A few more of our Atlanta Writers Conference editors and agents have filled their critique and/or pitch spots or soon will do so, but we have invited more of them than ever before, so choice picks remain available. If you have delayed your registration, please see the updates below. Waiting list spots are available for any guest with no spaces left–it does not cost you anything to get on the waiting list, and the waiting lists are short.
I want to spotlight a couple of our guests in particular, because they are actively seeking genres we have not covered in the past:
Bree Ogden is a literary agent seeking graphic novels, dark thrillers, horror, dark historical fiction, romance “with a purpose,” and pop culture nonfiction aimed at new adults. Have you written a book that makes a strong statement about our culture or delves into more psychology or sociology than a typical genre novel attempts? Give Bree your consideration.
Connor Goldsmith is seeking adult science fiction, adult fantasy, horror, thriller, literary fiction, and nonfiction. He also is looking for fiction from Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) and/or racial minority authors as well as others from marginalized perspectives, and manuscripts with LGBT and/or racial minority protagonists. Nonfiction authors should have an established platform; subjects of interest include cinema, television, theater, mass media, historical biography, and progressive politics.
Please see Bree and Connor’s full descriptions below.
Here is the current count of how many openings exist for critiques and pitches with all ten of our Conference guests:
Heather Alexander, Dial Books – no critique spots open (standby only) / 8 pitch spots open
Regina Brooks, Serendipity Literary Agency – no critique spots open (standby only) / no pitch spots open (standby only)
Connor Goldsmith, Lowenstein Associates – 5 critique spots open / 8 pitch spots open
Emily S. Keyes, Foreword Literary – no critique spots open (standby only) / no pitch spots open (standby only)
Holly McClure, Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency – no critique spots open (standby only) / no pitch spots open (standby only)
Bree Ogden, D4EO Literary Agency – 9 critique spots open / 6 pitch spots open
Nicole Sohl, Macmillan Entertainment – no critique spots open (standby only) / no pitch spots open (standby only)
Blair Thornburgh, Quirk Books – 3 critique spots open / 8 pitch spots open
Margaux Weisman, William Morrow – no critique spots open (standby only) / no pitch spots open (standby only)
Jessica Williams, William Morrow – no critique spots open (standby only) / no pitch spots open (standby only)
Last year alone, seven of our members signed with agents they worked with at the 2012 or 2013 conferences, and now two of them have scored six-figure book deals. You could be the next writer to succeed!
On Friday afternoon, we’ve given you even more reasons than usual to take a half-day of vacation, including a Q&A panel with our guest editors, an even larger number of query letter critique panels, and an extended workshop with a top publicist.
Below, you will find all of the details about the conference, including the list of the editors and agents who are attending, the description and cost of each activity, and registration instructions. Our automated registration system provides up-to-date information about editor and agent availability and a fast response to your registration. Please follow the instructions below.
The conference on May 9-10 consists of SIX parts and you may participate in one, some, or all of these events:
1. THE MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE:
If you want a critique of your project on May 10, you will submit the following at least one month in advance: (a) the first 15-17 manuscript pages of either your novel or nonfiction work, (b) a 1-page query letter, and (c) a 3-5 page synopsis of your novel or nonfiction work. These three items combined should equal no more than 21 pages.
During the late morning and early afternoon of May 10, you will have about 15 minutes for a one-on-one exchange with the editor/agent about your work, in the privacy of a Westin boardroom. The editor/agent also will give you a written critique, which could consist of an overall review of the project (what worked and what didn’t), the quality of the writing, character and story development, and marketability. The editor/agent will not line-edit your work (she or he shouldn’t have to; always make sure your work is free of grammatical errors before you submit it), but this individual will provide you a written summary of comments. During the critique session, the editor/agent may choose to request more pages or the entire manuscript from you, perhaps leading to a publishing contract (from the editors) or a contract for representation to work toward an eventual publishing deal (from the agents). Remember that if you select the Conference Package All Activities option, you can pick two of the editors and/or agents to critique your work
2. THE PITCH:
During the afternoon of May 10, in the privacy of a Westin boardroom, you will bring a one-page query letter and discuss your project for about 10 minutes with an editor/agent of your choosing: talk about your writing and your publishing ambitions, and be prepared to ask the editor/agent questions. If the editor/agent is interested, you will be asked to send a number of pages or even the whole manuscript for consideration. You will not submit anything in advance. Instead, you also can register to get your query letter critiqued on Friday (see activity #3 below) by a panel of editors/agents that will NOT include the editor/agent you’re pitching on Saturday. This will give you a chance to improve your query letter for Saturday. In either case, you will bring your query letter to the pitch session on Saturday afternoon. It will be handed to the editor/agent for review immediately prior to your session.
