New York Writers Workshop hosts niche-pitch two- or three-day pitch conferences in New York City for writers of fiction and nonfiction. The conferences are offered twice a year, in the spring and fall, with sections for those writing for adults as well as for children and young adults.
The April sessions introduce NYWW’s first niche-pitch conference, and the focus this time is on Small/Independent Press projects that might not fit well (or have not fit well) with editors from the big commercial houses. These might include the literary, regional, complicated, unconventional books/ novels/ projects whose structures, lengths, or stories don’t appeal, or have not appealed to editors from the big houses. It’s a place to give the unconventional, the quirky, the literarily ambitious a fair hearing. It’s a good place for first novels, for novels-in-stories, for story collections, or other work that tends to defy industry norms.
Participants polish their pitches with the help of conference leaders who are members of the New York Writers Workshop faculty, then they present them to three different editors from small/independent presses. Editors provide feedback and may request proposals and/or manuscripts after the conference.
EDITORS for NYWW SMALL PRESS PITCH CONFERENCE
Mark Doten is Senior Editor at Soho Press, where he acquires crime fiction and the majority of the literary list. His authors have been listed for numerous awards and honors, including the Center for Fiction Flaherty Dunham first novel prize, the PEN/Open Book award, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham award, the NYPL Young Lions award, Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, Rolling Stone Best Music Book of the Year, and Washington Post Notable Book of the Year. He has published four New York Times Editors' Choice titles. His author Dan Josefson won the Whiting Award after Soho's publication of his first novel, That's Not a Feeling, and Alex Shakar's Luminarium was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction.
Chelsey is drawn to smart, sophisticated fiction that challenges established norms. In addition to wanting projects with strong voice, Chelsey looks for page-turning, plot-powered fiction with compelling conflicts. She is especially interested in culturally diverse voices, complex women’s fiction, elevated horror and suspense, literary coming-of-age stories, and narratives featuring LGBTQ characters. Forthcoming fiction projects include: In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson, a Western-set literary horror debut; Among the Lesser Gods by Margo Catts, an upmarket literary debut set in the mountains of Colorado; and The Wide Circumference of Love by award-winning author Marita Golden, a multicultural family drama. Chelsey joined the Skyhorse team in early 2016 from HarperCollins, where her previous list included bestselling authors, debut novelists, and everything in between.
Erika Goldman, Publisher and Editorial Director of Bellevue Literary Press, has been an editor of fiction and nonfiction for over two decades at several major publishing houses in New York City, including St. Martin’s Press, Charles Scribner’s Sons, Simon & Schuster, and W. H. Freeman. A recipient of fellowships from Rendez-vous à Montreal-Québec Edition, the IV Programme in conjunction with IFOA Toronto, the Frankfurt Book Fair/German Book Office, and the Jerusalem International Book Fair, she has lectured and taught at the Yale Writers’ Conference, the Wesleyan Writers Conference, the New Hampshire Institute of Art, and New York University’s Center for Publishing. She is an instructor at the New York University School of Medicine, Division of Medical Humanities.
April 8 – 9, 2017
Ripley-Grier Studios (NY Spaces)
520 Eighth Ave (West 36th/37th), 16th Fl
$350 for 2-Day Small/Independent Press Pitch Conference, one day of workshop, one day of three pitches
Day 1 - Saturday
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 till 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 - Sunday
10:00 am – 11:45 Pitch #1
The first pitch is “public,” meaning participants pitch to an editor in the presence of their group. Objective: everyone pitches, everyone observes, everyone hears editor comment.
LUNCH 11:45 – 1:15
1:30 pm – 5:00 pm Pitch #s 2 & 3: one-on-one pitches. Participants pitch to editors in private setting.
Pitch #2: 1:30 – 3:00
Pitch #3: 3:00 – 4:30
Conference Wrap: 4:30 – 5:00
The afternoon pitches are private, one-on-one with an editor, and an NYWW instructor present. You’ll have some free time while others are doing their one-on-one pitches—this is a good time to refine your pitches with colleagues. (Note: Ripley-Grier is a fun place to hang out, as many theater groups and dance companies rehearse there.)
The Conference Wrap brings all groups together with workshop instructors for final suggestions, tips, Q&A, and group photos.
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 and 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 plot, setting, characters–whatever best captures what is unique about your book. Include information about your background if it's relevant for your story, as well as any other ways you will be able to attract readers. Be aware of comparable books (not necessarily bestsellers), since editors might 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 back cover or 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. 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 West 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.
How to Apply
If you'd like to attend a conference, send an email following these five steps:
- Subject: Small Press 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 email@example.com and/or Tim Tomlinson 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.