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” writing event in Pittsburgh, PA, 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!

WHAT IS IT?

This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, March 28, 2020, at the Wyndham Grand Downtown Pittsburgh. 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 (Storm Literary)
  • literary agent Weronika Janczuk (The Janczuk Literary Agency)
  • literary agent Jennifer Wills (The Seymour Agency)
  • 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 Pennsylvania West SCBWI.

EVENT LOCATION & DETAILS

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.

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WORKSHOP SCHEDULE (MARCH 28, 2020)

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. 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.

PITCH AN AGENT!

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 is seeking: “I’m looking to acquire adult fiction, particularly book club fiction, historical/period fiction, and women’s fiction. I have particular soft spot for magical realism (even occasionally tiptoeing into fantasy). I read for both strong characters and propulsive plotlines. Best of all, I like books and characters that are brave enough to tangle with big ideas. I’m also in search of narrative nonfiction that reveals stories and places every bit as engaging as fiction. Untold histories, environmental and nature writing, and memoir are all favorites. Within SMP Essentials, I’m looking for body, mind, spirit titles that are geared to a younger, millennial audience—how to build a life (relationally, financially, spiritually, vocationally, etc.) that you love. Books that are direct and practical in their approach are ideal. I’m also interested in narrative nonfiction that could fall into the body, mind, spirit category.” 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 2019-01-31 at 12.02.36 AM.pngJacqueline Lipton is a literary agent with Storm Literary. She is seeking most kinds of middle grade and young adult fiction — specifically 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 2018-12-03 at 1.56.58 PM.pngWeronika Janczuk 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.)

PRICING

$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:

  • Young 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.
  • Literary fiction, mainstream fiction, women’s fiction, historical fiction, mystery, thriller, crime, suspense, memoir, science fiction, fantasy, romance, children’s picture books: Faculty member Eve Porinchak, a freelance editor and former literary agent, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, and pass along written critique notes. Unlike the other critquers at the Minnesota 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.
  • More critique options forthcoming.

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

REGISTRATION

Because of limited space at the venue of the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown, 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 Chuck Sambuchino via email: writingdayworkshops@gmail.com. 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.

 

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow Literary

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 2.05.45 PM.pngDanielle Chiotti has worked in publishing for twelve years. Formerly an editor, she joined Upstart Crow Literary as a literary agent when it was founded in 2009, specializing in young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as cookbooks and select nonfiction. Thanks to her extensive editorial background, she enjoys working closely with authors to develop projects. She welcomes first-time authors with a unique voice and point of view.

A bit about Danielle’s tastes:

Danielle is actively seeking fresh young adult and middle grade fiction across all genres. She is drawn toward gorgeous writing and strong, flawed characters. Her dream project for young readers is one that challenges and inspires, with a compelling voice that will make her stay up all night reading. Good examples of this are Chime by Franny Billingsley, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

For adult fiction, she is seeking upmarket commercial fiction. She prefers books that explore deep emotional relationships in an interesting or unusual way. Good examples of this are Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer, The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

She is not considering the following adult categories: romance, mystery/suspense/thriller, science fiction, horror, or erotica.

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.

Get to Know an Editor in Attendance: Gwen Hawkes of St. Martin’s Press

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 is seeking: “I’m looking to acquire adult fiction, particularly book club fiction, historical/period fiction, and women’s fiction. I have particular soft spot for magical realism (even occasionally tiptoeing into fantasy). I love stories that are transporting, that shake you loose from the everyday, whisk you into a different world, or offer a new angle on the familiar. If it can make the din of the subway fade away, I want to read it. I read for both strong characters and propulsive plotlines. Best of all, I like books and characters that are brave enough to tangle with big ideas.”

“I’m also in search of narrative nonfiction that reveals stories and places every bit as engaging as fiction. Untold histories, environmental and nature writing, and memoir are all favorites. Within SMP Essentials, I’m looking for body, mind, spirit titles that are geared to a younger, millennial audience—how to build a life (relationally, financially, spiritually, vocationally, etc.) that you love. Books that are direct and practical in their approach are ideal. I’m also interested in narrative nonfiction that could fall into the body, mind, spirit category.”

“My favorite books include Once Upon a River, The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, The Overstory, The Plover, The Recovering, Educated, The Electric Woman, Advice for Future Corpses, American Wolf.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Weronika Janczuk of The Janczuk Literary Agency

Screen Shot 2018-12-03 at 1.57.06 PM 1.pngWeronika Janczuk is a literary agent with The Janczuk Literary Agency (formerly with D4E0 Literary).