If you also want a critique (see above), pitching will give you the chance to introduce a second editor/agent to your work. Do NOT choose the same individual for critiquing and pitching. It’s much smarter to double your chances. And remember, if you select the Conference Package All Activities option, you can pitch to two editors and/or agents.
3. QUERY LETTER CRITIQUE:
Writing a great manuscript is only part of the challenge on the road to publication. You also need to write a “bulletproof” query letter–one that cannot be rejected on technical grounds–because agents and editors are not likely to ask to see your manuscript if they are not impressed by your query. Therefore, we offer the “Query Letter Critique” on the afternoon of Friday, May 9, after the editor panel and prior to the workshop. For 10 minutes, in the privacy of a Westin boardroom, a panel of two editors/agents that will NOT include the editor/agent you’re pitching on Saturday will review and discuss your query letter with you: get advice about how to make your query letter polished and professional so you’ll do your best on Saturday. This is the rare chance to share your query letter with publishing professionals for completely objective feedback–their role in these panels is not to reject, it is to help you improve so you can shine on Saturday. But, who knows? If you submit a great query letter at the Friday critique, one or both of the panel editors/agents might ask to see your work too! It has happened often at our conferences. You will not submit your query letter in advance; you’ll bring copies with you for the panel of two editors/agents, so you can craft it right up to the last minute.
Note that you do NOT have to register for the Saturday pitch in order to register for the Friday query letter critique–maybe you want to just try out a query letter with some talented industry professionals and get their feedback with no pressure or stress. That’s fine; it’s an unusual chance to get important feedback about a submission that is usually just a “yes” or “no” proposition. In fact, since we introduced this in May 2013, many of our guest editors and agents have reported that the query letter critique panel was their favorite event and that the query letter critique should be a must-do activity for all participants who are serious about getting their best work out there.
4. THE WORKSHOP:
This is a two-hour workshop on Friday, May 9 (4:00-6:00 p.m.). Kathie Bennett is a professional publicist and founder and president of Magic Time Literary Agency, which handles publicity–event and tour planning and the creation of keynote speaking opportunities–for Pat Conroy’s wife Cassandra King, Mary Alice Monroe, Terry Kay, and many others. The agency website is www.magictimeliterary.com.
At 4:00 p.m. on Friday, May 9, after the query letter critiques are over, Kathie Bennett will present her workshop “You Are Your Own Best Publicist.” This is applicable to anyone who has a book for sale or is working toward traditional or self-publication. Kathie will lead you through the steps of developing the publicity plan for your current or next book, including: time and monetary budgets, promotional strategies, audience identification and growth, marketplace position, marketing tools, promotion by friends and family, public speaking, creating your own book tour and more. By the end of the workshop, you will have the framework for a strong marketing plan that you can continue to build on as you work toward publication.
5. THE EDITOR Q&A PANEL:
On Friday, May 9, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., five editors who represent HarperCollins Publishers, St. Martins Press, William Morrow, and others discuss the craft and business of writing from the publishers’ perspective, including how they work with authors, the current state of the publishing industry, the different roles within publishing firms, creative control and collaboration, and more. We will devote most of time, though, for your questions!
6. THE AGENT Q&A PANEL:
On Saturday, May 10, from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m., participate in a candid, freewheeling discussion with all five literary agents, who will educate you about their changing roles and the expanding responsibilities of the author, advice about working with agents, and expectations about marketing one’s work. Also get your questions answered about everything from queries and contracts to publicity and social media.
On Friday, May 10, publicist Kathie Bennett will give two 45-minute, interactive talks while the query letter critiques are ongoing. Her topics are as follows:
Session One (2:00-2:45): Public Speaking. Many authors express themselves better in print than verbally. Learn tips to communicate effectively in every venue, from 10-person book club to 300-seat Kiwanis meeting.
Session Two (3:00-3:45): Platform Development. Your platform is your core audience and the elements about you and your writing that make you unique and noteworthy to this audience. Learn how to build on the platform you have already established (even if you didn’t realize you had been establishing one!).
