The Ventura County Writers’ Weekend takes a different path this year. 

On Saturday, authors who are succeeding will be on the panels for each session. Nothing like authors really doing self-publishing, book marketing, publicity and/or social media to speak about what they have done, how they did it, and the results. Each session presents a specific topic, how to avoid pitfalls and come out a winner. Speakers will debunk some myths and tell you how to expand and build an audience for your book.

Sunday‘s session this year is special. PIPW co-founder Shelly Lowenkopf and literary agent Toni Lopopolo will present, a full-day Master Class highlighting skills from their highly successful weekend Writers Master Class for fiction, memoir, and narrative nonfiction. Past attendees requested more information re: voice, point-of-view, dialogue, and narrative. These are the skills writers need to successfully finish their books. Whether they are considering self-publishing or wish to seek an agent and take the traditional route, Mr. Lowenkopf and Ms. Lopopolo’s workshop will give them an excellent framework to edit and judge their own writing in order to publish the best book possible.

Purchase a full weekend pass, one-day pass or individual sessions.
After the event, each attendee receives a free podcast of the session they attend.
Sitting is limited for each session.

Full weekend or full day Saturday registrants receive a media
list for regional radio, television, print media and 40 top book bloggers.

Seminar Schedule

The Real Costs of Self-Publishing
Half-day seminar in two parts

9:30 to 10:30 AM - Part One

A breakdown of everything you need to know to go from finished manuscript to book in your hand.

With a million books published last year, you need to create the best possible physical product that showcases the months or years of effort you spent writing and editing the book. This session you learn how to have your self-published book printed and up on Amazon and ready for bookstores.

This session will cover step-by-step:
  • Costing and options for production of a hardcover, Trade paperback and ebooks
  • Explanation of terms
  • What to look out for with printers, and those companies most widely used
  • Distribution methods and costs for printed and ebooks.  
Both speakers have self-published a book and helped others. Samples of good and bad self-published books will be shown.

Speakers are for both morning sessions

Michael Bowker, Author and ebook Production expert
Kate Sexton Kaiser, Author and Executive Director PIPW (conference producer) and Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network.

10:30 to 11 AM - Break

11 AM to 12:30 pm - Part Two

Promotion and marketing your book -
without this you sell ZIP

No one ever succeeds without a plan. This is very true for selling your book. Before your book is printed, you need to device a marketing plan (Author Platform) for selling your book. What you create will make or break the sales of your book. An outline of all items and timing will be covered. Case studies from actual book campaigns and results will be reviewed.

Topics include:
    • How to create a realistic budget - what are your goals?
    • Where and how to find publicity
    • What it takes to do a book signing and costs
    • How to get involved in book events
    • Yes, the dreaded SOCIAL MEDIA
    and more...

One hour break for off-site lunch.

The ABCs of Book Publicity
What's working and what isn't worth your time
Case studies of recent books released
by local authors

1:30 to 3 PM

The publicity campaigns for three books published over the last year will be discussed.
One author self-published, one author has a New York publisher, and Kate will discuss the current campaign she is managing for a third local author. Expect examples on:
  • How publicity was gained
  • What outlets worked best for local authors
  • How to write a press release that gets picked up nationally
  • What talk radio takes authors
  • How to go national on a shoestring budget
  • How to associate yourself with outside groups for PR
...and more.

