The 2024 San Diego Writing Workshop: April 20, 2024

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 10.34.26 PM.pngAfter successful 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022, events in San Diego, Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2024 San Diego Writing Workshop — a full-day “How to Get Published” writing event in San Diego, CA on April 20, 2024.

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 (200 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2024 San Diego Writing Workshop! We are very proud of our many success stories where attendees sign with agents following events — see our growing list of success stories here.

(Please note that this is an in-person event. We at Writing Day Workshops plan both online/virtual as well as in-person events. This next SDWW is an in-person event happening in San Diego on April 20, 2024. See you there.)


This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego Bay Downtown. 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 agent and editor faculty so far includes:

  • literary agent Melanie Figueroa (Root Literary)
  • literary agent Hannah Andrade (Bradford Literary)
  • literary agent Jake Lovell (Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency)
  • literary agent Michaela Whatnall (Dystel, Goderich & Bourret)
  • literary agent Jill Marr (Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency)
  • literary agent Annie Bomke (Annie Bomke Literary Agency)
  • literary agent Ameerah Holliday (Serendipity Literary)
  • and possibly more to come.

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 Chuck Sambuchino of Writing Day Workshops. E-mail Chuck to register for the event at and tell him you’re interested in the San Diego event specifically.


9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, April 20, 2024 — at the Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego Bay Downtown, 601 Pacific Hwy, San Diego, CA 92101.

(Please note that this is an in-person event. We at Writing Day Workshops plan both online/virtual as well as in-person events. This next SDWW is an in-person event happening in San Diego on April 20, 2024. See you there.)


What you see below is a quick layout of the day’s events. The topics below are mostly set, but subject to change. You can see a more detailed layout of the day’s classes on the Schedule Page here.

Please Note: There will be 2-3 classes/workshops going at all times during the day, so you will have your choice of what class you attend at any time. The final schedule of topics is subject to change, but here is the current layout:

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

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. Revising the Memoir Manuscript. While revision is vital for any genre, in addition to meticulous attention to writing craft, memoir writers must navigate unique challenges and more complicated personal considerations.

2.Knock ’em Dead: Tips on Writing Mystery, Thriller, and Crime. Beginning with understanding the kind of novel that will be the best vehicle for your idea (mystery vs thriller?), this workshop will help you develop your own best process to write your book, offer tips on staying focused, and give pointers on effective editing.

3. Understanding the Publishing Industry in 2024 — From Hybrid Publishing to Artificial Intelligence and Everything in Between. How are traditional publishing and self-publishing changing? What kind of writer is attractive to an agent currently? What is hybrid publishing? How will A.I. (artificial intelligence) help or hurt writers in the years to come? All these questions, and more, will be addressed during the speech.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.44.34 AMBLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Getting (Traditionally) Published by Small and University Presses. There’s a lot you need to know, to find, target, prepare, and submit to these publishers. Learn what’s expected, what not to do, and how to increase your chances for success with these publishers that value high quality literary work above platform, prior sales, and bestseller potential.

2. Everything You Need to Know About Agents and Query Letters. This workshop is a thorough crash course in dealing with literary agents, and giving yourself the best chance of snagging one.

3. Outlines For Pantsers: How to Outline Your Book Even When You Don’t Enjoy It. This workshop will show how to chart your story with an outline grid that gives you the freedom to write part of your story where you feel like it today.

(What you see here is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.)

LUNCH ON YOUR OWN: 11:50 – 1:15

Lunch is on your own during these 85 minutes.

BLOCK THREE: 1:15 – 2:30

1. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest (Fiction and Memoir). 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.

2.  How to Sell a Nonfiction Book. This session is completely devoted to nonfiction book proposals.

3. Write Picture Books That Sell: Avoid the Top 10 Picture Book Pitfalls. In this workshop you’ll gain a better understanding of the picture book market, its challenges and opportunities, and what agents and publishers currently seek.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Open Agent Q&A Panel. Several attending literary agents will open themselves up to open Q&A from SDWW attendees. Bring your questions and get them answered in this popular session.