Weronika (pronounced like Veronica) broke into publishing in 2009, through a high school workshop that placed me with former young adult editor Brian Farrey at Flux (now North Star), a small imprint in Minnesota, where she pulled, from the slush pile, the lovely Out of the Blue by Holly Schindler, which received a starred review in Booklist. She then moved on to intern with Kathleen Anderson at Anderson Literary Management, Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency, and Mary Kole, formerly with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. From 2010-2011, as an undergraduate at NYU, she worked with Bob Diforio and sold an array of projects. Weronika’s parents immigrated from Poland to Canada, where she was born. “I grew up in the Twin Cities of Minnesota; and now I reside in New York City, NY. I studied at New York University’s Gallatin School, where I finished a self-designed degree in the philosophy of the human person. I love Earl Grey tea and lattes, Sudoku, rivers, and pierogi with blueberries. I am also a writer, as are many other agents and editors. I queried my first project when I was 13, and have never queried again, tinkering in silence, perfecting craft, with my current project a science fantasy.

She is seeking:

“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 these genres:”

  • young adult
  • fantasy & sci-fi
  • literary fiction
  • commercial fiction
  • women’s fiction
  • romance
  • crime, mystery & thrillers
  • memoir
  • nonfiction (innovative ideas & research; projects with a potential for social & cultural impact, etc.)

“Human nature fascinates me, and I am drawn to stories that share the rawness and truth of what is and what is possible. I love beautiful writers, worlds, characters; smart, quirky and genre-bending stories. I love underdogs, and stories about characters that rise above limitations. I love romance, whether genre- or element-wise, that is visceral in its rawness. I love dark contours, intense in their immediacy, and world-building that catches your breath with its precision and distinctness.

“I am very much a reader that likes to be challenged, and expanded; very carefully constructed projects, which reveal a writer’s capacities, are most often those that awaken my heart and mind. I would prefer to work with writers eager to grow in their skill as novelists and build long-term, sustainable careers.

“I will not consider middle grade, children’s, or picture books, nor am I the right agent for illustrators or graphic novels.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Lindsay Smith of Speilburg Literary

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.

Lindsey got her start in the publishing industry as an author. After her own publishing success, she started working with other writers to help launch their books and shape their careers. To date, Lindsey has worked with over 1,000 authors and negotiated book deals even before becoming an agent. Her unique perspective helps shape her passion for the industry and her role as an advocate for her clients.

Formerly a publicist and hailing from the world of self-publishing, Lindsey understands the importance of branding, and she works with each client not only to sell a book but to build a career.

 

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Hope Bolinger of C.Y.L.E. Literary

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 1.27.08 PM.pngHope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. Literary.

Hope is a graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 500 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer’s Digest to Keys for Kids to HOOKED.

She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column “Hope’s Hacks,” tips and tricks to avoid writer’s block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young’s blog. Her modern-day Daniel, Blaze, (Illuminate YA) released in June, and they contracted the sequel Den for July 2020. Find out more about her here.

Interested in: Young adult and middle grade with a speculative flair, some adult romance, and some adult historical.

Maybe: 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.

Not interested in: nonfiction that doesn’t have a strong platform, erotica, poetry, new adult (YA crossover is fine).

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jacqueline Lipton of Storm Literary

Screen Shot 2019-01-31 at 12.02.36 AM.pngJacqueline Lipton is a literary agent with Storm Literary.

She is seeking most kinds of middle grade and young adult fiction — specifically contemporary, romance, science-fiction, mystery, and/or anything with engaging characters and plot! She also seeks MG and YA nonfiction.

Jacqueline has been an avid reader since elementary school, back in the days when “YA” wasn’t even a thing.

Her background is also eclectic. At university (yes, in Australia and England they call it “university”), she studied law, psychology, drama, languages, and information technology. She practiced as a banking and finance attorney in Australia, and has worked as a law professor in Australia, the U.K. and the United States where her teaching and writing has focused on laws relating to the publishing industry, digital technology law, copyright, trademark, privacy, and defamation.

She holds an M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and regularly teaches classes on writing and on legal aspects of publishing around the country for organizations like The Writing Barn, Savvy Authors, and a variety of adult education courses, M.A. and M.F.A. programs, and libraries.

Before joining Storm Literary Agency, she was a reader for literary agent, Susan Hawk for several years and a reader and member of the social media team for The YA Review Network (Y.A.R.N.)