The 2021 San Diego Writing Workshop: May 14-15, 2021

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 10.34.26 PM.pngAfter successful 2015, 2017, and 2019 events in San Diego, Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2021 San Diego Writing Workshop — an online “How to Get Published” writing event on May 14-15, 2021. (Writers are welcome to attend virtually from everywhere and anywhere.)

This writing event is a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of two days, pitch a literary agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. Note that there are limited online “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 2021 San Diego Writing Workshop!

ONLINE: The 2021 SDWW is an Online Conference to keep everyone safe, on May 14-15, 2021. There is much more to say about this, but immediately you should understand 1) Online events are easy and awesome, and the online events 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 a traditional in-person event, including one-on-one agent & editor pitching, which will now be done by Skype or Zoom or phone. Learn all details about what it means to have a writers conference online.)

WHAT IS IT?

This is a special two-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on May 14-15, 2021. In other words, it’s two days 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. And even though this is the “San Diego” Writing Workshop, make no mistake — writers from everywhere are welcome to attend virtually.

This event is designed to squeeze as much into two days of learning as possible. You can ask any questions you like during the online 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 2021 SDWW agent faculty so far includes:

  • literary agent Latoya C. Smith (LCS Literary)
  • literary agent Jaidree Braddix (Park & Fine Literary)
  • literary agent Susana Alvarez (Park & Fine Literary)
  • literary agent Kimberly Brower (Brower Literary)
  • literary agent Analieze Cervantes (Harvey Klinger Literary)
  • literary agent Beth Marshea (Ladderbird Literary)
  • literary agent Cassie Mannes Murray (Howland Literary)
  • literary agent Jemiscoe Chambers-Black (Andrea Brown Literary)
  • literary agent Colleen Oefelein (Jennifer De Chiara Literary)
  • literary agent Becky LeJeune (Bond Literary)
  • literary agent Markus Hoffmann (Regal Hoffman & Associates)
  • literary agent Leah Pierre (Ladderbird Literary)
  • literary agent Matt Belford (Tobias Agency)
  • literary agent Tessa Emily Hall (CYLE Literary)
  • literary agent Suzie Townsend (New Leaf Literary)
  • literary agent Michaela Whatnall (Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret)
  • literary agent Leticia Gomez (Savvy Literary)
  • literary agent Heather Cashman (Storm Literary)
  • literary agent Sandy Lu (Book Wyrm Literary)
  • literary agent Garrett Alwert (Emerald City Literary)
  • literary agent Stephanie Winter (P.S. Literary)
  • literary agent Eric Smith (P.S. Literary)
  • literary agent Amaryah Orenstein (Go Literary)
  • literary agent Tessa Emily Hall (CYLE Literary)
  • literary agent Erica Bauman (Aevitas Creative Management)
  • literary agent Paul S. Levine (Paul S. Levine Literary)
  • and 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 coordinators Chuck Sambuchino and Brian Klems of Writing Day Workshops.

EVENT LOCATION & DETAILS:

ONLINE: The 2021 SDWW is an Online Conference to keep everyone safe, on May 14-15, 2021. There is much more to say about this, but immediately you should understand 1) Online events are easy and awesome, and the online events 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 a traditional in-person event, including one-on-one agent & editor pitching, which will now be done by Skype or Zoom or phone. Learn all details about what it means to have a writers conference online.)

THIS YEAR’S SESSIONS & WORKSHOPS (MAY 14-15, 2021):

What you see below 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.

Agent pitches and critique consultations overlap with Saturday sessions. The schedule of presentation topics below is subject to change and updates:

FRIDAY, MAY 14, 2021

9:30 – 10:30: Forthcoming.

10:45 – 11:45: Forthcoming.

11:45 – 1:15: Break

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.

2:45 – 3:45: Forthcoming.

4:00 – 5:00: Forthcoming.

SATURDAY, MAY 15, 2021

9:30 – 10:30: Forthcoming.

