Westport Writers' Pitch & Publish Conference
May 20th, 2023
We held our second annual Pitch & Publish Conference on May 20, 2023 at The Westport Library to rave reviews . We featured Courtney Maum as the keynote speaker, author of Year of The Horses, Before and After the Book Deal, and Touch, among others.
The conference included three panels, “Ask The Agent, “The Road To Publication,” and “Level Up Your Writing Game,” moderated by Liz Matthews, Kate Schneider and Leigh Stein, respectively.
Attendees who purchased Conference with Pitches tickets enjoyed the rare opportunity to pitch their books to two agents and/or small presses during one-on-one pitch sessions. Other highlights of the daylong event included an interactive writing experience, books for sale, goodie bags, refreshments, Friday night welcome party, light breakfast Saturday morning and Saturday evening wrap party. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for details about similar future events!
Liz Matthews & Julie Sarkissian
About the Conference
Liz Matthews is a writer and editor who received her MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts (2008) and MA in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Liz began her professional career in publishing, both at a literary agency and as an Editorial Assistant at Random House before teaching middle and high school English. Her work has appeared in Brain Child, The Rumpus, The Tishman Review, and Big Fiction Little Truths among other places. Liz teaches Introductory & Intermediate Fiction, Flash Fiction, and Creative Writing at the workshop.
Julie Sarkissian is the author of Dear Lucy, published by Simon and Schuster and nominated for the Dylan Thomas Prize. Her essays, short fiction and book reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Tin House, The Huffington Post, The New York Observer, and Flavorwire, among others. Born and raised in Southern California, she has a BA in English from Princeton and an MFA from The New School.
She worked for Sackett Street Writers in Brooklyn, NY as a fiction instructor and manuscript consultant before moving to Westport, CT with her husband and two young children.
Courtney Maum is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking publishing guide that Vanity Fair recently named one of the ten best books for writers, BEFORE AND AFTER THE BOOK DEAL and the memoir THE YEAR OF THE HORSES, chosen by The Today Show as the best read for mental health awareness.
A writing coach, executive director of the nonprofit learning collaborative “The Cabins,” and educator, Courtney's mission is to help people hold on to the joy of art-making in a culture obsessed with turning artists into brands. You can sign up for her publishing tips newsletter and online masterclasses at CourtneyMaum.com
Making Your Pitch!
Writers who registered for the conference had the option to discuss their work in person at the library or via Zoom with two agents for 10 minutes each (included in the cost of registration).
Eloy Bleifuss, Agent
Genres: literary fiction, thriller/mystery, speculative and nonfiction
Samantha Wekstein, Agent
Genres: fantasy, romance, women's fiction, historical fiction and sci-fi
Colin Hosten, Editor
Independent publishers of independent authors looking for diverse voices
Nora Gonzalez, Agent
Genres: literary and upmarket fiction, creative nonfiction, cookbooks, poetry, and select illustrated works
Sarah Landis, Agent
Genres: YA/MG, adult fiction in the thriller, SFF, and contemporary women’s fiction space.
PITCH SPOTS FILLED
Jaclyn Gilbert, Agent
Genres: experimental novels, memoirs, essay and short story collections, and poetry
Ayla Zuraw-Friedland, Agent
Genres: adult fiction, upmarket and literary, and nonfiction, memoir, history, narrative nonfiction
Elizabeth Bewley, Agent
Genres: middle grade, young adult, picture book, upmarket adult, and literary fiction
PITCH SPOTS FILLED
Michaela Whatnall, Agent
Genres: middle grade and young adult fiction: contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, historical, adventure, horror, and rom-com. Adult fiction: contemporary, speculative, and historical upmarket fiction, as well as character-driven sci-fi/fantasy and other genre fiction that features historically underrepresented characters
Marin Takikawa, Agent
Genres: YA speculative fiction, literary fiction, upmarket/book club fiction, and narrative non-fiction in the cultural criticism, science, and history space
Westport Writers’ Workshop Programming Director Liz Matthews discussed with literary agents everything you need to know about finding and working with a literary agent.
Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.
Road to Publication
Writer and reading series creator Kate Schnieder led a discussion with published writers who represent various and inspiring avenues to publication.
Amanda Parrish Morgan
Author: Four Ways to Wear a Dress
Daisy Alpert Florin
Level Up Panel
Writer and writing coach Leigh Stein talked with writers, editors, and agents about opportunities to take your writing to the next level, as it pertains both to craft and professional pursuits.
Author: The Fall Back Plan, Self-care, The Land of Enchantment, The Fallback Plan
Essayist: NY Times, Brainchild the Mighty
Senior Acquisitions Editor & Former Agent
May 19 - 20, 2023
Friday, May 19th
7:00 - 9:00 pm - Welcome Party for all conference participants at the Workshop
Saturday, May 20th at the Westport Library
8:30 - 9:00 Registration
9:15 - 9:30 Welcome comments and overview
9:30 - 10:30 Agent Panel
10:45 - 1:15 Agent Pitches
10:45 - 11:45 Road to Publication Panel
12:00 - 1:30 Lunch
1:30 - 4:00 Agent Pitches
1:30 - 2:30 Level Up Panel
2:45 - 3:15 Live the Process, Love the Process
3:30 - 4:30 Keynote with Courtney Maum
4:45 - 5:00 Q&A with Courtney
5:00 - 5:30 Closing Remarks & Courtney book signing
5:45 - 7:30 After Party, Basso Restaurant & Wine Bar
Pitch & Publish Testimonials
"I have attended various workshops in the past...both large (Writers Digest in Manhattan) and small (Chesapeake Bay, VA....Unicorns Writers, Westchester) and yours (in its inaugural year) was wonderful. It was so nice to see the first conference held here in Fairfield County."