New York Writers Workshop hosts three-day pitch conferences in New York City for writers with book-length manuscripts (or projects) that welcome both fiction and nonfiction. The conferences are offered twice a year, in the spring and fall.
Participants polish their pitches with the help of conference leaders who are members of the New York Writers Workshop faculty, then present them to three different editors from major publishing houses. Editors provide feedback and may request proposals and manuscripts after the conference.
Each conference also includes a panel discussion of literary agents.
See Conference Leadership for a list of some of the agents, editors and publishing houses we work with.
Editors this conference:
Alex Hess, Skyhorse
Lyssa Keusch, HarperCollins
Daniela Rapp, St. Martins
Agents this conference:
Check back closer to conference dates for a list of agents.
Date: Nov 10 - 12, 2017
Location: Ripley-Grier Studios (NY Spaces), 520 Eighth Ave (36th/37th), 16th Fl
Cost: Cost $495 for 3-day Pitch Conference, including Agents Panel
Day 1 - Friday
9:30 am - 4:00 pm Participants workshop their pitches with a workshop leader from New York Writers Workshop. After people sign in, there are short introductory remarks, and you’re assigned to a group (usually between 10 and 15 people) and a group leader. From 10:00 until around 4:00, with a break for lunch, you and the other members of your group work on your pitches. Each participant reads his/her draft. The NYWW instructor provides guidance in revision for clarity, concision, and impact. In true workshop fashion, you’ll be able to learn from the leader’s and other participants’ feedback on your pitch as well as everyone else’s.
Day 2 - Saturday
10:00 am - 12:00 pm Literary Agents Panel: Literary agents discuss the current market for non-fiction books. What is required in this economic climate, to sell novels, story collections, memoirs, YA, and all types of nonfiction? What are the current trends? How do you query an agent? What do agents look for? What are the publishers looking for? How do you market yourself? A Q&A session follows the panel discussion.
1:30 pm - 5:00 pm Participants make two pitches to editors. The first pitch is public, meaning participants pitch to an editor in the presence of their group. A short Q&A session with the editor follows. The second pitch is private, one-on-one with an editor, with an NYWW instructor present. You’ll have some free time while others are doing their one-on-one pitches. (Ripley-Grier is a fun place to hang out, as many theater groups and dance companies rehearse there.)
Day 3 - Sunday
10:00 am - 12:30 pm Each participant makes one private pitch to an editor, again with an NYWW instructor present. The day wraps with a group conference with an NYWW instructor.
Your Homework Assignment
Before arriving at the conference, your homework assignment is to prepare a draft of your pitch. The pitch is a tool to persuade editors--or possibly, future agents--that yours is a book they should publish or represent. It should begin with a working title and include a succinct summary of your topic, story, setting, characters—whatever best captures what is unique about your book. Include information about your background if it's relevant for your topic, as well as any other ways you will be able to attract readers. Be aware of comparable books (not necessarily bestsellers), since most editors will ask you about this. If you want ideas for preparing your pitch, it sometimes helps to look at the flap copy (what's on the inside of the paper covering a hardcover book) of other relevant books.
Your pitch will be made orally, so practice saying it out loud. You’ll be able to have notes or your computer with you when you meet the editors, so don’t worry about memorizing. Aim for two minutes, tops, which often corresponds to a two-page written pitch. There’s no need to send us your pitch in advance—just have it with you when you arrive. You won’t need copies of your manuscript or proposal at the conference.
When You Arrive
We’ll be meeting at Ripley-Grier Studios, on the 16th floor of 520 Eighth Avenue, between 36th and 37thStreets.
Dress is casual—whatever you’re comfortable wearing.
Many people bring their laptops and use them to revise their pitches during the conference. There’s free wi-fi at Ripley-Grier, and there’s a Staples nearby (and sometimes a working printer at Ripley-Grier) if you want to print out your revisions.
There’s a snack bar right on the 16th floor at Ripley-Grier and also one in the building lobby where you can purchase snacks, sandwiches, and drinks. There is nothing scheduled after 4:00 on Friday, but many people use some of the time to revise their pitches for Saturday’s presentations.
Workshop leaders, editors, and members of the Agents Panel will be announced closer to the date of the conference.
How to Apply
If you'd like to attend a conference, send an email following these five steps:
- Subject: NYWW Pitch Conference
- A brief description of the project (up to 100 words)
- What you do for a living
- Contact information (mail address, phone)
- Send the email to Charles Salzberg firstname.lastname@example.org
We'll get back to you within ten days to let you know if your application has been accepted and, if so, where you should send your check.
Note: Please do NOT contact the JCC--while they handle registration for our writing classes, they are not involved with the conferences.