Schedule: 2018 Workshop


8:30 – 9:30: Check-in and registration at the event location. Check in and get comfortable.

There will be 3 classes/workshops going at all times during the day. Agent pitches and critique consultations overlap with the sessions below. The schedule of presentation topics below is subject to change, but here is the current layout:

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. An Overview of 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 challenges with both, 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.

2. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction. Writing for children isn’t all that different from writing for adults. You still need great characters in interesting situations doing meaningful things. However, there are some genre specific things to keep in mind when crafting books for those readers under 18. In this session, presenter Madeline Smoot, acquiring editor for CBAY Books, will discuss the tips and tricks for making middle grade and YA novels great.

3. How to Write and Pitch Your Memoir. For the memoir writer, the biggest obstacle to creative expression is often fear. Fears such as, “No one will think my story is interesting,” or, “I can’t write my story because someone will sue me,” or even, “If I put my story out there, someone will steal it,” and especially, “It has to be perfect, and it’s not perfect yet.” Learn to address and overcome these and other obstacles in this memoir class hosted by Hollis Gillespie, founder of Shocking Real Life, the largest independent writing school in the Southeast.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. The Art of Voice: How to Make Your Writing Come to Life. This session focuses on how to craft prose and sentences that pop off the page. Learn how to make your writing sound unique and create your own voice. This session, taught by published women’s fiction author Ricki Schultz, will look at examples of books with voice and style where you can’t help but keeping reading. As well, through hands-on experience during the session, students will learn how to make the reader experience the writing—rather than be given a play-by-play—by transforming examples of “telling” into “showing.”

2. Everything You Need to Know About Agents and Query Letters. 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.

3. Ten Tips for Writing Great Mysteries, Thrillers, and Crime Fiction. If you’re writing a thriller, suspense novel, mystery, or crime novel, you will not want to miss this speech. The presentation will teach you what the genre’s readers expect, how to develop characters, layer sub-plots, and keep your readers turning the pages.

LUNCH ON YOUR OWN: 11:50 – 1:15

Lunch is on your own during these 85 minutes. There are lots of options, including onsite restaurants, and nearby places to eat.

BLOCK THREE: 1:15 – 2:30

1. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest (Grand Salon 1+2 combined), 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.  Nonfiction Intense: Book Proposal Tipss. This session is completely devoted to nonfiction that is not memoir. So if you are trying to create an awesome nonfiction book proposal, this presentation is for you. With both a writer and agent to instruct and answers questions, the session will talk about platform, identifying your book’s place in the market, effective pitching, and more.

3. Picture Book Intensive: Advice on Selling Your Children’s Book. Picture books are tricky works of art that require a lot to happen in very few words. In this session, we’ll discuss questions to consider before sending a picture book manuscript out in the world.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. How to Self-Publish Your Book Now and Do It Right. Self-publishing provides an enormous opportunity to writers — especially in today’s market — but the prospect can be very daunting! This workshop will provide a point-by-point series of surmountable steps toward a cost-efficient self-publishing method. You’ll receive advice on how to prepare your manuscript, tips on how to design your cover so it doesn’t scream “self-published,” suggestions on where to go to find a good book-cover designer, tips on hiring copy editors, advice on pricing and marketing, how to offer your book for advanced sales on Amazon, how to register for an ISBN number so your book can be readily ordered by all the major retailers and distributors, and more. Not only will this course save you time and money, but it will also save you from making a ton of rookie mistakes.

2. Ten Keys to Writing Success, Learn 10 things you can be doing right now that will help get your book(s) published and have more control over your writing destiny. This is a general course that addresses commonsense things any writer can do to give their work the best shot at getting published, such as writing the best thing they can, stealing from themselves, and why writing for love and money is a good idea.

3. Talking Fantasy and Science Fiction. A discussion regarding the genres of science fiction and fantasy — how the markets are changing, what writers can do to improve their craft in these genres, and much more. It’s a great session to attend if you’re trying to write and sell speculative fiction. Instructor Eric Smith not only acquires these genres, but is published in them, as well.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. Platform, Social Media, and Blogging. Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, 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.

2. Revision and Self-Editing: How to Tighten Your Work Before You Submit. Learn how to ruthlessly self-edit your own work. This session will discuss common manuscript problems as well as tools you can use to create the manuscripts that will get the attention you want from agents and editors—and readers. Before you send out your submission, let instructor published women’s fiction author Ricki Schultz show you how to tighten your writing and avoid mistakes that slow your prose down. You’ll learn how to cut down your own word count, eliminate passive voice, spot repetition in your writing, diagnose point of view problems, and much more.

3. How to Write and Sell Romance in Today’s Market. The romance market is constantly changing, so how then, are you to know what and when to submit to editors and agents? In this workshop, you will learn not only what’s trending in the current marketplace, but how to research an agent/editor that best suits your needs, and the proper ways to approach them.


At 5 p.m., the day is done. Speakers will make themselves available by the workshop’s bookstore station for a short while to sign any books for attendees.