On the evening of Friday, May 9, from 8:15 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., we invite all Conference participants to gather in the Westin lounge area for informal conversations with the editors and agents and to network with your peers. All of the editors and agents will attend this free mixer, along with Conference special guest speaker Kathie Bennett.
On Saturday, May 10, while the morning critiques are held, award-winning author of three novels Man Martin will give two presentations: from 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. he discusses “Self-promotion as an Act of Generosity,” and from 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. he presents “Dissecting the Frog: Writing Humor.”
That afternoon, while the pitch sessions are held, Young Adult author and Writer’s Digest Books contributor Ricki Schultz will discuss from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. “Sweat the Small Stuff: Editing Your Own Work” and will give a presentation from 4:00 to 5:15 p.m. titled “Show, Don’t Tell,” which is advice everyone has heard but few writers abide.
And don’t forget the 5:30 p.m. award ceremony to close out the Atlanta Writers Conference on Saturday afternoon, with each editor and agent presenting a certificate to participants for the best manuscript sample submitted for critique and for the best query letter pitched. Many of the participants who were signed by agents after past conferences first received these awards. See who shines on May 10–it might be your name we call!
All of these activities are free for anyone participating in the manuscript critique, pitch, editor Q&A panel, agent Q&A panel, workshop, or query letter critique.
Please contact George Weinstein at email@example.com.
View the Registration page for instructions.
Spots for the critique, pitch, and query letter critique may fill completely during the first month of enrollment, so if you want to participate in those activities especially, register now. The deadline to register for a manuscript critique and submit your work for evaluation is April 9. The deadline to register for the other activities is May 7, assuming spots remain open. In all cases, payment is due two weeks after you register, or by May 7, whichever comes first. If you fail to pay, you will be removed from the registration list so that others can fill those spots.
Here what participants say about the conference. Read more.
The editors and agents below have provided the genres they are seeking to acquire, in their own words, and often identify specific genres they are not seeking, to decrease ambiguity. Besides reading this information, you also should review their agency/publisher websites, do an Internet search for interviews with them and/or what other agents, editors, and authors have written about them, and make sure you’re a good fit with their tastes and attitudes.
Heather Alexander, Associate Editor
Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers
Heather works in the children’s market, acquires picture books, middle grade, and young adult (NOT new adult), in both fiction and non-fiction. First and for all ages, she is looking for a character-driven narrative with a strong voice. In picture books, she prefers dark or subversive humor, rebellious spirits, and unusual artwork. In chapter books and middle grade, she likes realistic stories, magical realism or light fantasy (with a foot in the real world), and moments of self-discovery where a character is changed forever. She doesn’t love adventure stories. In young adult, she likes contemporary romance, horror, magical realism, and light fantasy. She does not like epic fantasy or paranormal romance.
Here’s a better breakdown of what she likes, all of which is within children’s (picture books, middle grade, and young adult) fiction and non-fiction: contemporary, family stories, fantasy (light, not high or epic—no wizards or dragons please), graphic novels, historical fiction, horror, humor, literary, magical realism, multicultural, mystery/crime, thriller/suspense, and narrative non-fiction.
Heather is NOT looking for: new adult, epic/high fantasy, romance, science fiction, paranormal, or steampunk.
If she wants to acquire a manuscript, she would work directly with an author unless she felt strongly that the author would be a good match for a particular agent.
Regina Brooks, Founding Agent
Serendipity Literary Agency
Regina Brooks is the founder and president of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC, based in Brooklyn, New York. Writer’s Digest magazine named Serendipity Literary Agency as one of the top 25 literary agencies. Her agency has represented and established a diverse base of award-winning clients in adult and young adult fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature. Her authors have appeared in USA Today, NY Times and theWashington Post as well as on Oprah, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, MSBNC, TV ONE, BET and a host of others.
