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Loft Pitch Schedule and Details

Who Should Attend?

The Loft's Pitch Conference will bring an excellent group agents and editors to town who are seeking new work to represent. While the conference will offer learning, networking, and trends around publishing, revision, and querying, attendees with a polished manuscript or a strong nonfiction book proposal will gain the most out of their attendance. Between the agents and editors attending the conference, most genres will be covered including: literary fiction, young adult, middle grade, commercial, mystery, thriller, sci-fi/fantasy, romance, graphic novels, horror, humor, women's, memoir, narrative nonfiction, history, cookbooks, biography, popular culture, and popular science.

Although a few of the agents do work with select authors in these areas, it is not recommended that screenwriters or children's picture book authors attend this conference as they are not likely to find matches.

Schedule at a glance

Here is a brief breakdown of the conference schedule.

Download a PDF of the Full Schedule


8–9 a.m. Registration open, coffee and pastries
9–9:30 a.m. | Conference Welcome: Loft staff members Chris Jones and Britt Udesen
9:30–11:30 a.m. | Keynote Workshop: Workshop with Hannah Tinti
noon–1:30 p.m. | Working Lunch: Batter Up: Pitch Prep Tips from the Pros (lap lunch in Performance Hall)
1:45–3:15 p.m. | Breakout Sessions and Pitches
3:30–5 p.m. | Breakout Sessions and Pitches
5–7 p.m. | Dinner: On your own
7–8:30 p.m. | The Fast and the Queryous with visiting agents and editors


8–9 a.m. Coffee and pastries
9–10:30 a.m. | Breakout Sessions and Pitches
10:45 a.m.–12:15 p.m. | Breakout Sessions and Pitches
12:15–1:30 p.m. | Lunch (unstructured, but we encourage you to network with your fellow attendees)
1:45–3:15 p.m. | Breakout Sessions and Pitches
3:30–5 p.m. | Breakout Sessions and Pitches
5 p.m. | Evaluations



2018 Pitch Conference 2018

Official Schedule

Download a PDF Schedule


8–9 a.m.        | Registration Open; Coffee and Pastries (Commons, 2nd Floor)

9–9:30 a.m.    | Welcome and Housekeeping (Target Performance Hall, 2nd Floor)

9:30–11:30 a.m. | Workshop with Hannah Tinti (Target Performance Hall, 2nd Floor)

Hannah Tinti is a writer, editor, and teacher. She is the author of award-winning novels and short stories including her most recent, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley. Hannah has worked at bookstores, magazines, publishing houses, and literary agencies. In 2002 she co-founded the award-winning magazine One Story and for 14 years was acting Editor in Chief. Hannah is also a celebrated teacher of creative writing. She co-founded the Sirenland Writers Conference in Italy with Dani Shapiro, Michael Maren, and Antonio & Carla Sersale. She has taught writing at New York University's Graduate Creative Writing Program, Columbia University's MFA  program, CUNY, and at the Museum of Natural History in New York City.

11:30–noon    | Break before working lunch (Retrieve box lunches in room 203)

Noon–1:30 p.m.    | Working lunch: Batter Up: Pitch Tips with Barbara Poelle & Jennifer

  Carlson (Target Performance Hall, 2nd Floor)

Barbara Poelle is an agent with the Goodman Agency. She writes the column Funny You Should Ask for Writer's Digest.

Jennifer Carlson has been agenting since 1997. She is one of the founding partners of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency.

1:45–3:15 p.m.    | Breakout Sessions and Pitches 1 (rooms TBD)

CRAFT TRACK 1: Agents Want Strong Character, So How Do I Do That? with Patrick Nathan and Jenni Ferrari-Adler

Jenni Ferrari-Adler is a longtime agent at Union Literary. She edited the anthology Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant (Riverhead)​, and her work has appeared in Tin House​, Glimmer Train, New York Magazine, and others​.

Patrick Nathan's first novel, Some Hell, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in February 2018. His short fiction and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Boulevard, Gulf Coast, dislocate, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere.

EQUITY TRACK 1: Finding Allies and Community with Keno Evol and Joanna Demkiewicz

Keno Evol is the founder and executive director of Black Table Arts. Keno has received numerous grants and competed nationally as a spoken word artist.

Joanna Demkiewicz is the Publicist at Milkweed Editions. She is co-founder of The Riveter, a magazine that celebrates narratives and journalism by women, and currently serves as Editorial Director for the publication.

PUBLISHING TRACK 1: Query Mistakes I've Seen with Erin Harris and Molly O'Neill

Erin Harris is a literary agent at Folio Literary Management who champions the careers of both debut and established authors, bringing a strong editorial eye and hands-on approach to her agenting practice.