10:45 – 11:45: Forthcoming.

11:45 – 1:15: Break

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.

2:45 – 3:45: Forthcoming.

4:00 – 5:00: Forthcoming.

Agent pitches and critique consultations overlap with Saturday sessions. The schedule of presentation topics below is subject to change and updates:

(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.)

Agent & Editor Pitching: All throughout the day.

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PITCH AN AGENT OR EDITOR:

Kimberly Brower is a literary agent and founder of Brower Literary. Kimberly is interested in adult upmarket/commercial fiction, with an emphasis in general/book club fiction, women’s fiction and romance. However, she is always looking for books that she wants to stay up all night reading, unable to put them down, regardless of what genre an author classifies it as. She loves stories that bring her into a world she doesn’t want to leave and characters that have strong story arcs. She also can never say no to an epic love story. Learn more about Kimberly here.

Susana Alvarez is a literary agent with Park & Fine Literary. As first-generation Mexican-American, she is especially drawn to and excited to reflect multicultural experiences and perspectives. Her interests range from narrative nonfiction, where she has a penchant for memoirs, to voice-driven Journalism, cultural commentary, big idea society-moving books, to the health and wellness industry; particularly among women and under-represented communities. Outside of nonfiction, her love of the literary world first arrived through the great American novel, which evolved into a passion for fiction rooted in themes of: the self, coming of age, complex human relationships, and multi-generational stories against the backdrop of multiple nations and cultures. Learn more about Susana here.

Beth Marshea is a literary agent at Ladderbird Literary Agency. In all areas Beth would like to see more works from disabled writers, from LGBTQIA+ writers, from Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Middle Eastern, and all other groups who do not regularly get to see their stories in print. She would love to see more non-binary representation across categories as well. She seeks narrative nonfiction, literary fiction, mainstream fiction, mystery, thriller, fantasy, and science fiction. She also selectively represents young adult, middle grade, and picture books. Learn more about Beth here.

Analieze Cervantes is a literary agent with Harvey Klinger Literary Agency. Analieze is currently building her own list and is looking for stories in YA and Adult Fiction. She specializes in Sci-Fi, Romance, Thriller, Suspense, and Mystery. Analieze is especially open to BIPOC and LGBTQ voices in the mentioned categories. “I am looking for character-driven books that grip me from the first page until the very end. I want fantastic world-building, a clear plot, and want to know your main character’s desire by the time I get to page ten.” Learn more about Analieze here.

Latoya C. Smith is a literary agent with LCS Literary. In fiction, she seeks high-concept women’s fiction; high-concept mystery, thriller and horror, romance (contemporary, romantic suspense, cowboys, historical, LGBTQ, paranormal, sweet), comedy / romantic comedy, and young adult (no SF/F). In nonfiction, she is strictly seeking platform and market-based books in the areas of memoir, how to, advice, relationships, health, wellness, politics, current events, history, sports, pop culture, and business. Learn more about Latoya here.

Cassie Mannes Murray is a literary agent with Howland Literary. Cassie is accepting submissions for adult fiction and nonfiction. As far as fiction, she is seeking literary fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, short story collections, and literary-speculative work (not high fantasy or science fiction). For nonfiction, she’s interested in representing memoir, essay collections, as well as narrative nonfiction. Learn more about Cassie here and what she is seeking.

Stephanie Winter is a literary agent at P.S. Literary. Stephanie is acquiring: adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade fiction, in addition to Graphic Novels. She’s actively seeking titles with diverse and inclusive representation that offer smart, culturally aware, and enriching narratives. For young readers, Stephanie loves a good adventure story, light SFF, and STEAM topics. In the adult space, she appreciates all sorts of fiction but particularly enjoys Rom-Coms and Thrillers (located outside the home) and LGBTQ+ stories that bring joy. Stephanie also acquires select nonfiction in all age groups, with a soft spot for projects that blend illustration with information on culturally relevant topics. Learn more about Stephanie here.

