Pitch to literary agent Noah Ballard at the MWW Agent Fest!

Meet Noah Ballard, literary agent with Curtis Brown, Ltd. 

Noah Ballard is an agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. He studied creative writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and began his career in publishing at Emma Sweeney Agency. Noah focuses on literary fiction, short story collections and narrative non-fiction, including memoir, journalism and pop culture. Noah has appeared at graduate writing programs and writers’ conferences across the country speaking about query letters, building nonfiction platforms and submission etiquette. A New Jersey native, Noah currently lives in Brooklyn.

MWW Board Member Larry Sweazy interviewed Noah about his life as an agent and what he’s looking for on his Manuscript Wish List.

MWW: All writers were voracious readers before they became writers. It seems this would be true of agents, too. Can you tell us about a book, or books, that affected you, and influenced your choice to become an agent?

NB: I don’t know that I agree with the premise of the question, that writers are all voracious readers. I think all successful writers are voracious readers, especially of contemporary authors. It’s pretty amazing, however, the amount of writers who pitch me work who haven’t read a book that’s been published in the past ten years.

As a college student, I was drawn to so-called transgressive fiction. From Charles Bukowski to John Fante up to Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney. That’s a pretty easy space to be excited by as a middle-class, White student, when bad behavior (by White men) seems controversial. And I suppose it is, compared to the boring (White, male) authors I read in high school. But as I reached the end of college, I also discovered James Baldwin and Evan S. Connell and Bernard Malamud and Joan Didion, etc., etc. That’s where the real controversy of American late 20th century literature lives, and I am inspired by authors who seem themselves as following in those traditions.

MWW: What makes a query stand out?

NB: In terms of the actual letter: professionalism. Many authors make the mistake of writing the letter with a lot of voice, or waxing unnecessarily poetic or, worse, attempting to appeal to my sympathy. I’m looking for a writer who will collaborate and be a savvy business partner, not someone who doesn’t know how to write a professional e-mail. Why would I risk my reputation for such a person?

In terms of the writing sample, which I always ask be included in the query, there I’m looking for voice and confidence. Tell me a story in a way I haven’t heard it before and be brave in the telling.

MWW: What are the most important questions should a new writer ask an agent?

NB: “What is your vision for the publication of my book?” “What editorial work do I need to do before the book can be submitted to editors?” “Which editors do you have in mind?” “What is your working style?” “Does your agency represent translation and film/TV rights?” “Are you a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives?” “Do you only expect payment once you’ve sold my book?” (The latter must an unconditional YES!)

MWW: With the publishing industry in a constant state of change, are you encouraged about the future of publishing?

NB: Publishing has allegedly been dying for 100 years. (The novel is dead; long live the novel!) But the truth is people need stories, and the medium continues to grow and change and evolve. Authors have to be bigger advocates for themselves than ever before, but I don’t know that that’s a bad thing. There are things that frustrate me, for sure. Mostly the myopia of how books are marketed and publicized. But a generation of young people-both on the business side and on the creative side-are rallying to celebrate more diverse authors, more controversial ideas, more unexplored stories. That’s as exciting and as scary as our current political moment.

MWW: What kind of projects will you be looking for at MWW Agent Fest?

NB: Intelligent, diverse, ruthless, unapologetic literary fiction. Plucky, confrontational, progressive, emotionally-driven non-fiction, especially memoir and pop culture.

Come pitch to Noah!

Read more about the MWW Agent Fest: May 10-11, 2019.

Register Today!

Click here to register.

Friday 1:00 pm through Saturday 5:00 pm. {$249 / $289 after 4/1/19}

Prepare. Pitch. Publish. #preppitchpub

You want agents. We’ve got agents.

Taxes for Writers | MWW Ongoing course

Are you earning money from your writing? Do you need help with tax deductions and record keeping?

If you answered YES, then this MWW Ongoing course is for you!

Author and CPA Carol Topp claims she can explain federal income tax, self-employment tax and sales tax in clear English. Let’s hear her try! She will explain tax deductions and record keeping tips to make your life easier. This course is not as dull as it sounds and loaded with examples!
In this course you will learn:
  • Know what tax forms you (or your tax preparer need to file)
  • Have the IRS tax forms explained in plain English
  • See a sample tax return for an author
  • Know what tax deductions are typical for writers
  • Tax tips from a CPA and author
  • Understand what forms you need to send to subcontractors
  • Know when you need to charge sales tax and when you don’t!
  • Be alert to IRS red flags that could trigger and audit

This course is for writers who are earning money from their writing or have expenses related to writing and wonder what they can deduct on their tax return. This is professional advice from a CPA and author at a great rate!

