3nd Annual Writers at Work Conference: The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

Today’s authors have a myriad of challenges to manage. How do I get published? How do I get the attention of an agent/a publisher/a reader? How do I make my book be the best book it can be? How do I get it to market? And how do I learn how to do this job of being an author? The Writers @ Work Conference is here to answer your questions. Join us for a plethora of panels and keynotes a range of top experts who will answer questions and provoke you to ask new ones and come up with innovative solutions!

DATE: Sunday, February 11, 2018

TIME: 9am – 5:45pm

LOCATION: Rosemont College Center City Campus, North American Building, 100 S Broad St # 1800, Philadelphia, PA

COST: $130, includes lunch and refreshments. (Note: Rosemont College students, faculty, and alum can contact christine@philadelphiastories.org for info about special pricing.)

Click HERE to register.

The Writers at Work Conference is a joint production of Open Book and Philadelphia Stories magazine.


9-9:30: Registration: sign in and pick up your registration materials, grab some refreshments, and let the networking begin! You can also browse the on-site bookstore which will carry books by all the speakers and publishers as well as essential writing guides and tools.

9:30 – 10:15: Brainstorm Bonanza
What are your particular questions and challenges? We’ll open the conference with a goal-setting session where you can tell us what you came to learn and we will identify the correct panels for you to attend, as well as connect you with like-minded speaker and attendees. This session is facilitated by publishing experts who can help you focus in on what you want and need to learn.

10:15 – 11:05  Opening Keynote
Kristen Kiser, Publisher, Running Press: “A Day in the Life of a Publisher”
Kristen Kiser has more than twenty-five years of book publishing experience, having served in senior editorial positions at Crown Publishing, Rodale, and now as Vice President and Publisher of Running Press Book Publishers. Here she’ll shine a light on the inside workings of a book publisher: how do decisions get made about what to publish? What are publishers looking for? How can you make sure you present your work in a way that will resonate with publishers?

Breakout #1 11:05 – 12:00

Panel: Hard Workin’ Authors
Here we’ll move from the publisher’s perspective, as presented by Kristen Kiser, to the author’s perspective. What is the essence of the author’s job? What do authors have to do to get attention, first in order to get their books published and then to get their books to readers? Some experienced published authors tell us about the ins and outs (and ups and downs) of getting published and getting publicized. Panelists include Janet Benton, author, Lilli de JongNomi Eve, author, Henna HouseLori Tharps, author of Hair Story, and Nathaniel Popkin, author of Everything is Borrowed.

12:00-1:00 – Lunch ‘n Learn
Grab your lunch (we provide!) and grab a seat — we’ll have tables labeled with the discussion themes you told us were important in our morning brainstorming session. Here you can reconnect with the like-minded attendees you identified in the opening session and share further thoughts and ideas you’ve generated so far in the conference while you enjoy your lunch.

1:00 – 1:40 Afternoon Keynote: The Secrets of Bestselling Ebook Authors
In this information-packed workshop, Jim Azevedo of Smashwords will reveal the best practices of the most successful, bestselling ebook authors. While there is no single magic bullet to suddenly land an author on a bestseller list, this workshop will unveil the many simple, yet important strategies to help make your books more accessible, more discoverable and more desirable to readers.  Authors and publishers will leave the workshop having learned how to publish with greater pride and professionalism.

Session #2: 1:45-2:40

Workshop: PR Intensive Workshop: Shout Outs: How to Get Review Attention
Led by Corinne Moulder, Director of Business Development, and Andrea Kiliany Thatcher, Marketing Manager and Book Publicist at Smith Publicity
Book reviews are a boon to the success of any project, as word of mouth is one of the best ways to spread the message about your book. In this session we will discuss the two main types of reviews – editorial reviews and consumer reviews. We’ll talk about the differences between each and the best approach and most effective strategies for securing the review attention that will drive buzz and book sales. During a hands-on workshop we will assist in the all-important task of considering audience and reach when setting goals for where your book should be reviewed. Where is your audience, a book-buying audience, looking for their next purchase? We will also discuss the ins and outs of trade reviews, and best practices for securing consumer reviews.