Amaryah Orenstein is a literary agent with Go Literary. Amaryah has always loved to read and provide (oftentimes unsolicited) editorial advice and, as a literary agent, she is thrilled to help writers bring their ideas to life. She is particularly drawn to narrative nonfiction and memoir but enjoys any book that connects the reader to its characters and evokes thought and feeling. Learn more about Amaryah here.

Eric Smith is a literary agent with P.S. Literary. Eric has a love for young adult books, literary fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, and nonfiction. Eric is eagerly acquiring fiction and non-fiction projects. He’s actively seeking out new, diverse voices in Young Adult (particularly sci-fi and fantasy), Middle Grade, and Literary and Commercial Fiction (again, loves sci-fi and fantasy, but also thrillers and mysteries). In terms of non-fiction, he’s interested in Cookbooks, Pop Culture, Humor, Middle Grade, essay collections, and blog-to-book ideas. Learn more about Eric here.

Screen Shot 2019-09-27 at 1.37.27 PMPaul S. Levine is a literary agent and the founder of Paul S. Levine Literary. He is also an attorney. His fiction interests include adventure novels, mainstream fiction, mysteries, romance, thrillers, and women’s fiction. His nonfiction interests include business/commerce, pop culture, how-to, self-help, politics/law, relationships, and sports. Learn more about Paul here.

Screen Shot 2019-03-30 at 3.10.25 PM.pngErica Bauman is a literary agent with Aevitas Creative Management. Erica is currently focused on representing a wide range of authors across middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction, as well as some select narrative nonfiction projects. She is most interested in novels that straddle the line between literary and commercial, imaginative tales with a speculative twist, fearless storytellers that tackle big ideas and contemporary issues, and working with and supporting marginalized authors and stories that represent the wide range of humanity. “In adult, I gravitate towards stories that have a commercial premise and beautiful writing. I love voice-driven, witty romcoms, historical novels (especially mysteries), and light SFF and magical realism. I’m on the lookout for books starring nerds, and stories that make me laugh. Across all age ranges and genres, I’m eager to support and work with marginalized authors and stories that represent the wide range of humanity.” Learn more about Erica here.

Garrett Alwert is a literary agent with Emerald City Literary Agency. Garrett is looking for: smart, funny, contemporary stories with fresh voices, a strong hook and awesome dialogue. “Emerald City Literary represents picture books, middle grade, young adult, and children’s nonfiction. We welcome submissions with LGBTQ+ themes and/or diverse characters as well as traditionally underrepresented authors.” He enjoys romance and stories that focus on friendship, family, and all the ways those relationships come together. He also likes well paced psychological thrillers as well as stories with unique story structures and timelines. He is actively looking for projects by POC authors or with LGBTQ+ themes. Learn more about Garrett here.

Jemiscoe Chambers-Black is a literary agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency. In middle grade, se seeks contemporary, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, horror, graphic novels, and novels in verse. In young adult, she seeks romance, contemporary, fantasy, mystery, and novel in verse. She seeks illustrators and author-illustrators of picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and YA. For adult fiction, she seeks romance, rom-coms, upmarket psychological thrillers & mysteries, literary fiction, and fantasy (not high fantasy). Jem is especially open to BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ and neurodivergent voices and stories in all the above categories. Learn more about Jemiscoe.

Becky LeJeune is a literary agent with Bond Literary. Becky spent 5 years as an acquisitions editor at The History Press before joining Sandra at BLA in 2014. She is interested in adult and teen general fiction, horror, mystery/thriller, historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy, and cookbooks. Learn more about Becky here.

Markus Hoffmann is a literary agent with Regal Hoffman Associates. Markus joined Regal Literary in 2006 and was made a partner in the agency in 2014, when it became Regal Hoffmann & Associates. His main interests as an agent are international and literary fiction, unusual speculative fiction, crime, literary memoir, philosophy, history, music, popular science, and travel literature. He also looks after the agency’s foreign rights. Learn more about Markus here.

