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Library

Pitch & Publish Conference
March 16, 2024

Westport Writers' Pitch & Publish Conference
Saturday, March 16, 2024

We are thrilled to announce that the Westport Writers Workshop Pitch & Publish Conference is returning to the Westport Library on Saturday, 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.

Questions? Email: pitchandpublish@westportwritersworkshop.com or visit our FAQ page. 

Register here!
 

About the Conference

Liz Matthews & Julie Sarkissian

Conference Co-chairs

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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

Keynote Speaker

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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), and the memoir Land of Enchantment (Plume, 2016). 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 addition to a query letter, in advance of the conference.

Pitch Takers

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Eloy Bleifuss

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.

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Rachel Beck

Liza Dawson

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

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Ayla Zuraw-Friedland

Goldin Lit Agency

Genres: adult fiction, upmarket and literary, and nonfiction, memoir, history, narrative nonfiction

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Reiko Davis

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.

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Alexandra Franklin

Curtis Brown 

Alexandra is particularly interested in upmarket and literary fiction, narrative nonfiction and memoir, and select literary YA. 

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Sharon Pelletier:

DG&B 

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.

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Maggie Cooper:

Aevitas

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.

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Jessica Fellman

Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency

Fiction: Literary and upmarket commercial fiction, speculative fiction, Sci-Fi Fantasy, fiction that balances on the edge of genre, and YA Sci-Fi Fantasy with an emphasis on LGBTQIA+ characters and underrepresented POVs. Nonfiction: pop culture nonfiction, prescriptive self-help from experts, and narrative nonfiction about psychology, culture, or science with an engaging story that offers solutions or new/surprising perspectives. Jessica is not considering graphic novels, poetry, romance/erotica, thrillers, true crime, memoir, or Children’s or Middle Grade books at this time.

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Kelly Karczewski

United Talent Agency

Genres: Literary fiction, upmarket fiction, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, speculative fiction, elevated romantic comedies. Nonfiction: Pop culture, memoir

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Charlotte Wenger

Prospect Agency

Charlotte is looking for children's fiction and narrative nonfiction - picture books, middle grade, graphic novels, and young adult - as well as adult nonfiction, particularly biographies and memoirs. She's especially drawn to stories that have a strong voice and memorable characters. She loves books that teach her new things, make her laugh out loud, or tug at the heartstrings.

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Paul Lucas

Janklow & Nesbit

Paul 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.

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Erica McGrath

Writers House

Erica gravitates toward adult literary fiction—with a particular interest in subversive and darkly humorous voice-driven novels—, adult narrative non-fiction and microhistories, both adult and children’s graphic novels, picture books, middle grade, and select YA.

Good Bad and The Ugly Panel

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. 

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MODERATOR

Ayla Zuraw Friedland

Frances Goldin Literary Agency

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Reiko Davis

DeFiore & Company

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Jessica Fellman

Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency

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Eloy Bleifuss

Janklow & Nesbit

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Rachel Beck

Liza Dawson

Everything You Wanted to Know About Publishing but Were Too Afraid to Ask. No question is off limits in this candid discussion of publishing's stickiest situations.

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MODERATOR

Julie Sarkissian

Instructor

Westport Writers' Workshop

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Brigette Dale

Editor at St. Martin's Press

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Anya Liftig

Creative Nonfiction Author 

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Soon Wiley

Author & Westport Writers' Workshop Instructor

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Cara Wall

Author & Westport Writers Workshop Instructor

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Paul Lucas

Agent at Janklow & Nesbit

Conference Agenda
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

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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."

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