Molly O’Neill is a literary agent with Root Literary. For the past fourteen years, she has held various roles inside the publishing industry, including as an Editor at HarperCollins Children's Books, where she acquired Veronica Roth's juggernaut Divergent series.

CAREER TRACK 1: Pitching Festivals, Events, and Reviews with Eric Lorberer and Laurie Hertzel

Eric Lorberer is the editor of Rain Taxi. He has published poems, essays, and criticism in numerous magazines and has been awarded a SASE/Jerome Fellowship for his writing. Eric is also the director of the Twin Cities Book Festival.

Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the author of the memoir, News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Tri-Quarterly, South Dakota Review, the Brevity blog, the Chicago Tribune, and many other places.


PITCHES: Kurestin Armada, Stacy Testa, Serene Hakim, Janet Reid, Joanna MacKenzie, Lana Popovic, Monica Odom, Soumeya Roberts, Monika Woods


3:30–5 p.m.    | Breakout Sessions and Pitches 2 (rooms TBD)

CRAFT TRACK 2: Writing Across Genres with Jack El-Hai, Connor Goldsmith, and V.V. Ganeshananthan

Jack El-Hai has written for American Heritage, the History Channel Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, and other publications. He's the author of seven books, including, Lost Minnesota: Stories of Vanished Places and a forthcoming biography of lobotomy developer Walter J. Freeman.

Connor Goldsmith is an Agent at Fuse Literary. He is passionate about narrative fiction across all media as a vehicle for social progress, and received a Master’s Degree in Media Studies from The New School for Public Engagement.

V.V. Ganeshananthan, a fiction writer and journalist, is the author of Love Marriage. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, Columbia Journalism Review, The San Francisco Chronicle, Himal Southasian, and The American Prospect, among others.

EQUITY TRACK 2: The Who, What, Why, and When of Sensitivity Readers with Kurestin Armada and Molly Beth Griffin

Kurestin Armada began her publishing career as an intern with Workman Publishing, and spent time as an assistant at The Lotts Agency before joining P.S. Literary. She holds a BA in English from Kenyon College, as well as a publishing certificate from Columbia University.

Molly Beth Griffin is a graduate of Hamline University’s MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and the author of two picture books, Loon Baby and Rhoda's Rock Hunt, as well as the YA novel Silhouette of a Sparrow. Her novel was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and ForeWord's Book of the Year, and was featured on ALA's Rainbow List and the Amelia Bloomer List of Feminist Literature.

PUBLISHING TRACK 2: Ask the Author, Anything Goes with Benjamin Percy and Sherrie Fernandez-Williams, moderated by Steph Opitz

Benjamin Percy is the author of four novels, the most recent among them The Dark Net. His craft book — Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction — was published by Graywolf Press. Ben also writes an ongoing James Bond comic series for Dynamite Entertainment as well as the Green Arrow and Teen Titans series at DC Comics.

Sherrie Fernandez-Williams, author of Soft: A Memoir, holds an MFA in writing from Hamline University and is a recipient of an Artist Initiative Award through the Minnesota State Arts Board, a SASE/Jerome Award through Intermedia Arts, and the Jones’ Commission Award through the Playwrights’ Center. Her work has been published in various literary magazines and anthologies.

CAREER TRACK 2: Participating in Literary Community: Engagement, Service, and Power with Roy Guzmán and Elizabeth Tannen

Roy Guzmán is a Honduran-born poet whose first collection is coming out from Graywolf Press in 2020. Raised in Miami, Roy is a 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellow.

Elizabeth Tannen is a former producer for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered who has published essays, stories, and poems in places like the Huffington Post, Salon, Front Porch, The Rumpus, The Morning News, and Psychology Today.


PITCHES: Jenni Ferrari-Adler, Erin Harris, Molly O'Neill, Stacy Testa, Joanna MacKenzie, Laura Dail, Dawn Frederick, Samantha Fingerhut, Reiko Davis


5–7 p.m.    | Dinner (on your own)

7 p.m.    | The Fast and the Queryous (Target Performance Hall, 2nd Floor)

FEATURING: Samantha Fingerhut, Natanya Wheeler, Janet Reid, Caroline Bleeke, Cal Morgan


8–9 a.m.        | Coffee and Pastries (Commons, 2nd Floor)

9–10:30 a.m.    | Breakout Sessions and Pitches 3 (rooms TBD)

CRAFT TRACK 3: Staying True: Honesty in Your Subject Matter with Josh Ostergaard and Monika Woods

Josh Ostergaard is the author of The Devil’s Snake Curve: A Fan’s Notes from Left Field (Coffee House Press). His other writing about baseball has appeared in the Sporting Scene blog of the New Yorker. He works at Graywolf Press in Minneapolis​.