Leah Pierre is a literary agent with Ladderbird Literary. In young adult as well as adult fiction, she is seeking some fantasy, romantic meet-cute stories, realistic and raw family-centered novels, mysteries, psychological thrillers, fairy tale retellings, espionage/heist, historical fiction and fantasy, social justice inspired stories, romance (ideally interracial or at least something out of the ordinary). In new adult fiction, she seeks romance (again, interracial or at least something out of the ordinary), coming of age, F/F friendship, and books about the college experience as well as the post-college experience. Learn more about Leah here.

Suzie Townsend is Vice President and Literary Agent at New Leaf Media. Suzie represents all brands of children’s and adult fiction. She loves women’s fiction, narrative nonfiction, memoir, and debut fiction. On the children’s side, she is interested in select young adult and middle grade. Suzie loves strong characters and voice-driven stories that break out of the typical tropes of their genres, and she’s always looking for unique new voices in stories. Learn more about Suzie here.

Heather Cashman is a literary agent with Storm Literary. Heather is currently seeking submissions for middle grade and young adult. For MG and YA fiction, she’ll consider all genres and loves a good genre splice. For MG and YA nonfiction, anything that takes her back to those days in the library when she wanted to learn about someone, something, and somewhere new. For all writing, Heather enjoys unique characters formed from their own experiences in a unique world. Learn more about Heather here.

Sandy Lu is a literary agent with Book Wyrm Literary Agency. In fiction, Sandy seeks literary and commercial fiction, mystery, thriller, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, horror, historical fiction, and YA. In nonfiction: narrative nonfiction, history, biography, science, business, psychology, pop culture, and food writing. Learn more about Sandy here as well as what she is seeking.

Matt Belford is a literary agent with The Tobias Literary Agency. A lover of all things science fiction and fantasy, Matt accepts his nerd status readily. Matt is interested in receiving submissions for both graphic memoirs and graphic novels, as well as adult science fiction and fantasy, and some popular nonfiction. He is not interested in young adult novels. Learn more about Matt here.

Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 11.51.01 PM.pngLeticia Gomez is a literary agent and the founder of Saavy Literary. At the present time, Savvy Literary Agency is interested in reviewing compelling and commercially viable book proposals and manuscripts written in English or Spanish. Fiction areas of interest: adventure, chick lit, fantasy, historical, humor, multicultural, mystery, paranormal, romance, young adult, and middle grade. Nonfiction areas of interest: advice/relationships, biography, cooking, diet, health, history/politics/current affairs, how-to, humor, lifestyle, memoir, parenting, religion/spirituality and true crime. Learn more about Leticia 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, from picture books up through middle grade and young adult novels and graphic novels. In the adult fiction space, they are particularly seeking character-driven speculative fiction, sci-fi/fantasy, and literary fiction. They are also interested in nonfiction for both children and adults, especially narrative nonfiction in the areas of history, the creative arts, and lifestyle. Learn more about Michaela here.

Colleen Oefelein is a literary agent with Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. She represents picture books, middle grade, young adult, and adult books in many genres. “Picture Books: I’m looking for fun, funny, adventurous, or touching stories with that magical mix of novel simplicity and a surprise ending that will have my 6-year-old asking to read over and over. Middle Grade: I’m looking for mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, low fantasy, paranormal, all with a thread of subtle or not-so-subtle humor. Young Adult and Adult Fiction: In YA, I badly want a Faust retelling. In general, send me unusual re-tellings and heart-rending love stories, harsh and sobering contemporary, romantic suspense, romance in all subgenres except erotic, mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, comedy, low fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, and anything fast-paced.” Learn more about Colleen here.

Tessa Emily Hall is a literary agent for CYLE Literary. She seeks young adult fiction (all kinds and genres) for Illuminate YA Fiction publishing. Learn more about Tessa here.