Session #3: 2:45 – 3:40

Workshop #2: 2:45 – 3:40 Supplementing Your Writing Life with Freelance Writing
Is freelancing for you? Are you ready to be your own boss? Set your own schedule? Get important insights into the life of the freelancer, with advice where to find writing jobs, how to approach editors, and what to do once you get the assignment. Ginny Simon, who has been a successful freelance writer for more than 25 years, takes you through the steps necessary to achieve success in freelancing.
Ginny Simon, author of Getting Started in Freelance Writing

Session #4: 3:45-4:40

Panel: Finding Your Market
Authors and publishers seeking readers–that’s what our personal ads would say! We need thoughtful, targeted, and creative ways to locate and entice readers, and these panelists have considerable experience doing just that. In this session you’ll hear about a variety of marketing tactics and campaigns that our experts will tell you how to translate to your work. Panelists include Jamie Elfrank, Marketing Manager, Schiffer Books, Erin Entrada Kelly, author, Hello, Universe,
and Rachel Kempster Barry of Tuesday Magic Marketing and Publicity, and Cassie Drumm, Associate Digital Marketing Manager, Running Press.

4:45 – 5:45 Bringing it All Together: David Borgenicht, Founder, Quirk Books: How to Discover the Next Big Thing in Book Publishing

David Borgenicht created The Worst Case Scenario Handbook, which went on to become a major bestseller and to spawn a world of franchises. From being a packager distributed by Chronicle Books, he went on to found Quirk Books, a publisher whose phenomenal successes include the mash-up genre creating Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As someone who is on the cutting edge and beyond of new directions in the book publishing industry, he will talk about how his creative process works, how he shapes new projects, and he will share details from some of his newest endeavors.

We’ll finish with a “Wine Down” and a chance to sip and chat with your fellow attendees and speakers and make some firm connections to take with you and integrate into your all-important publishing network to ensure ongoing future success. We’ll raise a toast to you and your success! Also, we’ll check those brainstorming notes we made at the beginning of the day, make sure we’ve touched on everything important, and firm-up our takeaway. Everyone will leave with a list of at least three goals to accomplish in the next mont

Click HERE to register.




Kristin Kiser was appointed Vice President and Publisher of Running Press Book Publishers, effective May 20, 2015.  In that position, Kristin heads a trio of programs that make up Running Press:  Adult Trade, RP Kids, and RP Miniature Editions.  Reporting to Kristin is the staff of the Philadelphia-headquartered publisher ― including editorial, marketing/publicity, design, and the miniature editions program.  Running Press, previously a member of the Perseus Books Group, is now part of the Hachette Book Group with headquarters in New York. In addition, Kristin was recently also appointed Publisher of New York-based Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers.  Her additional responsibilities include overseeing the editorial and marketing/publicity departments for the BDL staff.

Before joining Running Press, Kristin was Vice President & Deputy Publisher at Rodale, where she led campaigns for New York Times bestsellers Thug Kitchen, The Bulletproof Diet, Wheat Belly Total Health, The Sugar Smart Diet, The Super Charged Hormone Diet, and launched a line of digital courses featuring key Rodale authors.  Prior to that, Kristin was Vice President & Associate Publisher at Hyperion and Editorial Director at Crown Publishers.

Jim Azevedo is the marketing director at Smashwords, the largest distributor of self-published ebooks, serving over 125,000 independent authors, publishers, and literary agents. Since 2008, Smashwords has helped authors around the world release more than 460,000 titles and distribute their work globally to top ebook retailers, subscription services and public libraries. Follow Smashwords on Twitter @Smashwords or Jim @jazzervedo. For more on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/about/how_to_publish_on_smashwords


Corinne Moulder is the Director of Business Development at Smith Publicity, an international book promotion company. Preceding her role in business development, she worked as a book publicist for nearly seven years which introduced her to the reality of the relentless and creative nature of the book publicity industry. Managing accounts that range from imprints from the Big Five, budding and established small presses, bestselling traditional and indie authors, and breakout debut writers has widened Corinne’s knowledge of the publishing process as a whole and her appreciation for a well thought out timeline. You may find Corinne speaking at national trade events, local writers’ conferences, and industry events. For more information about Corinne and Smith Publicity, visit www.smithpublicity.com.

