Schedule: 2020 Workshop

(IMPORTANT JUNE 2020 UPDATE: The 2020 TWW is now an Online Conference to keep everyone safe, spread out over two days August 8-9. There is much more to say about this, but immediately you should understand 1) This will be easy and awesome, and online conferences we’ve done thus far have received wonderful feedback, 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 Zoom or phone. Learn all details about the new August 8-9n TWW Online Conference here and what everything means.)

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There will be classes all day on August 8 and August 9 — all times Eastern Time. 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:

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9:30 – 10:30: Ask the Agents Anything. This session is an open Q&A designed for writers to be able to ask some attending literary agents questions and get answers. Bring your conundrums and questions and dilemmas!

10:45 – 11:50: I Did It, It’s Done! … Now What? taught by J.M. Frey. So you’ve written a novel! Congratulations on finally typing “The End”! Now what do you do with it? This presentation explains the common routes and methods of writing a query letter, signing with an agent, and publishing your book (both traditionally and through self publishing avenues). I will discuss some of the pros and cons, the common pitfalls, and what specific widely-used terminology means. An excellent presentation for people new to the publishing world.

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: (How to) Revise the Crap Out of Your Manuscript, taught by Danielle Younge-Ullman. Finishing a first draft is fantastic, and a huge accomplishment. Until you’ve done multiple revisions of that manuscript, however, your book isn’t finished — and we’re not just talking about looking for typos and making sure you haven’t called three different characters “Bob.” Author Danielle Younge-Ullman is a tireless, in-depth and joyfully ruthless reviser, and in this session she will show you the steps she takes to revise her manuscripts. Subjects will include character consistency, POV, tone, tightening and/or expanding, layering in new characters and plot lines, analyzing structure, and figuring out what’s wrong with a scene that isn’t working. You will also understand how to devote a portion of the session to interpreting and getting the most out of feedback from beta readers, agents and editors.

4:00 – 5:00: Getting Published in Today’s World: 10 Tips to Make You the Writer Agents and Publishers Want, taught by Brian Klems. If you want to land an agent and a book deal in today’s market, you’re going to have to do a lot more than just write a great book (though that’s a good start). In this session, former Writer’s Digest editor Brian A. Klems discusses the challenges writers face in publishing today and offers up 10 practical tips to help you break through the barriers and find success.

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9:30 – 10:30: This is Going to Be Harsh: 10 Things that Writers Need to Know About Writing and Publishing, taught by Cecilia Lyra. This session, taught by a literary agent, is a no-nonsense class on what aspiring (and even published) writers need to understand immediately to make the most out of their writing career and journey.

10:45 – 11:50: Keep Them Hooked: How to Write a Page-Turner, taught by Barbra Leslie. We all love them, those thrillers that keep us up long past our bedtimes. In this course, Barbra Leslie — whose Cracked series was called “a breathless, propulsive read” by The Toronto Star and has been optioned for television — will guide you through the key elements to keeping your readers wanting more. Using both theory and examples from popular mystery and thriller series, Barbra will show how key elements of structure, character and plot can take your manuscript from deadly boring…to dead exciting. Barbra will take some off-the-cuff feedback from students, and show the right — and wrong — ways to execute your story.

1:15 – 2:30: The Business of How Authors Make Money, taught by Carly Watters. This workshop, taught by a literary agent experienced with contracts and negotiation, will delve into all the ways authors make money. The class will break down complicated subjects and make they easy to understand — such as contracts, royalties, subsidiary rights, and translation rights. Also, the class will discuss financial literacy for authors — such as planning for the future, what to do with your advance, and whether to spend your money on marketing (or not).

2:45 – 3:45: Romance 101, taught by Vicki Essex. Romance novels make up 46% of all books sold in the United States; they sell more than mystery and science fiction combined. The voraciousness of the reader base makes writing romance potentially lucrative, but you need to know what readers want and you can’t skip on craft. We’ll talk about plotting and publishing a smart and successful romance novel, what’s selling, and what the market looks like today.

4:00 – 5:00: Plotting Arcs and Compelling Narratives, taught by Stephanie Winter. A great work of fiction requires excellent pacing to move the reader past those first pages and to propel them to the very end. The ups and downs of a well-plotted arc are not unique to Shakespeare and film. This session will walk you through the key markers of exposition, climax, and denouement moments in novels, and will outline what these arcs look like across genres. If you’ve ever been told your story does not start in the right place, this session is for you. 

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Lastly, having this new technology allows us WDW faculty members to pre-record sessions, too—meaning we will actually send attendees many extra FREE classes as part of their attendance. In addition to getting the weekend’s 10 classes sent to you to watch over and over again, we will also send you 10 more free classes:

  1. “An Overview of Your Publishing Options Today”—a class on understanding the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing, by Chuck Sambuchino
  2. “10 Query Letter Tips”—a class to help your submission chances, by Chuck Sambuchino
  3. “15 Tips on How to Write Like the Pros”—a class on craft and voice, by Brian Klems
  4. “Talking Elevator Pitches, Twitter Pitches, and Query Letters”—a class on understanding the various ways to pitch your book to agents, by agent Heather Cashman
  5. “The Ins and Outs of Perfecting Voice in Your Writing,” taught by author Christina Kaye
  6. “Ask an Agent Anything Panel (Michigan Writing Workshop)”—hear writers ask questions and agents give blunt feedback
  7. “How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal” by Brian Klems—a class specifically designed for writers of nonfiction who want to craft an awesome proposal
  8. “You Have an Agent Offer or Book Contract — Now What?”—a class explaining what happens after you sign with a rep, by agent Carlie Webber
  9. “Pitch, Please”—a class on pitching to agents successfully, by Ben Miller-Callihan and Courtney Miller-Callihan
  10. “Making Social Media Work For You”—a class on promoting yourself and your book via social media, by agent Kenzi Nevins