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        More 2021 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.)

———

PRICING:

$189 — EARLY BIRD base price for registration to the 2021 SDWW and access to all workshops, all days. (You also get 10 additional free pre-recorded webinars on writing and publishing.) As of early 2021, registration is now OPEN.

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. There is no limit. Here are 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 Brian Klems, one of the workshop’s former 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 get an in-person meeting at the workshop. Options:

  • Mystery, thriller, general fiction, literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, romance, women’s fiction: Faculty member Tara Bailey, a writing coach and author, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you online (Zoom, etc.) or by phone for 15 minutes sometime before the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes before or after the meeting.
  • Literary fiction, fantasy, science fiction, magical realism, women’s fiction, historical, any kind of young adult, any kind of middle grade, and picture books. Faculty member Laura Biagi, a former literary agent, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you online (Zoom, etc.) or by phone for 15 minutes sometime before the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes before or after the meeting.. If you submit a picture book, it must be 1,000 words or fewer (can have illustrations or not).

How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Brian Klems via email: WDWconference@gmail.com, and he will provide specific instructions for payment and registration to get you a reserved seat at the event. Payment is by PayPal or check or credit card. Because Brian plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the San Diego workshop specifically.

REGISTRATION:

ONLINE: The 2021 SDWW is an Online Conference to keep everyone safe, on May 14-15, 2021. There is much more to say about this, but immediately you should understand 1) Online events are easy and awesome, and the online events 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 a traditional in-person event, including one-on-one agent & editor pitching, which will now be done by Skype or Zoom or phone. Learn all details about what it means to have a writers conference online.)

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 Brian Klems via email: WDWconference@gmail.com. He will pass along registration information to you, and give instructions on how to pay by PayPal or check or credit card. 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 Brian 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 or CC refund]. 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 started edited your work.)

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 4.10.21 PM

Thank you for your interest in the 2021 San Diego Writing Workshop.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Latoya C. Smith of LCS Literary

Latoya C. Smith is a literary agent with LCS Literary.

In fiction, she seeks high-concept women’s fiction; high-concept mystery, thriller and horror, romance (contemporary, romantic suspense, cowboys, historical, LGBTQ, paranormal, sweet), comedy / romantic comedy, and young adult (no SF/F). In nonfiction, she is strictly seeking platform and market-based books in the areas of memoir, how to, advice, relationships, health, wellness, politics, current events, history, sports, pop culture, and business.

“Having worked for corporate New York publishing houses, independent and boutique presses, and with self-published authors, I have a well-rounded knowledge of book publishing with a core network of relationships with authors, literary agents, and other publishing professionals. I graduated Cum Laude from Temple University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a minor in African American Studies. I have been featured in Publishers Weekly, Forbes, and USA Today, as well as on various author, book conference, and book blogger websites. I am the winner of the 2012 RWA Golden Apple Award for Editor of the Year, the 2017 RWA Golden Apple Award for Agent of the Year, and the 2017 Literary Jewels Award for Editor of the Year. In early 2014, I appeared on CSpan2 where I contributed to a panel discussing the state of book publishing.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Cassie Mannes Murray of Howland Literary

Cassie Mannes Murray is a literary agent with Howland Literary.

Cassie is accepting submissions for adult fiction and nonfiction. As far as fiction, she is seeking literary fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, short story collections, and literary-speculative work (not high fantasy or science fiction). For nonfiction, she’s interested in representing memoir, essay collections, as well as narrative nonfiction.

Before pivoting into publishing, Cassie Mannes Murray was a high school teacher for six years, and ran an infamous book blog known as Books & Bowel Movements where she worked with several brands, including several publishing houses and indie presses. She holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from North Carolina State University, and is working on her MFA at UNCW in creative nonfiction. She currently designs spreads, broadsides, posters, and promotional materials for Ecotone and Lookout Books, and her writing has been supported by the Shannon Morton Fellowship, Ralph Brauer Fellowship, Sundress Academy for the Arts, and Kenyon Writers Workshop. She is working on a book. Her writing can be found in Passages North, Story Quarterly, The Rumpus, Fugue, and Hobart. Her pronouns are she/her.