2. The Five Things I Wish I Knew Before I Was Published. In this speech, a published author helps you navigate the challenges that lie ahead by sharing advice on patience and perseverance, the importance of developing craft, the value of networking, and more.

3. An Agent Explains the Editing Process. In this class, you will learn how to Be a good self-editor, how to tighten your writing, and how to avoid “manuscript killers” that keep you from a stellar manuscript.

(What you see here is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.)

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. How to Market Yourself and Your Books: Talking Author Social Media, Blogging, and Platform. Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, everyone could use some helpful guidance on how to effectively market themselves and sell more books.

2. So You Have an Agent or Book Deal — Now What? This session will explain what to expect in the submission process, what it’s like to work with a publishing house editor, how to sell multiple books in your career, and much more.

3. Writing Young Adult and Middle Grade in an Ever-Changing World of Technology. Technology and social media figure heavily in the lives of today’s teens. How do you write what’s current without it going out of style before your publication date?


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

Agent & Editor Pitching: All throughout the day.



Melanie Figueroa is a literary agent with Root Literary. “I’m actively seeking high-concept commercial, upmarket, and general fiction — women’s fiction, thrillers, mysteries, suspense, horror, fantasy, speculative, and historical fiction; young adult novels with a strong voice and propulsive pacing; and heartfelt, humorous, and fantastical middle grade novels across genres. I often fall for books that sit at the intersection of a variety of genres (genre eclectic, if you will). I love mysteries, found families, sibling stories, haunted houses, buried secrets, disability and mental health rep, coming-of-age narratives, non-western cultures and mythologies, animal/spirit companions, strong and potentially unlikable women, friendship growing pains, high-stakes adventures, family sagas, smart and foreboding horror, and anything that makes me laugh or cry (maybe even both at the same time).” Learn more about Melanie here.

Jake Lovell is a literary agent with Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. He is interested in upmarket fiction, with an emphasis on: Gothic, horror, thrillers, westerns, military, and speculative fiction (supernatural, paranormal, UFOs, etc.; think Jordan Peele or 10 Cloverfield Lane). When it comes to fiction, he loves dark stories that cause readers to question turning off the lights before bed. On the nonfiction front, Jake is especially interested in working with historians, up-and-coming scholars looking to transition to trade readership, journalists, doctors, veterans, and people with unique takes on important issues. Think: Freakonomics, Outliers, A Molecule Away From Madness, Columbine, American Sniper, Empire’s Workshop, and The Fact of a Body. Learn more about Jake here.

Hannah Andrade is a literary agent with Bradford Literary. Her wishlist includes dark and transporting young adult fantasy; atmospheric and whimsical middle grade; young adult & adult mysteries with a unique hook; clever retellings of folklore/legends/myths; stories that feature diverse voices and multicultural experiences; and graphic novels. She likes to think of herself as an editorial-focused agent and is particularly eager to acquire BIPOC/underrepresented voices. She is prioritizing stories of joy where identity isn’t the focus and is especially excited about stories rooted in history, mythology, and legends, particularly those that are lesser-known or underrepresented in traditional publishing. Learn more about Hannah here.

Michaela Whatnall is a literary agent with Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. Their background in school and library marketing accounts for their strong interest in children’s literature, particularly middle grade and young adult fiction of all genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, historical, adventure, horror, and rom-com. In the adult fiction space, Michaela is particularly seeking contemporary, speculative, and historical upmarket fiction, as well as character-driven sci-fi/fantasy and other genre fiction that features historically underrepresented characters. They are also open to select narrative nonfiction for both children and adults, graphic novels, and picture books. Learn more about Michaela here.