Monika Woods is a literary agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. She is a graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course and has worked at Trident Media Group and InkWell Management, where she worked closely with leading voices in contemporary literature.

EQUITY TRACK 3: #OwnVoices and Writing Outside Your Own Experience with Sun Yung Shin and Diane Wilson

신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin was born in Seoul, Korea, during 박 정 희 Park Chung-hee's military dictatorship, and grew up in the Chicago area. She is the editor of the best-selling anthology A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, author of poetry collections Unbearable Splendor; Rough, and Savage; and Skirt Full of Black.

Diane Wilson is a creative nonfiction writer whose essays and memoir use personal experience to illustrate broader social and historical context. Her first book, Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past, won the Minnesota Book Award for autobiography, memoir, and creative nonfiction.

PUBLISHING TRACK 3: Ask the Editor: Anything Goes with Caroline Bleeke and Cal Morgan, moderated by Steph Opitz

Caroline Bleeke is Editor at Flatiron Books.

Cal Morgan is Executive Editor at Riverhead.

CAREER TRACK 3: Platform: Building an Audience with Alyson Sinclair and Serene Hakim

Alyson Sinclair is a freelance publicist, and has strong and varied connections in the national and local literary, arts & culture, music, and general interest media world. She has helped set up hundreds of events at venues large and small—from indie bookstores to the 92nd St. Y.

Serene Hakim is an agent with Ayesha Pande Literary. Serene holds an M.A. in French to English translation from NYU and a B.A. in French and Women’s Studies from the University of Kansas.


PITCHES: Erin Harris, Molly O'Neill, Lana Popovic, Laura Dail, Dawn Frederick, Natanya Wheeler, Soumeya Roberts, Reiko Davis, Connor Goldsmith


10:45–12:15 p.m.| Breakout Sessions and Pitches 4 (rooms TBD)

CRAFT TRACK 4: Agents Want Strong Voice, So How Do You Do That? with Joanna MacKenzie and Nicole Helget

Joanna MacKenzie joined Nelson Literary Agency in 2017 and is currently building a list of adult and YA titles. She enjoys working with authors who embrace the full publishing process (read: love revising) and is committed to the stories her clients want to tell and the careers they want to build.

Nicole Helget is a multigenre author, including the memoir The Summer of Ordinary Ways, two novels The Turtle Catcher and Stillwater, and three middle-grade books Horse Camp (co-written), Wonder at the Edge of the World, and The End of the Wild. She has recently sold a new memoir, Requiem, to Minneopa Valley Press.

EQUITY TRACK 4: Navigating a Predominantly White Publishing Field with Monica Odom, Jeff Shotts, and Jennifer Kwon Dobbs

Monica Odom is an agent at Liza Dawson Associates, where she represents a variety of nonfiction by authors, as well as literary and upmarket fiction, and illustrators. Monica earned her Masters in Publishing: Digital & Print Media from New York University in 2014, and has a BA in English from Montclair State University.

Jeff Shotts is Executive Editor at Graywolf Press.

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs is the author of Paper Pavilion and Song of a Mirror. Her prose and poetry have appeared in Asian American Literary Review, Blackbird, Crazyhorse, Cimarron Review, Daesan Literary Journal, Mascara Review, Poetry NZ, SOLO NOVO, among others.

PUBLISHING TRACK 4: Book Proposal Tips with Dawn Frederick and Stacy Testa

Dawn Frederick is the owner of Red Sofa Literary, established in 2008. In addition to many years of bookstore life, she is a co-founder of the MN Publishing Tweet Up, on MPR's Twin-Cities Advisory Council, and a teaching artist at the Loft.

Stacy Testa is an agent at Writers House, which she joined in 2011. She represents a wide range of genres, from literary, upmarket, and historical fiction to memoir, narrative, and platform-driven nonfiction.

CAREER TRACK 4: Publishing Options: Big, Indie, Hybrid, Self with Joey McGarvey and Dara Beevas

Joey McGarvey is an acquisitions editor in literary fiction and nonfiction at Milkweed Editions. Before her move to St. Paul in 2014, she spent six years as an editor in the Alfred A. Knopf and Ballantine Bantam Dell imprints of Penguin Random House.

Dara M. Beevas is a writer, editor, blogger, speaker, and author. She is founder and CEO of Wise Ink, a boutique indie publisher providing custom book production, marketing, and distribution services as well as educational tools to help authors publish smartly.