Because she believes genre categories are for marketing purposes, Cassie would like to work with authors who are difficult to categorize, or are attempting to bridge gaps between multiple genre categories. She wants to work with writers that are passionate about writing, particularly at the sentence level. While she can become invested in a wide-range of books, topics that are always a hit for her include: reckoning with girlhood or coming-of-age in adult narratives, slipstream, strange, or left-of-center fiction (Karen Russell, Kelly Link, Helen Oyeyemi), retellings of obscure fairytales, folklore (particularly from nonwestern traditions), manipulative or unlikeable characters, LGBTQ+ narratives, odd jobs, education, climate science, and anything that centers Southern culture.

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Analieze Cervantes of Harvey Klinger Literary

Analieze Cervantes is a literary agent with Harvey Klinger Literary.

Analieze is a graduate from Cal State San Bernardino where she studied English: Creative Writing along with a minor in Screenwriting. She has also worked as an Editorial Freelancer for Independent Authors. She started her career as an intern at a New York Literary Agency and was mentored by Saritza Hernandez. She then joined the Harvey Klinger Literary Agency in 2020.

She currently resides in Southern California with her five dogs.

“As an Agent for The Harvey Klinger Literary Agency. I am looking for character-driven books that grip me from the first page until the very end. I want fantastic world-building, a clear plot, and want to know your main character’s desire by the time I get to page ten. Time shouldn’t exist when I read your manuscript. I want to be hooked and pulled into your world. Great writing is awesome, but your characters matter most to me. I want books that make me cry, laugh, and to feel connected to your main character. For thrillers, I want to be on the edge of my seat and have no clue on how your book is going to end. I want to vouch for your main character and cheer them on by the end of your story. I’m especially open to BIPOC and LGBTQ voices.”

What I’m Looking For:

I am looking to represent Writers for Middle Grade, Young Adult and Adult Fiction and am actively building my list in the following categories:

Middle Grade:

  • Contemporary (something really cute, out of the box, character desire that molds the MC)
  • Mystery (twists & turns, young detective who has a desire to solve the case, something out of the box, cute voice)
  • Sci-fi (cute voice, a young scientist/inventor on the brink of discovering something that shapes the MC and is meaningful to the MC, think Meet the Robinsons)

Young Adult:

  • Sci-Fi (a Dystopian feel, think Divergent, hacking, neurolinks, AI blend with reality)
  • Contemporary Romance (think If He Had Been With Me and To All the Boys)
  • RomCom (a love story that provides comedic elements, meeting in a unique moment/setting)
  • Mystery (think Riverdale, twists & turns, should not give me any hints)
  • Paranormal (vampires, werewolves, blend of reality & fiction with a love story) No Zombies.
  • Crime Fiction (thorough investigation for murders and other cases, strong MC with a desire)
  • LGBTQ (a love story that progresses over time, no triangles)
  • Thriller/Suspense (cliffhangers, want to be on the edge of my seat)

Adult:

  • Physiological Thriller/Suspense (think Karin Slaughter’s The Good Daughter)
  • Mystery (twists & turns, want a surprise ending, should not give me hints on who “dun” it)
  • Contemporary Romance (a love story that conquers all, no love at first sight)
  • Romantic Suspense (a love story with suspense elements webbed in)
  • omCom (a love story that provides comedic elements, meeting in a unique moment/setting)
  • Paranormal (vampires, witches, etc. blend of reality & fiction with a love story) No Zombies.
  • Sci-Fi (soft sci-fi, blending the two worlds)
  • Crime Fiction (want to feel connected to the MC and clearly shows MC’s desire to solve a case)

What I’m NOT looking for:

  • Fantasy (anything Fantasy, might be interested in Magical Realism)
  • Short story collections
  • Inspirational works including religious overtones
  • Picture/Chapter Books
  • Erotica
  • Nonfiction
  • Memoir
  • Graphic Novels
  • Horror (please nothing with Zombies)
  • Westerns
  • Novellas
  • Anything Political
  • Poetry
  • Screenplays

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Beth Marshea of Ladderbird Literary

Beth Marshea is a literary agent at Ladderbird Literary.

