Philadelphia Writers’ Conference: Part II

In addition to the three-day workshops I wrote about in yesterday’s post, the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference offered a number of one hour, single-session workshops. The amount of information the presenters fit in each hour amazed me. Choosing which one to attend was difficult; I heard good comments about all of them.

Jenni Holbrook-Talty

Since pitching is something I look forward to about as much as jumping off a cliff, I attended Jenni Holbrook-Talty‘s Creating the Perfect Pitch/Query workshop. Jenni reminded us that a pitch is a conversation between two people, which was something I needed to hear. She gave us a handout with an overview and examples of elevator pitches and suggestions for expanding those into a five or ten minute pitch. An elevator pitch should say something, in a sentence or two, about the main character, the antagonist, and the core conflict. And Jenni advised us to be persistent: an author averages forty-nine rejections to every one acceptance.

Ian Markiewicz

Ian Markiewicz had a tough job trying to squeeze a ton of information into one session of Writing for New Media. He stated that much of what we see online is the repackaging of old media, but the web offers many possibilities to branch off in new directions. Ian gave us a handout of reference materials and sites worth visiting. He discussed the opportunities and challenges of creating web-series and how trans-media stories can have presences on many media. He encouraged us to stretch our imaginations and explore the possibilities offered by the web.

Larry Atkins

Since I occasionally think about writing short, non-fiction pieces, I decided to check out Larry AtkinsOp-Ed workshop. Somehow he compressed a wealth of information into an hour. I discovered that Op-Ed stands for “Opposite the Editorial Page,” when I assumed the Op was short for “opinion.” Larry gave us several handouts that explained how to write an op-ed piece and how to market it. He also clearly explained the difference between editorials, op-ed, and personal essays, and I realized the latter is what I’m more interesting in writing.

Don Lafferty

The team of Don Lafferty and Marie Lamba presented a workshop about Marketing Your Workin three stages. In the first stage, they discussed how unpublished writers could build a tool kit, identify their book’s target market (readers), and develop an online presence. The second stage begins when a writer signs a book deal and needs to create a brand and think ahead to marketing the book.

Marie Lamba

The last stage, of course, is what an author does to promote the book when it’s published. Marie gave us a handout with examples of press releases and short and long author bios. And I have to add a big “thank you” to Marie for mentioning The Author Chronicles as an example of how a group of writers (including me) can work together on a blog.


Frances Collin, Sarah Yake, Stacia Decker, and Thomas V. Hartman

Another valuable event was the Agent/Editor Panel after the buffet dinner on Friday evening. Don Lafferty moderated the panel, which consisted of agents Frances Collin and Sarah Yake of the Frances Collin Literary Agency, Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency, and editor Thomas V. Hartman of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. [Juliet Grames of Soho Press regretted that she was unable to attend.] After introducing themselves and giving an overview of events in the publishing industry, the panelists answered questions from the audience.

I have to add that all of the workshop leaders also provided time for questions at the end of each session and graciously paused to answer any questions posed during their workshops. The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference was definitely an event worth attending.

To see all my photos from the conference, check my Facebook Photo Album.


About J. Thomas Ross

Since retiring from a career as a high school English and history teacher, I've been pursuing a career as a writer. My main interest is in writing novels, but I've also written short stories and poetry and done a little editing on the side. I am currently working on a Young Adult novel. One of my poems - "Winter" - won an award at the 2010 Philadelphia Writers Conference, and you can find my fantasy short story "A Rock Is a Rock Is a Rock ... Or Is It?" in the anthology Tales of Fortannis: A Bard's Eye View, which is available in print and Kindle format from Amazon and as an e-book from Double Dragon Press.
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