PITCHES: Serene Hakim, Janet Reid, Lana Popovic, Jenni Ferrari-Adler, Kurestin Armada, Natanya Wheeler, Samantha Fingerhut, Monika Woods, Reiko Davis


12:15–1:30 p.m.| LUNCH BREAK (lunch boxes available in 203)


1:45–3:15 p.m.| Breakout Sessions and Pitches 5 (rooms TBD)

CRAFT TRACK 5: First Impressions: Your First Page and First Chapter with Lana Popovic and Pete Hautman

Lana Popovic is an agent with Chalberg & Sussman. She is also the author of Wicked Like a Wildfire, now out from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins.

Pete Hautman is the author of 14 young adult books, including the National Book Award winner Godless, 6 middle grade novels, and one novel for adults.

EQUITY TRACK 5: Creating Space for Diverse Books with Sarah Park Dahlen and Shannon Gibney

Sarah Park Dahlen is an Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science at St. Catherine University. She teaches courses on children’s and young adult materials, children's and young adult library services, storytelling, social justice, and library and information science.

Shannon Gibney is a writer, educator, activist, and the author of See No Color (Carolrhoda Lab, 2015), a young adult novel. Her writing has appeared in Al Jazeera America, The Crisis, Gawker, and other venues.

PUBLISHING TRACK 5: Ask the Agent: Anything Goes with Laura Dail and Soumeya Bendimerad Roberts, moderated by Steph Opitz

Laura Dail is the founder of the Laura Dail Literary Agency, which has represented fiction and nonfiction, for both adults and children, for more than 20 years. Laura has served on the board of the Association of Authors Representatives (AAR) and currently chairs the AAR Royalties Committee.

Soumeya Bendimerad Roberts joined Hannigan Salky Getzler in 2017, where she is an agent and Rights Director. She was most recently an agent at Writers House.

CAREER TRACK 5: Screen Adaptations: How Does That Even Work? with Eddie Gamarra

Eddie Gamarra is a literary manager/producer at The Gotham Group, a multi-faceted management and production company representing some of the most creative and successful screenwriters, directors, animators, authors, illustrators, publishers, and animation studios around the world. With a primary focus on children’s & family entertainment, he works with numerous New York Times best-selling authors and illustrators as well as Oscar, Emmy, Caldecott, and Newbery award winners.  In addition to his work at The Gotham Group, Gamarra has served as a consultant for Teen Magazine, National Geographic's TV series Hollywood Science, and MANswers on Spike TV. He is also the Executive Producer of THE MAZE RUNNER from 20th Century Fox based on the NY Times best-selling book series by James Dashner.


PITCHES: Stacy Testa, Serene Hakim, Molly O'Neill, Dawn Frederick, Jenni Ferrari-Adler, Connor Goldsmith, Samantha Fingerhut, Monika Woods, Monica Odom


3:30–5 p.m.| Breakout Sessions and Pitches 6 (rooms TBD)

CRAFT TRACK 6: Dealing with Feedback: Revision, Rejection, and Rewrites with Ashley Shelby

Ashley Shelby is a prize-winning writer whose fiction and essays have appeared in Slate, The Seattle Review, The Portland Review, Los Angeles Review, J Journal: New Writings on Social Justice, LitHub, Sonora Review, Post Road, Southeast Review, Third Coast, and other literary outlets. Her debut novel, South Pole Station, published in July, has received praise from The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, Publishers Weekly, USA Today, Time, Library Journal, The Guardian, LitHub, Booklist,  Kirkus Reviews, and Bookpage.

PUBLISHING TRACK 6: Synopsis Tips with Emily Hamilton and Reiko Davis  

Before joining DeFiore in early 2016, Reiko Davis was an associate agent at Miriam Altshuler Literary Agency for four years. She grew up in Kansas City, received her BA in Comparative Literature and Art History from Brown University, and is a graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course.

Emily Hamilton is the Assistant Director of Book Publishing at the University of Minnesota Press.

CAREER TRACK 6: Author Websites: What to Do and How to Build It with Luke Finsaas and Dawn Frederick

Luke Finsaas is a creative handyman. He builds websites, designs marketing collateral, and creates brand identities for small businesses, nonprofits, creative agencies, and entrepreneurs.

Dawn Frederick is the owner of Red Sofa Literary, established in 2008. In addition to many years of bookstore life, she is a co-founder of the MN Publishing Tweet Up, on MPR's Twin-Cities Advisory Council, and a teaching artist at the Loft.


PITCHES: Erin Harris, Janet Reid, Joanna MacKenzie, Laura Dail, Kurestin Armada, Connor Goldsmith, Natanya Wheeler, Soumeya Roberts, Monica Odom

Pitch Conference Menu