Format: Two instructional videos (about 45 minutes each) that you can watch on your own time, at your own convenience. Once you have registered, the entire course will be available to you until April 15, 2019, to access at any time you wish. Plus, downloadable pdfs of handouts of the PowerPoint slides.

Register Today! Click HERE to register.
Cost: $65
Students will have instant access to the videos (until April 15, 2019) once they register, as well as to a private Facebook group (MWW + Taxes for Writers) or Facebook live session to ask questions of the presenter.

About the Instructor

Carol Topp, CPA is an author and Certified Public Accountant. Carol’s fourteen books have been both self-published and traditionally published. She advises writers on starting a business and running it successfully. She is the author of Business Tips and Taxes for Writers and contributing author to Writers Market and the Writer’s Digest Guide to Indie Publishing. Her website is TaxesForWriters.com

MWW Agent Fest, May 10-11, 2019

Prepare. Pitch. Publish. #preppitchpub
You want agents. We’ve got agents.

MWW Agent Fest: May 10-11, 2019

Friday 1:00 pm through Saturday 4:30 pm. {$249 / $289 after 4/1/19}

Here’s an opportunity to pitch your book directly to vaunted agents in search of new voices! Advocate for your book in a high-energy environment, and you might just become another MWW success story.

Connect with literary agents who are actively searching for the next big thing across all genres including fiction, nonfiction, children’s, young adult and more. During the Agent Fest, you’ll have a chance to meet agents one-on-one and capture their attention with the basic concept of your book.

We’ve assembled a dynamic roster of top-tier agents to participate in our new MWW Agent Fest. We have two days of valuable sessions on how to write a query letter and a synopsis, what agents are looking for, what makes an agent/editor stop reading your manuscript, and more. No matter what you’re writing – fiction or nonfiction – the sessions will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres are welcome.

Our Agent Fest is designed to squeeze as much into two days of learning as possible. You can ask any questions you like during the sessions, and get your specific concerns addressed. The literary agents will give feedback and take pitches from writers. Our faculty includes: (Read their bios & wish lists)

  • Noah Ballard (Curtis Brown, Ltd.)
  • Elizabeth Bewley (Sterling Lord Literistic)
  • Savannah Brooks (Jennifer De Chiara)
  • Brenna English-Loeb (Transatlantic Agency)
  • Joanna MacKenzie (Nelson Literary)
  • Devin Ross (New Leaf Literary)
  • JL Stermer (New Leaf Literary)

You’ll meet one-on-one with at least one agent and possibly two depending on the number of registrants. Each pitch lasts three minutes, composed of a 90-second pitch and a 90-second response from the agent with feedback.

By Saturday evening, you will have added more tools to help you move forward on your writing journey.

Secure your spot today. Register HERE.

New Board, New Vision

From the minutes of the 8 January, 2019 MWW Board meeting

  • Welcome to the new board members: Julie Tuttle Davis; Dianne Despain; Maria Williams-Hawkins; Lylanne Musselman, Marissa Rose; Angelia Stone; Larry Sweazy
  • Returning board members: Jeff Pearson, Kelsey Timmerman
  • Returning Executive Director: Jama Kehoe Bigger

Because Jeff has been acting as the interim board president, the board voted unanimously to retain him as the permanent board president. Kelsey Timmerman will continue in his position of treasurer. Dianne Despain was elected as board Secretary. Marissa Rose was elected as board vice president.

Re-positioning of MWW’s standing committee was addressed with the following results: The Finance/Fundraising/Grants committee will be chaired by Kelsey Timmerman. The Programs/Community Outreach Community will be chaired by Jama Bigger. The Board Governance and Recruitment Committee will be chaired by Jeff Pearson. The Public Relations/Marketing Committee will be co-chaired by Julie Tuttle Davis and Angelia Stone.

Two new committees were created: The Executive Committee to be chaired by Jeff Pearson and the Volunteer Committee to be chaired by Jama Bigger.

The Agent Fest, coming up May 10-11 was discussed, with prices set at $249.00 (early bird registration) and $299 after April 1. Six agents will be attending the pitch sessions. Look for more details in the weeks ahead. The summer conference, set for July 25-27, was also discussed and more information on that will be rolled out shortly.

Our new motto: New Board. New Vision. Exciting things are happening at MWW! Keep checking back to see what they are.

