More reviews at: http://www.algonkianconferences.com/commentary.htm and more reviews below by authors and Algonkian alums.
I just wanted to let you know that the conference did me a world of good. I had not spent time with literary people in 12 years, since I left the world of journalism. I had never before been to a writer's conference of any kind ... I believe that once I make the recommended changes to these projects I'll be onto something. I always thought I could write well, but the peripherals of the publishing business were daunting to me and I had lost contact with them. Thanks for helping to bring me back in touch.
I was beginning to get discouraged in the "find an agent game." I'd managed to wrack up a more than a few rejections on the queries I'd sent out. Then at the conference, with the help of an amazing workshop leader, I was able to improve my pitch. Three out of four editors at the conference requested my manuscript! That and the enthusiasm of my fellow attendees gave me heart. With an improved pitch and the editor interest to back me, I jumped back into the fray, Now, a few months later, I've signed with Emily Sylvan Kim of the Prospect Agency.
Amy Ester Fischer
From John Ford (five figures for young adult fiction -THE MORGUE AND ME - Viking)
The New York Pitch and Shop Conference offered direct access to major publishing houses, great mentors, and a community of supportive writers. The editors drew me to the conference, but the bigger benefit for me was the invaluable instruction in honing my pitch. The intensive workshops force you to crystalize the appeal of your manuscript. That helps greatly in the pitch sessions, but also -- maybe more importantly -- in drafting query letters and in editing the novel itself. It's no coincidence that such a large proportion of our small group found publishing success ...
Despite my many years as a journalist and non-fiction author, the transition into writing good fiction was difficult for me. Upon taking the Algonkian workshop, it all came into focus. For the first time, I am aware of the techniques and craft it takes to write a competitive manuscript.
Dusko Doder, Author and Former Moscow Bureau Chief
for the Washington Post
Dear Michael and Charles,
Some encouraging news since my return from our workshop, I've managed to garner a blast of new agent interest in reading my manuscript, a development I attribute to having fine-tuned my pitch there with you. The following agencies received my new pitch via email queries and are now reading the entire MS:
The Rights Factory (Toronto)
As to the chat forum, I did take some advice about smoothing out the first few pages, it can only help...but left my opening essentially as it was. I can see the value of mass response but a few of us are emailing each other with larger chunks of ms which answers my needs better right now.
Finally, the workshop was a good experience for me. I benefitted from hearing the refining process go on for others' work as well as my own. It was overall a great group of people and your own leadership was terrific.
Algonkian helped me develop a discipline around the creative process, enabling me to write with a clear intention to publish. It has been a year since the program and I continue to refer to the workshop material. From the story analyses I learned to examine my own work with rigor.
Sheela Sukumaran, PEN USA Emerging Voices Fellow
From Susan Breen (five figures for women's fiction -THE FICTION CLASS - Plume)
I am the person who sold my novel at the NYC Pitch and Shop conference. I met with an editor from Plume, pitched the idea and she liked it and after several weeks, and rounds of discussion and so forth, she made an offer. Meantime, Michael Neff helped to set me up with my agent, who is a lovely person at Trident Media. So I can honestly say that going to that conference changed my life.
Let me just share my experience here. Before I went to the NYC Pitch and Shop conference, I had been to a number of more traditional conferences--Bread Loaf, Antioch, Writers @ Work and so on. When I saw the ad for NYC Pitch and Shop, I had just finished my novel, The Fiction Class, and I was about to embark on a search for an agent (which is a long story in itself) and I was thinking I would apply to a conference. Then I saw the ad and I liked the fact that it was different than anything I had done. Quite honestly, I was at a point in my career where I thought I needed to do something different. I knew it was a long shot, but I was going to spend the money on one conference or another and I figured it was worth giving it a try. I had met agents before at other conferences, but I liked the directness of this one. The whole purpose was to try and sell my novel; there was no pussy footing around. Also, I just liked the idea of meeting an editor face to face. If you are not in publishing, you just do not run into editors and since these people were the decision makers, I wanted to see what they were like.