​Beth is the owner and Lead Agent at Ladderbird Literary Agency. She has a BA in Literature and a Masters in Business Administration and is always looking for new and exciting ways to bring more diversity into publishing and beyond. Outside of agenting, Beth, teaches writing in her local community with a focus on bringing reluctant writers and readers into the magical world of books. She loves the outdoors and is also a certified lifeguard.

She is seeking:

For added emphasis, in all areas Beth would like to see more works from disabled writers, from LGBTQIA+ writers, from Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Middle Eastern, and all other groups who do not regularly get to see their stories in print. She would love to see more non-binary representation across categories as well.

Across categories she would love to see more works that show joy in marginalized communities.

Adult nonfiction wants:

Beth is actively seeking narrative nonfiction centering around cultural phenomena, hidden or weird histories, issue-driven books, and books that offer new ways to look at spiritualism, witchcraft and paganism.

She is not a good fit for books on the Judeo-Christian religions.

Adult fiction wants:

Literary Fiction- She is looking for work with exceptional voice and beautiful style, unusual settings, and works that involve clever plots with dynamic characters. She wants to see work that brings to light new perspectives on old ideas. Of particular interest are multi-generational stories that show family dynamics, stories centered around found family or friendship, Currently she is especially interested in seeing works by and about BIPOC communities, especially Latinx and Indigenous writers.

Mainstream/Commercial Fiction- She’d love to see more multicultural Meet-Cutes/RomComs (especially LGBTQ+), Family Drama, stories about friendships of any kind, work that is light and fun, but emotionally poignant.

Mysteries- Would love to more atmospheric mysteries with a twist. It might be an unusual setting, or simply written from BIPOC perspective to give this genre a new voice.

Thrillers- She loves a thriller that really keeps you on the edge of your seat guessing! She’s particularly looking for thrillers set outside of the United States. She does not love thrillers that feature violence towards women as their main plot.

Fantasy- Books that are fast-paced with wonderful (ideally non-European) characters. She’d love to see more dark fantasies based on non-European folklore, especially Latinx (new imaginings of El Cucuy, El Sombrerón, Duendes, etc…)!

Science Fiction- She really wants grounded Sci-Fi with characters that are engrossing, tight plots, and really beautiful voice. She prefers stories set near future, featuring unusual tech, that are not focused around the US. She’s not the best candidate for a space opera or any military Sci-Fi.

Young Adult wants:

Contemporary- She is very actively looking for stories about found family, the difficulties of friendship, LGBTQIA+ Rom Coms, anything that is really poignant and pulls at your heart strings, especially if it is set outside of the U.S.

Mysteries/Thrillers- Stories with high stakes and complex friendships stretched thin. In YA, Mysteries/Thrillers of almost any kind are appealing as long as they are emotionally focused and bring a new point of view. She is not a fan of the unreliable narrators, but is a huge fan of group heists.

Fantasy- Very similar to Adult Fantasy, she prefers dark folkloric tales, but is very glad to have a happy ending! Tales that feature friendships rather than romance as their base and really dig in to the full emotions of that particular love and struggle.