2019 MWW Programs

For 2019, Midwest Writers Workshop continues its mission to nurture aspiring and accomplished writers to improve their craft and achieve their publishing goals in a welcoming community.

If one of your goals for 2019 is to improve your writing, mark your calendar with these dates to start working on it: May 10 & 11, and July 25-27! Hit the ground running in 2019 with a clear plan all ready to go. MWW will help you with your goals.

You want agents. We’ve got agents.  So make plans to bring your pitch and query letters to our MWW Agent Fest, May 10-11, 2019. Registration available here!

You want to be a better writer. We’ve got authors to help. Come for three days to grow as writer and find your people, MWW19, July 25-27, 2019. We are bringing together top-notch authors and an industry professional to share their expertise with you. Thursday afternoon through Friday are sessions on craft, including fiction, mystery, YA, nonfiction & more! Then on Saturday, you can choose your all-day manuscript-makeover session according to your own interests, whether you want to hone your writing or learn more about career development. Saturday All-Day Sessions include your choice of five Manuscript Makeover Sessions or Author Platform and Career Development Bootcamp with Jane Friedman.

Registration for the MWW19 conference coming soon! Watch for upcoming E-pistles and social media posts for details!

 

 

Bookkeeping for Writers | MWW Ongoing Course

Bookkeeping for Writers Who Hate Numbers

Do you hate numbers? Is Bookkeeping Ugh?

If you answered YES, then this MWW Ongoing course is for you!

Writers are word people who usually hate numbers and bookkeeping, but regular bookkeeping is a guarantee of business success (Carol shows you the study to prove it). Author and accountant Carol Topp will share with you tips and tools to make record keeping easier. You don’t need complicated expensive software or a bookkeeper to be a successful writer. Carol will show you how real authors keep their records that are easy to maintain and delight their accountants.

In this course you will learn:

  • Bookkeeping hacks and tips
  • Free spreadsheets for easy record keeping
  • When to use software
  • What software choices are best for you
  • Specific challenges that face authors in their business record keeping (inventory, sales tax, etc.)
  • How to manage sales tax

This course is for writers who have started earning money from their work or book sales and need to learn how to keep their business records simply and easily so they can get back to writing! This is professional advice from a CPA and author at a great rate!

Format: Two instructional videos (about 30-45 minutes each) that you can watch on your own time, at your own convenience. Once you have registered, the entire course will be available to you until December 31, 2018, to access at any time you wish. Plus, downloadable pdfs of handouts of the PowerPoint slides.

Part One: 

  • How good records leads to business success
  • What information to record
  • Explanation of inventory tracking, tax deductions, bookkeeping hacks and tips
  • What software choices are best for you.

Part Two:

  • Specific challenges that face authors in their business record keeping
  • Inventory, sales, mileage, paying others
  • How to manage sales tax.

Students will have instant access to the videos (until December 31, 2018) once they register, as well as to a private Facebook group (MWW + Bookkeeping for Writers) or Facebook live session to ask questions of the presenter.

About the Instructor

Carol Topp, CPA is an author and Certified Public Accountant. Carol’s fourteen books have been both self-published and traditionally published. She advises writers on starting a business and running it successfully. She is the author of Business Tips and Taxes for Writers and contributing author to Writers Market and the Writer’s Digest Guide to Indie Publishing. Her website is TaxesForWriters.com

Register Today!

Click HERE to register. Cost: $80

One-day mini-conference | Reaching Your Writing Goals

This mini-conference will give your writing a boost!

Midwest Writers Workshop is offering a mini-conference, “Reaching Your Writing Goals,” on Saturday, November 3, 2018, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (includes lunch) at the Ball State Alumni Center, 2800 W. Bethel Ave., Muncie, Ind.

Authors presenting at the mini-conference are Kelsey Timmerman, Annie Sullivan, and Sarah Schmitt. The program includes talks about getting published, participation in break-out groups, a panel question-and-answer session, and book celebration for Kelsey’s newest release (Where Am I Giving?), Annie’s debut novel (A Touch of Gold), and the new paperback of Sarah’s novel (It’s A Wonderful Death). Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Cost for this day mini-conference is just $60.

Reaching Your Writing Goals

10:00-10:10       Welcome, introductions

10:10-12:40       Authors (Kelsey Timmerman, Annie Sullivan, Sarah Schmitt) share their Path to Publishing

12:40-1:00        Working sack lunch/fellowship

1:15-1:45          Breakout #1

Kelsey Timmerman: Finding and Telling True Stories — An overview of brainstorming, researching, and interviewing techniques Kelsey has used to write 3 books.

