Schedule: 2020 Workshop

(APRIL 2020 UPDATE: The 2020 Florida Writing Workshop is postponed until 2021 for safety reasons. If you are signed up for the 2020 event as a paid attendee, or you would like to know more about WDW’s new 2020 online conferences — which include many recorded sessions, one-on-one pitching to agents by phone or Skype, and more — please see all info here, and be in contact with us anytime you want —


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

There will be 2 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 and updates:

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. Querypalooza! taught by Eve Porinchak. This interactive workshop will teach query letter Dos and Don’ts; how to write a compelling logline, synopsis, and bio; and put all the pieces together to create a concise and killer query that will leave agents and editors salivating to read your entire manuscript. Bring your query so Eve can do live critiques.

2. Demystifying Contracts: How to Get in Bed with a Publisher Without Losing Your Shirt, taught by Saritza Hernandez. In this hour-long workshop, we’ll cover pitfalls to avoid when signing a publishing contract; the role of the literary agent in the publishing landscape; contract terminology in layman’s terms; and how to navigate contract language in and out of the traditional publishing model. (Indies sign contracts too!)

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Publishing A to Z, taught by Lucienne Diver. In this session, a literary agent will give a quick yet important overview of everything to expect in the publishing process — from manuscript prep (editing), through submissions and agent research, to negotiation and working with publishers. It’s everything you need to understand about the publishing process before you dive in.

2. Creating Compelling Characters, taught by Jennifer Johnson-Blalock. This session, taught by a former literary agent, will explain how to create characters that agents, editors, and (most importantly) readers connect with. Learn how to compose an active character, how to weave in just enough backstory, how to pepper in memorable minor characters, and more.

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, 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. Be Brief, Bright, and BOLD! How to Create Epic Picture Books That Sell, taught by Eve Porinchak. Have you dreamed of writing a children’s book, but don’t know where to begin? Or, have you written a book and need guidance on how to get it published? In this workshop, you will learn how to create, pitch, and publish compelling picture books that will delight audiences for years to come. Author and former literary agent Eve Porinchak will guide you in taking your story from concept to print and arm you with all the tips you need to create winning picture books that sell.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. What to Do Before You Query, taught by Jennifer Johnson-Blalock. This session, taught by a former literary agent, addresses everything to worry about before you ever reach out to an agent (or publisher). Make sure you understand common issues and faults that may affect your manuscript quality. Also learn about resources for finding critique partners, tips on researching agents, and more.

2. Like I Care: Five Elements That Create Unforgettable Fiction, taught by Lorin Oberweger.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. Is the First Page All that Matters? taught by Beth Marshea. In this workshop we’ll talk about the pitfalls that writers run into in the first page of their novel, but we’ll continue on to creating a full manuscript that will grab the attention of agents and editors. Get a publishing insiders take on how many drafts of a manuscript you should do before you send that first query letter and talk about common mistakes new authors make that send red flags to agents.

2. Author Branding and Marketing, taught by Anne Clermont. You’re a writer and you’d like to write, not spend time marketing your books. Yet you know that whether you publish with a traditional publisher or self-publish you’re now expected to do more marketing and publicity on your own. How much do you do, and what are the necessary marketing and branding platforms? In this workshop we’ll discuss the best ways to create your author brand, help you stay consistent, even if you’ve written different types of books, and marketing best practices to get your books out in front of your future readers. 


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.