Main Menu
writers conference

2020 Writers Conference

Navigating the Publishing Landscape

UNM Continuing Education is hosting the 16th Annual Writers Conference. Editors and agents from across the country will be our navigators through the publishing landscape. Map out the hottest trends and best practices in publishing for short stories, novels, narrative non-fiction, poetry, memoirs and more.
 Individual pitch sessions with agents and editors will be offered at no additional cost on a first-come basis.

Total Conference Cost: $225

Date: Saturday, April 18, 8:30am-5pm

Location: UNMCE North Building, Albuquerque, NM

Register for the Conference


Connect with Industry Experts

Learn about the market and the craft of writing. Make contact with editors, agents, and other writers. Socialize with people who care about the same things you do in an inspiring and enjoyable environment. As you prepare for the conference, think of questions you’d like answered during the 90-minute panel. Write them down and be prepared to take the microphone and ask them. Take advantage of the opportunity to network with other writers, teachers, agents, and editors at breaks and during lunch. Move around from table to table and engage in the conversations. Check out the book table, not only for books written by the participants, but for additional books on the craft of writing in your genre. Follow-up: Accept business cards and take the time to jot a note on the back of the card about the person who gave you the card, in case you decide to follow up with a new connection.


NEW! Pre-Conference Pitch Workshops

New this year: Pre-conference pitch workshops! We are offering two workshops on the Friday before the conference that will help you prepare when you pitch to an editor or agent at the conference. 

Class Name

Whether you're trying to sell your book to readers, agents, or publishers, a perfect pitch is a necessity. Learn how to create various attention‐grabbing pitches. Attendees will learn: How to craft a successful elevator pitch/Twitter pitch How to write a compelling query or book blurb. How to construct a synopsis. When and how to use comparison titles. Clichés to avoid.

14900 | $49

Write That Pitch! - Spring 1

04/17/2020
Fri 3:00 PM ‐ 5:00 PM (1 Session Total)
To be Announced
CE South Building

Learn More and Register

Pitch Presentation Workshop - Spring 2

04/17/2020
Fri 5:30 PM ‐ 7:30 PM(1 Session Total)
Sarah Baker
CE South Building

Learn More and Register

2020 Conference Agenda

Time Event Presenter(s)
8:30-9:00am Conference Registration and Check-In  
9:00-9:15am Welcome and Intro to Faculty

Lorena Hughes, Conference Coordinator
Instructors: Shea Berkley, Steve Brewer, Mark Chimsky, Betsy James

9:15-10:15am Keynote Presentation Sophie Littlefield, bestselling and award-winning author
10:15-10:30am  Break/Book Signing with Keynote Speaker and Faculty
10:30-10:45 Editors Panel Mary Gaule, Stephen Hull, and Michelle Herrera Mulligan
11:30-11:45am  Break  
11:45-12:45pm  Agents Panel Sarah Levitt, Jim McCarthy, Barbara Poelle, and Adam Schear
12:45-2:00pm Lunch with editors, agents and instructors  
2:00-3:00pm

Workshops

Shea Berkley, 5 Secrets to Keep Your Reader Spellbound
Betsy James, Building the Bear: Organizing the Fiction Draft
3:00-3:15pm Break  
3:15-4:15pm

Workshops

Steve Brewer, Polishing Your Prose
Mark Chimsky, Non-Fiction Book Proposal Boot Camp
4:15-5:00pm Book Signing with Faculty

2020 Writer's Conference Speakers


SOPHIE LITTLEFIELD

SOPHIE LITTLEFIELD

Called a “writing machine” by the New York Times and a “master storyteller” by the Midwest Book Review, Sophie Littlefield has written dozens of novels for adults and teens under her own name and the pen name Sofia Grant. She has won Anthony and RT Book Awards and been shortlisted for Edgar®, Barry, Crimespree, Macavity, and Goodreads Choice Awards. Her most recent novel, LIES IN WHITE DRESSES, is an Amazon best book of the month.

BETSY JAMES

BETSY JAMES

Betsy James is the author and illustrator of seventeen books for adults, young adults and children. Her latest novel, Roadsouls, was nominated for the 2017 World Fantasy Award (all speculative fiction in English or translated into English). She teaches a writers’ workshop for UNM Honors College and lives in Albuquerque’s North Valley.

mary-gaule.jpg

MARY GAULE

Mary Gaule, assistant editor, acquires for Harper and Harper Perennial. Her interests include literary and upmarket commercial fiction and narrative non-fiction and memoirs that make her cry. She is particularly interested in books that offer unique perspectives on women’s experiences and relationships, as well as projects that shed light on marginalized voices. She is especially drawn to books about complicated family dynamics and anything set in California.