Annie Sullivan: How to Hook an Agent: Everything from Strong Query Letters to First Lines — Landing an agent starts with getting their attention and not letting it go. Discover how to keep agents reading your work and requesting more!

Sarah Schmitt: Plotting Boot Camp — All good stories have one thing in common: a strong plot. This presentation simplifies the plotting process and helps focus a writer’s vision of their current work in progress. Participants will engage in a group writing activity that can then be used as a tool for their own projects.

1:45-2:15           Breakout #2

Kelsey Timmerman: How to Write a Book Proposal — To land an agent and an editor for your nonfiction book, first you need to write a proposal.

Annie Sullivan: Worldbuilding: How to Build the Foundations of Your Fantasy or Sci-fi World — Learn to create fantasy worlds that will sweep readers off their feet by incorporating small and large details into your work.

Sarah Schmitt: Character Development Workshop — Does your character’s eye color matter? Does he or she resent authority? Why? Character development is imperative for any story. This hands-on workshop will look at how a character’s past influences their actions in the present and where inspiration can be found to create a character as unique as you are.

2:30-3:00       Reassemble as a group in Assembly Hall; Q&A with the panel

3:00-3:10       Explain MWW resources (future mini-conferences, etc.)

3:10-3:30       Invitation to purchase books and have authors autograph them.

Fellowship/community time

REGISTER HERE

FACULTY:

Kelsey Timmerman is the New York Times Bestselling author of WHERE AM I WEARING? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes and WHERE AM I EATING? An Adventure Through the Global Food Economy. His newest book is WHERE AM I GIVING? A Global Adventure Exploring How to Use Your Gifts and Talents to Make a Difference. His writing has appeared in places such as the Christian Science Monitor and has aired on NPR. Kelsey is also the cofounder of the Facing Project, which seeks to connect people through stories to strengthen community. He has spent the night in Castle Dracula in Romania, played PlayStation in Kosovo, farmed on four continents, taught an island village to play baseball in Honduras, and in another life, worked as a SCUBA instructor in Key West, Florida. Whether in print or in person he seeks to connect people around the world.

Annie Sullivan is a Young Adult author from Indianapolis, Indiana. Her work has been featured in Curly Red Stories and Punchnels. She loves fairytales, everything Jane Austen, and traveling and exploring new cultures. When she’s not off on her own adventures, she’s teaching classes at the Indiana Writers Center and working as the Copy Specialist at John Wiley and Sons, Inc. publishing company, having also worked there in Editorial and Publicity roles. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram (@annsulliva).

As a former K-8 school librarian and youth services profession for a public library, Sarah Schmitt has always enjoyed pushing books on unsuspecting teens. Now, as a YA author, she gets to write those stories. Focusing on serious issues facing teens with her hallmark brand of humor, Sarah has taught at The Indiana Writer’s Center and presents interactive workshops at middle and high schools throughout Indiana and beyond. She has serviced on the selection committee for both the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, Young Hoosier Book Award for Middle Grade and Teens Top Ten. When not reading or writing, Sarah can be found crocheting or trying to prefect the perfect shave ice flavor formula. She lives with her husband, two kidlets, and a ninja cat near Indianapolis, Indiana. You can follow her on Instagram @sarahjschmitt.

 

Lori Rader-Day presents: Point of View, Your Story’s Foundation

Lori Rader-Day presents: Point of View, Your Story’s Foundation

“MWW Author Program with Lori Rader-Day” – Saturday, September 29, 2018, Kennedy Branch Library (1700 W. McGalliard), Muncie, Indiana, 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm. Program includes Lori’s discussion: “Point of View, Your Story’s Foundation”; an interview with Lori and Q&A; and a celebration of her newest novel, UNDER A DARK SKY.  Come and learn! Come for the community! Come be a literary citizen! {Just $25 — FREE copy of Under A Dark Sky included with registration!}

Program Schedule:

2:30-3:30 pm – Lori presents: Point of View, Your Story’s Foundation
Point of view isn’t just a she said/I said decision. Where you place a story’s point of view will decide how the story can be told, the tone and voice it will have, and how your reader will experience (and enjoy) your work. In this discussion on the importance of point of view, we’ll talk about the impact this one element has on all the others, including character, setting, theme, and more.