Everything turned out so much better than I had dreamed. I did sell my novel--not right at that moment, because there is a process. But I did sell it because I went to NYC Pitch and Shop.
I'm a children's writer hoping to break into the historical novel market. The Algonkian Workshop surpassed every other conference I've been to. It wasn't "rah-rah" pep talks that do little more than leave an unpublished writer frustrated. It was four days of intensive, down-to-business training and face-to-face contact with agents and authors who told us what we really need to know--and do--to get published. And the agents invited us to send our book proposals to them, first. That's more than worth the price of admission.
Kathryn Dahlstrom, Author of The Good News Club series
From Will Lavender (six figure deal for his thriller - OBEDIENCE - Shaye Areheart)
This conference helped me TREMENDOUSLY. Tremendously. I did a few things in New York that were of help: I changed the title of my manuscript after it was clear that our group didn't really care for it, and the title change helped me realize some of the book's themes; I was asked to submit my manuscript to an editor at Penguin (something I put on my query letters); and I tightened my query to the point where I was 90% successful in terms of agents asking for partials or fulls. I also met some good people and some good writers there.
According to their website, three of the writers in the group I was in have made deals. I'm with Shaye Areheart; another writer is with Plume; another is with Knopf. There were 16 in the group. That tells you that, while these writers may not have landed deals with editors during this conference (I didn't; the manuscript was eventually rejected by Penguin), there is some legit talent in the groups you pitch with.
I can only speak for myself: it was well worth the money I paid.
Algonkian Workshop is an intensive nuts and bolts primer in learning and examining the techniques of storytelling and dialogue. It gets the writer focused on the ingredients that bring a story or a novel to life. Of the six workshops I have done in the past four years, Algonkian is by far the best.
Michael B. Miller, Translator, Virginia
The motto and approach, 'write from the heart, but smart,' is pure genius. If you're serious about writing and getting published, an Algonkian conference is the way to go.
Peter Eichstaedt, Newspaper Journalist and Author of If You Poison Us
I went to the Algonkian Novel Workshop with a mostly complete novel. We worked on issues particular to the novel form including drama theory, plotting, structure, and character development. I returned home with many helpful notes, particularly about structural elements. Within six weeks, I had a revised novel, and two weeks later, a literary agent.
Stephanie Anagnoson, California
I have returned to writing after a 20 year hiatus. The Algonkian workshop was instrumental in helping me focus and clarify my characters and story. The small size of the workshop encouraged interaction between attendees and with the facilitator. We all got a lot of specific feedback on our work; the feedback was constructive and specific. I highly recommend the Algonkian Novel workshop for anyone looking for new insights on his/her work.
Amy Roeder, California
From H. Scott Dalton (attendee at NYC Pitch and Shop)
Since the conference, three of our group, including Will, have been offered contracts for the books they pitched (I, unfortunately, have not had an offer yet). All three say the coaching they received at the conference helped them shop their books more effectively by tightening and targeting their queries.
For myself, I decided to attend for a few reasons:
- It gave me a chance to meet other writers, folks serious about this craft, including some from the Big Bad Industry.
It gave me an opportunity to get a reality check on my writing and my book, and help me figure out how to market it to maximize my chances.
It might get me struck by lightning, get picked up and avoid the frustrating query-and-rejection cycle I'm in now (please note, though, I did not go thinking I was guaranteed a contract).
Hell, it was a chance to go to New York.
As it happens, all but the struck-by-lightning thing worked out. I'm still in contact with several of the folks I met there, one of them Will, and we all continue to learn from each other. Personally, I find it useful to be able to put names and faces to my fellow rookies, and have at least one common experience to look back on. And meeting one-on-one with four real live editors helped me gain a little perspective on this business; the four of them, and all the rest of you, are much more human to me now than before. For me, the conference was worth the price tag.