She has held senior editorial positions at John Wiley and Sons and McGraw-Hill companies. She is currently co-publisher with Open Lens, an imprint of Akashic Books. Brooks is the author of the titles Writing Great Books for Young Adults(Source Books) , You Really Should Write a Book: How to Write, Sell, and Market Your Memoir (St. Martin’s Press),
has edited over 100 titles, and is a blogger for the Huffington Post. She has been highlighted in global media and television outlets including ABC News, CW,Forbes, Poets and Writers, Publishers Weekly, The Writer, Media Bistro, Essence, Ebony, Writers Digest Magazine, The Writer, Jet, Uptown Magazine,and Rolling Out. She was named Woman of the Year by The National Association of Professional Women. Brooks is also the founder of Possibiliteas, a tea company that develops tea blends for creative minds. She is a pilot and a member of the Association of Author Representatives and New York Women in Film and Television.
Regina is seeking books to represent in the following genres and topics: commercial and literary fiction, politics, psychology and self-help, pop culture, health, science, women’s issues, parenting, cooking, and design crafts, alternative spirituality, business, science, technology.
She is always interested in new and emerging writers.
Connor Goldsmith, Associate Literary Agent & Digital Strategist
Connor is seeking adult science fiction, adult fantasy, horror, thriller, literary fiction, and nonfiction. Nonfiction authors should have an established platform; subjects of interest include cinema, television, theater, mass media, historical biography, and progressive politics.
He is also looking for fiction from Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) and/or racial minority authors as well as others from marginalized perspectives, and manuscripts with LGBT and/or racial minority protagonists.
Connor does not represent Young Adult or Middle Grade books.
Emily S. Keyes, Literary Agent
Emily S. Keyes joined Foreword Literary in 2013 after working as an agent at the L. Perkins Agency for 2 years. Before entering the world of agenting, she worked in the contracts department of Simon & Schuster, Inc and graduated from New York University’s Center for Publishing. She uses her knowledge of contracts, copyright and the publishing business to benefit her clients and the Foreword team.
Emily is a particular lover of all types of young adult and middle grade books. She wants to represent the kind of stories that will resonate with kids for the rest of their lives. She loves strong voices and unique characters, not knock-offs or trend chasers. Some of her favorite authors include Deb Caletti, Laurie Halse Anderson, Gary D. Schmidt, and Megan Whalen Turner. She thinks books are best when they make you laugh and cry.
Emily is also looking for a select list of commercial fiction which includes fantasy and science fiction, women’s fiction, and new adult fiction, along with pop culture and humor titles. She is not looking for poetry, short stories, or picture books.
Holly McClure, Literary Agent
Lexium Entertainment and Talent Agency/Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency
Holly is the founder of Sullivan Maxx Literary agency, now the literary and film division of Lexium Entertainment & Talent, which obtained the agency in 2013. Holly was retained as president of that division.
She represents thrillers, mystery, and science fiction, but if she finds something in another genre that she thinks she can sell, she will work with it as well.
Holly also refers good books to the other agents with Sullivan Maxx if they are not right for her.
Bree Ogden, Literary Agent
D4EO Literary Agency
Bree is looking for horror and thriller in Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult, specifically very dark thrillers and very terrifying horrors like Stephen King and Joe Hill. While not really seeking middle grade but the ones she falls in love with are always dark.
She loves mysteries like Agatha Christie. She is also seeking illustrated fiction, very quirky illustrated fiction like The Resurrectionist and books along the lines of Edward Gorey. She is always looking for talented illustrators and great graphic novels of all kinds. However, she does not want picture books unless they are dark and highly artistic like Varmints by Helen Ward.
She is looking for historical fiction about famous serial killers (Madame LaLaurie, Elizabeth Bathory, etc.) and for some romance but it’s got to have a purpose, along the lines of Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits series (i.e., it can’t just be a beach read). She is also looking for messed-up romance books, the sort of book where everyone is both good and bad, you don’t know whether you love them or hate them. Bree wants psychological and sociological books—whether they are thrillers, horror, or romance. She loves books that have strong statements about our culture. She also is very interested in “small town rape culture” and would love a book that explores that.
She is looking for pop culture nonfiction along the lines of Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown and F*ck! I’m in My Twenties by Emma Koenig.
Her favorite books of 2013 were NOS4A2 and Sex & Violence; they are really good indications of what she is looking for. She strongly dislikes fantasy and paranormal and will not look at any manuscripts in those genres.
Michelle Richter, Editor
St. Martin’s Press
Michelle is seeking women’s commercial fiction: can be anything from chick lit to something a little more literary, but she loves a strong female protagonist or a compelling male one. She also likes a well-written young adult narrator (as in The Goldfinch or The Lovely Bones), but is not seeking young adult. Recent favorites include Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette?.
