(APRIL 2020 UPDATE: The 2020 Writing Conference of Los Angeles is postponed until 2021 for safety reasons. If you are signed up for the 2020 event as a paid attendee, or you would like to know more about WDW’s new 2020 online conferences — which include many recorded sessions, one-on-one pitching to agents by phone or Skype, and more — please see all info here, and be in contact with us anytime you want — firstname.lastname@example.org.)
THIS YEAR’S SESSION & WORKSHOPS:
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 and updates:
BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30
1. The Biggest Myths of How to Land an Agent Debunked, taught by Rachel Beck. There aren’t a lot of resources out there on landing an agent, so naturally false rumors abound. In this session, a literary agent instructor will attempt to clear the air, covering topics such as trying too hard to stand out and thinking you’re immune from the rules.
2. Improve Your Writing: The Basics of Self-Editing and Revision, taught by Eve Porinchak. Writing your manuscript’s first draft is a huge step, but only a primary one. Now it’s time to look at your creation and slowly make it amazing through overhauls, self-editing, and revision. Remember that good writing is rewriting. In this class, you’ll learn to identify your writing’s flaws (and fix them) — such as tense and POV issues, when to cut and shorten your length, and what makes some writing crackle.
3. How Do Writers Make Money? taught by Rufi Thorpe. In this class, you’ll begin to understand how writers make money from their books. We’ll discuss subrights, translations, how to sell the next book, speaking engagements, and much more. Learn what factors are in play when you’re building a potential financial picture of your writing career.
BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50
1. “The End” — Now What? Everything You Need to Understand, From a Finished Draft to Your Whole Career, taught by Gabrielle Prendergast. The session outlines in detail the steps needed after writers complete their first draft of a novel or other full-length book. Topics covered include getting feedback, doing revisions and working with editors and beta readers, as well as how to proceed to the marketing phase of your journey with queries, synopses, loglines, and Twitter pitches. We will cover the differences between traditional and indie publishing and discuss the pros and cons of working with agents. Attendees will leave with insider knowledge of the publishing business and ideas about how to plan their next steps.
2. Taking the Fantastic Live: Thoughtful World Building for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers, taught by Lynn Flewelling. In this session, internationally-acclaimed fantasy author Lynn Flewelling, creator of the Nightrunner Series and the Tamir Triad, shares her expertise on creating believable worlds. Topics will include research, how to avoid anachronisms, what makes a fully realized world– even how geography and weather affect plot. Lynn’s fantasy world is the product of research on real world issues and things spanning archery, poison, the perfect lentil stew and murder
3. Plot Intensive, taught by Rufi Thorpe. The beginning is the beginning, and the middle is what comes after that, and the end is the thing after which there is nothing — but that just isn’t very helpful. Excellent stories are built on excellent plot and structure and pacing. What are the best ways of thinking of plot? How do you keep your story streamlined and engaging? How do you make storylines and threads pay off at the end? In this session, a published novelist will examine the fundamental questions you need to ask yourself in order to develop your plot.
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 (Adult Fiction & Memoir Only), 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 adult fiction or memoir—no prescriptive nonfiction or picture books or kidlit of any kind, 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. Please note that if you are writing young adult or middle grade, there is an identical panel for you in Block Four.
2. How to Sell a Nonfiction Book, taught by Dana Newman. 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. Elevating Your Work: How to Create Children’s Picture Books That Are Not Just Entertaining, but Transformative, taught by Gabrielle Prendergast. Quality literature can help children navigate challenging situations but it can also expand their understanding of other people and places. A good book can be a vehicle for growth, inspiration, and empowerment. And the very best children’s books also utilize the very best art. It is the combination of carefully selected words and the accompanying illustrations, that makes a memorable, meaningful, and child relevant picture book. Discover how to create books that will impact children in a lasting way while embracing the transformative power of your work.
BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45
1. What Do Highly Successful Writers Have In Common? taught by Sarah Enni. As creator and host of the First Draft podcast, Sarah Enni has interviewed more than 200 published authors, including New York Times bestsellers, and winners of the National Book Award, the Caldecott Award, the Printz Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and — oh yeah — an Emmy winner or two. She shares what she’s discovered as common practices and habits across successful writers of all stripes.
2. The Return of Querypalooza! taught by Eve Porinchak. Back by popular demand, this interactive workshop will teach query letter Dos and Don’ts; how to write a compelling logline, synopsis, and bio; and put all the pieces together to create a concise and killer query that will leave agents and editors salivating to read your entire manuscript. Bring your query so Eve can do live critiques.
3. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest (Young Adult & Middle Grade Only), 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 young adult or middle grade only—no prescriptive nonfiction or picture books or adult works (including memoir) of any kind, 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. Please note that if you are writing adult fiction or memoir, there is an identical panel for you in Block Three.
BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00
1. Make Your First Five Pages Agent Ready, taught by Tara Gilbert. You have five pages to impress an agent–make them count. It takes a few paragraphs for an agent to know if they connect with the writing of a manuscript, and you have five pages to convince them they want to see more. We will take a look at what makes a great opening, what you need to successfully grab a reader’s attention, and how to leave them wanting more after five pages.
2. Writing For Kids and Teens, taught by Sarah Enni. What is the difference between writing for adults, and writing for teens? We’ll go over some theories, and discuss how you as a writer can achieve the right voice, tone, and balance of action and character to make your work for kids and teens sing.
3. Five Ways to Build your Author Platform, taught by Kerrie Flanagan. Whether you’re writing novels or are trying to position yourself as an expert for your nonfiction books, a strong author platform allows you to reach a large audience. The challenge for many writers is they feel overwhelmed and don’t know how to begin constructing that platform. This workshop alleviates that stress by sharing five different ways to build an effective author platform, allowing you to choose the routes that best match your personality and experiences.
SESSIONS END: 5:00
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.