Schedule: 2022 Workshop

ONLINE: The 2022 SDWW is an Online Conference to keep everyone safe, on November 11-12, 2022. 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.)



9:30 – 10:30: Examining the Paths of Successful Authors, taught by Rachel Beck. In this class, literary agent Rachel Beck will share a large survey she did of successful authors — sharing their blunt advice, stories, and feedback regarding what they did right, what they wish they did better, and when they believe they had a little luck on their side. If you want to understand how writers broke out of the pack and found best-selling success, this class is for you.

10:45 – 11:45: The Art of the Query Letter, taught by Rachelle Gardner. Writing a great query letter is an art and a science, and this workshop examines the core elements every strong query letter has, and how to add that extra pizzazz that will capture the attention of an agent or editor. Real examples from the instructor’s inbox, both good and bad, will be shared, as well as a specific formula workshop attendees can plug their information into in order to generate a great query letter.

11:45 – 1:15: Break

1:15 – 2:30: Voice — and How to Hone Yours, taught by Kaitlyn Johnson. One of the most common and yet elusive feedback given to writers is that a novel “lacks voice.” But what does that mean? In this session, literary agent Kaitlyn Johnson discusses writing styles and things to avoid that strip a writer’s voice or bog down the prose. 

2:45 – 3:45: Every Word Counts: Crafting Successful Twitter Pitches, taught by Charlotte Wenger. Twitter pitch events are day-long, hashtag-based events that give writers (and illustrators) the opportunity to pitch their work to agents and editors. They make pitching accessible to people who might not otherwise be able to attend other book events like conferences and be seen by publishing professionals who might not otherwise know about their work. During this workshop, attendees will learn information about specific events, guidelines, and hashtag tips; go over important story elements that can be helpful to include in a Twitter pitch; and give you the opportunity to practice writing and sharing your own pitch tweets.

4:00 – 5:00: An Agent’s Tips on Writing Thriller & Mystery, taught by Jill Marr. In this class you’ll learn what you’ll need to know about the thriller and mystery market including: what is hot in the suspense market now, the do’s and don’ts of writing intense fiction, the importance of pace well as twists and red herrings, how to research, plotting and outline (to storyboard or not to storyboard?), the process of selling thriller and mystery to a publisher, and what things look like from an agent’s side of the desk.

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9:30 – 10:30: Finding the RIGHT Agent: How to Maximize Your Query’s Potential, taught by Leslie Zampetti. Confused about how to find an agent? Frustrated by queries that receive no response or form rejections? Just what does agentspeak like “character-driven,” “genre-bending,” and “intersectional” mean? This interactive workshop will teach you strategies and show you resources to find the best agents for you and your work. A former librarian, Leslie uses her expertise with research and readers’ advisory to show you how to target your query to the right agents for you. 

10:45 – 11:45: Improve Your Craft — How to Show, Not Tell, taught by Shirin Leos. “Show, don’t tell” is perhaps the most common advice given for writing fiction. But what exactly does it mean? Why is it so important, and how can you harness its power to bond your readers and immerse them in a created reality? This session removes all mystery surrounding this oft-quoted phrase by providing concrete examples and giving you actionable tips and writing practices that you can apply to improve your own work daily.

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. 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: 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.

4:00 – 5:00: Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction, taught by Madeline Smoot. 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.

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Classes are recorded (and this is amazing news)! With an in-person conference, attendees would miss snippets of classes because they leave the classroom to pitch, or make a phone call, or anything else. But the 10 classes happening November 11-12, 2022 are all recorded, which means we will send the days’ recording following the event. You can watch classes as many times as you want during the next six months. This is an exciting new element that we couldn’t include before. Also, we will be sending out all handouts for all classes to attendees in advance.


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 12 more FREE classes on the side, for attending in 2022:

  1. “How to Write a Damn Fine Query Letter,” taught by literary agent Carlisle Webber.
  2. “Word Wizardry: Crafting a Stand-Out Voice,” taught by literary agent Kelly Peterson.
  3. “The Business of How Authors Make Money,” taught by literary agent Carly Waters
  4. “3 Things You Must Do Before Contacting a Literary Agent,” taught by literary agent Barb Roose.
  5. “7 Marketing Tips for Authors,” taught by published author E.J. Wenstrom.
  6. “How to Get Past Writer’s Block,” taught by literary agent Devon Halliday.
  7. “Traditional vs. Independent/Self-publishing, taught by literary agent Leticia Gomez.
  8. “How to Write Great Romance Novels,” taught by published author Sarah Zettel.
  9. “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy that Sells,” taught by published author Olivia Cole.
  10. “Ask an Agent Anything: A Q&A Panel” — a chance to see aspiring writers get expert answers and advice from literary agents.
  11. “So You’ve Finished Writing and Revising Your Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel,” taught by published author Julie Eshbaugh.
  12. “Writing and Selling Fiction vs. Nonfiction,” taught by literary agent Leticia Gomez.