She also likes fiction set in the not-too-distant future, not dystopian but taking current technological evolvements to the next level, a la Ready Player One orMr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore. Also, she is seeking mysteries (cozies, police procedurals, amateur sleuth) and thrillers. She is a huge fan of Tana French, Laura Lippman, and Michael Connelly. And she likes more commercial horror, like Joe Hill, Stephen King, and Peter Straub, where the world is basically grounded in reality but an off-kilter one.
Please no romance, erotica, sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, political fiction/nonfiction, faith-based/religious fiction/nonfiction. Also no historical fiction before 1900 or during World War II.
Her nonfiction interests include memoir, biography, economics/personal finance, the environment, social trends, medicine, animal stories (particularly cats, but dogs OK too), humor, and pop culture. She is the editor of actress Melissa Joan Hart’s memoir Melissa Explains It All.
If she wants to acquire a participant’s manuscript, an agent is not required but she will suggest some upon the writer’s request.
Blair Thornburgh, Editorial Assistant
Blair and Quirk Books is seeking nonfiction that fits their brand of “irreverent reference”: books that are funny andinformative, with original and unconventional takes on evergreen subjects and exciting potential for design (see our recent titles THE GEEK’S GUIDE TO DATING and HOW TO MAKE YOUR CAT AN INTERNET CELEBRITY). They are also interested in historical or narrative nonfiction that presents age-old subjects in a new and exciting light, with engaging writing and a fresh eye for history (see THOMAS JEFFERSON’S CREME BRULEE, THE SECRET LIVES series, and PRINCESSES BEHAVING BADLY). Additional nonfiction topics include cooking and craft books from authors with well-established platforms that take on new, unusual, or just plain weird subjects: see BREAKFAST FOR DINNER, COOKING WITH FLOWERS, WINTER COCKTAILS, and CRAFTING WITH CAT HAIR.
Fiction sought includes innovative, voice-driven, exciting, and different novels of almost any kind: romance, mystery, horror, Young Adult, Middle Grade. She is particularly interested in quirky love stories, novels that play with narrative (epistolary, metafictional, whatever you’ve got!), and stories with a truly original x-factor (see MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN) that allow Quirk to bring their excellent design team something to dig into. They are currently NOT seeking dystopian, mashup, erotic fiction, “chosen one” fantasies, paranormal romance, memoir, poetry, short stories, or picture books at this time.
Quirk Books will be happy to work with unagented authors directly.
Margaux Weisman, Assistant Editor
William Morrow | HarperCollins Publishers
Margaux Weisman came to William Morrow in 2012 from Akashic Books, where she handled publicity for such authors as Adam Mansbach, Ian Svenonius, Shira Nayman, and Joe Meno. Her most recent acquisitions include a literary thriller by Eric Rickstad, author of the critically acclaimed novel Reap, and an absinthe-soaked murder mystery set in La Belle Epoque Paris. She holds a BA from Wesleyan University and an MFA from The New School. Her favorite authors (today!) are Marisha Pessl, Maggie Shipstead, Donna Tartt, and Adelle Waldman. When she’s not reading or editing, she enjoys watching classic movies, testing new cocktail recipes, and going to Pure Barre.
Margaux is interested in literary fiction and fiction that straddles the line between literary and commercial, as well as smart, funny women’s fiction and unique character-driven page-turners.
She would consider memoir, books on fashion, film or music, and narrative non-fiction with cultural or historical significance. However, fiction is her primary focus.
A few things that always pique her interest when she sees them in pitches:
-coming of age stories
-novels set in Cape Cod, Maine, or other New England locales
-stories about Hollywood or Los Angeles
-interesting, dynamic, and flawed female protagonists
-novels set in the Jazz Age
-long lost love
If Margaux is interested in a manuscript she would likely refer the author to an agent.
Jessica Williams, Associate Editor
William Morrow | HarperCollins Publishers
Jessica is seeking upmarket/literary adult fiction, upmarket suspense and thrillers–especially psychologically driven, or featuring strong female characters–and upmarket fiction with genre elements (science fiction, horror, fantasy, absurdist).
She also wants narrative nonfiction with cultural and/or scientific underpinnings (music, feminist voices, popular science) and voice-driven memoir.
If Jessica is interested in a manuscript, she will refer the author to an agent.
View the Registration page for instructions.