have to pause your reading to revel in it. Learn more about Gwen here.

Screen Shot 2019-11-18 at 6.52.37 PMJennifer Wills is a literary agent with They Seymour Agency. Jennifer is particularly interested in a wide range of picture books and cookbooks, with a soft spot for author/illustrators of sweet and wacky picture books, and cookbooks with mouth-watering recipes of the health conscious, budget friendly or celebrity chef variety. For fiction, she’s also interested in middle grade and young adult with a sci fi/fantasy, horror/suspense, or contemporary bent, and upmarket women’s fiction with a sense of humor. On the nonfiction side, narrative nonfiction and memoir are also welcome. If your manuscript has a great hook, a distinct voice, and can make her laugh out loud or ugly cry (or, even better, both), she’d love to see it. Learn more about Jennifer here.

Screen Shot 2020-01-02 at 2.50.21 PMJacqueline Lipton is the founder of Raven Quill Literary Agency and the author of Law & Authors: A Legal Handbook for Writers. She is seeking most kinds of middle grade and young adult fiction — especially contemporary, romance, science-fiction, mystery, and/or anything with engaging characters and plot! She also seeks MG and YA nonfiction. Learn more about Jacqueline here.

Screen Shot 2020-01-13 at 6.18.49 PMRachel Soula is a literary scout and assistant with Metamorphosis Literary. At the 2020 Pittsburgh conference, she is taking pitches on behalf of co-agents and will direct your pitch to whom she feels is the best fit. He will take pitches for: romantic comedies, YA contemporary, romance (any kind), literary fiction, mainstream/general fiction, LGBTQ+, women’s fiction, middle grade contemporary, suspense, thriller, historical fiction, cozy mystery, picture books (text only or author-illustrator), and low fantasy. Learn more about Rachel here.

Screen Shot 2019-12-14 at 9.46.47 PM.pngWeronika Janczuk [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent and founder of The Janczuk Literary Agency. “I am not, and have never been, a single-genre reader. I am eager only for the best-told stories, building out a list of talented novelists and writers in many genres.” She is seeking: young adult, fantasy & sci-fi, literary fiction, commercial fiction, women’s fiction, romance, crime, mystery & thrillers. memoir and nonfiction (innovative ideas & research; projects with a potential for social & cultural impact, etc.). Learn more about Weronika here.

Screen Shot 2019-11-01 at 11.31.03 PMLindsey Smith is a literary agent with Speilburg Literary. Lindsey is interested in cookbooks, lifestyle, health, pop culture, gender issues, self-help, true crime, and current events. She is especially interested in podcast-to-book ideas, journalists who specialize in specific research, and cookbooks that have a niche and/or narrative voice. Please do not pitch diet books. Lindsey is excited to work with first-time authors as well as those who are established. She is seeking nonfiction only, specifically prescriptive nonfiction that is compelling, and voice-driven, with the ability to shed light on a topic that might be unknown. She especially loves projects and people that bring humor to serious situations. Learn more about Lindsey here.

Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 10.53.11 PM.pngDr. Uwe Stender is the founding literary agent of TriadaUS Literary. He is interested in all kinds of nonfiction and fiction. In nonfiction, he is completely open to any project, from memoir, pop culture, and health — to how-to, gardening, history and everything in between, including nonfiction for children. In children’s fiction, he is looking for young adult, middle grade, and picture books. In adult fiction, his tastes trend towards women’s fiction, psychological suspense, and mysteries. As an immigrant to the USA himself, he is always eager to bring projects from underrepresented voices into the world. Learn more about Uwe here.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 9.50.27 AMVicki Selvaggio is a literary agent with Storm Literary (formerly with Jennifer De Chiara Literary). She is currently looking for lyrical picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction, new adult, mysteries, suspense, thrillers, paranormal, fantasy, narrative nonfiction, and adult fiction. Vicki is especially drawn to middle grade and young adult. “I especially love thrillers and all elements of weird, creepy stuff. If it’s out of the box, and it will make me think and think, long after I’m done reading, send it to me! On the flip side, I yearn for books that make me laugh, cry and wonder about the world.” Learn more about Vicki here.

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 1.27.12 PMHope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. Literary. She is seeking young adult and middle grade with a speculative flair, some adult romance, and some adult historical. She is also sometimes interested in children’s picture books (especially nonfiction or with STEAM elements), nonfiction & memoir with a strong platform, some books for the religious market with a strong platform. She is not interested in: nonfiction that doesn’t have a strong platform, erotica, poetry, or new adult (YA crossover is fine). Learn more about Hope 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.)


(Registration is still open for the event. Anyone from anywhere can join us now that the event is online, not in person.)

$169 — EARLY BIRD base price for registration to the 2020 PWW and access to all workshops, all day, on March 28, 2020. Registration is now OPEN.

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 four 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.)

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 11.11.29 AM.png“I met my client, Alison Hammer, at the Writing
Workshop of Chicago and just sold her book.”
– literary agent Joanna Mackenzie of Nelson Literary

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 11.47.54 PM.png“Good news! I signed a client [novelist Aliza Mann]
from the Michigan Writing Workshop!”
– literary agent Sara Mebigow of KT Literary

Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 12.56.10 PM“I signed author Stephanie Wright from
the Seattle Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kathleen Ortiz of New Leaf Literary

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 9.07.44 PM“I signed an author [Kate Thompson] that I
met at the Philadelphia Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kimberly Brower of Brower Literary

Screen Shot 2016-10-16 at 2.54.50 PM.png“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 previous instructor Chuck Sambuchino. (This rate is a special event value for Pittsburgh 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:

  • Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 1.17.56 PM.pngYoung adult and middle grade (any kind): Faculty member Laura Lee Anderson, a published YA author, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 1.16.53 PMLiterary fiction, women’s fiction, mainstream fiction, historical fiction, and memoir: Faculty member Ashley Kunsa, a writing coach and professor or creative writing, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 1.17.50 PM.pngChildren’s picture books: Faculty member Eve Porinchak, a freelance editor and former literary agent, will get your work in advance and pass along written critique notes. Unlike the other critiquers at the Pittsburgh event, Eve will not be there in person. Instead Eve is happy to have her 10-minute meetings with writers over the phone or Skype, either before or after the event. Picture book manuscripts should be 1,000 words maximum, and can or cannot include illustrations.
  • Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 1.04.57 PMMystery, thriller, general fiction, literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, romance, women’s fiction: Faculty member Tara Bailey, a writing coach and author, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.

How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Chuck Sambuchino via email:, 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 Chuck plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Pittsburgh workshop specifically.


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 Chuck Sambuchino via email: He 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 PWW will send out periodic e-mail updates to all registered attendees with any & all news about the event. Because Chuck plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Pittsburgh 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 2020 Pittsburgh Writing Workshop.



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