MICHELLE HERRERA MULLIGAN

MICHELLE HERRERA MULLIGAN

Michelle Herrera Mulligan is a senior editor at Atria Books and has published groundbreaking fiction and non-fiction including the memoir Free Cyntoia, the bestselling The Four Sacred Secrets, and the anticipated novel, Against the Loveless World. Michelle is also an award-winning writer whose articles have reached over 30 million people in Cosmopolitan, Billboard, The New York Times and Elle.com. She was the founding editor-in-chief of Cosmo For Latinas magazine.  A frequent speaker and writing coach, she’s interested in projects focused on owning one's voice and building a dream, which she spoke about at a TEDx conference titled “Dream Wild.” Areas of interest include upmarket and literary fiction, narrative nonfiction, literature in translation, spirituality, history, and inspiration.

STEPHEN HULL

STEPHEN HULL

Stephen Hull is director of the University of New Mexico Press. He began his publishing life at Little, Brown & Co. in 1982, and has held positions in sales, editorial, marketing, and management. He has worked for “big five” publishers, small independents, university presses, and for eight years owned his own company. UNM Press publishes select fiction and poetry; biography and memoir; history, anthropology, Latin American, and Native American studies; sports, and popular culture.

SARAH LEVITT

SARAH LEVITT

Sarah Levitt is a literary agent at Aevitas Creative Management in New York, where she represents critically acclaimed fiction and nonfiction writers. Her list includes journalists, academics, historians, scientists, and musicians, among others. She is most interested in narrative nonfiction in the areas of popular science, big ideas, history, humor, pop culture, memoir, and reportage, in addition to voice-driven literary fiction with a bold plot and fresh, imaginative characters. She’s excited by strong female and underrepresented voices, the strange and speculative, and projects that ignite cultural conversation.

JIM MCCARTHY

JIM MCCARTHY

Jim McCarthy interned for Dystel, Goderich & Bourret while an undergrad. Twenty years later, he remains at DGB as a VP and agent. His clients include NYT bestsellers Richelle Mead, Morgan Rhodes, Victoria Laurie, Robin Talley, Livia Blackburne, Suzanne Young, and Michael Arceneaux along with critically celebrated and award-winning authors such as Tehlor Kay Mejia, Joy McCullough, Fonda Lee, Remy Lai, and more. Jim is known for representing young adult and middle grade projects. He is also on the lookout for literary fiction and narrative nonfiction (be it memoir, history, biography, science, or pop culture).




ADAM SCHEAR

ADAM SCHEAR

Adam Schear is a graduate of Tulane University and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. He joined DeFiore and Company in 2009. For non-fiction, he loves popular science, deeply reported narratives, literary memoir, and big idea books. For fiction, he is interested in seeing inspired literary novels, voice driven comedies, smart thrillers with sharp dialogue, debuts, and YA novels with an honest and compelling voice. He loves flawed, unreliable, magnetic characters, quirky dark novels that retain their humor and heart, and novels that blur the distinction between literary and other genres.

BARBARA POELLE

BARBARA POELLE

Barbara Poelle began her publishing career as a freelance copywriter and editor before joining the Goodman Agency in 2007, but feels as if she truly prepared for the industry during her brief stint as a standup comic in Los Angeles. She has found success placing thrillers, suspense, upmarket fiction and Young Adult is actively seeking her next great client in those genres, but is passionate about anything with a unique voice. Barbara also writes the column Funny You Should Ask, in Writer's Digest Magazine.

Barbara Poelle won’t be taking oral pitches. However, she will read and critique the query letter and the first ten pages of FIFTEEN attendees who have a finished fiction manuscript. (Material must be sent a month prior to the conference). If you think you qualify, please contact Lorena Hughes (loreabedh@gmail.com) for more information. Spots will only be given to those novelists who have a complete manuscript on a first come, first serve basis.

SHEA BERKLEY

SHEA BERKLEY

Shea Berkley started out writing nonfiction (not so fun) and quickly moved into fiction (totally fun), and knew she'd found her calling. Her published novels encompass fantasy, paranormal and contemporary for both adults and young adults, known for her adventurous stories, sophisticated writing laced with irony and humor and multi-layered characters. Besides writing, her many diversions include painting, kickboxing, reading and hanging out with her loud and rambunctious family. Her biggest job is to make sure her offspring don't harass the neighbors and then play dumb when the cops come knocking on her door.

STEVE BREWER

STEVE BREWER

Steve Brewer writes books about crooks. The Albuquerque author has published more than 30 books; his latest is a heist novel called UPSHOT. His first novel, LONELY STREET, was made into a 2009 Hollywood movie. A former journalist, Brewer teaches writing in the Honors College at UNM. He and his family operate the popular bookstore Organic Books in Nob Hill.

mark-chimskey.jpg

MARK CHIMSKY

Mark Chimsky is the head of his own editorial consulting business (markchimskyeditorial.com) based in Portland, Maine. He was editorial director of Harper San Francisco; director of trade paperbacks at Little, Brown; and editor-in-chief of the trade paperback division at Macmillan. In addition, he has taught at New York University and was director of their prestigious Summer Publishing Institute. Mark currently teaches in the Writing, Literature, and Publishing program at Emerson College in Boston.

Mark is offering a 30% discount exclusively to UNM conference attendees who sign up for any of his editorial services.