7900 High School Rd, Elkins Park, PA

Today’s authors have a myriad of challenges to manage. Some of these issues are new, such as digital publishing and online retailing. Some of these are same old, same old: How do I get published? How do I get the attention of an agent/a publisher/a reader? How do I make my book 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?

Being an author is a creative endeavor, but it is also a job, and the Writers @ Work conference is here to help you do it well. Join us for a plethora of panels and keynotes with 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 – 5:30pm

LOCATION: Rosemont College Center City Campus, North American Building, 121 S Broad St # 1800, Philadelphia, PA

Click HERE to register.

The Writers at Work Conference is a joint production of Open Book Philly 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
Facilitated by Christine Weiser & Lynn Rosen
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 – 11:00  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?

Session #1 11:05 – 12:00pm
Panel: Hard Workin’ Authors (main room)
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 and the multiple hats they wear in their authorial lives.

[Note: for full bios of our speakers see below.]

Janet Benton

Janet Benton, author, Lilli de Jong: Janet is an experienced writing coach and teacher, and has shepheded countless manuscripts to publication, all while working diligently for ten years on her own novel, which was finally published to great acclaim this past spring.
Nomi Eve, author, Henna House: Nomi will discuss her phenomenally-successful 100 Book Club Challenge (which led to a partnership with Skype) and the marketing muscle of the Tall Poppies women’s writers collective.

Nomi Eve

Lori Tharps, author, Same Family, Different Colors: Lori is an associate professor of journalism at Temple University, an award-winning author, and a freelance journalist, who will discuss how she melds together these various strands and how she launched the local online literary magazine QWERTY.

Nathaniel Popkin

Nathaniel PopkinPhiladelphia: Finding the Hidden City:
Nathaniel Popkin is an author and editor. His latest work is the non-fiction Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City. A writer of fiction and criticism as well, Nathaniel is the editorial director of the Hidden City Daily and an editor at Cleaver Magazine. He is a co-founder of Writers Resist Philadelphia and co-editor of the forthcoming anthology Who Will Speak for America?
Moderated by Lynn Rosen

12:00-1:00 – Lunch ‘n Learn
Grab your lunch (we provide!) and grab a seat — we’ll have tables labeled with the themes you told us were important in our morning brainstorming session. Here you can reconnect with the like-minded attendees and speakers 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.

Click HERE to register.

1:00 – 1:40 Afternoon Keynote
The Secrets of Bestselling Indie Ebook Authors

Jim Azevedo

Jim Azevedo, Marketing Director, Smashwords (via Skype)
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 digitally with greater pride and professionalism.

Session #2: 1:45 – 2:40
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
Freelance Workshop: Supplementing Your Writing Life with Freelance Writing

Ginny Simon

Interested in non-fiction freelance writing but don’t know where to start? This session will help you identify  your markets (including print and online publications as well as business communications opportunities), and learn what you need to do to reach the decision-makers, including how to write an effective query.
Ginny Simon, author of Getting Started in Freelance Writing

Session #4: 3:45-4:40
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.

Jamie Elfrank

Jamie Elfrank, Marketing Manager, Schiffer Books
Erin Entrada Kelly, author, Hello, Universe
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.
Cassie Drumm, Associate Digital Marketing Manager, Running Press 

Rachel Kempster Barr

Cassie Drumm

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

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 month.

We look forward to seeing you at Writers @ Work! If you have any questions, contact lynn@openbookphilly.com

Click HERE to register. (All ticket sales are non-refundable.)


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.

Janet Benton, author, Lilli de Jong: Janet is an experienced writing coach, teacher, and editor who has shepherded countless manuscripts toward publication, all while working diligently for ten years on her own novel, which was published to great acclaim last spring.

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.

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.

Nathaniel Popkin is a writer, editor, historian, journalist, and the author of five books, including the novel Everything is Borrowed, forthcoming in May 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 June 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. His criticism and essays have appeared in the Wall Street JournalPublic BooksThe RumpusTablet MagazineLitHubThe Millions, and the Kenyon Review, among other publications.

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.

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

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.

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.

Erin Entrada Kelly is the author of Blackbird Fly, The Land of Forgotten Girls, and Hello Universe, all published by HarperCollins. She has received and been nominated for numerous awards, including the APALA Award for Children’s Literature, the Golden Kite Honor Award, NAIBA Book of the Year, and the Canfield Fisher Book Award, among others. Hello, Universe was short-listed for the Texas Bluebonnet Award—one of the most prestigious awards in children’s literature—and was named one of the best books of 2017 by the Washington Post, Kirkus, NPR, and others. Kelly also writes short fiction, and has been published in more than thirty literary magazines worldwide. She has an undergraduate degree in women’s studies from McNeese State University and an MFA from Rosemont College. She has worked as a journalist, editor, and book publicist. For more information, visit www.erinentradakelly.com.

Rachel Kempster Barry  Prior to founding Tuesday Magic Marketing, Rachel was the Vice President of Marketing and Publicity for DK Books/PRH. She managed campaigns for DK’s Star Wars, LEGO, Smithsonian, Marvel, DC Comics, and Disney-licensed titles including over a dozen New York Times and USA Today bestsellers. She has particularly strong experience working in the realms of non-fiction–from cutting-edge STEM titles for kids, illustrated family reference, travel guides and everything in between. Rachel also developed a passion for children’s fiction during her time at Scholastic where she worked with a roster of incredible authors including Suzanne Collins and Raina Telgemeier.

As the co-author of several books including The Happy Book (Sourcebooks 2009) and This Book is About You (DK 2017), Rachel understands what it feels like to be on both sides of the marketing plan. Rachel has an M.A. from Brown University in English and American Literature where her specialty was 17th-century women writers. Her reading taste isn’t quite that narrow. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and an active volunteer with community, social, and animal welfare organizations in Northern NJ.  During her time at DK, Rachel received a Penguin Hero Award (2011) and was named a Publishers Weekly Rising Star nominee.

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.

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