Schedule: 2020 Workshop

(IMPORTANT MARCH 2020 UPDATE: The 2020 KWW is now an Online Conference to keep everyone safe. There is much more to say about this, but immediately you should understand 1) This will be easy and awesome, 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 phone. Learn all details about the new April 4 KWW Online Conference here and what everything means.)

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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, but here is the current layout:

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. Getting Published in Today’s World: 10 Tips to Make You the Writer Agents and Publishers Want (Bluegrass AB room), taught by Brian A. 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.

2. How to Write Science Fiction/Fantasy That Sells (Colonel A room), taught by Olivia Cole. This session will discuss the unique challenges that authors of sci-fi and fantasy face on the path to publication. Whether you’re writing elves or aliens, the world you’re imagining must have legs.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. The Elusive Literary Agent: How to Find and Secure Your Publishing Representative (Bluegrass AB room), taught by Alice Speilburg. Authors looking to publish their work with large, commercial publishers often find that most of these publishers do not accept any submissions without a literary agent. Literary agent Alice Speilburg will discuss with attendees why publishers often establish that rule, what services an agent can provide to an author, and how each person might find the perfect agent who will guide their career where they want it to go. As most encounters with a literary agent involve a query or pitch, this class will also cover the basic structure for a query letter, tips and tricks for improving an elevator pitch, and tactics to avoid.

2. Making Social Media Work For You (Colonel A room), taught by Kenzi Nevins. As authors, most of us wish we could spend more time writing and leave marketing to the experts, but in today’s world, social media is a necessary part of our job. Fortunately, with a little work, you can turn it in to a vehicle for reaching the world with your words, rather than a frustrating time-waster.

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 (Bluegrass AB room) 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. How to Sell a Nonfiction Book (Colonel A room), taught by Brian Klems. 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.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Talk That Talk: The Ins and Outs of Writing Great Dialogue (Bluegrass AB room), taught by Olivia Cole. Dialogue isn’t just empty words – it’s part of the plot! This session will help authors craft dialogue that is believable, moves the story forward, and gives life to characters.

2. Author Brand Building (Colonel A room), taught by Alexandra Weiss. Whether you like it or not, an interested agent/editor will be typing your name into Google. While having a website and an active social media presence isn’t an absolute must for new writers, it’s important to develop a positive online presence in some shape or form. There are also a lot of key opportunities and free resources available to writers online. During this presentation, associate literary agent and PR Pro Alexandra Weiss will discuss: how to identify and establish your unique brand as a writer, what to include (and not include) on your website, understanding the differences between social media platforms and determining which one is right for you, utilizing free and accessible online resources,  and managing and growing your brand over time.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. The Ins and Outs of Perfecting Voice in Your Writing, taught by Christina Kaye. When writing fiction, it’s crucial to have a distinct voice throughout your novel. This doesn’t just refer to the way your characters speak, though each character should have a unique and consistent voice of their own. Specifically, I’m referring to the voice of the novel itself. Think of it as the quality of your writing which makes your novel stand out from all the others in your genre. The tone the author chooses to take, as well as their choice of words or the way they use punctuation can distinguish their voice. The way an author writes should reveal their attitude, personality, and character. Think of how your friends and family could pick your physical voice out of a lineup blindfolded. So should your readers be able to discern your voice from other authors simply by the way you write.

2. Panel: Ask an Agent Anything (Bluegrass AB room). In this session, attending literary agents, publishers and editors sit on a panel to answer your questions on everything to writing, publishing, building a platform, what agents want, what are the latest trends in publishing, how movie options work, and more. Come ready to ask questions about anything you want related to the writing and publishing industry, and our panel will answer them.


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.