Jill Marr is an agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. Jill is looking for fiction and nonfiction by unrepresented voices, BIPOC and Latinx writers, disabled persons, and people identifying as LGBTQ+, among others. She is interested in commercial and upmarket fiction, with an emphasis on mysteries, thrillers, Gothic, horror, romantasy, romance, fantasy, speculative fiction, and historical fiction. She loves food-centric novels, no matter what the genre. She is looking to find more rom coms with a fresh voice, perspective and a strong hook. She is also looking for nonfiction by authors with a big, timely, smart message. She’d like to see work that does a deep dive into subcultures and social commentary as well as historical projects that look at big picture issues. Jill is looking for nonfiction projects in the areas of current events, true crime, science, history, narrative nonfiction, sports, politics, health & nutrition, pop culture, humor, music, and very select memoir. Learn more about Jill here.

Ameerah Holliday is a literary agent with Serendipity Literary Agency. Ameerah is primarily interested in middle grade, young adult, and (new) adult fiction. She enjoys contemporary literature, supernatural/paranormal stories (bonus points for witches!), RomComs, literary fiction, and novels in verse. Holliday looks for writing that explores diverse experiences with elements of intersectionality. She is drawn to stories that take you on a journey through growth, and she loves a good friendship story! Learn more about Ameerah here.

Annie Bomke is a literary agent with Annie Bomke Literary Agency. She represents a wide variety of adult and YA fiction and nonfiction, including commercial and literary fiction, upmarket fiction, mysteries (from hilarious cozies to gritty police procedurals and everything in between), historical fiction, women’s fiction, psychological thrillers, literary/psychological horror, self-help, business, health/diet, cookbooks, memoir, relationships, current events, psychology, and narrative nonfiction. Learn more about Annie here.

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ADDED ONLINE PITCHING: To ensure that writers have a robust and diverse lineup of agents & editors to pitch, 2024 San Diego Writing Workshop attendees will have the ability to also pitch literary agents at the Writing Day Workshops *online* event that follows the 2024 SDWW on our calendar.

That event is the Pittsburgh Writing Workshop, May 31 – June 1, 2024, which will have 30-40 agents taking one-on-one Zoom virtual pitches.

This means that 2024 SDWW attendees can have access to pitching all those online PWW agents — pitches still at $29 each — without being a formal registrant for the online May/June 2024 event. (That said, if you want to formally register for the Pittsburgh conference and have access to all classes and panels, let us know, as there is a discount for confirmed San Diego attendees.)

If you are interested in this added pitching opportunity, the first step is to get formally registered for San Diego. Following the SDWW conference on April 20, 2024, we will be in touch with all San Diego attendees and ask them if they want to partake in pitching online agents at the 2024 PWW (May 31 – June 1). At that time, you can communicate your pitch requests and purchase meeting time.

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        More 2024 agents to be announced as they are confirmed. You can sign up for pitches at any time, or switch pitches at any time, so long as the agent in question still has appointments open.

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.)



$199 — EARLY BIRD base price for registration to the 2024 SDWW and access to all workshops, all day. As of fall 2023, registration is now OPEN. To register, just email and say you want to sign up for the San Diego event.

Add $29 — to secure a 10-minute one-on-one meeting with any of our literary agents or editors 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 an 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 Chuck Sambuchino, one of the day’s instructors. (This rate is a special event value for San Diego 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 will either 1) get an in-person meeting at the workshop, if the faculty member is attending the live event, or 2) get a 10-minute phone call with the faculty member, and have notes passed along via email, if the critiquer is not attending the live event. Options:

  • Coming soon
  • More critique options possibly forthcoming

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 credit card, PayPal, or check. Because Chuck plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the San Diego workshop specifically.


Because of limited space at the venue (Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego Bay Downtown), the workshop can only allow 250 registrants, unless spacing issues change. For this reason, we encourage you to book sooner rather than later.

(Please note that this is an in-person event. We at Writing Day Workshops plan both online/virtual as well as in-person events. This next SDWW is an in-person event happening in San Diego on April 20, 2024. See you there.)

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: Chuck will pass along registration information to you, and give instructions on how to pay by credit card, PayPal, or check. Once payment is complete, you will have a reserved seat at the event. The SDWW 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 San Diego workshop specifically.

Refunds: If you sign up for the event and have to cancel for any reason at any time, 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 and manuscript editing payments are completely non-refundable if the instructor has already edited your work.)