ANWA 2011 Workshop Review

It’s official – I’ve survived my first writer’s conference in one piece and now I’m pumped to jump back into my novel, get it done, and start querying.

Since there was so much great material to share from the conference I have split the review into two posts. Today’s post will cover the workshops and Wednesday’s post will cover the classes.

Elana, the Query Ninja

Workshop #1 – Writing a Killer Query by  Elana Johnson

Elana taught exactly how to write a query letter that will catch the agents attention.  If you would like to read all about her method go check out her website, there she has a free ebook available to writers called “From the Query to the Call.”

Some of the most important things I learned were:

  • The purpose of the query is to get an agent to generate a request, not to get an agent to like you or explain every detail of the story.
  • The query should center around the main character’s conflict and nothing else.
  • Agents won’t read the whole query unless it catches their interest so each sentence has to have a purpose and make them keep reading.
  • Using questions to sell your story is not a good idea, ever. Ex: “Will our hero save the princess?” Well duh, of course he will. But now we think we know the ending and don’t need to read more.
  • After briefly showing the main character’s conflict don’t forget a sentence or two about the consequences should he or she fail.
  • Use a theme word to tie the beginning and end of the query together so the ideas come full circle.
  • Get critiques from people who are unfamiliar with your work, available online at and many other places.

Workshop #2 Pitching to Agents and Editors also by Elana Johnson

I had so much fun at her first workshop I stayed around for the second about pitching.  There were three agents/publishers at this conference available to do pitching sessions.  I chose to skip pitching because my novel still has plot issues that need must be addressed.

Here are some of the highlights about pitching:

  • The purpose of a pitch is to get immediate feedback about your work, not to generate requests.  That’s a perk.
  • Your pitch is as much about attitude as it is your story so pretend you know what you are doing.
  • It should answer the “who, what, where, and why should they care” about your book.
  • A pitch is short and emotionally driven and centers around the conflicts of the main character using vivid concise details.
  • It should reflect the voice and attitude of your book.
  • Go to to learn more.

Come back this Wednesday for ANWA 2011 Class Reviews!

About Jodi

Jodi L. Milner is a writer, mandala enthusiast, and educator. Her epic fantasy novel, Stonebearer’s Betrayal, was published in November 2018 and rereleased in Jan 2020. She has been published in several anthologies. When not writing, she can be found folding children and feeding the laundry, occasionally in that order.
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14 Responses to ANWA 2011 Workshop Review

  1. oldancestor says:

    Great advice and thank you, as always, for your generosity in sharing what you have learned.

    I can’t say I’m any less intimidated by query writing, though. Still determined to find a way around it and be published by a major.

  2. I had a great time at the conference–and Elana’s class was awesome. It was fun to meet you (or remeet you, if we can count a possible BYU orchestra connection as a meeting…) 🙂

  3. nrhatch says:

    These summaries are perfect, Jo! Glad that the conference instilled you with renewed enthusiasm for your WIP! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. clarbojahn says:

    Been conflicted about whether or not to go a writers conference a few states over in May. I have only progressed a little on my wip and have often felt like a writer-wanna-be. This gives me a definite green light. Thank you.

    • tsuchigari says:

      Go for it, I think you would have a great time. It might be just the thing to get you excited again on your MS, or churn out some great new ideas.

      All the best!

  5. cassim says:

    we are so glad that you enjoyed the conference. your passion is commendable.
    all best wishes

    we are so happy that you enjoyed the conference. your passion is commendable. all best wishes!

  6. Meryl Jaffe says:

    Hi. I am writing parent myself and am just about ready to send out query letters for a parenting book (basically a parent’s guide to kids’ comics and graphic novels). This was really helpful.

    I wish us both luck! (And, I would love it if you came by and visited by blog:

    Thanks again, I ‘ll be back!

    Meryl Jaffe

  7. Thanks for sharing the tips from your writing workshops. I always learn some new information from these presentations. I also liked the concise bulleting format you used.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this. Very generous of you.
    I visited Elana Johnson’s site and tried to leave a thank you email but not sure if it went through. The e-book is terrific.
    We writers are quite often floundering around on our own, trying to make things work and it is indeed a joy to connect with others and learn from their experiences.
    Thanks again.

  9. Pingback: ANWA 2011 Class Review Part 2 « My Literary Quest

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