3:30-3:45 pm – Short break

3:45-4:45 pm – Interview and Q&A: ask her anything! Pick her brain for all kinds of writing advice.

What about  character?
What about setting?
What about theme?

4:45-5:30 pm – Autograph party!/fellowship

 

[Ball State Bookstore will have all four of Lori’s books for sale.]

Lori Rader-Day’s debut mystery, The Black Hour, won the 2015 Anthony Award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the 2015 Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her second novel, Little Pretty Things, won the 2016 Mary Higgins Clark Award and was a nominee for the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original. Little Pretty Things was named a 2015 “most arresting crime novel” by Kirkus Reviews and one of the top ten crime novels of the year by Booklist. Her third novel, The Day I Died, was an Indie Next Pick and is a nominee for the Mary Higgins Clark Award and the Barry Award. She studied journalism at Ball State University and now lives in Chicago.

Praise for Lori’s just released novel Under a Dark Sky:

“A brilliant concept, brilliantly told! Under a Dark Sky is a novel that you simply can’t put down…” -Jeffery Deaver, international number one bestselling author

“Lori Rader-Day is a modern day Agatha Christie: her mysteries are taut, her characters are real and larger than life, and her plots are relentlessly surprising. Under a Dark Sky is a stellar addition to her award-winning catalog. The closed door mystery echoes the claustrophobic atmosphere of Christie’s And Then There Were None, and there are enough breakneck twists to captivate modern readers. A dynamite late summer read!” -Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year

 

Register here! Just $25!

{Limited space}

New online course! Show Not Tell with Shirley Jump

MWW Ongoing

Midwest Writers just experienced a successful Super Mini-conference, July 27-28, and while we’re planning our next events, we’re also continuing our mission to help writers improve their writing with our online courses.

MWW Ongoing is a series of courses taught by award-winning writing instructors, and everything happens online. From the convenience of your computer, on your own time schedule, you can participate in classes to take your writing to the next level.

SHOW NOT TELL is our latest MWW Ongoing course taught by one of our popular instructors, New York Times bestselling author Shirley Jump. It’s a two-week course with lessons, strategies, and exercises to strengthen and provoke emotion in your writing. Cost: $75.00 — course begins August 20!

SHOW NOT TELL is for people who are struggling to make their writing come alive with powerful characters, emotional storylines and memorable reads. If you are struggling to get readers to connect with your book, this course will help. This course will cover the difference between show and tell, how to find the telling in your manuscript, and the best ways to create more emotion on the page. Showing brings words to life and creates living, breathing characters.

Shirley will cover the basics of show not tell, including the key words to watch for, and the reasons for telling instead of showing in a manuscript. She will talk about pacing and backstory as well, because both are impacted by show not tell, and are integral to a well written book. By the end of this course, you will have the tools you need to create more powerful scenes and more evocative characters.

What This Course Specifically Teaches

  • Basics of show not tell
  • Determining where the telling is in your book
  • Changing telling to Showing
  • Creating more powerful characters and adding more emotion to key scenes

The course is broken down into two units. Each unit is accompanied by several handouts that build on the one before. You can start using the information immediately for your current work. Questions will be answered within the private Facebook group and in one Facebook live chat.

UNIT ONE: Available Monday, August 20th

Unit One will be about getting the basics down. We will start with discussing the difference between show not tell, how to find the sections of your work that are telling, and the basics of converting telling to showing. Students will be asked to look at their own work and revise to show more (feedback will be given in the private Facebook group).

  • Show Not Tell
  • Devil is in the Details
  • Passive vs Active
  • Enriching Your Descriptions
  • Scene Analysis

UNIT TWO: Available Monday, August 27th

Unit Two will take show not tell to a deeper level. We will discuss when to tell instead of show, how show not tell relates to backstory and pacing, and how a few key words can make a huge difference in a scene. Students will again look at their own work and revise to show more, with feedback in the private Facebook group.

  • Tension vs Conflict
  • Construct a More Powerful Scene
  • Scene Analysis
  • Before and After Backstory

And Join the community in the Facebook Group!

About the Instructor

When she’s not writing books, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump competes in triathlons, mostly because all that training lets her justify mid-day naps and a second slice of chocolate cake. She’s published more than 60 books in 24 languages, although she’s too geographically challenged to find any of those countries on a map. Visit her website at www.ShirleyJump.com for author news and a booklist, and follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/shirleyjump.author for giveaways and deep discussions about important things like chocolate and shoes.

REGISTER HERE!

Super Mini-Conference Photos