Westport Writers' Pitch & Publish Conference
March 16, 2024
We are thrilled to announce that the Westport Writers Workshop Pitch & Publish Conference is returning to the Westport Library on March 16th, 2024, from 10:00am - 4:15pm. The conference will feature author and publishing expert Leigh Stein as the keynote speaker, a day of dynamic talks and panels on writing and publishing, and the rare opportunity to pitch your book to two agents, as well as a Friday night welcome party, book signings, books for sale, and a Saturday evening wrap party. We have confirmed agents from Curtis Brown, Aevitas, Janklow, Fletcher & Company, among others.
New offerings at this year’s conference include the opportunity for each agent to read five pages of your work prior to the conference, a mini “practice your pitch” session during the conference, and a catered lunch.
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.
Leigh Stein is a writer interested in what the internet is doing to our identities, relationships, and politics. She is the author of five books, including the critically acclaimed satirical novel Self Care (Penguin, 2020), The Fallback Plan (Melville House 2012), the memoir Land of Enchantment (Plume 2016), and the poetry collection What to Miss When (Soft Skull Press, 2021). Her non-fiction writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker online, Allure, ELLE, Poets & Writers, BuzzFeed, The Cut, Salon, and Slate.
Leigh was cofounder and executive director of Out of the Binders/BinderCon, a feminist literary nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the careers of women and gender variant writers. Nearly 2,000 writers attended BinderCon events in NYC and LA, to hear speakers including Lisa Kudrow, Anna Quindlen, Claudia Rankine, Jill Abramson, Elif Batuman, Effie Brown, Leslie Jamison, Suki Kim, and Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. Leigh also moderated the private Facebook community of 40,000 writers.
Making Your Pitch!
Writers who buy a Conference With Pitches ticket, will have the opportunity 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). New this year: Agents will read five pages of each writers work in advance of the conference.
Alexandra is particularly interested in upmarket and literary fiction, narrative nonfiction and memoir, and select literary YA.
Janklow & Nesbit
Eloy is drawn to genre-blurring fiction and writers with a clear point-of-view. He’s looking for atmospheric horror, thrillers set in an under-explored time or setting, and character-driven speculative fiction. When it comes to nonfiction, he enjoys reading a broad sweep of categories from science writing and forgotten histories to pop culture and relatable self-help. Whether it is fiction or nonfiction, he is a fan of writing that is dark, strange, funny, and queer.
Genres: upmarket fiction from smart, complex women’s fiction; to unexpected suspense fiction and romance; to hearty, unforgettable book club fiction. She also occasionally takes on compelling, fierce narrative nonfiction by journalists, experts, or emerging voices with a promising platform. Visit her profile on MSWL for more info.
Genres: literary fiction; beautifully told queer stories; and smart, feminist vacation reads. Her other passions include unclassifiable book projects, books about food and cooking, and well earned happy endings—particularly for characters underrepresented in mainstream publishing.
Upmarket/book club women’s fiction, Light-hearted millennial fiction or contemporary romance, Domestic suspense—Character-driven, psychologically intense reads, Contemporary young adult. Select nonfiction
Ayla Zuraw-Friedland, Agent
Genres: adult fiction, upmarket and literary, and nonfiction, memoir, history, narrative nonfiction
Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency:
Genres: pop culture nonfiction and prescriptive titles that offer realistic advice or new perspectives to help readers better understand themselves and the world, as well as narrative nonfiction about science, history, and psychology that engages with contemporary conversations. She represents a range of creators, loves fresh stories about magic, and looks for commercial and literary fiction featuring underserved voices, unforgettable places, and complicated families.
DeFiore & Company
Genres: Literary fiction (both novels and story collections), upmarket fiction, narrative non-fiction, YA and middle grade fiction and non-fiction, the occasional picture book.
Genres: Literary fiction, upmarket fiction, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, speculative fiction, elevated romantic comedies. Nonfiction: Pop culture, memoir
Literary and upmarket fiction (my bio lists nonfiction interests but I'm really trying to prioritize fiction, so would love to just take fiction pitches if possible!). I also do a bit of speculative, though no sci-fi/fantasy.
Fletcher & Co
They are building their own list of Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction and nonfiction. They especially like classic adventure stories, and fantasy that is off the beaten path. Across all genres, they are drawn to clever writing and creative formats.
Janklow & Nesbit
He is actively looking for upmarket commercial fiction, specifically historical, thrillers, science fiction and fantasy. On the literary side, he likes reading narratives about immigration, ostracization, class, family and race. For non-fiction, he is drawn to narratives, learning new things and the occasional humor project.
Ask the Agents Panel
Westport Writers’ Workshop Programming Director Liz Matthews discussed with literary agents everything you need to know about finding and working with a literary agent.
Ayla Zuraw Friedland
DeFiore & Company
Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency
Janklow & Nesbit
Good Bad and The Ugly Panel
Everything You Wanted to Know About Publishing but Were Too Afraid to Ask
Janklow & Nesbit
March 15 - 16, 2024
Friday, March 15th
7:00 - 9:00 pm - Welcome Party for all conference participants at the Workshop
Saturday, March 16th at the Westport Library
9:00 - 10:00 Registration & Coffee
10:00 - 10:15 Welcome comments and overview
10:15 - 11:00 PANEL 1: Ask the Agent
11:00 - 11:30 Q&A, Ask the Agent
11:30 - 12:15 Practice Your Pitch
12:15 - 12:45 Lunch Break
12:15 - 2:15 Agent Pitches
1:00 - 1:45 PANEL 2: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Everything You Always Wanted to know about Publishing but were Too Afraid to Ask
1:45 - 2:00 Q&A
2:00 - 2:30 Writing Exercise
2:15 - 4:15 Agent Pitches
2:45 - 3:45 Keynote Speaker - Leigh Stein
3:45 - 4:15 Ending Remarks & book signing
4:30 - 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."