Melodie Johnson Howe, author
Sarah Howery Hart, author and publicist
Kate Sexton Kaiser, author, publicist and conference organizer
3 to 3:30 PM - Break

Demystifying Social Media
It's really not that hard or expensive
but very necessary

3:30 to 5 PM

What works best: Facebook, a blog, Twitter, Pinterest, Virtual Book Tours, Instagram, Tumblr?
  • Primary platforms are reviewed,
  • Examples given of successful programs
  • What you can do yourself and what you can get for a small fee.
  • How can you link them so you only enter one message 
  • Why you don't need to live on your computer 24/7 and win

RosaLinda Diaz, Author
Joel Eisenberg, Author and heavy social media user
Kate Sexton Kaiser, author, publicist and conference organizer

Bonus: Full weekend or full day Saturday registrants receive a media list for regional radio, television, print media and 40 top book bloggers.
Full Day Workshop

Master The Skills Needed To Write Your First Novel

9:30 am to 5 pm with a one-hour lunch break

For this full-day interactive Master Class, please bring the first chapter of your novel, or at least 6 pages, as well as a one-page  synopsis.  Email the chapter to Toni ( well before the conference to receive a chance to revise before the class.  Be sure to double-space.  (tip: Single spacing brands you an amateur).
Editors in New York publishing houses tell literary agent Toni Lopopolo:
  • I’m looking for well-written, vivid, voice-driven books, in the adult, young adult, new adult, and narrative non-fiction books.”   
  • “I’m always in search of the next big voice in Romance.”
  • “—a distinct, compelling authorial voice, and a strong narrative.”
  • “I look for solid, voice-driven writing that makes the author stand out from the pack.”

This can’t be said too often: To impress a publisher enough to receive a contract for a novel, no matter the genre, a writer must know what skills he/she needs, then must master those skills.  Guaranteed to raise your present skills several levels, this Master Class will help any writer learn:
  • The importance of voice
  • The importance of story
  • The importance of your main character(s)
  • Why dialogue is not conversation
  • Conventions of style vs “rules”
  • The difference between story & plot
  • The importance of eccentricity in your characters
  • Ratio of narration to scenes
  • The golden rules of writing scenes
  • Rate of revelation
  • How to stay out of your own story! (author intervention)
  • How & Why to choose the best point of view for your novel
  • Why you must learn to cut; to kill your darlings
  • Your habit words
  • The secrets of verbs
  • The 20 terrible words
  • How to avoid the 10 Most Common Mistakes
  • How to read as a writer
  • How to create an irresistible storyline pitch
  • The best books to own on fiction writing (see below)
  • The importance of defining and reading your genre
  • How and when to approach an agent
  • The importance of a professional editor
  • Why action beats narration
  • What’s best for you: big publisher, small publisher, self-publisher

During this Master Class, you will be given short assignments and the time to complete them. Come prepared. 

Get the books needed early from Amazon:
  1. Stein On Writing by Sol Stein
  2. Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
  3. The Fiction Writer’s Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf
   Bring these books with you.  
About the instructors…
Toni Lopopolo spent 20 years in New York City publishing, then took her street creds to open her literary agent in 1991.  Toni served as executive editor at Macmillan, then St Martin’s Press. As an acquiring editor, Toni reviewed the best projects sent to her by agents.  But as a new literary agent, Toni realized, by what writers sent to her agency as “finished” manuscripts, that most writers who approached her to represent them had not mastered the skills required. To impress a publisher enough to receive a contract on a first novel, a writer must know what skills he/she needs, then master those skills.  Toni, in her capacity as an editor, writing instructor, and literary agent, developed methods to help writers learn those skills, practice those skills, and, master them.

No wonder students flock to Shelly Lowenkopf’s classes and well-published professionals come to him now for consults.  He spent most of his years in the working side of publishing as a “shirt-sleeves” editor, acquiring and developing genre, mainstream, and literary fiction as well as dramatic biography and theme-based nonfiction inquiry.  A versatile and ambitious writer as well, Shelly’s editorial skills reflect both sides of the desk.  His years of leading students to publishing contracts makes him an ideal other voice for Toni Lopopolo in demonstrating these necessary steps to significant and continued publication.

Direct quotes from some of Shelly’s student evaluations:

“This course, [Reading Like a Writer]  “ led me to publication.”

“I wish I’d had this course [Developing a Literary Voice]a long time ago.”

“There are introductions to writing and there is Shelly’s Introduction to Publication.”