Middle Grade wants:

She’s looking for contemporary stories that have fun, compelling characters dealing with real problems that Middle School kids face: friendship, divorce, gender identity, budding feelings of attraction or a lack of those feelings, feelings of isolation, and found family stories. She’s also interested in Fantasy that explores similar themes. Books she’s loved are: Lalani and the Distant Sea, Wonder, Pet, and Lily and Dunkin

Picture Book wants:

She’s dying to find books with really cute hooks like The Day the Crayons Quit, or nice messaging like Not Quite a Narwhal. She’d love to find a book that brings parents and kids together with language simple enough for a young child to read, but engrossing enough for an adult to enjoy.

 

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kimberly Brower of Brower Literary

Kimberly Brower is a literary agent and founder of Brower Literary.

Kimberly is interested in adult upmarket/commercial fiction, with an emphasis in general/book club fiction, women’s fiction and romance. However, she is always looking for books that she wants to stay up all night reading, unable to put them down, regardless of what genre an author classifies it as. She loves stories that bring her into a world she doesn’t want to leave and characters that have strong story arcs. She also can never say no to an epic love story.

Kimberly fell in love with reading when she picked up her first Babysitter’s Club book at the age of seven (Super Special editions were her favorites) and hasn’t been able to get her nose out of a book since. She holds a BS in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge and received her JD from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. After spending a decade in the business world, it was kismet that she found herself in publishing. She takes great pride in her client list, from the debut authors to #1 NYT bestsellers, and likes to consider them all her favorite authors. She previously worked for over two years at a boutique literary agency before starting her own. After spending 14 years in California, she is thrilled to be back on the east coast. When not providing individual attention to her clients, Kimberly manages all of the day-to-day operations of the agency. This includes overseeing the management of the foreign, audio and all other subsidiary rights for all the authors in the agency.

FIVE FUN FACTS:

All-time Favorite Book: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Current Favorite Book: 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand
Favorite Movies: CLUE, A Chorus Line, Pride & Prejudice
Favorite TV Shows: Bones, The Big Bang Theory
Random Fact: In another life, I would’ve loved to have been an FBI Agent

Tips For Pitching Your Book at the 2021 SDWW

If you are coming to the online 2021 San Diego Writing Workshop (May 14-15, 2020), you may be thinking about pitching our agent-in-attendance or editor-in-attendance. An in-person pitch is an excellent way to get an agent excited about both you and your work. Here are some tips (from a previous workshop instructor, Chuck Sambuchino) that will help you pitch your work effectively at the event during a 10-minute consultation. Chuck advises that you should:

  • Try to keep your pitch to 90 seconds. Keeping your pitch concise and short is beneficial because 1) it shows you are in command of the story and what your book is about; and 2) it allows plenty of time for back-and-forth discussion between you and the agent. Note: If you’re writing nonfiction, and therefore have to speak plenty about yourself and your platform, then your pitch can certainly run longer.
  • Practice before you get to the event. Say your pitch out loud, and even try it out on fellow writers. Feedback from peers will help you figure out if your pitch is confusing, or missing critical elements. Remember to focus on what makes your story unique. Mystery novels, for example, all follow a similar formula — so the elements that make yours unique and interesting will need to shine during the pitch to make your book stand out.
  • Do not give away the ending. If you pick up a DVD for Die Hard, does it say “John McClane wins at the end”? No. Because if it did, you wouldn’t buy the movie. Pitches are designed to leave the ending unanswered, much like the back of any DVD box you read.
  • Have some questions ready. 10 minutes is plenty of time to pitch and discuss your book, so there is a good chance you will be done pitching early. At that point, you are free to ask the agent questions about writing, publishing or craft. The meeting is both a pitch session and a consultation, so feel free to ask whatever you like as long as it pertains to writing.
  • Remember to hit the big beats of a pitch. Everyone’s pitch will be different, but the main elements to hit are 1) introducing the main character(s) and telling us about them, 2) saying what goes wrong that sets the story into motion, 3) explaining how the main character sets off to make things right and solve the problem, 4) explaining the stakes — i.e., what happens if the main character fails, and 5) ending with an unclear wrap-up.