Andrea Kiliany Thatcher is Marketing Manager and a Book Publicist at Smith Publicity, an international book promotion company. Andrea has a long relationship with the independent bookselling community having been a bookseller and running social media for Chester County Book Company and Wellington Square Bookshop both in the Philadelphia suburbs. She has contributed to social media for the New Atlantic Independent Bookseller Association (NAIBA) and spoken on various panels and workshops on marketing and social media for NAIBA and the American Bookseller Association. She also has experience as an in-house marketer at an independent book publisher. Prior to her career in publishing, Andrea was a journalist. This helps her bring a valuable perspective to how authors can best connect with media to attain coverage. For more information on Andrea and Smith Publicity, visit www.smithpublicity.com.

Ginny Simon, president of Project Marketing, handles writing projects, including bylined articles, sales letters, public relations, newsletters, and other marketing collateral for a wide variety of business clients. She has published hundreds of articles on behalf of clients and is the author of “Getting Started in Freelance Writing,” published last year by Corner Office Books.


Rachel Kempster Barry, Tuesday Magic Marketing and Publicity: Rachel is an independent consultant who works with publishers, authors, and bookstores. She was the VP of Marketing & Publicity for DK Publishing where she partnered with licensors including LEGO and Lucasfilm to create innovative  campaigns that incorporate a  mix of advertising, marketing and publicity tactics.

Janet Benton began writing early and has worked hard to give books a central place in her life. She grew up in a small town in Connecticut and skipped eighth grade to travel the world with her working-artist mother. She holds an M.F.A. in English/fiction writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a B. A. in religious studies from Oberlin College. After working at magazines, newspapers, and publishers, running an editorial business, and teaching writing at four universities and privately, she began The Word Studio (www.thewordstudio.us) to focus on working with writers.  Her first novel, Lilli de Jong,  was published to great acclaim in Spring 2017. Click here to read an interview with her in Publisher’s Weekly, March 2017, called “Mothers from the Past: PW Talks with Janet Benton.”

Cassie Drumm is the Associate Digital Marketing Manager for Running Press Book Publishers. She is an alum of the Rosemont College Publishing Program (Class of ’16) and has a passion for bringing attention to diverse and issue-driven literature through digital and social media. Cassie has been featured in IBPA Independent Magazine and A New Look on Books and has becoming a rising authority on social media strategy for authors and publishers.

Jamie Elfrank is an alumni of Rosemont’s Publishing Program (class of 2012) and currently the Director of Marketing at Schiffer Publishing. She’s worked in a variety of roles in the publishing industry:  bookseller, former assistant editor for a Philadelphia Stories, and as a content project manager and acquisitions editor in the healthcare education and reference publishing sector. Focused primarily on nonfiction content, she enjoys collaborating with first time authors to help them understand the book industry and how best to set their book up for success after publication.

Nomi Eve is the author of Henna House and The Family Orchard, which was a Book-of-the-Month Club main selection and was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award. She has an MFA in fiction writing from Brown University and has worked as a freelance book reviewer for The Village Voice and New York Newsday. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New York TimesGlimmer Train StoriesThe Voice Literary SupplementConjunctions, and The International Quarterly.  She teaches fiction writing at Drexel University and lives in Philadelphia with her family. Click here to read an excerpt from her latest novel, Henna House.

Erin Entrada Kelly was raised in Louisiana, but now lives in the Philadelphia area. She is the author of Blackbird Fly (2015), The Land of Forgotten Girls (2016), Hello, Universe (2017), and You Go First (2018). Erin is also a short story writer. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Philippines Free Press Literary Award for Short Fiction and the Pushcart Prize. Erin has a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and liberal arts from McNeese State University and an MFA in creative writing from Rosemont College.

Nathaniel Popkin is a writer, editor, historian, journalist, and the author of five books, including the novel Everything is Borrowed, forthcoming in 2018 (New Door Books). He’s the co-editor of Who Will Speak for America?, a literary anthology in response to the American political crisis, also forthcoming in 2018 (Temple University Press). He’s the fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine, as well as a prolific book critic—and National Book Critics Circle member—focusing on literary fiction and works in translation. He contributes regularly to the Wall Street JournalPublic BooksThe Millions, and the Kenyon Review, among other publications.

Lori Tharps is the author of Same Family, Different Colors and an associate professor of journalism at Temple University, an award-winning author, and a freelance journalist. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she did her undergraduate work at Smith College. After a stint on Madison avenue, Tharps entered Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and has been writing her way through the world ever since. Currently Tharps lives in Philadelphia with her husband and three children and she is working on a new novel that explores the intersection of race, religion and family. Tharps is (almost) fluent in Spanish and can say I love you in seven languages.